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Old 30-06-2014, 18:51   #1
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St Augustine Mooring Fails, City says they'll Pay.

Last night in calm winds and no seas, a 44' ketch's city mooring failed in salt run. The bolt holding the cap on the helical screw was missing. (Either came out, was never there, very unlikely corroded away)
This is likely buried deep in the mud on all 180 odd mooring and will be hard to inspect/ replace.

One of the big complaints by many including me is the city makes you sign a release that they are not liable for damages to your boat. Well, the city dockmaster has verbally told the owner the city will pay all damages which are slight, but could easily run into 10k give or take.

So I guess the question is; when will they pay and when won't they? They do say the moorings are not Hurricane OR storm rated, but what does this mean? Surely a calm night is entirely on them, but what's the cutoff? 35 knots, 45, 60???

It was my understanding the city requires us to carry liability insurance in case their mooring fail, they aren't liable for the damage we do as we smash ashore.

Troubling in all respects.
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Old 30-06-2014, 19:11   #2
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Re: St Augustine Mooring Fails, city says they'll pay.

What tics me me off is they insist you take one. Very few places to anchor near town. Now you can't trust them, if you ever should have.
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Old 30-06-2014, 19:22   #3
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Re: St Augustine Mooring Fails, city says they'll pay.

Well and those of that live here had been able to invest in good storm capable tackle at our own risk. Now those entire areas are poorly maintained mooring field.

I guess overall, I'm sorta ok if the city will accept responsibility absent named storms. I'm going to try to get they to nail down a standard at a future city commission meeting.

Oh and a quick technical note, this mooring has been in use by the same boat for well over a year so the never had a volt theory seems wrong. But there are many moorings in salt run that have never been used 5 years after install. Also the cap is sorta like a pin in your trailer hitch bar. Little reason for it to just fall out and very unlikely to shear especially in light winds.
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Old 30-06-2014, 19:31   #4
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Re: St Augustine Mooring Fails, city says they'll pay.

It's not just St. Augustine that may have suspect moorings. I was riding on a town mooring outside on Menemsha on Marthas Vineyard. A blow was expected that night. Just at dusk the harbor Police came out to tell me I had to vacate the mooring because of the storm. Not very comforting. So I dropped off and anchored nearby. Glad I had chain and a Bruce anchor that held without a problem.
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Old 01-07-2014, 08:10   #5
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Re: St Augustine Mooring Fails, city says they'll pay.

St. Augustine cannot legally ask you to leave either the moorings or the dock for storm purposes.


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Old 01-07-2014, 08:53   #6
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Re: St Augustine Mooring Fails, city says they'll pay.

Yes that's true, but I believe if the mooring fails in a "storm" they are not liable and they do not allow you technically to modify their poor quality tackle in any way or set additional anchors.

And what is a "storm" for the purposes of their maybe responsibility? I reckon if more than 2 boats go ashore in one night it will be called a storm or act of god by the city.

I have my local elected official; port commissioner Mr. Bliss looking into this.
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Old 01-07-2014, 08:58   #7
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Re: St Augustine Mooring Fails, city says they'll pay.

Here is a pic of what the city consider suitable tackle for a 44' 30,000 boat in non storm conditions. Any harbor in the NE would not allow this for any vessel over 20'. But then again, they require their moorings to be capable of holding in a 90 knot "storm"
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Old 01-07-2014, 10:23   #8
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Re: St Augustine Mooring Fails, city says they'll pay.

boatguy, since the florida mooring field program is a "pilot" program I wouldn't be surprised if that also became the pilot (test) case as to legalities and liabilities. In my limited knowledge of it, the contract says TFB take it or leave it, and whether the dockmaster has any authority to contradict that, is where the lawyers start to get involved. State laws, questions of adequate inspections or perhaps gross negligence...contract laws...My crystal ball says lawyers will make more money than any boatyard from this.

If a critical part was missing, St. Aug can always argue that some of those damned eco-sailor-terrorist groups actually stole it, too. They might even be right. (Call Fox Nooze now and try to lock up the rights to the docudrama.(G))
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Old 01-07-2014, 17:37   #9
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Re: St Augustine Mooring Fails, city says they'll pay.

Hadn't thought of that angle! Mainly just concerned with damage to my own boat and any liability I might incur from a failure of the cities tackle.

The pilot program really has nothing to do with the actual mooring field. It just insures any local boater has no choice, but these crap moorings or a private marina in St Augustine.
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Old 01-07-2014, 18:00   #10
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Re: St Augustine Mooring Fails, city says they'll pay.

Boatguy,
Your concerns are legitimate and real. We are seeing a rapidly changing scenario for cruising sailors not only in the US but outside the country as well. If future sailors want to continue to have opportunities to pursue their lifestyle, they must understand that they have more to gain working with local authorities to improve conditions than to create a barrier which only will allow the status quo to deteriorate. These people are civil servants with little or no knowledge of things, nautical ,many of us take for granted. By being overtly adversarial, you will close the door to positive change and create antagonism. A positive, proactive course will benefit all. Good luck and good sailing.
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Old 01-07-2014, 18:40   #11
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Re: St Augustine Mooring Fails, city says they'll pay.

Actually they're retired merchant marine and navy guys that love having power and authority, but good theory.
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Old 01-07-2014, 19:34   #12
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Re: St Augustine Mooring Fails, city says they'll pay.

All of my experiences with the employees of the St. Augustine Municipal Marina have been very professional. I think characterizing them in any other way is demeaning them for no good reason.

With that said, I also have concerns about the mooring quality. We are hanging on one of the moorings in the "south" field right now.

I did ask the Marina Guest Services Coordinator how often they check the moorings and he indicated "twice a year"; when pressed on the actual schedule he didn't have a good answer.

It makes sense to me that the moorings should be checked right before hurricane season, right after hurricane season(the beginning of the migration period), and once again in the early spring. We cannot let the county and state take the same indemnifications as they do with potholes - "Sorry - we know that pothole is 2 feet deep but we don't have any money to fix it, so too bad about your car."

I also think they installed about 2x the number of moorings as necessary - we have been on the ball for 2 months now and we have never seen even 1/2 of the balls occupied. This is a waste of tax dollars - they should be forced to deploy only as many mooring balls as they can keep filled. If they had fewer, they could charge more... some people will always pick up a mooring - even if there is a free anchoring spot right next door. Heck, they don't even have to HAVE mooring balls, just charge $5 a day for dinghy access to old town - there is no place else to land.
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Old 01-07-2014, 19:53   #13
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Re: St Augustine Mooring Fails, city says they'll pay.

I'm not looking to demean anyone. I can just tell you how resident boat owners feel. Not all of us of course, but many feel we are coerced to use these moorings and the city is happy to have this power over us.


Here is a pic of the "commercial" firm hired by the city to "inspect" the moorings in action to today. You will note the high capacity crane to lift mooring tackle, etc that you would expect to see a firm like this to have.

I observed them spending roughy 2-4 minutes per mooring. This is done once per year. Beyond this fake "inspection" procedure the tackle is just not heavy enough. Looks at the guideline of any NE harbor master and you will see CHAIN 1" or so spec'd for a 44' boat. Here they use 3/4 poly nylon blend for a mooring rated to 60'!!!

Anyhow, I appreciate this soapbox here in CF. I'm protected by city statute to have use of the moorings so I figure things can only improve by shedding light onto the poor quality of these moorings.
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Old 01-07-2014, 20:10   #14
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Re: St Augustine Mooring Fails, city says they'll pay.

Zboss, I have been thru this several times on other threads, but you wanna see empty moorings go over to salt run. Over 1/2 of them have never been used. But they wouldn't have been able to ban essentially all anchoring off all the waterfront homes had they not installed all those moorings.

Speaking of tax dollars, the money to install those moorings is gone. The city should now continue to operate upgraded transient moorings off the city front and turn the salt run moorings over to well regulated private ownership and private risk. Otherwise a massive amount will eventually be spent to maintain unused moorings and countless lawsuits from those that fail. There are no liveaboards currently in salt run moorings and almost never any transient assignments.

This area was long used by local responsible boaters to keep their weekender boats. The city should never gotten involved in the first place but for the waterfront homeowners looking to run off the derelicts. The derelicts are long gone and those of use using the mooring field are happy enough to be regulated but need to have adequate tackle for all conditions. Many of us have several properties and other shoreside interests and can't be going to haul out at a boatyard when 40 knot winds are forecast.
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Old 01-07-2014, 21:34   #15
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Re: St Augustine Mooring Fails, city says they'll pay.

Zboss,
if the St. Aug municipal moorings are run by some arm of the city, and staffed by diligent civil servants, they should also be overjoyed to show you the actual results of the last two sets of mooring inspections. If someone inspected the moorings, presumably under a city contract, they also generated a report or at least a checklist that has every mooring by number, and notes on the condition and any work needed or done as a result.

And a civil servant would be proud to share those results.

Of course if they got all huffy about it, one could follow Florida's incredible Sunshine Laws and probably force the publication and examination of those records, or the lack of inspections and lack of records.

And if Florida somehow ran short of sunshine, there's always a federal FOIA demand that can be filed.

You know, two can play at "rules and regulations". Someone might get fired if those documents couldn't be found.
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