We decided to stop and visit some friends on our way to the islands this year. Their boat is in a marina at Snake River, Islamorada (Fl Keys).
The traditional anchorage for boats there is in the southern fork of the river on the bay end. I had planned to anchor
The Admiral went ahead from Marathon to start her visit while I singlehanded the boat up from Marathon (I skipped JackBoot Key this time).
My wife mentioned our anchoring
plans to a local skipper
, and he immediately insisted that she call me. He had been with a friend who was anchored there when two Monroe County Sheriff's Deputies came along. They did the extensive Safety Inspection
and search. They explained that part of the river had been declared a "sensitive area" and anchoring
was not allowed. If they stayed and there was evidence they had marked the bottom, they would be fined. It was also made clear that there would be regular inspections if they decided to stay. He had since heard the same story from others.
Go ahead and discount the story, as it is second hand, I was not there. I took it under advisement, and decided not to bother with the hassle, and anchor
It was suggested by several other locals that I anchor in the river, north of the bridge, well clear of the CG Station (security zone, cause people are regularly attacking CG Stations).
I anchored on the west side of the river, very near the mangroves. The current
rips both ways there, so the boat won't swing toward the banks regardless of the wind
. I was within 50 ft of the west bank. The river is 400+ft wide at that point, and is a minimum speed no wake zone.
As soon as I lay 110ft of chain down, I turned to rest and saw him creep up behind me, a single
FWC Officer. I smiled and waved and commented on the current
of 3+ knots, and he went straight to the question; "you planning to spend the night"? I knew I would be hauling up the chain.
I explained that I had planned on staying, that there was often a barge anchored in that very spot for weeks at a time, and that I was on the inside of a curve, well out of the way. He told me that anchoring was not allowed in a "navigable channel". Again, the bridge horizontal clearance fender
is 60 ft. The maximum beam traversing the river is therefore 60 ft. If we double that for 2 boats passing, put 60 in between and 60 on each side for safety
, I am still clear by plenty of the "channel". It is a no wake zone, so no one should be speeding into an anchored boat, that's not the issue.
When I mentioned that I would have preferred to anchor where the Sheriff had prohibited anchoring, he admitted that it was all because of the zillionaires across the river complaining. He admitted it out loud and very plainly. We were both polite, but I made it clear that these prohibitions were fabricated, but I understood who contributed to Sheriff's campaign funds, and would reluctantly move. He suggested a nearby cove (2 mile dinghy
ride), out of sight of the zillionaires, so the same bottom is not so protected. I pointed out that his choice for my anchorage was unprotected from several directions, and potentially unsafe (4.5' draft
, 6' depth
in the whole cove, miles of fetch begging for a bounce on the bottom in NW winds, but my safety was not his concern. He very politely hovered while I hauled up all that chain, then left in the direction I was headed. When I reached the bay end of the river, he was waiting there, and left as soon as I cleared the mouth.
There is no document that declares any of the river bottom any more special than the rest of the Keys. There is no legal
justification for not allowing anchorage on the edge of the river, there is no marked channel, and plenty of right-of-way. He made no bones about the fact that it was enforcement of the zillionaire's view, and I had to go.
No hearsay or fantasy on this one, not even an exaggeration, it happened a couple of days ago.
Of course I must be a paranoid tin foil hat wearing conspiracy nut, but he told me plainly it was "because these people here will complain a lot".
As far as the argument concerning years of cruising without harassment, it is totally irrelevant. I have never been mugged, but that doesn't mean it doesn't happen, or that it must therefore be the victim's fault. This is akin to the kind of thinking that victims of bullying or rape somehow bring it upon themselves. I did nothing, no attitude, no action, to cause him to be angry or confrontational, and regardless of how I had handled the situation, it was clear I was going to move, period. Legal
or not, right or wrong, the easy way or the hard way, it was crystal clear I would be moving.
Karma is a bitch, and sooner or later there will be a hurricane
which will return the keys to their natural beauty of 40 years ago, and anchoring will once again be allowed, as the ugly monstrosities that litter the banks will be wiped clean. They really spoil the view from my boat anyway.
I will move on to a place that will welcome me and my cruising dollars. As someone with a S Fla pedigree born and raised (my Mom was born in Coconut Grove in 1928), it is a shame to come back home to find that I am not welcome. I was in these mangroves before that Officer was shi&%in yella, before the Keys were covered with mansions, trailers and cops of all kinds. I was smart enough to leave God's waiting room once before, time to put it over the transom again.
There is an ugly word for militarized Government
by and for the Corporations and those who own them. I'll give you a hint, it doesn't start with a "D".
Yeah, I'm pissed, and I should be. I will now get to pull the fuel
pickup tube from the tank (air leak inside the tank) on the end of a 2 mile dinghy
ride, rather than a 750ft paddle, all because some prick doesn't like looking at boats, and has a do-boy with a badge to enforce his arbitrary will. I am being forced to anchor in less than sheltered conditions to effect repairs
, possibly putting me and my boat at risk.
I don't mind posting
, I'm legal and have nothing to hide, so no fear of retribution. My boat and my money
will be out of their jurisdiction ASAP.
Enjoy cruising in Florida while you can, the days are numbered, unless cruising to you means sitting in a crowded marina or mooring
As I was writing this, the wind
turned around to the unprotected direction (not forecast), and the wind genny started spinning, probably due to my attitude and paranoia.
Looks like I'll get rocked to sleep tonight.
It's too bad local and State LEA's can't conduct themselves efficiently, fairly, and professionally like the Coasties do. I don't mind enforcement of the Law, I do mind enforcement of someone's illegal wishes and preferences. The water
belongs to all of us, not waterfront residents alone.
Guess I could look up each owner on the on-line tax records, and call each of them to express my displeasure at their building those ugly things where the view of the mangroves used to be, and ask them to move them somewhere I can't see from my boat. Those hideous canals are an obvious threat to the protected environment
, and should be filled in immediately, since we are worrying about an anchor scratching the bottom 500ft away.
"I wish a summer squall would blow them all the way up to fantasyland....they're ugly and square, they don't belong here...."
Jimmy Buffet "Migration"