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Old 02-03-2009, 10:29   #1
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New Anti-Anchoring & Liveaboard Law in Florida

Florida is working on a new law that may come out of committee in the next few days. Even if you are not a Florida resident, help us by contacting the lawmakers at the end of the article below.

February 26, 2009


Florida’s Boating Bubble

Centuries of International Maritime Law and traditional vessel rights are being set aside in Florida so that municipalities and counties may impose anchoring restrictions on visiting and local boats. Several Miami boaters (some at anchor and others cruising out of marinas) recently formed the Florida Open Water Society (FOWS) in response to proposed anchoring restrictions in Florida.

Richard Blackford of the Seven Seas Cruising Association has long recognized that the actions of local authorities are often illegal regarding anchoring. His efforts have paved the way for boaters to preserve their rights around the country. To continue the fight against measures that restrict anchoring and cruising, FOWS is focusing specifically on Florida.

FOWS President Eric Dybing and Harbor Master John Smith have made several trips to Tallahassee urging lawmakers to amend the current proposition. As of now, three versions have been amended with input by FOWS. (Go to For the protection of the rights of the boater in Florida and click on Legislation to view Version 7). FOWS has identified several loopholes in the language that could lead to anchoring restrictions. A bill could be formed in committee in the coming days. Boaters, marine businesses and all concerned with preserving the public’s access to Florida’s waterways should contact their representatives in Tallahassee. (See list of representatives at end of article.)

The Most Glaring Problem is that once a mooring field is in place, a municipality or county may then restrict other anchoring in that region. Sarasota and other areas have “jumped the gun” before a bill has even passed by seeking to restrict boats to docks or mooring fields when not underway. (See Southwinds, February 2009 article by Steve Morrell.)

Many Boaters Have Been Illegally Harassed At Anchor. There are numerous reports to the Seven Seas Cruising Association and David Dickerson of the National Marine Manufacturer’s Association (NMMA) that tell a story of local enforcement officers knowingly breaking the law by telling boaters to “move along.” A Florida law was enacted in 2006 to protect boaters’ rights, (See Southwinds Sailing - Serving the Southern Cruising & Racing Sailor since 1993 Past Issues-November 2006) but boaters are still being hassled. Visit FOWS website to report any past or present illegal actions by local authorities. Details like the officer’s badge number, date and place of “infraction” will be particularly helpful. FOWS seeks to formalize the collection of as many occurrences as possible.

The “Shun-Slime” State is how a New England cruising couple recently referred to boating in Florida. They described unfriendly encounters with local marine patrollers during their trip down the Intracoastal Waterway. They felt “slimed” when regularly charged $20.00 just to dock their dinghy – an amount that would have covered a transient mooring (including access to facilities) and a few shore side beverages back home. During their ten day stay, these cruisers joined me on a few shopping trips and spent roughly $4,000.00 on spare parts and provisioning while in the Miami area. When discussing their plans for next year, they vowed to spend as little time and money as possible in Florida. “We will hang a left for the Bahamas at the first opportunity to cross the Gulfstream.”

Many Local Boaters and Marine Business Owners Cringe when similar sentiments are heard from visiting cruisers. Reports of declining cruising, tourism and marine business revenues are alarming. FOWS collected hundreds of signatures on a petition to preserve anchoring rights at this year’s Miami International Boat Show. The exorbitant slip fees that Florida marinas are charging stems from their short supply; developers have converted dozens to condos. On the water storage of vessels at anchor or on moorings is an inescapable consequence of Florida development.

FOWS Mission
The Florida Open Water Society is dedicated to ensuring continuous access by our citizens and visitors to the diverse waterways of the State of Florida. Our mission is to protect and maintain their rights to responsible anchoring, mooring and various recreational water sports. We endeavor to work with the state and local governments to promote proper legislation that will maintain our rights and privileges to these activities.

Florida Needs to Carefully Manage Its Waterways so that public access is preserved and policies benefit all Floridians as equally as possible.

Richard Blackford Writes: “The pressures that Florida’s waters are being subjected to are only 1-3 decades old and are hardly unique. In other parts of the world these same pressures have existed for centuries. Multiple solutions have evolved over time and include space to accommodate local boats as well as visiting boats (with their tourist crews) and they support broad rather than narrow economic interests. It is time to change the zero sum game where a developer’s win is every other stakeholder’s loss. (See Concerned Cruiser’s Committee at ccc@ssca.org)

Varying Municipal and County Regulations will discourage visiting boaters. FOWS is advocating a uniform statewide policy for anchoring and mooring vessels. Our proposed Harbor Masters could assist authorities to implement and run a “Tag and Go” program that would tackle the problem of abandoned or derelict vessels. These problem boats paint boaters who maintain and anchor their vessels responsibly with the wrong brush. A sail or power boat typical to our members represents a significant asset (for some their largest). We spend thousands of dollars a year to keep them functional and safe. Hazardous boats threaten all vessels in their vicinity and during storms may do harm to shoreline interests. FOWS encourages on-the-water storage of vessels that is safe and sustainable.

Local Businesses Are Using Public Land when obtaining ocean floor leases to install mooring fields. FOWS recognizes this as a positive step that provides secure moorings for local and transient vessels. However, we are concerned that for-profit mooring fields will extinguish a way of life for boaters that has existed for centuries. The ability to anchor with reasonable restrictions in many states includes the option for residents to obtain state mooring permits (one per resident with a state registered vessel). These measures ensure residents and visitors affordable, well-managed access to state waters. The revenues from mooring permits would provide millions of dollars the state could use for fish and wildlife staff to safeguard marine habitats. We can’t allow monopolizing business practices by mooring field interests to supercede traditional boating rights.

Will Poorly Regulated Businesses Over-Inflate Their Positions For Profit? Most boating service costs are trending upward which will lead to boating becoming something only the wealthy may pursue. We can’t remain on the sidelines while a bubble forms that excludes average boaters from enjoying Florida’s waterways. Many states and regions actively preserve their maritime heritage, not as something quaint, but as a vital element which perpetuates boating for all citizens and visitors. As one author recently stated: “When afloat we can imagine the water below us connecting all coasts. If done well, waterways management will do the same.”

Floridians are at a crossroad where we must decide if our recent economic woes will extend further into the marine sector, a cycle which if repeated will certainly generate more public losses. With the proper checks and balances, steady and sustainable boating growth in our state can ensure our waters remain open and accessible for generations to come.

Mark Bradley
Florida Open Water Society

To learn more: visit For the protection of the rights of the boater in Florida

Here is a list of legislators you may contact to insist anchoring rights be preserved:

Senators on Community Affairs: Bennett 850-487-5078, Siplin 850-487-5190,
Altman 850-487-5053, Deutch 850-487-5091, Garcia 850-487-5106, Gardiner 850-487-5047, Hill 850-487-5024, Ring 850-487-5024, Storms 850-487-5072, and Wise 850-487-5027.

Senators on Environment: Constantine 850-487-5050, Sobel 850-487-5097,
Detert 850-487-5081, Dockery 850-487-5040, Jones 850-487-5065 and Rich 850-487-5103.

Senators on Judiciary: Constantine 850-487-5050, Joyner 850-487-5059, Baker 850-487-5014, Fasano 850-487-5062, Gelber 850-487-5121, Haridopolos 850-487-5056, Peadon 850-487-5000, Richter 850-487-5124 and Ring 850-487-5024.

Senators on Commerce: Garcia 850-487-5106, Gelber 850-487-5121, Crist 850-487-5068, Detert 850-487-5081, Justice 850-487-5075, Lynn 850-487-5033, Oelrich 850-487-5020,
Prutt 850-487-5088, Richter 850-487-5124 and Smith 850-487-5112.

Representatives on Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee: Williams 850-488-2047, Poppell 850-488-3006, Brandenburg 850-488-0260, Bembry 850-488-7870,
Boyd 850-488-9835, Bullard 850-488-5480, Burgin 850-488-9910, Crisafulli 850-488-4669, Culp 850-488-2770, Drake 850-488-4726, Evers 850-488-8188, Glorioso 850-488-0807,
Jones 850-488-6897, Mayfield 850-488-0952, Pafford 850-488-0175, Patronis 850-488-9696, Renuart 850-488-0001 and Schultz 850-488-0805.
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Old 02-03-2009, 10:56   #2
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A friend of mine that I've known since grade school has recently been elected to the Fl state house. I'd like to have a conversation with him about this but I need the bill number. Is it available?
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Old 02-03-2009, 12:13   #3
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All Copyed from SSCA.org

here are some that one might find of use..
first I will give you a direct link to the boating site
midway down the page is a box with links to the
issue at hand..
FWC - Boating

Draft Seven of the amendment... that they have gone thru
7 drafts proves they are listening to us..
http://myfwc.com/docs/RecreationActi...oating2009.pdf

the part that worries me is the "pilot programs"
that was tossed in at the last minute..
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Old 02-03-2009, 12:14   #4
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Capitalist greed or common sense?

On the face of it this seems a worthy cause.

Why should legislation prevent one putting down the anchor in an emergency or when the crew are tired. On the other hand if its a conservation issue and has been designated as such and marked on the charts then fair enough restrict (note that word restrict does not mean forbid) anchoring in specific areas.

What about the unfamiliar skipper arriving in the dark after a long passage, a safe anchorage marked on the chart to wait for daylight is more than just a courtesy it may be the difference between a safe landing and a wreck.

Permanent moorings laid to preserve the seabed from ad hock anchoring is sensible and they need to be self financing in most administrations. Profiteering by pricing them so people only use them under sufferance and by having no other alternative will result in less profit as those local to the area avoid them and visitors / long term cruisers quickly learn to stay away as they are usually on a budget.

Thanks for the warning on this emerging trend. I wasn't really keen on visiting Florida as it already sounds to touristy for us, now I guess its further down the list of places to visit and we will head North sooner.
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Old 02-03-2009, 12:50   #5
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Link to FL FWC (fish and wildlife conservation commission) web site with draft and wording changes for the bill regulating boating issues, including anchoring and mooring.

To me one of the troubling points is while prohibiting local city and county regulations that restrict anchoring of vessels, local governments are allowed to pass laws regulating live aboard vessels.

Having seen some harbors that turned into dumping grounds for derelict vessels I can see some problems that need to be dealt with but it sems like one issue is being used as an excuse to regulate cruisers and live aboards out of at least some areas.


http://myfwc.com/docs/RecreationActivities/Boating2009.pdf

http://myfwc.com/docs/RecreationActivities/Anchoring_Mooring_Update.pdf
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Old 02-03-2009, 14:44   #6
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Looking at the links, it seems there are two issues under discussion. 1. ad hock mooring as and where you like - not a good idea. 2. boats left unattended and neglected - what a waste!

There is a big difference between anchoring and mooring. I took the view that the issue was anchoring from the first post title saying anchoring! In fact it is not anchoring its long term mooring in one spot that is the issue.

Is it an unregulated free for all? can anyone drop a lump of concrete and hitch their boat to it and go home leaving it at the mercy of wind, wave and other boats that come adrift?

Or tie up to a piling or pontoon (the property of some-one else) and go home expecting their boat to be safe and sound when they return in a week month or year?

If so its about time they got some legislation and control over who drops a mooring in and where they do it or just abandoning their boat in the fairway. How often are moorings inspected and checked for serviceability. Who maintains safe passages around and among the moorings?

I am sure the pictures have been carefully selected for impact in the desired and favored intent to influence the reader by the clearly impartial author of the reports. Notwithstanding that, if boats are left to get into the state portrayed by the pictures then I am surprised that whatever harbour master or authority that currently exists does not have the authority to remove the derelict vessel in the interest of safety to other vessels. Leaving submerged vessels just below the water must leave them open to accusations of a lack of duty of care to other users of the waterway. To claim they don't have the money to remove them is mamby-pamby bleating by the authority as they should be able to sue the owner for reimbursement of the cost (provided they have first attempted at least to contact the owner who of course advised them when they left the vessel in that place).

A form of local licensing or mooring control should include evidence of insurance and ownership as well as controlled allocation of moorings.

Anchoring is a temporary situation that requires that an anchor watch is on board in case of a dragging anchor. This ain't' mooring in my book and it seems to me what Florida has is a mess of uncontrolled free for all unregulated mooring.

Even more reason to stay away. I would prefer to pay a reasonable fee and in return have a safe (annually inspected) mooring with regular patrols by the harbour or mooring officer checking all is well and if not be contacted. Equally my insurer would take a dim view of me entering such an unregulated environment let alone leaving the vessel unattended.
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Old 02-03-2009, 14:55   #7
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Anchoring in Florida

I have never been to Florida so I may be out of line with my comments but the derelict vessel and noise issue could be dealt with by a local bylaw. Each municipality could enact a bylaw to address problems specific to their area. Draconian all encompassing legislation does more harm than good. It casts too wide a net and once enacted it becomes virtually impossible to repeal. Stand up for your rights or risk losing them forever. As the pressure on diminishing waterfront increases you will find more and more attempts to limit access or outright denial of use. This is an issue that will never go away so keep on fighting so that when I finally get a chance to cruise in your lovely waters I will find a parking space
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Old 09-03-2009, 10:52   #8
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The final version of the FWC draft language for Florida statewide anchorage regulations, has now been translated into House Bill HR 1423. Version Seven has been incorporated into House Bill 1423, and posted in the House by Representative Troutman. The bill covers multiple issues and the anchoring language is scattered throughout the bills text.

Goto:
Cruisers Net your best source for up to date information on the Waterway - Anchoring Rights

And:
For the protection of the rights of the boater in Florida

HR 1423:
http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sectio...3&Session=2009
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Old 09-03-2009, 11:11   #9
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Thanks, Gord. I was literally typing up the HB number & links for amytom and you beat me to it.
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Old 09-03-2009, 13:05   #10
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Originally Posted by perchance View Post
I have never been to Florida so I may be out of line with my comments but the derelict vessel and noise issue could be dealt with by a local bylaw. Each municipality could enact a bylaw to address problems specific to their area. Draconian all encompassing legislation does more harm than good. It casts too wide a net and once enacted it becomes virtually impossible to repeal. Stand up for your rights or risk losing them forever. As the pressure on diminishing waterfront increases you will find more and more attempts to limit access or outright denial of use. This is an issue that will never go away so keep on fighting so that when I finally get a chance to cruise in your lovely waters I will find a parking space
One of the reasons for a new state law is because a number of municipalities enacted their own Draconian regulations that virtually prohibitted any anchoring at all in their jurisdiction.

On the other hand, I can testify from personal experience that in the past some anchorages became completely filled with derelict vessels, leaving no space for transients that needed a spot to anchor for the night. So there was need for some reform from "our" point of view.

However, it seems like the law as it is currently written may help out transients and travelers but at the expense of live aboards.
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Old 09-03-2009, 13:59   #11
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I have looked at the links and still cant fathom what the issue is.

Is the state attempting to control ad-hock mooring (i.e. long term in one spot) and laying to anchor (short term visit) on the same basis?

or

Is it trying to regularise long term mooring (i.e long term in one spot) without impeeding visitors anchoring in designated areas?

The legislation (and alternative) wording needs definitions between anchoring and mooring (or at least I do to make sense of this).

I think that areas set aside as a safe anchorage should only be for short term visits when the vessel is manned the majority of the time. Maybe it is a case that some vessels are mooring for long periods in anchorages. In which case I dont think that is the right thing to do and it should be discouraged.

I my opinion
Every harbour needs some control over permanent moorings and short term moorings. The harbour authority needs legislation to provide the powers to control mooring be it on town or city moorings or commercially provided facilities.

The harbour authority should also remain totally independent from any private / commercial organisation that seeks a profit from placing or maintaining moorings.

Anchoring should only be for short term periods in designated areas for which only minimal harbour dues if any should apply.

From what is being written it suggests that there exists an uncontrolled free-for-all in the whole of the USA with respect to mooring or is that anchoring?
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Old 09-03-2009, 14:12   #12
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I agree with Adventures,
Cruisers need to be careful that in defending the right for transients to anchor that we do not get lumped in with the derelicts that populate a lot of harbours. Not quite sure how we do this but.....
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Old 09-03-2009, 17:16   #13
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I have looked at the links and still cant fathom what the issue is.
The intent of the legislation is to allow municipalities to designate mooring areas and to establish municipal mooring fields. The rub is that after the creation of the mooring field the municipality would then criminalize mooring (definitions of which vary from having more than one anchor out, being attached to an "immoveable" object, or simply being anchored for a period of time).

It would then be compulsory to use the mooring field (and pay for the use).

One of the biggest attractions to cruising is the freedom involved, and I for one have no desire to see this freedom eroded. The legislation in question is sponsored by a State Congressman (Bennet, I believe), who is an associate of the guy who would make a TON of money by establishing these mooring fields.

Part of the reactionary nature to the move for this legislation is the lack of confidence citizens in South Florida have in our elected representatives. We have had (and continue to have) a lengthy Federal probe into corruption in Palm Beach County that has so far resulted in the incarceration of 5 city and County Commisssioners.
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Old 10-03-2009, 09:59   #14
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whatever the issue is.... if you have time to write here, You have time to write anyone and everyone and complain, LOUDLY that this new law will hurt our fair state.

We already had laws in place to deal with derelict and abandoned boats.. One of the previous problems that has been rectified.. was that a boat not "underway" did not have to be registered or currently registered. That made it almost impossible to locate the actual owner of the boat and fine them for the removal of the boat.
Many were fishing boats the owner had grown tired of and/or could not afford.. so they just drove them someplace, dropped the hook or dumped them in the mangroves and walked away.. with no registration... you see the point. ALL boats whether underway or just sitting somehwere on land or in a slip, have to be registered and kept current.

This is about dirt dwellers vs boaters basically. The more of you who write the boards of tourism, the fwc, the govenor and your legislators.. and do it loudly and often.. that includes, especially you, non floridians.. tell them exactly WHY you will not be coming to florida and how much each time you don'; tcome they lose in business and revenue. We are a use based tax system. We have NO state income tax.. if you use it then you pay taxes on it.. and thus our revenue will go down.. people will lose jobs,.. in this bad economy that is no small deal.

Do me a favor.. IF you were to come to Florida to provision, rent a slip, repairs, fuel, you name it.. whatever it might have been keep a record then send of copy to the govenor and board of tourism.. reminding them of just how much our state lost over this whole anchoring crap.. one person gets ignored.. a hundred and they start to notice... a thousand and it changes things.. don't think that your voice is not heard.. because if you all think that way.. then all is lost..
please write, no matter where you boat or currently live.. complain and tell them why you feel this anchoring pilot program is wrong.. that is the unliveable part of the new law they want to pass..
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Old 10-03-2009, 10:08   #15
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On this issue, I agree with bella wholeheartedly. Well said.

I often make the same point -- that we already have laws to deal with derelict boats. Just enforce those, instead of further restricting the freedoms of those who actually follow the rules.
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