Rules on Mooring...or at least my best interpretation of them.
The number one rule
for mooring your boat is DO NOT anchor
within a navigable channel of the ICW
. You will certainly, sooner than later, be asked to move if anchored in a navigable channel in the ICW
The other hard rule
is that a boat may anchor
anywhere if it is looking for protection from a storm or adverse conditions.
Other than that, the rules and how they are enforced are are a little fuzzy and subjective. Almost all costal cities have their own rules on anchoring
outside the icw but inside city limits. Frequently, there are time limits placed on how long you can anchor in one spot; usually between 24 and 72 hours. Enforcement of the law varies from place to place. Here in Clearwater there is a time limit but I don't believe it is strictly enforced. In fact,there has been a guy living on his Morgan
41' out island in the intercostal for almost two years. I see him every time I go out and he moves his boat around about once a week so that the local law enforcement does not harass him to much. So, living aboard
in the intercostal can be a little tricky when trying to skirt the rules. If, however, you are cruising but not living aboard
a federal law was passed recently concerning anchoring outside city owned mooring fields...
"Nothing contained in the provisions of this section shall be construed to prohibit local governmental authorities from the enactment or enforcement of regulations
which prohibit or restrict the mooring or anchoring of floating structures or live-aboard vessels within their jurisdictions or of any vessels within the marked boundaries of mooring fields permitted as provided in s. 327.40.
However, local governmental authorities are prohibited from regulating the anchoring outside of such mooring fields
of non-live-aboard vessels in navigation
Finally, I am not sure exactly how it works if you do not liveaboard
but want to anchor your boat in the icw and leave it. I know they(local authorities) don't like you to but I see it happen all the time. From Blackwater Sound(key largo) to St. Josephs Sound(Dunedin) I have seen boats that were unoccupied and just anchored for long periods of time. I don't know if I would want to do that, though. It would not take much to wipe out all the money
and time I have invested in my boat i.e. frayed anchor line, rusted chain link, sudden storm, pirates, etc. It really sucks writing that check for my slip every month but I sleep better at night when i do.
I hope this helps.