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    • Cruising Community Reaction to SSECN Anchoring Rights Editorial of 3/1/11

      It’s no surprise that we have had a storm of reaction to our Anchoring Rights Editoridal of 3/1/11 concerning the Florida Pilot Mooring Field Program, and any corresponding no-anchor buffer zones. Many of the notes below are well reasoned, and make for very interesting reading!

      Bravo to all the people that have taken time and put the effort into protecting boaters in the USA who love to travel on our waterways!
      THANK YOU FOR ALL YOU DO!
      Sam Warr

      Just a short `thank you’ for your timely notification to cruisers. I’m sure that Judy and I can speak for many other cruiser/liveaboards in telling you how much we appreciate your ongoing efforts to keep us informed, and more important, where to express any opinions `for the record’ Thank you!
      Judy and Dick from `St. Jude’

      For All Concerned With Florida Anchoring Rights: I noticed that the great majority of the responses have been with negative complaint and much not relavent. It is out of order for all those to compare anchoring in the northern states with the opportunities in Florida. Florida is burdened with the opportunity for people to use boats as low income housing, unlike New England or even the Chesapeake. It is impossible to discount the concerns of derelict vessels adrift and abandoned in Florida waters. As a Florida liveaboard who has been frequently anchoring in Florida waters since 1972, the problem is of great concern to me, but not without an acceptance of the problem that faces the state authorities and my own dissappointment with high risk debris on the water and on the shores.
      My first concern with solutions would be to encourage the FWC or any other authorities to enforce the existing regulations that would limit the number of high risk vessels at anchor. This would include the inspection of safety requirements such as anchor light presence and quality, including placement, timing and intensity as well as satisfactory marine sanitation devices.
      I would also consider other pressures upon anchoring rights as negotiable, such as the requirement of recorded pump out compliance or, the most fair solution, a requirement that anchoring in Florida be accompanied by liability insurance that would cover the removal or abandoned derelict vessels. It is not acceptable that the `solution’ would be to eliminate the possibility of anchoring in arbitrary areas within a distance of a mooring field or including entire counties. Stewart and Nancie Force onboard Aythya since 1972
      Stewart Force

      As usual politics just makes a simple solution complex and confusing. Why don’t they simply pass a law placing a time limit on anchoring. Say thirty days and you have to move. Boats not adhering to the rules could be subject to whatever is deemed necessary. Fines, impoundment, salvage or whatever. I would think a thirty day limit, with a warning after 30 days, giving the owner 48 hours or so to move would be a reasonable and common sense approach. While this approach would work, and would eventually get rid of the derelicts, it would not generate any income for the cities/state. My biggest fear is this idea will continue to grow, and of course we all know that the mooring fields will be in the best possible anchorages. Making all who do not want to contribute to the local economy seek anchorages farther away and possibly in poor holding areas. As always, it’s just follow the money.
      Phil Prater

      I am leaving Florida and will never return.
      Ed Hart

      Our last Florida experience was in 2005. Never again will I take a boat into Florida waters. We have used Florida only to get to the Bahamas, but we now go offshore from Georgia so that we do not have to experience the state.
      M Don Surratt
      USCG Masters License

      Someone start up a support group for our anchoring rights, I will contribute!
      Capt. Sterling

      Hello Claiborne,
      I am now sans boat. The new owner of At Last when asked if he would be cruising Florida, said `No Thanks’ The boat is now in the Pacific Northwest. They are allowed to anchor up there.
      Capt. Dave

      Towns all over New England have mooring fields, but in most of them you can anchor just outside the moorings as long as your swinging circle won’t interfere with the moored boats. In some very busy harbors, like Newport, there is a designated anchoring area in the middle of the harbor surrounded by moorings. It isn’t much room, but the town recognizes the need to still maintain some space for those who want to anchor.
      I have been disappointed in the mooring fields in Marathon and Ft. Myers Beach because they both essentially eliminate the entire anchoring area. It is particularly frustrating when you are there and many of the moorings are unoccupied, just taking up harbor room, and you would like to visit.
      John Kettlewell

      Hello Claiborne,
      Really appreciate your valuable contribution to the cruising community with the Cruiser’s Net. We’ve just returned to British Columbia, Canada after 8 years sailing the east coast aboard our vessel, `Meriah’.
      I know how important it is to fight the battle for Florida anchoring rights in this struggle over municipal control of the waterways. I’ve been there and had to negotiate the sometimes inconsistent local regulations.
      There is obviously a lack of appreciation for the social and economic benefits as a quickly expanding new generation of more affluent cruisers make their way into warmer waters. This is no longer the hippie migration of the 60’s and since Florida has always been a haven for retirement communities, you would think that Florida municipalities would embrace this new community of cruisers.
      The point that I would like to make has to do with education. Most Florida residents and municipalities have no idea of who the cruisers are these days and how the average cruiser conducts his or her life. There is little or no understanding of the challenges or requirements for the cruising community. So what about developing a significant and informative media presentation as an educational tool to go along with ongoing negotiations. A program such as this should go a long way in changing some of the inward looking attitudes and anxieties of local residents and their municipalities.
      Keep up the good work,
      Captain Larry Peck

      Every time this issue comes up, I ask myself, `Why do I even bother going to Florida?’ I have no objection to reasonable restrictions, but when I’m made to feel unwelcome, I look for other places to spend money or visit.
      To me this seems to have become a situation like we have here in Maryland where `city expats’ move to the country and complain about the farmer next door, or move to a small fishing town and complain about the smell of waterman next door.
      There has to be a way of impressing the municipal authorities of how much we do spend in their communities. I know this has become impractical today, but just prior to WW II, my father had a similar problem with his CCC Camp. He paid his troops in silver dollars and the next day the city fathers had a sudden change of heart, welcomed his presence and begged him to not do it again.
      Jim Davis

      Please do not let them put laws like those mentioned in place.We are losing our Freedom piece by piece.I will never use mooring fields and will never spend my money in their vicinity.
      Claus Gnaedig

      Thanks for the update. I live in TN and cruse the rivers but hope to travel to FL soon. I won’t be at the local meetings but will email anyone identified with my support to preserve mooring opportunities for boaters.
      It seams the real issue are the hulks and non-complient MSD. Why isn’t the FL FDEP and FWC solving this problem and leave crusers alone.
      Dan Coyle

      Buffer zones should be no larger than 1/2 mile from the edge of the mooring field depending on the shape of the waterway in question.
      Rick Cass

      Anyone who has anchored in Marathon FL. before the mooring field, knows what can happen to one of the best anchorages in the Florida Keys.
      Marvin R. Heide

      And with the narrow width of the Waterway in many Florida communities it doesn’t take much of a restriction on anchoring to essentially outlaw all anchoring. For example, I’ve seen the suggestion that no anchoring within 500 feet of a mooring field be the norm, but where would that allow you to anchor in a town like Daytona Beach? The entire width of the water that is deep enough for mooring or anchoring is probably less than 500 feet.
      John Kettlewell

      I was involved in the last attempt in Sarasota. It is a political nightmare. We will be happy to help build a collective voice on our site too.
      Sailmonster.com

      After 40 years of cruising,I conclude that removing natural anchorages and replacing them with expensive mooring fields goes against everything the cruiser is all about. We dont need balls and we rarely need marinas. Most of all we dont need ugly,boring Florida period. It is merely a stopping off point on the way to the Caribbean Islands’¦ A straight run from Norfolk,Beaufort or Charleston makes far more sense to serious cruisers. Florida has destroyed itself from inside. Why waste good cruising dollars on inferior destinations. When all our tourist dollars vanish, the locals can fight over the remaining stopping off point.
      Its all about excessive greed and very stupid politicians who dont understand economics.
      Captain Dave Johnson

      I am against ANY no anchoring zones in Florida. Any rules can be circumvented. Played properly, anti-anchorage politicians can beat their drum to citizens in the majority’¦’¦low ond medium income’¦’¦..that it is unfair for their tax dollars to pay for facilities used by `rich men’; showers, docks, etcetera, and effectively gut any funding for the mooring fields. In effect, you’ll end up with no mooring field, AND a no mooring buffer zone.
      I believe any cruising boater should be able to moor ANYWHERE that does not restrict navigation. `Boat squaters’ living aboard hulks can be evicted by using current Federal sewage laws, when they can be proven to be breaking them. Otherwise, rich autocrats have ZERO business deciding if another mans boat is a `proper’ boat.
      Unless live aboards are breaking the law by dumping raw sewage into our waters, no one should have the power to dictate to them that they cannot anchor ANYWHERE they chose to do so.
      Compromising with the devil is still a compromise. I suggest boaters of all social strata have an `anchor up’, and cover the water in boats, as a protest against any infringement on anchoring rights.
      ARMED and ANCHORED; get used to it.
      Jim

      We cruise Florida and the east coast extensively. Thank you for keeping the cruising community informed about t the developments surrounding this issue.
      I understand both sides of the concern. For example, we cruise the St. Johns River often. There is a great anchorage behind Turkey Island, but the best spot in that anchorage is occupied by an abandoned house boat that has been there for three years. I have also seen the trash hulks in Key west and St. Augustine that I have to believe are dangerous to the occupants. On the other hand, most of the people living on these boats have low paying jobs and they have to live somewhere. We don’t support forcing people out of their homes just because their house looks like a wreck.
      I would suggest there needs to be a reasonable compromise on buffer zones around mooring fields, perhaps just enough to make it somewhat difficult for anyone to commute to shore on a regular basis. Two miles might be a good number. Having said that, I’m curious about how these buffer zones would be communicated to cruisers anmd how they would be enforced. Also, what happens if the mooring field is full and a boat arrives in the area needing a place to stop for the night?
      I completed the great loop last year, and I can tell you there is a real need for a way to clean up all the derelict boats that are strewn along our waterways. At the same time, safety of mariners shoukld trump public outrage at unsightly derelict boats. A reasonable compromise must be reached.
      I would be happy to attend any meetings in the central florida (Tampa to Daytona) area, and thanks again for your work an behalf of all cruisers.
      Cpt. Bill Root

      Thanks for the update!
      Please let us know when & where the meetings are scheduled!
      Bureaucracy at it’s finest oh how they try to justify their jobs & numbers to protect us from ourselves!
      Thanks,
      Mike & Barbara Harbin
      M/V Elan

      Why do states/municipalities wish to discourage visiting boats? People on these boats, for the most part abide by pertinent rules / laws, etc. for sanitation and safety.
      These people often purchase real estate in areas visited thus supporting that market. They also support many businesses in the areas they frequent.
      States and municipalities should have reasonable laws to prevent harm to the environment or unsafe conditions. Otherwise welcome this as an opportunity and not consider this a problem that needs to be dealt with harshly.
      Philip Conner

      So if ALL of the Keys are to be a pilot mooring field, and the buffer zone is around the mooring fields, so there is to be no anchoring anywhere in the Keys?
      Michael D’Haem

      `All of Monroe County’? That’s almost 3,000 sq mi of water! Wow. big grab!
      Tom Murphy

      I assume by the `grassroots organization, since disbanded’ you mean the Southwest Florida Regional Harbor Board, which grew out of the Boaters Action and Information League (BAIL) organized by Walter Stilley. The SWFRHB was a five-year test program that included the state DEP, The Southwest Florida Regional Planning Commission, the West Coast Inland Navigation District, and Sea Grant College at the University of Florida, so it was more than a grassroots organization ‘” it had the full backing of the state. We were able to convince all the waterfront jurisdictions from Collier County through Manatee County (EXCEPT the city of Sarasota) to withhold enforcement of their various anchoring time-limit regulations, and to submit any anchoring problems to the SWFRHB for arbitration. During the five-year period, NOT ONE problem arose over anchored vessels! (I was chairman of the SWFRHB for most of those five years.)
      Will White

      To answer Captain Will’s question, “no,” the organization that I was speaking of which disbanded was the Florida Open Water Society, or some name close to that.
      Claiborne

      Hey there Claiborne….Bobbie Blowers here, aka “voice from the past”. We are currently living aboard our motorhome while our beloved Namaste is on the hard for a prolonged seige of much needed old boat repairs.
      We are, however, currently IN Fl and would like some idea of where and when these buffer zone hearings will be. We plan to return to the Chesapeake April/May to finish our boat repairs but if timing is such that we can attend one or more of these hearings before leaving the Sunshine State, we definately will. We are not at all happy with the state of affairs for boaters in FL so anything we can do to help……..
      Bobbie

      Claiborne:
      Even in such highly organized and wealthy communities such as Balboa beach, ca and L.A. and especially at Catalina island they have restricted anchoring areas; however, they are NOT closed off by large buffer zones, they are compact and anchoring is allowed, point this out to our glorious local cities!
      respectfully
      Gene Koblick

      Dear Claiborne:
      Thanks for the 3-1-11 up date. I was not knowledgeable of the details of the hard fought battle to get the Florida Anchoring rights for those in navigation. I do keep a copy handy and available at the helm Station but so far have not had to hand it to any boarding parties. The longest time at anchor anywhere has not been more than a week. We will be looking to anchor more on the eastern seaboard after reviewing our 2010 Marina Expenses. Will be making use of Vero Beach, Fernandina Beach, St Augustine mooring fields as we trek back North from Marathon. Looking forward to receiving future updates and participating were and when we can. 20 Mile Buffer zones is an outrageous thought and having Pilot programs Exempt from Federal Law not a good idea. Sincerely appreciate your efforts on the part of the cruising boating community and us retired cruisers. All the Best
      Capt Bob
      Lying Marathon Marina
      M/Y ALLEZ!

      Please note that Captain Ken DeLacy, author of the note below, has been one of the instrumental players in trying to bring sense to the Sarasota, Florida bayfront anchoring scene!
      Claiborne,
      A job well done blowing the horn on this and alerting the masses! May I post to our local group? Also may I print and distribute as some local boaters here don’t have email?
      Ken DeLacy

      Hello Claiborne.
      Again this year I attempted to cruise Florida mainly for the supposedly warmer weather – which appears to be a thing of the past. I was promptly boarded by both Coastguard and Customs & Immigration boats in Jacksonville and for two days was in effect arrested because yet another agency – Wildlife & Fisheries – had reported they saw about 20 young Latinos getting off my boat at Jacksonville Landing! I was Number One suspect people smuggler! Turned out in the end that they were simply teenagers walking past my boat on the dock to visit the Electronics Show downtown. Funny in a way – yet not so funny in other ways. I hear many stories of boats being boarded in Florida for no valid reason – and undoubtedly with the prime intent of giving an expensive ticket to boost agency budgets. My advice to cruisers – the last sane port of call in Florida is Fernandina Beach – and even there a DNR officer with a gun surreptitiously checks out boats at the marina.
      So I promptly returned to Georgia. Nobody bothers you at St Marys – and a very nice crowd of liveaboards help each other out. The City Dock at Savannah is effectively FREE – with free power and water. The Safe Harbour Marina just south of Thunderbolt is both inexpensive and delightful – both the showers and laundry have been renovated and nice friendly people there! The police boat at Isle of Palms simply waves a greeting and an overnight stay at Thunderbolt Marina will get you a free car to get groceries or visit Savannah.
      For those en route to or from the Bahamas – bypass Florida if possible and go outside. There’s a free dock at Daufuskie Island at a bankrupt marina – no power and water – and Bluffton too on the May River is a nice safe place to moor, visit and stock up on supplies. Diesel everywhere is steadily going up – and we might well see $5 a gallon this Spring. I’m waiting for warmer weather to start soon up to Chesapeake.
      Hope you’re keeping well
      Best wishes
      Arnold

      Claiborne,
      I’m a Florida resident and serious cruiser (4-5000 miles a year). I absolutely support the need to rid our anchorages of ‘liveaboard’ derelicts. We need legislation directed to that goal, not broad brush
      prohibitions. That said, buffer zones around mooring fields (which I heartily support) need to provide only for safety and security on both sides of the field. Fifty feet is far too small, 500 feet might be OK if
      the anchored boats are well anchored and have drag alarms set. I’ve seen too many incidences of boats dropping a small hook on a short scope and falling asleep only to endanger their neighbors. It seems to happen to me every other year on my cruises.
      Chateau de Mer

      Without anchoring freedom, few sailboaters will invest the time necessary to visit many of Florida’s more distant islands. If a sailor cannot anchor and spend a few nights at the island destination, then why spend the several days just to get there? Motorboats, on the other hand, can still zip out and zip back without too much effort and spent time. Just think’¦ pristine island beauty’¦. no sailboats’¦. just motorboats. Makes you feel warm all over, doesn’t it.
      I agree with Chateau de Mer that the mooring fields must be able to offer some safety to their moored boats. Anchors can drag and anchor line can break. It seems reasonable that a mooring field should have a small safety buffer zone around it to prevent these slipped anchors from causing damage to moored boats. 500 ft seems pretty reasonable, depending on the geography, and maybe even as high as 750 ft, if necessary. What really matters is that the state does not allow a few boataphobic municipalities to diminish most of Florida’s bountiful and beautiful waterways by extending these buffer zones beyond the necessary distance to reasonably protect the moored boats. If a buffer zone extends out more than a few hundred feet, then it seems likely that its purpose goes beyond the safety of the moored boats and has more to do with usurping the rights of the boating community, and the state.
      Rick from Port Charlotte

      Dear Mr. Young,
      Leave it to Guberment hacks to once again have their employees study, plan, and develope a program to do something they are already doing in another area!
      The FL. Fish and Game already have a management plan that works for derelict Crab Traps! They should use the same for Derelict boats and Live-aboard hulks. Just plan on a one or two week period a year for each county to have all boats removed. Any vessel in that area during the posted time frame will be declaired abandoned and removed. Problem solved! And it didn’t take two years to plan, countless meetings and countless dollers wasted on the process of law making. Not to mention taking area away from boaters that want to drop anchor.
      What do you thing?
      Mike Laskowski

      Folks, you are seeing what happens when the `carpetbaggers’ show up and want things their way. Florida just elected a new Governor’¦ Rick Scott. Its time to climb on his back about all the wasted money being spent on foolish projects’¦ He’s a big tea party guy, and is busy slashing funds for lots of things’¦.maybe he can slash some more wasted funds from the budgets to stop some of these silly projects.
      Rob Homan

      FLORIDA, THE OUT OF TOUCH STATE. SPEND MONEY WHERE THERE THERE IS NO PROBLEM, BUT, LAY OFF TEACHERS, BECAUSE YOU CANT PAY THEM. THE STATES WATERWAYS ARE THE MOST PATROLLED WATERS IN THE UNIVERSE, GUESS THAT IS WHERE ALL THE CRIME IS NOW. LAW ENFORCEMENT HAS CURED ALL THE CRIME ON LAND, AND HAS NOW MOVE ON THE WATER TO SEEK OUT THE NEW CRIMINAL’“THE SELF SUPPORTING RETIRED BOATER, SEEKING PEACE AND QUITE. ASK CITY OFFICIAL ON FLORIDA’S WATERWAYS, IF THEY ARE AWARE OF A CRUISING BOATER CAUSING A PROBLEM PASSING THROUGH. FLORIDA NEEDS TO GET REAL, NO WONDER THE STATE IS BROKE. HOW MANY BILLIONS OF DOLLARS IS THE STATE LOSING BY THEIR STUPIDITY, TRYING TO ENFORCE VICTIMLESS CRIMES, THEY HAVE CREATED. CRUISING BOATERS ARE SOME OF THE MOST RESPONSIBLE CITIZENS IN OUR COUNTRY. FLORIDA IS CUTTING ITS OWN THROAT, CRUISING BOATERS ARE BY- PASSING THE STATE. AS I SIT ON MY BOAT, AND WATCH THE PARADE OF LAW ENFORCEMENT PASS BY. COAST GUARD, SHERIFFS DEPARTMENT, DEP, FWC, CUSTOMS AND THEIR HIGH SPEED CIGARETTE BOAT, CITY POLICE BOATS, DNR. SOMETHING REAL BAD MUST BE HAPPENING ON THE WATER. AM I TARGETED, BECAUSE I AM A LIVE ABOARD CRUISER. AND YES, I EARNED MY RIGHT TO BOAT IN FLORIDA. I ‘˜M RETIRED FROM TWO POLICE DEPARTMENTS IN FLORIDA, A US NAVY VETERAN, AND A FLORIDA ARMY NATIONAL GUARD INFANTRY VETERAN . THIS CRAZINESS HAS TO STOP. FIGHT CRIMINALS, NOT BOATERS.
      BOB BARTHOLOW

      We agree with Bob Bartholow regarding the number of law enforcement agencies on the waters in Florida. We have just started cruising this year and we are appalled at the amount of money that these agencies spend on patrol boats. Their `boat budgets’ must be astronomical, it seems like only the fastest and most expensive will do.
      We want to experience all that we can while cruising and although mooring fields are a great addition to your choices, anchoring cannot be beat for peace and beauty. The problem we see within our limited experience is, if a mooring field is filled, and there is a `buffer zone’ what do you do besides move on?
      With the traffic we have seen in the mooring fields in this short time, moving on will mean cruising outside of Florida
      Jann & Gary Merrill

      Comments from Cruisers (1)

      1. Dick Mills -  February 26, 2016 - 2:25 pm

        We have to get used to the fact that Florida legislators pay no attention to opinions of those who do not vote in Florida. They do pay attention to rich waterfront land owners who make large donations.

        Now if we could get 100 boaters to donate $10,000 each to a legal fund, we could challenge the idea in Federal Court under US maritime laws and perhaps win. IMO, states have no authority to regulate any aspect of boating. It is analogous to airspace, where the FAA has exclusive authority to regulate, and states have zero authority. (for me personally $10K would be 50% of my income, so I can’t afford to contribute.)

        Reply to Dick
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