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    • Why Florida Anchoring Regulations Hurt the Sunshine State Marine Industry (and More!)

      The Salty Southeast Cruisers’ Net received the note below, and we thought it so thoughtful, we have obtained the author’s permission to reprint it here, without attribution. This missive is typical of more and more that we are receiving, that imply some cruisers are simply not going to take their boats to Florida anymore, or at least keep them there a shorter time. And, that’s why so many of us are fighting so very hard to bring sense to the Florida anchoring and MSD issues.

      Claiborne,
      I have restrained myself mightily from getting too involved in the anchoring dialog on SSECN because I’m not on scene. But two things bode ill for the ultimate outcome. First, the public meetings have been scheduled for well after cruising migrations have removed most of the truly representative cruisers from the dialog. Second, when governments seek to end-run a prohibition they do so by making access so onerous as to drive people away in disgust. It is particularly disturbing to see a cruiser apparently abetting the process as in Sarasota.
      We lived in Florida for seven years (and may again, when day-sailing is all we do). What we learned while there was its margins are either backwaters ruled by Bubba Oligarchies, or Kitsch and Glitz ruled by Plutocracies. The backwaters are disappearing and plutocracy is dominating. The Miami dust-up is a good example. And, unfortunately, your contributor’s response to it may make him feel good, but it is wrecking goodwill in an area that was short of it to start with. [My Dad was a Sheriff’s Deputy.]
      We have already adjusted our cruising plans to seriously de-emphasize the Keys in favor of the Bahamas. For us Florida cruising now stops around Fort Pierce. The only serious interest in cruisers south and west of there is how to run them off or suck their wallets dry. All this discussion of mooring fields and buffer zones is a local tactic for coming up with ways to do both without violating Federal law.
      The Florida tourist culture is come here and spend more money per day than you would at home and then leave. That culture is the operating under-layer of the anchoring dialog. The ultimate injury Floridians feel is, those people at anchor are not spending money. Derelict boats and derelict liveaboards are clearly an issue. But aside from the people who want to enjoy their drugs in their waterfront backyards unobserved, it all comes down to money. One disgusted cruiser working as a part-time St. Augustine marina dockmaster told us the objective was to drive everyone into a marina, onto a mooring, or out of St. Augustine waters.
      Unfortunately, (even if one could be organized) a cruiser protest focused on hitting Florida service providers in the pocket book has no future. The state tax structure favors waterfront condos over marinas* and Florida chandleries make the lion’s share of the their money off local boaters. *[Yes, there were changes, but my discussions with marina, condo and marina-condo owners indicate the changes were wiped out by recession and after two years marinas discovered they were no better off. More and more marinas are condos themselves with the “Marina” being a disinterested collector of rents for the individual slip owners.]
      And don’t look for help soon from SSCA. The Concerned Cruisers Committee is now essentially defunct. The Florida Open Water Society has disappeared. And many other voices in the dialog have declared victory and moved on.
      Florida will win this one — and arguably they should, it’s their state. Florida is under no obligation to do anything other than respect Federal Law. And there are already plans in three jurisdictions to use Federal environmental bottom lands protection laws (as in the Keys) to prevent anchoring otherwise allowed by Federal navigation law.
      The forum you provide is an essential part of democracy, and I honor you for it, but cruisers (nomads) are easy to divide and conquer.
      Name Withheld by Request

      Very well said and I couldn’t agree more. The saddest part of all this is that I believe it is a small minority of well-connected business owners and local citizens that drive these onerous anchoring restrictions, while the silent majority that is not well connected doesn’t even know this is happening. Most people like to look out at boats at anchor. If nothing else it adds to the scenic beauty of the harbor. The nature of those that anchor is that they are transient and therefore have no political clout in the community, if they are even around when these laws are proposed. The good news is that there are still thousands of great places that welcome those who anchor and that is where we will go!
      John Kettlewell

      Alas, Name Withheld tells it as it is. The situation is compounded when FWC’s Pilot Program has a clear aim of helping municipalities fill their mooring fields. Freedom of choice’“anchor or pick up a mooring$’“will disappear. There are more freedoms granted to Winnebago landyachts than there are to Cruisers. The numbers of Cruisers economically affecting towns like StAugustine is insignificant compared to the influx of tourists driving in. We’re dollar driven.
      Jay Bliss

      With all due respect to the previous posters, and John’s remarks about transients: we transients CAN make a difference, provided we act. I’ve been in two anchoring battles now ‘“ Melbourne, and now, Miami Beach. The Melbourne battle was with the city proper, the MB issue is with a private citizen who is using the police to do his dirty work.
      Melbourne bailed on its three day anchoring ‘˜law’ when an article I wrote about the issue appeared in a Florida regional sailing magazine.
      In Miami Beach, City Hall has informed me that Karlton will get no further support from the police ‘“ and Claiborne, sorry but I haven’t had the opportunity to announce that to your readers as yet. I’ll send you the details in an email, plus a response to Mr. Mystery, whose father was a sherrif’s deputy.
      My dad was a cop. Cops hate having to break the law because someone with political clout gets a favor. Contrary to what Mr. Mystery says, the marine police will appreciate being out from under this guy’s thumb, so they can get on with their jobs.
      The point is ‘“ there are laws, and those we elect have an obligation to see that they are enforced ‘“ and not to attempt end runs around them in whatever manner they deem appropriate. That was Melbourne.
      And there are laws, and those we elect have an obligation to see that they are not enforced so as to favour those with money and/or political clout. That was Miami Beach.
      However ‘“ and this goes for both places ‘“ I was not the first and certainly not the only person to have issues over anchoring.
      In both places tho, it appears that I was the only person with the gumption to stand up on my feet and bark at the authorities.
      That’s typical. The reason politicians and others get away with the crap they do is because ‘“ now read this carefully ‘“ WE LET THEM.
      Shall I type that slower, or did everyone get it? We’re letting these people get away with this crap. It’s our fault.
      So the next person who wants to post his or her little whine here about how terrible the authorities are to us poor cruisers ‘“ you’d better be prepared to tell us ‘“ me ‘“ what YOU ‘“ ya, YOU ‘“ plan on doing about it.
      And, by the way, for those who don’t know me ‘“ I’m not even an American, I’m a Canuck. If I can win these fights here, in YOUR country, there’s no reason you, paying taxes and with the right to vote, can’t do the same thing.
      So don’t sit here and complain. Contact your senator, congresspuppy, local councilman/woman, get your concerns known and kick some butt.
      If you’re unhappy that these meetings are scheduled when cruisers are out of town, then complain. Make it clear, put it in writing, and get it to the local media. Copy Claiborne on it so others hear about it. Copy Boat US, and the NMMA. Each of them has a stake in the issue and will help you as they can.
      And when you’ve done all of that ‘“ then come on here and complain. At least you’ll have earned the right then.
      Wally Moran ‘“ no mystery about that.

      The . . . is right, if you give a damn, and contact the powers that be, the newspapers and, if you have to ,get a lawyer you can fight the bastards and win. I have done so and have been sucessfull, you can too. This whole thing is ours to win or lose. If you care, FIGHT.
      Pete

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