Update on Florida’s Pilot Program – Marathon, FL MPAC Meeting Held
July 31st, 2011
Update on Florida’s Pilot Program
Marathon, FL MPAC Meeting Held
by Charmaine Smith Ladd
Each month, Monroe County’s MPAC (Marine & Port Authority Committee) meets here in Marathon. The agenda often covers a variety of topics. The meeting of 27 July, last Wednesday evening, included the Pilot Program as part of the agenda. There were very few from the public in attendance, but that is not unusual. Most do not realize the MPAC meetings are open to the public. Before sharing what occurred, please note that the next meeting of the MPAC will be held on September 7th at 6:30 p.m. at the Monroe County Government Center, 27th & Overseas Highway, 2nd floor, on Bayside (just follow the road at 27th Street to the building).
The general consensus of the Pilot Program’s impact on the Keys is quite reassuring to cruisers. It gives me great pleasure to report that the phrase “Less is more” was uttered often by Committee members in relation to the question of whether or not to enact City ordinances. There are very concerned committee members who are doing their best to do the right thing for this wonderful community. Boating is an integral part of what makes the city of Marathon attractive to tourism. Also on the agenda was a discussion about Marathon most likely becoming a Port-of-Entry. As Americans become free to travel to and from Cuba by air and sea; Marathon becoming a Port-of-Entry represents a boon to local tourism. We are a boater and cruiser friendly community.
It was quite interesting to hear news shared by Committee members who attended a meeting held in Orlando of representatives of all five Pilot Program sites. The sites are: St. Augustine, St. Petersburg, Sarasota, Stuart, and Monroe County. Those who reported back were in agreement that the other four sites are not taking the “Less is more” attitude towards anchoring in the waters of their respective cities as we here of Monroe County. Two of the sites have 10-day anchoring limits already being proposed as a solution to their problems.
Time limits are out of the question as far as cruisers are concerned. Time limits are what cause cruisers to hurry. When one is under a time limit, many things have to be considered that shouldn’t be a concern. The first concern of any captain is vessel and crew safety as it pertains to weather windows and the seaworthiness and readiness of vessel and crew. This is what the right of navigation is all about and why it is upheld by Admiralty Law. Those who think they can pass such ordinances and not end up with a plethora of lawsuits are kidding themselves. One accident caused by being under the duress of having to hurry out of a city because of time limits will put an end to such nonsense.
Those of you who want to cruise the waters of the sites that are not as considerate as the Keys, please take the time to attend all meetings that have the Pilot Program on their agendas. If you cannot attend, please write Boat US. Boat US speaks for the rights of America’s cruisers and recreational boaters–and there is power in numbers! It is not too late to get your voice heard before decisions that will negatively impact your right to anchor in these site areas are made into ordinance. Fortunately, Florida still has the Keys. Down here, life is looked at as free and easy. The people here are more laid back and steer away from the overdoses of governmental intrusions. Sure, we have some problems down here…but the laws on the books prior to the enactment of the Pilot Program are sufficient to address such. We need not go along with those who take the stance that prohibiting anchoring is the only course of action to solve issues in their waters. Safety should always be priority one. Anchoring time limits will impede the right of navigation and no doubt prove detrimental to the safety of cruisers.
We cannot just sit and wait to see what transpires. Instead, we all must play an active role in making sure that the decisions made are ones that are in the best interest of we who navigate the waters. Pilot Programs have a way of becoming mainstream. Is that really what you want?
Charmaine Smith Ladd
SSECN Special Correspondent, Florida Keys
“Bringing you the low down from down low!”
The ten day limits Charmaine tells us are proposed are exactly what many cruisers feared this pilot program would lead to.
And Charmaine is right that these types of ordinances will lead to the type of grief that led Florida to enact 327.6. We need to immediately put a stop to this sort of thing from these municipalities.
Cruiser action and involvement will be required for this to happen.
Further to my previous post, I give seminars at several boat shows, including two here in Canada, on traveling south on the ICW. I generally speak to around 1000 cruisers each year in Canada and it is my intention to advise them that they should contact the various authorities in FL to convey their views on anchoring restrictions, and also to consider bypassing these communities should such restrictions be put in place. Hopefully, the threat of economic loss will put these politicians on notice that we will not accept their crap. We’ve fought them before and we can do so again.
Just a note to say Thank You very much for your reports and input to the cruising communitiy as well as your efforts on our behalf. Thank you for being close to the situation.
Hopefully we will be able to get a chance to meet you and extend our thanks in person in the Keys this Winter. We will be at the Marathon Marina on Dec 1st for the Winter.
You have a great website that I will be going back to enjoy what you have put up. Love the Sunset gallery.
Fair Winds and safe Cruising
Captains Helen & Bob
lying Cocoa Village Marina, Cocoa, FL
M/Y ALLEZ! MT50 WB
Greetings, Helen and Bob! Thanks so very much for your kind words and appreciation. Looking forward to meeting you both in December!
Anchoring restrictions that impede the safety of myself, my crew or vessel will be met with equal restrictions on the authorities travel, housing and safety. I cannot emphasize how strongly i feel the need to express my opinion that i took an oath to defend the constitution when i joined the service in 1974. Part of the constitution deals with maritime law. any officer,judge or other official who attempts to enforce a local ordinance contrary to the constitution and against me or my vessel or crew will be met with force since the supreme court has ruled that any law or ordinance in violation of the constitution is null and void. All the local authorities have to do is back off. I did not start this fight but i sure will be there to finish it
Submitted on 2011/08/21 at 4:41 pm
I was surprised to learn from these reports that local ordinances are even in the picture ‘“ my superficial impression had been that the state law was enacted to provide one, uniform statewide law for both boaters and municipalities to comply with. Thanks, Charmaine for the clarification. If my understanding is correct, a `pilot program’ is just the first step ‘“ ultimately the resulting legal framework will apply throughout the state once the `pilot’ phase is complete. It’s not clear to me how each jurisdiction writing it’s own law not necessarily conforming to the state law is going to play our once the pilot phase is over.
It is good to know the current Marathon powers that be are of the less is more variety, as in many places people get involved in government because they believe government is the solution to all our ills.
A couple of years ago we were in the Virgin Islands where they have the same derelict boat issue. In `the lagoon’ on the SE shore of St. Thomas there had been similar problems, and the authorities (federal I think, rather than local) came through a few years back with the litmus test that boats had to be able to get underway in 3 hours. Those that didn’t meet the standard were removed, I think using a one time grant from Uncle Sam. There were still a lot of boats there that many of us might consider derelict but at least it’s a way to define `navigable’. Our impression is the lagoon is where folks ended up that didn’t have enough money to make it to Coral Bay.
Anyway, keep up the good work.
Jim Kevern, S/V Ubiquitous
Thank you for your well thought out and `spot on’ comments. Many boaters and cruisers are totally confused because in the State of Florida we have the `liveaboard’ and `non-liveaboard’ definitions that cloud the issue as to whom will be affected by the Pilot Program. The Pilot Program opened the door for CRUISERS (boats that navigate are called `Non-liveaboards’ whether or not one actually lives aboard). It is so true, this Pilot Program will run as a test for two years’¦but we know where that will lead. Cities all over Florida are installing mooring fields as I write this. The writing is on the wall.
We must all speak up now, write to FWC and let them know we need options, not ordinances restricting our right to anchor outside of mooring fields. Some areas are talking about 2.5-nearly a 5 mile buffer zone around their mooring fields. Clearly, the Pilot Program overrides what the public demanded they wanted: FL Statute 327.60(2) to remain intact to protect our right to anchor outside mooring fields. The Pilot Program is the back door that many do not understand. B.A.R.R. (Boaters’ Anchoring Rights & Responsibilities) has been established earlier this month to dispel the myths and get the truth out so CRUISERS will know what is happening and make their voices heard. The FWC is listening, they will do what the PUBLIC wants. Perhaps once and for all, the municipalities and areas that have a documented history of enacting illegal anchoring ordinances will finally realize they must stop. They do not know where to draw the line and are not creative enough to address the problem issues with current existing laws ‘” instead, they want to regulate ALL boats. We do not have to allow this to occur.
Claiborne has been very kind to tout my new Group, B.A.R.R. (Boaters’ Anchoring Rights & Responsibilities) dedicated to protecting our anchoring rights and promoting responsible boating. I am proud to have him in my corner. I’ve been quite active with the Pilot Program since the beginning, and am also very proud that my efforts here in Monroe County are bringing an understanding to those in charge that less is indeed more! Whenever I speak at public meetings or in private with the powers that be, they all know I represent all of you here at SSECN as well.
Please join B.A.R.R., as we have power in numbers. Spread the word! http://www.marinersbarr.org ‘“ I’m working hard on the website even today and will have more information up soon. We have a great Organization that is only a couple of weeks old but has nearly 500 members. In the meantime, please use the link at the BARR website to `Join Us at the BARR’ on Facebook (called `Mariner’s Barr)! We have lots of documents there to help you keep your right to anchor. Many thanks!