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Old 27-11-2006, 09:30   #1
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Why More Places Restrict Anchoring

We've all heard the stories, or been subject to them ourselves. More and more cities and government agencies are restricting anchoring practices. This has become a major problem for cruisers in some area, but there is another side to the story. We recently had this happen in our home town (photo attached): http://www.bainbridgebuzz.com/content/view/1418/1/

Now, surely this is a sad end to a beautiful boat ("Dock Holiday" is the name), but it will be a major expense to our city to remove it and clean it up. Note the sheen on the water. Also, this boat had another abandoned boat tied to it. So, we can complain about our losses, but there are reasons beyond just greed.

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Old 27-11-2006, 12:46   #2
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I don't see why more towns are restricting anchoring. That is the normal way out for beaurocrats who are more interested in collecting a paycheck rather than doing their job. There are sufficient laws on the books to be enforced without restricting the rights of law abiding citizens. The sinking of this vessel was obviously the result of inattention by the owners. The cost of clean-up should be borne by the vessel's owner, not the general tax payer. Cities and towns have the legal means at hand to recover their costs without punishing me for the crimes of another.
I am at a total loss as to why tyrants choose to punish the many for the sins of the few.
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Old 27-11-2006, 13:18   #3
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Originally Posted by Jentine
The cost of clean-up should be borne by the vessel's owner, not the general tax payer. Cities and towns have the legal means at hand to recover their costs without punishing me for the crimes of another.
I am pretty much in tune with what Jentine is saying, but there is another side to the stroy.... Here in Sausalito, CA we have many boats anchored out that either sink or break free and wash up on shore of the bay. These boats are almost without exception owned by people who are locally described as "anchor-outs". Basically they are part of our local homeless population. (Before anybody thows rocks at me, I live on my boat too...)

There are no assets to collect from these people. No wages to ganish. No tax refunds to withold. Nothing. The town of Sausalito spends tens of thousands of dollars a year cleaning up the mess left behind, and that doesn't count the money spent by the Corp of Engineers removing those boats that are hazards to navigation.

Seems to me I am penalized whenever my taxes have to be spent cleaning up these people's mess.

I think that there should be other ways of fixing this mess than by draconian anchoring rules, but I am not sure exactly what they are.

Sausalio's answer is not, by any means a good one. They pass strict anchoring rules, but it is only law abiding people who follow them, and there is no enforcement for the people who are thought to be "unstable" or "touchy" because we don't want to create a scene. Unfortunetly those are exactly the boats that are the problem!

I am not offering or defending, a particular solution here, just pointing out that usually boats that are in such poor condition are usually (not always, but we talking about the odds here...) owned by people too poor to properly maintain or dispose of them. The people making the rules see the problem from a different perspective, they aren't petty little dictators. Well, mostly not, anyway.
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Old 27-11-2006, 13:35   #4
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Jentine, the reason tyrants punish the many for the sins of the few is that it' easier to do. The good citizens usually don't stand up and fight back. Unfortunately it's human nature to take the easy way. Seattle cops handing out jaywalking tickets while car theft is at an all time high is another example.
But Steve, tell us what you REALLY think!
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Old 27-11-2006, 15:43   #5
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Hmmm... these arguments make a great deal of sense. There are some folks out there who don't maintain their vessels or keep them in any sort of condtion to make any passages. It goes against every fiber of my being to say it, but maybe an ordinance against boats with plastic tarps?? That would be just enough to weed out the peope who cannot afford to upkeep their boats.

Just an idea.

I see most boats that are stuck at a dock (they don't anchor year round here) that are owned by people who can't afford to keep them in working order use plastic tarps everywhere to keep the leaks from dripping. They seem to do this rather than fix the leaks. They also often rely heavily on bilge pumps to keep the endless flow of leaking water from the hull at a reasonable level.
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Old 27-11-2006, 16:01   #6
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If everybody would just follow the 10 Commandments, Golden Rule, take-your-pick-of-moral-codes, then we would have far fewer of the problems we do. Unless and until that happens, the problems of the few will always be up to the many to solve. I thought this was an example from my own backyard that would be of possible interest to our little piece of the world.

For many years, Bainbridge Island's Eagle Harbor was free and open to anyone who wanted to anchor there, for as long as they desired. Only until relatively recently has it become a problem. Citizens have become ever more sensitive to environmental problems on the Harbor (it is a Superfund site from an old creosote plant and the leavings from an old shipbuilding operation that was, for a number of years, the birthplace of many a clipper ship). As property values around the Harbor have escalated to incredible prices, the people who can afford these places have become ever more picky about their views and voiced their ire at seeing people less fortunate them themselves living aboard their (sometimes dilapidated) boats. This has resulted in Bainbridge Island passing more restrictive laws. Unfortunately, a community of liveaboards, once valued by the more long-term residents but more recently viewed as undesirable squatters on public lands by many, more recent shore-dwellers, are becoming the victims.

Yet, when we see a problem like this -- a large, difficult to repair, unseaworthy and polluting boat -- we can't just let it sit there and spew more oil into the harbor. Who is to pay? I guess, us.

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Old 27-11-2006, 17:00   #7
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People who pay the big bucks for waterfront property aren't interested in seeing a floating "mobile home park" from their verenda.

I read a post not too long ago, about a fella in Tampa, FL who lived aboard and anchored out for years. A new condo sprung up near his anchorage and the people who bought the condos petitioned the local government to ban anchoring. This was done. The irony? The sales brochures used to sell these condos featured a photograph of the bay with this fellas boat dead center in the photo.

Go figure.

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Old 27-11-2006, 17:18   #8
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Here in St. Augustine, FL, USA we have a liveaboard community. Some anchor in the bay. Where does their waste go? In the bay! Where does the horse waste from the sightseeing carriages go that is not caught in the poop bags when it rains? In the bay! Where does the oil from the cars and trucks go when it rains? In the bay! Where does the excess lawn fertilizer go when it rains? In the bay! The city wants to put out moorings to limit the number of cruisers and liveaboards. The city is not worried about the other forms of pollution. He who makes the rules, RULES. Yes, we did have poor disabled military veteran, unfortunately his dream sunk. The city knows who owns the vessel but will not be able to recover the cost of removing the derelick vessel. Who pays? The taxpayers pay for all the cleanup. The liveaboard is a taxpayer that pays state sales tax on fuel, food, and boating supplies. The liveaboard is a person that has selected a certain life style and pays for that syle of living. Some liveaboards are well fixed financially and others are not, just like some shore-dwellers. The politicians have passed laws concerning houses so some houses can be condemned. This permits new houses to be built and higher taxes collected. In Florida the land under the water is taxed. Marinas have to pay taxes on the submerged land.
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Old 27-11-2006, 17:22   #9
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Sorry to say, I have seen this problem too. I lived in Marina del Rey, CA for a year or so ... some of the boats were so trashy as to be unbelievable ... I'm pretty easy going ... uh .... Hell, I'm DAMN easy going, but this was just disgusting. Their solution? They threw out the baby with the bathwater. Almost no live aboards now .... but it sure is pretty ... all of those great big yachts with no one around ....?
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Old 27-11-2006, 17:38   #10
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There's an old saying "That's what insurance is for." And yes, I'm sure the town of Bainbridge could do what every other municipality does, either self-insure or buy a policy to cover events like this. Your problem really has nothing to do with boats or boaters or derelicts, but rather, with poor town planning for "events" in general.

And that's not unusual, or to put the town down. That's sadly the norm in most of the world.

In my home town we had some private pilot fly into a building and start a major fire. So, do we ban all aircraft from town? No, we look to liability issues. Same way we have all been forced to insure our cars, because back in the early days a motor car would zoom in, run down the cows and chickens, and zoom out with no one to pick up the bill.

There are many ways to deal with the issue. You can install moorings, and require their use and certificates of liability insurance--the same way private marinas do. Or you can charge a tourist tax. Or charge it to your local businesses, who presumably make money from boaters. Vermont pays for a lot of things by levying taxes on tourists, as hotel taxes and ski charges.

The price of allowing tourists and transients and the general public to pass through any town, any field, any place? Yeah, some of them are going to do damage to "the commons" and you will have to figure out how to pay for that. A good sharp government, run by a bright population, does this. Sadly, most folks are either numb, stressed out, pre-occupied, or too greedy to pay attention to these issues, and their governments, the same or worse.

What you've got is a political problem, not a boating problem. Don't let the ugly thing in the water distract you, next time it could be an uninsured tanker truck full of chlorine gas or ammonia, that takes out half the town.
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Old 27-11-2006, 23:38   #11
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I totally agree with hellosailor.

Back in the early 80's I watched the San Diego Harbor free anchorage die out due to the LACK OF law enforcement doing their job. Old wooden tuna boats were left unattended due to the political changes in Mexico fishing. So they just let them sink slowly without even doing anything. Then after they were almost completely under water with oil and fuel leaking up the City decided that free anchorage had to go.

So now, no one can anchor long term. I think permits, charge or no charge, should be required monthly with proof of insurance. And at least one knows the boat is being attended. If it starts to look like it's in trouble call the harbor patrol and get it resolved. For that matter the HP should be out there daily. They sure are in Lake Union of Seattle. One place they actually do their job. Politics*&^%$#
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Old 28-11-2006, 05:53   #12
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The above 2 comments are spot on. Good thinking, guys. This post really opened my eyes up to the other side of the coin. As a regular long term anchorer (but one that moves from place to place and doesn't just sit in one place), I am of course pro anchoring. However, the photo above and resultant political mess is a real concern.

It's scary to say, but true - maybe there *does* need to be an insurance law that is enforced in towns like the one mentioned above. This could be a once and for all solution to the anchoring problem. I think the original post is just what those condo owners worry about... pollution, sunken and ugly vessels, etc...

An insurance law would allow the town to be assured that someone else would foot the bill for vessel removal and damage to the bay. Insurance companies like to sell more insurance, and as a relatively poor guy, even *I* could afford insurance on my vessel.

With mandatory insurance (shudder!), we could all avoid such problems.

Maybe towns could also do like the Bureau of Land Management (Federal land organization) does for RVers. You are allowed to park for something like 3 weeks on the land, but must move after that time period to prove your RV is not just a hunk of junk that they will have to remove eventually. You can start in Spot A, stay three weeks, then move to Spot B, then return to Spot A after the next 3 weeks are up. They require the RVs to move a certain distance every 3 weeks, while not charging a cent to the RV to use the land. This type of situation could *easily* solve all of the anchoring issues.

As for all the fertilizer and other runoff going into the bays, that's a more complicated question. I often wonder why the 3 or 4 boats in a bay that have liveaboards get singled out for pollution from pumping out, when so very much sewage, oil, fertilizer, etc... pours in from those storm drains. It's not logical at all.
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Old 28-11-2006, 07:57   #13
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Rubbish

The whole argument for long term live aboards is rubbish. NO ONE has a legal right to become a squatter on public land. If you can cite any law that says to the contrary, please show it to me. I'll immediately tow an old van up to the Blue Ridge Parkway, put it on blocks at one of the overlooks and claim the spot as mine. I suggest that everyone else do the same ASAP before all of the choice parking spots are gone.

We were passing thru Beaufort, NC last spring. It had been 15 years since we had stopped there. We were surprised to find that you can no longer anchor in front of the town docks. A few dozen people put out private mooring balls claiming that public spot as their own. A handful of people have claimed a public anchorage as their own and deprive all other cruisers/boaters of using it....B.S.

I have met several couples who live aboard permanently at anchor. They are great people who have jobs and contribute to the community. But that does not mean that they have any legal right to squat on public land.
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Old 28-11-2006, 08:59   #14
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Many of your comments are helpful. To be honest, I don't know if there is an insurance requirement. I doubt it, but that's a good idea and I will pass it on (I know a couple of the city council members).

One of the historical factors in this discussion is that our island has, in the space of about 10 years, gone from having a fairly small population that was pretty economically diverse and with reasonably affordable housing at least available, to one that is looking more and more like Jackson Hole on Puget Sound. The median price of housing is now north of $700K and there is nothing, absolutely nothing, under $400K. Our schoolteachers, police, firemen, etc. can't afford to live here. A number of the liveaboards are working people just trying to get by as best they can and they have a lot of sympathy in the community.

But I think you are right: this is not a boating problem, but a political one. Unfortunately, there has been very little political discourse to try and achieve a reasonable resolution and it has instead degenerated into lawsuits.

Regarding the pollution issue, yes, the studies (ones done specifically on this harbor) have shown that the vast majority of the gunk now coming into the harbor actually comes from the land. Failing septic systems and poorly controlled runoff account for far more pollution that liveaboards not using holding tanks. The city does have a pumpout station available and it seems that the majority of the liveaboards are using it. But, obviously, a derelict boat leaking oil cannot be tolerated.

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Old 28-11-2006, 09:00   #15
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Now that we are cruising full time [except for this winter due to circumstances beyond our control] I am on both sides of this one. I am totally against anything that limits my ability to anchor anywhere that is safe and prudent to do so, however I fully understand the need for cities/towns etc to protect their local waters. I also disagree with just put in moorings as the solution. All to often I found towns with moorings set up in New England charging absurd rates to stay one night. This includes locations with minimal services ashore. Those were places we did not go. Even at $25/night with 30 nights at mooring that adds up to $750 month a really big chuck of a $1500 month cruising budget. The real issue is to enforce the discharge and existing regulations on those boats that are ignoring the rules and regs. Personally I carry insurance and do not have any issue with mandating liability insurance for all vessels, this would make sure [if the law is enforced] that and damage is covered. The downside is of course those living on derelict vessels with no money would not buy the insurance [just like the folks with no money on the roads] and we are right back where we started.

OTOH I think the new clarifications as posted by Florida are getting close to a reality. They limit liveaboards [i.e. those that live full time on their boats and use the boat as a permanent non mobile residence] ability to anchor. However they do not limit full time cruisers -- i.e. seaworthy boats moving from place to place. More info on this can be found here http://www.ssca.org/anchorrights.pdf .
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