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Old 30-11-2007, 01:55   #1
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federal anchorages in america

im from sarasota florida, and ive been told that the place all the sailboats here moor is a federal anchorage. i have also been told that "full-time cruisers" are technically permitted to moor in a federal anchorage for free indefinitly. if this is true, i was wondering if anybody could tell me what law(s) ensure this right.
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Old 30-11-2007, 07:26   #2
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I'm not aware of any federal laws that ensure you can anchor any place indefinitely. Seems like a dismal existence in any case. Stuck in Sarasota forever! I'm also unaware of such a thing as "federal anchorages". Areas on the NOAA charts shown as "anchorages" are not "protected" just designated. Many such areas like designated "barge fleeting" areas would not be a welcome location for dropping the hook either.

There is an increasing number of cities that are regulating anchorages. Florida is very active and has the most number of problems given the shrinking number of places you can anchor a boat and the increasing number of boats.

There may be places where federal law or state laws allow activities that are being precluded by local ordinances. I doubt your recitation of federal law will be of any interest to any of these people. Just being able to anchor some place fails to address the rest of the problems. It also does not protect you from anything else. You don't escape local laws because you are in an anchorage.

International law permits you safe haven while waiting for appropriate weather when in transit. That does not provide the ability to stay indefinitely any place. If you have a problem with particular community then you need more help than just a citation of federal law or a quote you found on Cruisers Forum.

Cruisers Forum really isn't a maritime law library. The issues in Florida have been discussed here before and I would not say there is a solution to these problems. Free legal advice you get on the Internet is not always worth what you pay for it. Real lawyers know more law than we do. We don't mind not being lawyers.
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Old 30-11-2007, 08:43   #3
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US Definition of “Navigable Waters” (33 CFR Part 329):
33 CFR Part 329 - Definition of Navigable Waters of the U.S.


The presence of navigable water in law means that the public has legal rights of access on the water, including the right to anchor, the right to boat, right to fish, portage, and the right to walk on shore below the mean high water mark. However, a right to public access in no way implies that access and navigation methods cannot be regulated to protect clear and compelling federal interests

How long does a boat have to be anchored before its owners are no longer exercising the rights of navigation? While the “exercise of the rights of navigation” hasn't been defined judicially or statutorily, the Florida attorney general has stated that the right of navigation includes the right to anchor and moor. However, the attorney general noted that such a right doesn't include the right to anchor indefinitely.

Florida Attorney General - Advisory Legal Opinion
“... an element of the exercise of rights of navigation compel the conclusion that a municipality is prohibited from regulating the anchorage of non-live-aboard vessels when such anchorage is incident to the exercise of rights of navigation.”
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Old 30-11-2007, 16:28   #4
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Thanks Gord .... that's helpful!
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Old 30-11-2007, 16:53   #5
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It's been a while since I have been in Florida ('97) but my experience was that we were very carefully watched and got a knock on our hull on the 3rd day of being anchored in one spot, by a couple of guys carrying guns. They very politely asked us to move on. I was told by others, the next day, they would come back and write us a citation.

We went through all that Federal anchorage crap in Hawaii, when I was there. In the end, we lost. Save yourself a lot of grief and forget it.
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Old 30-11-2007, 17:31   #6
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"How long does a boat have to be anchored before its owners are no longer exercising the rights of navigation? While the “exercise of the rights of navigation” hasn't been defined judicially or statutorily, the Florida attorney general has stated that the right of navigation includes the right to anchor and moor. However, the attorney general noted that such a right doesn't include the right to anchor indefinitely."

so if law enforcement came and told me ive been anchored in a spot for 2 weeks and i need to move, i by all rights could tell them that theres no set time limit and i will stay till im ready to cruise?

or is that just asking for trouble?
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Old 30-11-2007, 17:50   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clifflindsey View Post
"How long does a boat have to be anchored before its owners are no longer exercising the rights of navigation? While the “exercise of the rights of navigation” hasn't been defined judicially or statutorily, the Florida attorney general has stated that the right of navigation includes the right to anchor and moor. However, the attorney general noted that such a right doesn't include the right to anchor indefinitely."

so if law enforcement came and told me ive been anchored in a spot for 2 weeks and i need to move, i by all rights could tell them that theres no set time limit and i will stay till im ready to cruise?

or is that just asking for trouble?
Ya right......what happens when a cop pulls you over on the highway and says, "You've been speeding"? Try telling him that you have a right to speed or that you weren't speeding.

I realize that's not a good analogy but the results would be the same. He has a job to do and if you try to frustrate him doing his job, he may make your life miserable.

The fact is, there are plenty of places to anchor in Florida and they just don't want people making home of any particular anchorage.

Someone from Florida could probably speak more intelligently on this subject. I haven't been there for a long time. When I was there, officials weren't very tolerant. Things may have changed.
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