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    • Another Volusia County Boarding Incident (near St. M. 846.5)

      Those of you who have been following the Cruisers’ Net, know there was an uproar in November of 2010, involving a boarding of a pleasure craft in Volusia County by sheriff’s deputies. Claims were made that the one of the law enforcement officers in question approached the captain below decks with a drawn weapon. That story is linked below, and we will not further comment on it here.
      The incident described below is certainly less disturbing than the above referred happening, but it is troublesome nevertheless. All we can do is suggest that all cruisers proceed through Volusia County waters, ready for a boarding anytime, even when your vessel is about to pass under a bridge
      .

      I was boarded by the Volusia County deputies on 10/27 as we were staged with several other boats waiting to go under the New Smyrna bascule bridge. We were dealing with wind and some current, and the deputies boarded us just as the bridge was about to open, so that I had to turn the helm over to my wife who took the boat under the bridge, while I escorted the officers below. I was surprised that they were not considerate enough to wait until we cleared the bridge before they approaced us, and that certainly added to the tenseness of the situation.
      I showed the officer my diverter valve which was correctly valved to the holding tank, but cannot be secured because of extremely poor access. The officer agreed that it would be almost impossible to secure the valve with a lock or wire tie, but said that was not his problem. I explained that I had records of having pumped out the previous day and 4 times in the previous four weeks. He issued me a $250 citation.
      The officer stated ‘ I spend three months in the spring and three months if the fall doing nothing but stopping boats going north or south’. I concluded that Volusia County is operating a `toilet trap’ that is just like a speed trap, and that their primary interest is to raise revenue rather than to insure the cleanliness of the waters. It seems that this law has given them the perfect tool to generate funds for their raises and toys, while getting to spend their days boating, rather than doing the unpleasant work of serious crime prevention.
      My take on the requirement for permission to board is that a boat is just like ones home on land. Boarding the deck is not an invasion of privacy, and if all crew members are on deck, it is not unreasonable to require all to stay on deck until the officer is escourted below.
      However, a crew member below could be sleeping, undressed, showering, or adding to the holding tank contents. That person must be allowed to prepare for visitors and then grant permission for entry. If an officer violates this, he is guilty of invasion of privacy and should be subject to disciplinary action or worse.
      A written policy should be published for dealing with this, so that all can understand their rights and limitations.
      I was able to petition the judge with my pump out records and photos of my diverter valve compartment showing the access problem and the fine was lowered from $250 to $100. I am installing a lock on the compartment door to hopefully achieve compliance with the securing requirement. I must say that this requirement does little to prevent overboard discharge, since the captain and unlock and operate the valve at will (but then logic has never been a requirement for government regulations).
      William Lackey
      SV Jezabel

      And, comments from fellow cruisers on the above incident:

      As some folks are FINALLY beginning to realize’¦.
      THE LAND OF THE FREE’¦.ISN’T.
      William

      I hate to sound unsympathetic here because I am not.
      The premises and policies behind these laws are often flawed and contain a considerable animus toward toward boaters, especially those who do not vote in Florida and who have a long history of abusing Florida’s welcome both with public nuisance, sewage discharge and attempted tax evasion.
      In many cases these local laws are the current cruising community reaping what decades of abuse by the prior community has sewn. These laws (if they should be changed) will not be changed soon. They are constitutional (not talking about anchoring here), they are tested, and they are proportional to the offense. I doubt if they are money raisers given what it costs to police and adjudicate them.
      Before we cruise, we spend as much time on the relevant laws of the jurisdictions we are going to transit as we do the charts [well almost].
      I would ask, had one been stopped by a highway trooper for improperly towing a dangerous load*, would difficulty in attaching legally required safety chains have been a sufficient defense. I think not.
      We have a responsibility to fully honor the spirit, intent, and letter of the laws of those whose commons we share. If we, as a class, continue to seek special dispensation, we may well get it, but it won’t be the kind we were hoping for.
      *having been seriously sickened by sewage during a pump out incident, I certainly consider it dangerous
      Chris

      Click Here To View the Article About An Earlier Volusia County Boarding

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    • Depths in Largo Sound Mooring Field??? (Key Largo, off Hawk Channel)

      I have rechecked my notes as to what depths I discovered when I last sounded Largo Sound. I did indeed record depths as shallow as 4 feet, and as much as 6-feet or slightly less. HAS ANYONE ELSE PICKED UP A MOOING HERE LATELY. What depths did you find? Please click the “Comment on This Posting/Marina/Anchorage/Bridge” link below, and share your information.

      Claiborne,
      I recently sent an email to you regarding Largo Sound. The park’s dockmaster wouldn’t take a reservation for our 5′ 2’³ draft ‘“ he was adamant that the channel/mooring field only had 4′ 6’³ of water. Your cruising guide states 5’ 6’³ minimums. Have you had any other comments/updates on this issue? I had to continue on to Marathon because of weather/lack of anchorages.
      Cheers,
      Ty Giesemann

      The cruiser who asked about Pennecamp: here is link to a 2010 story about it. They found 6 foot depths.
      /john-c-pennekamp-coral-reef-state-park-marina-off-hawk-channel-near-key-largo/
      Jane Tigar

      Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s Florida Keys Anchorage Directory Listing For Largo Sound

      Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of

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    • Trouble May Be Brewing in the Boca Grande – Gasparilla Island Basin Anchorage (Western Florida ICW, Statute Mile 28.5)

      OK, the little note below heralds some real, POTENTIAL trouble!
      Let’s first acknowledge that a collection of semi-permanently anchored vessels in Boca Grande Bayou are a REAL problem, not only for island residents, but also for legitimate cruisers who find much of the space in this wonderfully sheltered anchorage occupied by these, as I call them, “live aboard hulks.” For several years, I’ve been encouraging the local authorities in Boca Grande to solve this problem by enforcing existing MSD regulations and marina salvage laws.
      Now, it sounds from the short note below as if something Draconian MAY be in the works, which will prohibit anchorage by all vessels in the basin anchorage. And, if I may be allowed an editorial comment here, the local lawyers can say they are “finished with the paperword,” but I can tell you unquestionably from my own involvement with the Florida anchoring rights struggle, if Boca Grande attempts to prohibit all anchorage in Boca Grande Bayou, or even put a time limit on such anchorage, they will be in clear violation of Florida state law!
      Stay tuned, we are trying to get more clarification in this situation.

      Subject: Boca Grande Bayou
      Cruising News:
      I just received this from a friend of mine.
      Frank and Chuck,

      We just spent several nice days at the Boca Bayou. But Saturday afternoon we were in the dinghy when the sheriff’s deputy came motoring in. He called to us and asked if we were from the sailboats. When we said yes, he responded that they were coming to give trespassing tickets “soon”. We had to ask for more info. He said that the lawyers had finally finished with all the paperwork and were now ready to issue tickets as all the land belongs to the Gasparilla Inn. He said the marine patrol and the FWC would be out to give the tickets. We asked what he meant by “soon” and he said, “not today”.

      And, we have received the following comment from Captain Chuck Baier, editor of the “Waterway Guide.” Chuck is quite right in what he says, IF AND ONLY IF Gasparilla Inn actually owns or leases the bottom land in the “basin anchorage.”

      Claiborne, You comments about Gasparilla being in violation of Florida law, may or may not be correct. As a former marina manager in south Florida, I know that there are certain situations where an individual or commercial entity holds title to a part of the waterway including the bay bottom. This is identical to holding a deed for a piece of land. If Gasparilla Inn does indeed hold title to the bay bottom, they can restrict use of the area and someone anchoring can be charged with trespassing. There is a formal procedure in Florida for issuing a trespass citation. Perhaps the authorities are trying to sort out the actual title to the bay bottom, and perhaps it is a bluff to keep folks moving. I suppose time will tell.
      Chuck

      Captain Nicole’s remarks below mirror my own view almost exactly on the basin/Boca Grande Bayou anchorage. It would be a crime if cruising vessels were barred from anchoring on these waters, AND there is indeed a problem in this basin with derelicts and “live aboard hulks.” Once again, local authorities should use MSD regulations and marine salvage laws to solve this latter problem!

      As someone who anchored here twice north and south bound, this would be a sad anchorage to lose as it is so protected and in a really lovely town. I can tell you from experience there that I know of at least one boat where the owner moved back to California and pretty much abandoned his vessel anchored there. We know that just from the 3 days we spent there and based on the state of disrepair of some of the other vessels, I would guess that their owners are not returning anytime soon.
      Nicole

      And, more from Captain Chuck at Waterway Guide:

      Just more hijinks in Florida. I know that some homeowners in Boot Key Harbor found out their deeds included the bay bottom in front of their homes and began calling the Sheriff whenever someone anchored there. The Sheriff made the boater move but could not write a citation or do anything official unless they refused to move. The area must be posted with a no trespassing sign for the Sheriff to act or write a citation. A little hard to do on the water although not impossible. It may be that new owners of the Inn or someone searched the title and found they own the bay bottom. Or as I said, it may be a ruse to keep any other boats out long term. I managed Bonefish Marina in Marathon, and we owned the entire basin including the bay bottom. The slips are condo and when you buy one you get a deeded piece of property, even though it is under water. It will be interesting to see how it turns out. Florida is always a fun place.
      Chuck Baier,
      General Manager
      www.waterwayguide.com
      www.skipperbob.net

      I’m not a lawyer. But, my admittedly limited understanding is that there are two types of submerged lands in Florida ‘“ Privately Owned, and State Owned. Originally, all was State Owned ‘“ but provisions were made to grant title to private entities at some point. However, my understanding is that any conveyance of submerged lands that are under navigable water to a private party includes provisions for public access and use for navigation and commerce. Anchoring is part of `navigation’. In other words, there should be language in the privately held title that states use of the overlying waters by the public can not be forbidden. Therefore, it would seem a private owner of submerged lands would not be able to preclude navigation ‘“ and navigation necessarily includes anchoring. Regardless, Florida sure is an interesting place to live! I hope someone gets lawyered-up and challenges this.
      Tom Scott, Punta Gorda FL.

      Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s Western Florida Anchorage Directory Listing For the Boca Grande ‘“ Gasparilla Island Basin Anchorage

      Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of the Boca Grande ‘“ Gasparilla Island Basin Anchorage

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    • New Matlacha Bridge Schedule (Western Florida, near Pine Island Sound)

      Matlache Channel runs between the western Florida mainland and Pine Island, just north of the “Miserable Mile,” the Caloosahatchee River and Fort Myers. The southern half of this passage is winding and shallow, but quite a few cruisers do enter the far deeper northern and cruise as far south as the Matlacha Bridge, with a few anchoring just south of this span.
      While the note below is a bit cryptic in regards to the politics of what is going on here, it looks like the county is now managing this span, and has come to some sort of compromise opening schedule, balancing landside and waterborne interests.
      ALL cruisers who plan to navigate even a portion of the Matlacha channel need to carefully record the opening times outlined below.

      Cruising News:
      Here is what we plan to do for the bridge opening hours. We will start this Dec. 1, 2010. Basically we will man the bridge during USCG hours and then on demand, on the hour only, in between (11 AM, noon, 1 PM and 2 PM), except we will cover the extended hours on the weekend and the day before and after, as follows:
      Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday
      8 AM to 10 AM ‘“ bridge will open on demand
      10 AM to 3 PM ‘“ bridge will open, only on the hour, on demand
      3 PM to 7 PM ‘“ bridge will open on demand
      ————————————
      Friday, Saturday & Monday
      8 AM to 7 PM ‘“ bridge will open on demand (as it was pre-construction)
      ———————————–
      Sunday
      7 AM to 7 PM ‘“ bridge will open on demand (as it was pre-construction)
      ———————————-
      Also, if there is some special event, with multiple vessels, and the bridge needs to open at some time other than on the hour (this is for Tuesday thru Thursday, 10 AM to 3 PM only) we just need to be provided 24 hour notice, which can be done by calling 239-533-8573. This number will be forwarded to one of us at all times, and we will cover whatever the special arrangements need to be.
      Hopefully this will pacify everyone’s needs. I realize that everyone may not be totally satisfied, but I hope we are close. Just as an FYI, providing this service will cost the County approximately $50,000 over the original bid price. So everybody has had to comprise somewhat.
      Frank Cushing

      Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of The Matlacha Bridge

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    • St. Augustine’s New Recession-Friendly ($10 and under!) and First Rate Greek Restaurant “Gyro House” (St. M. 778)

      Wow, sounds like our fearless, roving reporter, Captain Jane Tigar, has come up with a real cuisine find in St. Augustine. See you at the Gyro House!!!

      Unless you are an aficionado of “hole in the wall” restaurants, don’t let this unassuming-looking little storefront style restaurant fool you. Gyro House of St. Augustine offers truly fine and truly home-made authentic Greek and Middle Eastern food — with a touch of Sicilian thrown in.
      It’s hard not to make a fuss over the reasonable prices, but please trust us on this — this is great food at any price. This is artisanal real food made by someone who knows food and cares about feeding you well.
      Gyro House’s short yet varied menu offers the best gyro (bearing no resemblance to the ubiquitous salty mystery meat that goes by the same name) we have ever tasted. Actually, everything we tried was the best version we’d ever tasted.
      Almost everything is house-made and the short yet varied menu of this little restaurant reveals the owner’s and his wife’s combined ethnic heritages — Greek, Middle Eastern and Sicilian. Adam, the half-Greek and half-Jordanian owner, says the Gyro is the crown jewel of his sandwiches. He chops, spices and compresses the gyro meat on premises before cooking it on the rotisserie. Grape leaves are also house-made using Jasmine rice from Egypt — I don’t think I’ve ever eaten a fresher or more tender stuffed grape leaf, ever.
      The falafel — this ranks right up there with the falafel on the Rue des Rosiers in Paris. That’s not some kind of inside joke, until this week, that was our favorite falafel on the planet. Fresh, full of cumin (I love that spice!), not over-cooked, perfect balance of crunchy outside and tender inside. Kibbee — pine nuts and I frankly don’t remember what else, but again, best version I’ve ever had. The tortellini feature a Sicilian pesto; the pita mini-pizzas feature a Genovese pesto. The other sandwich offerings include Chicken Shawarma, Chicken Caesar and Mediterranean Veggie.
      Sandwiches are $6.99 and for $9.99 you can upgrade to a platter with a choice of two sides including tortellini, jasmine rice, kibbee, falafel, olives from Jerusalem, spanakopita, house-marinated artichokes. There are also salads, including Greek Salad, Tomato Salad with mozzarella pearls and basil, Caesar Salad and Tortellini Salad at $4.99 for a small and $6.99 for large. If the salad that was tucked in our gyros is any indication — fresh, crisp romaine, shaved onion and fresh chopped parsley — then the salads will be excellent, too.
      We were too full for dessert but reports are that the home-made baklava is, yes, you guessed it, the best ever. Based on the other offerings, I’m willing to bet it’s true.
      If you’re lucky, you will happen upon Gyro House just when you’re running out of olive oil on board. Organic olive oil from Genoa is for sale by the liter for $20.
      Gyro House is a moderate-to-short walk from the St. Augustine Municipal Marina, located at 210 St. George Street; that’s on the left side of the central park (facing in-land). Hours are 11 AM to 7 PM, 7 days a week, except major holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.
      Captain Jane
      S/V Lady Jane

      Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of The St. Augustine Downtown Waterfront

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    • Good Anchorage at LaBelle (Okeechobee Waterway, near St. M. 103)

      We’ve never tried to anchor in front to the LaBelle City Dock, and Captain Laura’s note is the first indication that I remember that you can not tie up to this pier overnight. So, if you want to visit the delightful town of LaBelle, and overnight there, it looks like dropping the hook may be the best way to go!

      Subject: LaBelle, FL
      Cruising News:
      There’s a delightful anchorage in front of LaBelle City Park just west of the Hwys 78/29 bridge–good holding and very quiet. The city docks have a 15′ limit and no overnights. Adjacent is an aluminum dock with very small slips. If you need to take a puppy to shore, either dock would suffice for a dink tie. We found nothing else so this was a great only choice.
      Laura Lane Bender

      I e-mailed Captain Laura and asked if she was sure there was no more overnight dockage at the LaBelle City Dock. Yes, she’s sure! Read on:

      Yes. 15 minute limit! That’s hardly long enuff to walk a dawg!!! The other dock about 100 yds down is apparently also public but they made little bitty slips so they’re pretty useless. There were 6 of us anchored there and it was great. Moore Haven was also another boater unfriendly place where we thought we could tie up so called phone # and who ever answered said she had no idea what it cost. Could be $1. Could be $2. Someone would appear the next morn to collect. Asked who I could call for info and she was clueless. This was on a weekend. For no amenities wasn’t willing to risk $2. That could be a significant shock!
      Laura

      Here’s some differing information:

      I believe the limitations on size of vessel and time at the dock apply only to the park facilities on the north side of the waterway. The free town dock on the south side, with water and electric, can accommodate larger boats moored stern-to. Overnight docking has always been allowed there, and as far as I know that hasn’t changed. I didn’t tie up there this year because the dock was full, so I anchored off the park along the north side. As Laura said, it’s a very nice, quiet place with good holding.
      Peter Colket

      Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of LaBelle on the Okeechobee Waterway

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    • The Happy, “Rest of the Story” of the Labrador Retriever Missing in Albemarle Sound, NC

      Thanks to Captain Rogers, we hear of this happy ending to an otherwise sad story. Kudos and congratulations to the wonderful, caring Hansons for adopting another rescued dog.

      Bucky’s remains were found today at Roanoke Island by a kind fisheries ranger. He tried calling us several times and we finally had to drive halfway to town to get reception and speak to him. We would like to thank everyone for kind expressions of sympathy and creative and helpful suggestions to find him. Thank you friends, one and all ‘“ you have been wonderful.
      Jane Hanson aboard Sweet Liberty

      Yesterday, a Lab fell off a Southbound Uniflite and the couple could not find her, although she wore a yellow life preserver. It was like a
      lake so the distraught couple does not understand what could have happened. The USCG and local fishermen were notified. Tomorrow they
      will put up posters in Elizabeth City and environs. The Lab is tan and about 12 years old. She has a color with their phone number in ink,
      but they fear it washed off.
      If you learn anything, please email me or call my cell at 443-223-1559.
      Ron Rogers

      Subject:LABRADOR RETRIEVER LOST ON THE ALBEMARLE – OUTCOME
      A good holiday outcome to an otherwise sad story. Sadly, Bucky was found dead by a Ranger on the shore of Roanoke Island – 25 miles East of the channel where he was lost. The head of the Rangers was notified by a list member (of the Great Loop, T&T, or Liveaboard List) named Adam. Thank you Adam.

      The Pughs, a gracious, dog-loving couple in New Bern, NC read of the tragedy and had just participated with the Craven County Animal Shelter in the rescue of a Yellow Lab thought to have fallen out of a pickup truck in the New Bern, NC area. They had taken him to a vet for treatment after seeing him at the shelter. He had avoided euthanasia by being so sweet. The Pughs contacted me having read the first email and I asked Bucky’s parents {the Hansons} if they would like to adopt this dog who appears to be about 8 years old. They did!
      In a few days, their new dog Lucky, will travel with them to Wisconsin along with Baylor and their two cats. Hearts are mending and animals are comfortably adjusting. Everyone including Lucky remembers their past but is enjoying the present.
      Thank you to all who expressed their concern and asked to stay informed. This has been a tribute to caring people and the power of the Internet in bringing them together. And they all lived happily ever after.
      Happy Holidays,
      Ron Rogers, Washington, NC

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    • How to Pay at Savannah City Docks, off the AICW on the Savannah River (downtown Savannah, GA)

      Many have expressed frustration over the payment process at these well-located docks on the waterfront in Savannah. Now we have step-by-step directions!

      Stayed at the Savannah City docks for one night on Nov 18th. There is a sign on the docks but for some reason it doesn’t tell you how to pay! To pay ($1.50/ft incl elect and water) you need to go up the alley and two blocks in towards the center of town between two hotels to the parking garage and pay there. Very friendly and helpful folks.
      Captain Dick Turner

      Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s Georgia Marina Directory Listing For Savannah City Docks

      Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of Savannah City Docks

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    • Report of Low Water in Kingsley Creek, AICW Statute Mile 720

      The area Captain Casper references is in Kingsley Creek stretch of the AICW, just out of Amelia River and approximately 3 miles south of Fernandina Beach. Tidal range in this area can exceed 5 feet, so caution most be used as you approach the Twin Highway Amelia Island RR Bridge at Mile 721.

      Cruising News:
      While Northbound At 11:AM Nov/10 2010, we encountered 7 ft depth North of the Green 13. We were near high tide at that time.
      Captain Clarence Casper

      Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s Eastern Florida Bridge Directory Listing For Twin Highway Amelia Island RR Bridge

      Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of Kingsley Creek

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    • Dewees Creek Anchorage – Captain Jane Reports (Statute Mile 455)

      Sunset at Dewees Creek

      Here’s another superb story from our fearless roving reporter, Captain Jane Tigar. Her story below concerns anchoring on Dewees Creek, This somewhat complicated, but undeniably anchor rich complex of creeks intersects the AICW south of marker #109. As Captain Jane notes, there are seaward and land-side branches of Dewees Creek. The western arm, in particular has many possibly havens, including on on charted Long Creek.

      Even if you think you’d rather be in a marina, this is an anchorage that could change your mind. There are at least four separate anchoring areas — and that’s without going up the creek and exploring — and there’s plenty of room to maneuver.
      First, you have two options, West off the AICW or East off the AICW. We did not personally explore the Eastern option but observed a large sailing catamaran take the turn, go past the ferry dock at Dewees Island and drop the hook pretty much exactly as Skipper Bob suggests. She was still there in the morning where we’d last spied her — so we presume it was a good spot. From the Waterway, this Eastern choice appears a little less picturesque than the Western option and you do have Gray Aggie taking people back and forth to Isle of Palms, a feature that is neither a plus nor minus in my book.
      We chose West just because it looked pretty. We found lots of deep water, just as charted — even the numbers we thought were typos such as a 71 which we were sure would be 17 were accurate. Had you been listening in on us, you would have heard us both say, with great surprise: Nope, it’s really 71!
      The Western option offers you at least three obvious choices without wandering far off the AICW — you can go straight ahead (which we did), take a port turn or take a starboard turn, each to what appear to be fine anchoring spots. Going straight ahead, we found that the depths drop to 20 and just past the first creek arm to port, we found depths of mid- to high teens — perfect for anchoring. There is so much room here, we felt very comfortable, even if a parade of boats were to join us as Isle of Palms Marina and some in Charleston, too, were full. As it turned out, only four vessels joined us for the night. One right near us in the main section of the creek as you can see in the sunset photograph. Another chose the slender arm that heads South. Two other boats took the first turn to North.
      It was a breezy night and we found holding excellent. The currents aligned us for a splendid sunset and in the morning conveniently spun us so we faced east for an equally splendid sunrise coming up over the ocean as we reentered the AICW.
      It doesn’t get better than this.
      Captain Jane
      S/V Lady Jane

      Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s South Carolina Anchorage Directory Listing For Dewees Creek Anchorages

      Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of Dewees Creek

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