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    • What Cruisers Truly Bring to Tourism – An Editorial by Captain Charmaine Smith Ladd

      I have been saying for years and years that the state of Florida is playing with FIRE, when it comes to anchorage regulations, MSD boardings and midnight safety inspections. Let’s all remember that the marine industry is the second largest in the Sunshine State, second only to tourism (and the success of Florida’s “Tourist Industry,” it can be argued, is somewhat tied to the success of the “cruising industry” as well).
      Captain Charmaine Smith Ladd, our very special Florida Keys Correspondent, shares her thoughts below on this very issue!

      November 4th, 2011

      What Cruisers Truly Bring to Tourism
      by Charmaine Smith Ladd
      It just dawned on me that I’ve never seen a glossy magazine cover showing a mooring field. It’s the magazine cover that piques the interest of a potential consumer, it is there to draw them in to buy it. With that said, there is no vicarious romance with mooring fields. LOL
      Boaters and cruisers are always shown having a wonderful time. Or if only a vessel or vessels are shown, the depiction is usually that of in an idyllic, exotic locale that makes the landlocked wannabes’ mouths water. That is the romance of cruising.
      All cruisers have friends and family who live vicariously through them. My website has more landlubbers who profess to me their envy at we who lead such rich and rewarding lives. It’s not a monetary stash of riches, but riches that money cannot buy: freedom, or the semblance of freedom. This is why during the winters, cruisers have no shortage of friends and family (and often just mere acquaintances) who wish to visit them. And visit they do!
      Most cruisers have blogs or websites that narrate a lot of their travels. We introduce others to places they had not thought about visiting. With us there first, we open the door for others to visit these places as well. This is an overlooked fact that landlubbers who think cruisers are just, well, cruisers sitting in their waters, do not realize. We bring more tourism to their areas each time we visit. Others love destinations to explore, especially when relatives and friends are already there and tout the friendliness, warmth, and beauty of a new-to-them community.
      Our guests fly or drive to meet up with us. They stay aboard with us a day or two, if that, and the remainder of the time are guests at local hotels and motels. We entertain them and they entertain us. We frequent local establishments and enjoy the sights. We are cruisers and tourists, yet the tourism from cruisers brings in more tourists to the area.
      Areas in Florida are contemplating placing regulations on cruisers. This truly should been seen in the bigger picture as we actually do more for these areas than is commonly perceived. In all of the continental U.S. there is no place quite like Florida in the winter. Our northern friends and relatives relish the thought of we cruisers sitting down here where it is warm and flock to us. They come where we go.
      Sitting in a mooring field is not the romance depicted on the magazine covers, and with good reason. There is a place for mooring fields as they serve a very useful purpose. However, there’s nothing quite like swinging from the hook and enjoying cocktails at sunset with those who have never experienced it. It is a romantic impression they do not forget. So much so, that many come back on their own to the areas where they first climbed aboard our vessels. We may have cruised on to another destination, but they will fly in and stay at your hotels and remember “when.”
      May those making regulatory decisions about the future of anchoring in Florida’s waters also remember “when.”
      Charmaine Smith Ladd
      SSECN Special Correspondent, Florida Keys
      “Bringing you the low down from down low!”
      csmithladd@marinersbarr.org

      Well said Charmaine! Over the course of many years of visiting Florida we have often had guests fly in to visit us aboard, while often staying at hotels ashore for part of their trips too. In fact, we too have stayed in hotels, rented cars, eaten at restaurants, gone to amusement parks, visited museums and zoos, purchased things in stores, and spent money on all sorts of `normal’ tourist attractions while being based on our boat in Florida. However, we prefer to anchor out and we don’t go to places we can’t anchor. It is not just the mooring field that will not get our money if they force us away.
      John Kettlewell

      Well said, Charmaine. Keep it up.
      Steve and Sheila Kamp,
      S/V Carolina, Southbound

      Well said and true. I am lucky enough to own a home on a canal in Key Largo. I purchased this home so that I could sail whenever I wanted.
      As a resident, taxpayer and boater I think we are lucky to have such a vibrant live aboard community.
      I frequently stay at different anchorages and 99% of boaters are respectful and kind. They are outgoing and would give you the shirt off their back.
      Let’s never treat them (me) as second class citizens in any way, shape or form.
      Jason McPeak, S/V TwoCan, Key Largo, FL

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