Anchorage Harassment: A Cruiser Responds
A friend forwarded me your call on Cruisers Net for examples of recent harassment for anchoring by local Florida officials. I was subject to such harassment recently, as recounted in the attached PDF file. The experience has cost me money (unplanned marina fees) and left me reluctant to return to North Palm Beach where the incident occurred, or even to cruise Florida waters at all. I hope you (and Wally Moran – no relation as far as I know) are successful in your efforts to address this harassment by local authorities.
“Sail La Vie”
May 6, 2019
To whom it may concern,
There is a large anchorage in North Palm Beach, Florida, close to Old Port Cove Marina (OPCM) and not too far from Parker Bridge – but more than ½ mile from the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) – that is popular with snowbirds like me, who travel up and down the ICW following the seasons. Because it is not too far from the Lake Worth Inlet, this anchorage is also popular with boaters who are staging to cross over the Gulf Stream to the Bahamas. The anchorage is so large (it is over 1/3 mile wide) that there is space to safely accommodate scores of boats. Adding to the anchorage’s popularity, a nearby dinghy landing gives access to grocery stores, restaurants, pharmacies, marine supply stores, and many other services a boater might need.
While I sometimes stay in the nearby OPCM, I also like to stay in this anchorage as well. While I was anchored there in April, taking care of some local business (see below) and getting ready to head north for the season, a Sherriff’s patrol boat came alongside my boat – which is clean and well maintained – and the Deputy piloting the patrol boat informed me that anchoring was not permitted in this area and he then issued me a warning citation for “Interference with Navigation”. (I was lucky to get just a warning; the Deputy had the option of ticketing me.)
The Sherriff’s patrol boat then visited every other boat in the anchorage to inform their owners and crew that they were interfering with navigation and that they needed to leave. The Deputy told me that he comes through the anchorage once a week; there is also a report on Active Captain from another boater last February of the Sheriff doing the exact same thing – so policing this anchorage is a committed, long term effort on the part of the Sherriff’s department.
When I received my warning, I was safely anchored well outside of any marked channels and over half a mile from the ICW; some of the boaters visited by the Sheriff on the day I received my warning were even farther away.
Boats navigating through this anchorage or to the marinas nearby are not impeded by the boats anchored here; navigation is so easy that high speed boats sometimes blast through the anchorage on weekends towing children on inner tubes. No reasonable person could conclude that there is any interference with navigation resulting from the boats anchored here. This anchorage has been used – and used safely, in all sorts of weather – by thousands of visiting boats for many years. It would not be an exaggeration to say that if anchoring here interferes with navigation then it would not be possible to anchor anywhere in the United States without interfering with navigation. My surmise is that “interference with navigation” is merely a pretext for clearing all the boats from the anchorage.
Although I am a snowbird and I travel the US east coast in my boat, I am a Florida resident and I consider the Lake Worth area to be my “home base”. After I retired, I moved my bank here, my doctors here, and my lawyer here. I have spent many tens of thousands of dollars on goods and services in this area just over the last two years (and paid taxes on these transactions). Although this interaction with the Sherriff’s department has made to feel like riffraff, I’m a responsible person who continues to make a contribution to society and to this local community, even when that contribution is merely financial. Here, for example, is a rundown of what I’ve contributed to the local economy just since I dropped my anchor here in April:
• The day before I received the warning, I ordered a new ultralight dinghy and outboard from Nautical Ventures in North Palm Beach for almost $5,000.
• I ordered a new life raft from Inflatables International in Riviera Beach for about $5,000.
• I spent several hundred dollars at the local West Marine in North Palm Beach.
• I spent several hundred dollars at local grocery stores, pharmacies, and restaurants and other local businesses.
• I paid for visits to my physicians at Mt. Sinai Heart and Jupiter Internal Medicine, both in Jupiter, as well as for labs at Quest Labs in Palm Beach Gardens (total value well over $1,000).
Because I had doctor’s appointments to keep and also needed to wait for the delivery of my dinghy and life raft, when the Sherriff’s Deputy told to move out of the anchorage I really couldn’t just leave. As a consequence, I relocated to OPCM. While this is a nice marina and I do stay here sometimes, I hadn’t planned to stay there for more than a few days on this trip to do laundry and a few boat maintenance tasks. But I’ve had to stay at OPCM for several weeks in order to keep my appointments and to receive my orders, a stay that has cost me several thousand dollars I shouldn’t have had to spend. (In fact, I had planned to spend that money at the nearby Premier Dentistry in North Palm Beach to have some crowns put on – but that won’t be happening now.)
The way things stand now, I don’t consider the area around this anchorage as welcoming to snowbirds like me or to those heading to the Bahamas who wish to anchor rather than to stay in a marina for the duration of every visit. I’m disheartened by all this and I’m pessimistic that my small voice will be able to change any of the minds that matter regarding current policy for this anchorage. So unless I hear that things have changed, I guess I’ll just “move along” as the local authorities seem to desire; but when I do I’ll relocate my essential services (banking, medical, and legal) someplace more accommodating, and I won’t stop here again or spend any more money here during my seasonal migrations. I know from my travels that there are other, friendlier places to visit and to spend money.
“Sail La Vie”
Click Here To View the Eastern Florida Cruisers Net Anchorage Directory Listing For North Palm Beach – Lake Worth Anchorage
Click Here To Open A Chart View Window Zoomed To the Location of North Palm Beach – Lake Worth Anchorage