The Bill passed out of the Environment
Committee with unanimous support this afternoon; it has just one other committee but the House bill does not have the language about 200' anchorage restrictions. I too sent my letters, here is my letter, which echoes much of what others has opined. In the last day, they added an exemption for "captain/crew exhaustion" - one day limit.
There was comment about the 200' limit, there is hope it will be eliminated in the next committee by amendment. Support will help.
My letter, which anyone who wants to use may snip, snip freely:
Re: Strong opposition to Senate Bill 1548 – Anchoring
I urge you to vote against SB 1548.
This is unnecessary regulation that infringes on the freedom of the citizens of the State, without a compelling State interest. It erodes, rather than enhances, public safety
The restriction from anchoring
within 200’ of residential structures will, in some areas, severely limit options for anchoring. My sailboat, with 5’ draft
, cannot anchor
in the shallowest of waters. When weather
requires that we traverse the ICW
and Ft Lauderdale, we currently have only a handful of anchorage options. Removing many of those is untenable – a sailboat motoring at 4-7 knots would require considerable time to reach the few anchorages
that would remain legal
under this bill, and those anchorages
would be in undesirable locations.
The exceptions for safe harbor anchoring in locations closer than 200’ from residential properties are unacceptably narrow – the bill limits it to mechanical breakdown and extreme weather
conditions. This does not make provision for the myriad other reasons why a boat’s captain
may need to anchor in the nearest safe location, for example:
-Illness of, or injury to, the captain
-Seasickness of guests and their need to disembark and be dinghied to shore
-A need to tend to children
on board. Safely overseeing all children
sometimes requires the captain’s full attention – which means anchoring so he or she can participate in childcare, such as attending to multiple children while a spouse is changing a diaper, making a meal, or dressing another child’s cuts and scrapes. And sometimes, children just need to nap at anchor without the boat moving, or to have a chance to swim and let off energy. Waiting what can be hours until there is a suitable anchorage is untenable.
-Fatigue of the captain / crew. “Pushing through” while bypassing suitable but illegal anchorages because of this proposed law will cause accidents.
-Dusk. A sailboat, which has to wait for bridge openings on the ICW
, does not always make the expected progress. Again, this law would force one to “push through” even if the captain knows it is safer to anchor out of the way for the night than continue to operate the boat when it is hard to distinguish between the lights of boats and the lights of the city.
-Cold rains are not “extreme weather”, but if you’ve ever been on a small open boat in a chilling rain while the wind
blows, you know that foul weather gear
offers only temporary relief. Once you are wet, you need to anchor in the first available safe harbor, change into dry clothes, and wait out the rains.
Anchorages that are 200’ or more from shore are inherently MORE dangerous locations for anchoring small boats than a site closer to shore.
-The anchorages that would remain legal
under this law are closer to the ICW, other marked channels, or near busy commercial
locations such as restaurants (which may have boat traffic). Most of the infrequently traveled, safe, quiet hide-away anchorages would be off limits if this law is enacted.
-It is extremely difficult to distinguish between the light(s) of an anchored boat – often just one white light – against the backdrop of a city. This cannot be overstated. Early in my boating
career the Coast Guard advised me to anchor closer to shore, further away from a route
other boats may take, explaining that my legally anchored boat was nearly invisible against the nighttime Miami
skyline. They explained that if a fast, light power boat
hit my anchored sailboat, the powerboat would be ripped apart, likely tossing all aboard it into the water
. If this bill passes, there will be more collisions at night when more boats are anchored near navigation
routes; Miami has already seen fatalities with boat collisions. Don’t create more! It is much safer to anchor in a quiet residential area; there will be fewer boats that could accidentally ram the anchored boat, and anchoring is easier and safer when in a location where other boats stand out from the dimmer house lights.
-Anchoring 200’ + feet from shore means exposing the boat to stronger winds and higher waves. This affects safety
; it is not just about a poor night’s sleep. Boats will drag at anchor more readily when exposed to high wind
and wave. While I can control my boat (I have a proper anchor and all-chain anchor rode), I cannot control other boats. If you haven’t seen boats dragging at anchor, then you haven’t been in a South Florida
anchorage overnight! Dragging boats can crash onto the lee shore, and endanger other boats. Tempers flare when one boat drags near or into another, so the dangers I foresee are not limited to hull
damage, but also what happens when one boater reacts to another’s inability to remain anchored.
I surmise that the reason for this bill, which conflates dealing with derelict boats and restricting anchorages near residences, is proposed due to the preference of waterfront owners not to have boats near their houses. I can relate to this – I would prefer that others not park their cars on the street in front of my house. It is ludicrous to suggest that a law be passed to prohibit people from parking on all public roads within 200 feet of a residence; it is ludicrous to arbitrarily set limits on anchoring in the navigable waters of the state without a compelling safety interest.
This bill lacks is an example of unnecessary legislation, and although it is ludicrously titled “An act relating to vessel safety”, it lacks a safety interest, and for all the reasons described above, it creates hazards to boaters. I urge you to vote against this bill.