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ssullivan 28-05-2006 09:41

Gord, You're a Lucky Man ! (Other Read too - Major Anchoring Problems)
As I have been living on the hook for a month or two now, I have run into problems that others might want to know about, or do something about as a group of sailors. The title of the thread has to do with the fact that Gord's adventures, experience and photo gallery came to mind as I kept running into these anchoring problems. I assume many of these problems are ones he didn't have since he spent a lot of his time at anchor in the pre-9/11 days. First, I have yet to be able to find a port in the area I am in this summer where the harbormaster isn't all over you if you haven't PAID for a mooring or slip. If you anchor, you are automatically singled out and grilled about your intentions, but more importantly... about when you will be leaving. They don't want you around. Second, although there are very few laws (none in the towns I have visited) that restrict the lenghth of time you can anchor, they always have a catch-all law that says you must obey the harbormaster. This means that if he's inclined to make you leave the harbor, even without reason, you are obliged to do so. You know what? The United States sucks. I'm not afraid to say it. Sure there may be other countries where people have much less freedom, but at least they don't walk around all day pretending to have freedom or pretending that they are champions of freedom. But, I don't want to drop into a political rant. This is about anchoring. This is about our rights as boaters. This is about discussing our ever-vanishing freedoms as boaters. Pre-9/11, I used to anchor with my weekend boat (not liveaboard) for a week or two at a time just about anywhere and not be disturbed to any great extent. Harbormasters would not come up to your boat constantly and encourage you to purchase dockspace or a mooring. They would not make you feel unwelcome because you were at anchor. They would be there to help direct you to a mooring and to police moorings and enforce pump-out rules. Now, they try and keep everyone out of harbors that plans to stay for a few weeks. Seriously. Anyone reading this thread should think long and hard about living aboard a boat now that these new tactics are in place. You will NOT find a place to live at anchor, unless it's a back stream or something. You cannot anchor in any town or city for any length of time without being hassled to the point where you have to leave. What ever happened to the freedoms we all had? I only wish I knew that things had changed this dratstically before I moved aboard and planned out my whole life to live at anchor. My CQR is doing great, but they won't let me use it. Add to the list of problems a car: If you want to have a car and live aboard at anchor you have to be pretty creative. In the past, this meant finding a good spot or paying for one. Not a problem. Now, however, with this new fascist harbormaster behavior, you won't be able to live in any one harbor, so you absolutely cannot find a place to keep your car. No way, no how, since you have to keep on moving to avoid the hassles and constant reprimands just for existing. So, we are now forced to sell our car, which makes provisioning organic and natural foods for our menu quite a challenge. I'll say it again. The USA sucks. I cannot wait to make enough money to get the heck out of this country. It's set up just to place people on a proverbial tread mill, so they work every minute of their lives. I see them all from anchor now. They own boats, but they only just got to use them this weekend. I'm sure they will sit for another 4-5 weeks until 4th of July. Why? No time off work. No freedom to anchor and no freedom to enjoy life. Anyway, no more politics, but they do have a little bit to do with the anchoring issue, so I couldn't help myself. If you're ready to start a flame war with me over my comments, I won't even respond, so don't bother. I am interested, however, in learning about what experiences other people have had who have tried to live at anchor in the USA (or other BETTER countries). Any tips on what countries (preferably EU or USA territories) that still have some freedoms in terms of anchoring? Anyone successfully living aboard at anchor, with a car or without, in the USA?

eskfreedom 28-05-2006 10:46

Its not just anchoring Sean its everything. Its how you drive,eat ,sleep, park,camp,vacation,walk,build,****,walk your dog,and even ****!!!!Every wear I go in this country and I mean every dam day somebody's telling me what I can or can not do!The fact is we are living fascist policed state!All in the name of F'n safety.Our forefathers are rolling in there graves right now.You're right man ,this wonderful country is going to the dogs and we might as well kiss our constitution goodbye unless some people start standing up for their rights.The real scary thing is is they want to impose all our SAFETY to the rest of the world.So EVERY Anchorage and campground in the whole world is SAFE!!!

ssullivan 28-05-2006 11:01


Originally Posted by eskfreedom
Its not just anchoring Sean its everything. Its how you drive,eat ,sleep, park,camp,vacation,walk,build,****,walk your dog,and even ****!!!!Every wear I go in this country and I mean every dam day somebody's telling me what I can or can not do!The fact is we are living fascist policed state!All in the name of F'n safety.Our forefathers are rolling in there graves right now.You're right man ,this wonderful country is going to the dogs and we might as well kiss our constitution goodbye unless some people start standing up for their rights.The real scary thing is is they want to impose all our SAFETY to the rest of the world.So EVERY Anchorage and campground in the whole world is SAFE!!!

ESK: Preaching to the choir there. I'm out here in a great part to try and escape what you are talking about. I am going to steer clear of the political, since I still have that Moderator tag on my profile. (It's the rules)

However, I sure would like to hear from anyone who is living at anchor ANYWHERE in the world and is doing so without being constantly hassled to move along. I'm about ready to build a damn island out in the middle of the ocean on an abandoned oil rig. ha ha ha

CaptainK 28-05-2006 11:13

Glad to see ya on the forum once again, Sean. We miss ya!!:)

I too am tired of the way things are going on in this country. That's why I took up sailing!!:devil::D Hint Hint?

I will not go into a political rant. I have done that in the past. And leave it at that!! But, my beliefs still stand!! And I'm all behind you, Sean.:):cubalibre

Rick 28-05-2006 12:06

The only saving legal stance
Sean, if one anchors or utilizes the water anywhere in the inland water system the USCG has legal precidence as a federal governing agency and the federal laws take precidence and priority over local and state agencies. Such local and state agencies ALWAYS attempt to push their "ownership" on the use of the waters beliving that because they are local that somehow they should have ultimate authority.

As you might realize, it is often expensive and difficult to fight the local authorities on this issue if one actually must take the legal issue to a federal court (which can then issue state and county courts orders to decist in their legal actions until which time the federal court has made a decision on the issue pending).

The easiest course is to contact the local coast guard authority and make a relationship with the person (often a chief petty officer) knowledgable regarding one's ability to use the waters in their jurisdiction. Sometimes a phone call from him (or her) to the specific local autority individual is sufficient to convince and remind them of the heirarchy. Normally the USCG does not get involved without a specific complaint from someone such as you. A trip to any available public university or large library having books on Inland Waterway law may fortify you with sufficient references for a specific issue, like anchoring.

The REAL problem is that the USGC cannot control how locals tolerate (or not) your access to the shore.

DeepFrz 28-05-2006 15:28

You folks need to start a letter writing campaign to your representatives and senators. No use howling about it on here, except maybe venting your spleen helps you feel better.

Politicians need to know how you folks are feeling. This means local, state, country level politicians. Make out a list of all the politicians that affect your life and let them know how you are feeling. Venting and saying that writing to your politician wont help just doesn't cut it.


jstevens 29-05-2006 11:16

Geez, Sean,
So unexpected of a guy who uses a picture of himself in a coat and tie for his profile:).

My guess is you're refering to harbors on the north coast of Long Island. I also guess the issue has nothing to do with 9/11 or any security issues. Those harbors have hired a harbor master and one of his duties is to produce enough revenue from mooring rentals and anchor fees to pay his salary. I don't think writing a congress person will have any effect if the local community supports it.
I don't think you have to leave the USA to avoid the situation you are in. Just go to a place where the anchorage space exceeds the demand. The Chesapeake Bay is one place. I spent a lot of time on anchor on the Eastern Shore and never was hassled. I never anchored in one place for more than a couple of weeks, so maybe I didn't draw the same attention a more permanently anchored boat might. Now if you decide to drop a permanent anchor in Spa Creek, Annapolis you will definitely get the attention of the harbor master.
Basically crowded or highly utilized harbors don't want people anchoring for free. This may be unfair, but if that is what the locals want I don't think it will change any time soon. Blaming the situation on someone in D.C. seems to be miss-directed, not that we don't have plenty to blame those guys for. This is probably one of the few issues they didn't cause. It's been going on a lot longer than 9/11, ask the folks in Florida.
As far as looking for another country (I know that was a rant and you're probably not that serious - yet), Europe is not your destination. In some places they charge you the same price to anchor as for a berth in the marina. As long as Bavaria Yachts keeps adding several thousand boats a year to the Med it is only going to get worse.

I guess this is only a long-winded post to tell you there is no hope. Sorry.


ssullivan 29-05-2006 14:04

DeepFrz: I agree. That's kind of what I was putting this on here for. Wanted to see what groups there were out there I could vounteer for that were fighting to save anchoring rights.

John: You are probably right. There is no hope, save to go where the people aren't as "particular." ;)

I am referring to ports all around the Northeast US, not in NY specifically. I have been moving around a great deal for charters, but have been attempting to create a "home base" port, so we can provision, etc... from it.

It's not entirely a rant though. I am seeking out places (either US or EU territories, since I have dual citizenship) where we could live more freely and not have to register with the town just to visit a place for a week. Customs, I don't mind. It's the local harbormaster trying to make money off you while you are not only in his town buying things, but BRINGING TOURISTS THERE too that bothers me. How much F'n money are these guys going to try and rip me off for when I am contributing to their local economies.

I realize it's not the fed's fault. It's the local government and the lack of anyone standing up to them.

jstevens 29-05-2006 14:40

I didn't read your first and later post thoroughly enough to understand you have a charter business. I have no experience with running a charter or any marine related business so my opinions are hardly well informed. However, that has never stopped me from oferring them freely. So...........
I am surprised that you are being hastelled when trying to establish a base of operation for a business. Have you approached the town government with your wish to base you business there (e.g., establish an address, if only a post office box, pay local taxes, etc.). Nothing get a town's attention more than tax enhancement and even the harbor master has to pay attention.
I'm sure you're aware on this side of the pond (EU) things are a lot more regulated (some would say strangulated). As far as the first world is concerned i think what you got is the best there is. Now in the third world things are a lot looser as long as you are on the good side of the local Jefe. If not things go south quickly.

Well those are my un-informed thoughts.


Jentine 29-05-2006 21:25

Anchorages may be out
of the way but they aren't gone. Newport, Gloucester, Boston, Plymouth and scads of other ports in New England have areas in which you can anchor. I do it on an annual basis. I call the harbormaster and inquire as to where I may anchor. I have never been treated in any negative fashion. They have all been gracious and professional.
Now, I must admit that some of the anchorages are in less than ideal places, but they are, none the less quite available.

colemj 30-05-2006 01:13

Hi Sean,

You are out and about kind of early for this time of year around here. Do you think as the summer heats up in a couple more weeks that you will be less "conspicuous" buried among 100 other boats at anchor? Maybe the harbor master is simply bored right now and will soon forget you as the summer boating season hits its stride? I can't imagine being bothered during mid summer in 3 Mile or Coecles, but then again, I've not tried staying there more than a few days at a time.


salty_dog_68 30-05-2006 01:57


just tell the harbormaster to kiss your a$$ you organic granola eating sissy. i guess the days of free range on the water are gone just like the days when sailors were rum drinking leathery old salts. sailors used to sit around sharing stories of how they survived shark attacks and showing off scars. now they sit at the laptop in their bvd's and complain about how that mean old harbormaster wont let them go to the organic grocery store. ;)

oh, the good ole' days

hellosailor 30-05-2006 15:14

"Sean, if one anchors or utilizes the water anywhere in the inland water system the USCG has legal precidence as a federal governing agency and the federal laws take precidence and priority over local and state agencies. " Sorry, but you are wrong on this. In the original thirteen colonies, corwn charters often gave outright *ownership* of the riparian lands with the charter. Yes, Federal laws take precedence in the matter of NAVIGATION and passage through the waters FOR NAVIGATION but they do not affect property rights which date back to the time before we had a federal government.
You folks in the newly minted states, just don't have the legacy that those of us in the original Colonies have.
And then, to make life more complicated, during WW2 the federal government SOLD riparian titles to raise money for Liberty Bonds. Many towns and villages "bought" federal underwater near-shore lands, in order to get exclusive rights to shellfishing and anchoring. So even outside the colonies, the bottom rights may be PRIVATE even though the rights to PASSAGE may be public.
That's the law, and local, state, and federal jurisdictions are all aware of it. Seems like boaters are the only ones who forgot to ask about it.

Now, it gets more complicated since any boat with an engine usually has to be registered as a motor vehicle--and then it is subject to state motor vehicle laws as well. In Sean's case, in New York waters, if he stays in the water in state for 30 days, he has to have state motor vehicle registration--regardless of documentation. And that also means paying state sales or use tax.
But, if he had no engine, or he documented the fact that the vessel was out of state at least once every 29 days...Legally he'd need no NYS registration and he wouldn't have had to pay tax on it either.

None of which affects the local harbormaster, who has the right to approach any vessel *anchored* in his territory. As to who really owns the bottom, and who is just bluffing? He'd have to go to the local county clerk and get the tax maps to find out for sure.

Sean, you can probably anchor for free, with no time limit, and park alongside in Little Bay at the foot of the Throgg's Neck Bridge. You'll see it on the charts as a "general anchorage" and that means any vessel can anchor there, under federal jurisdiction. The catch is, you are also required to show an anchor light and keep a radio watch, and the USCG from the station at Fort Totten may come by to say hello.

The free parking is courtesy of New York City, in the Fort Totten recreation center parking lot.

It makes a big difference depending on whether the chart shows a "special anchorage" or "general anchorage". If it shows you go to the county clerk's office again.<G>

Sandero 30-05-2006 17:48


The "ownership" of harbors has been a beef of mine for more than 10 years. There are some harbors where you can't even drop and anchor because it is all given to private moorings... local residents, marinas, mooring business and some town moorings.

Once these towns realize that moorings are a revenue stream they set a mooring field and police the waters, charging fees and so on. West Harbor is all taken up by private moorings now and you are not permitted to anchor close in... but you can anchor half or three quarters of a mile from the dock... but that too is private and unless you are a member of the yacht club... or are purchasing fuel or WATER you cannot even tie up to do a little shopping.

You can anchor in Newport and the Harbor Master is good and the town is a great base and there are public dinghy docks and a launch taxi to ferry supplies and passengers. If you want quiet go to Jamestown and no one will bother you... but when there are no boats or moorings... there are no "services".

How about Three Mile Harbor? It seems like a large enough anchorage... but no services handy. And then if you WANT a seasonal mooring you have to get on waiting lists which extend for years... think of Sag Harbor or Stirling Harbor.. both convenient for "living in" but used mostly by boaters who might sail 5 times a season and park their boats on a mooring.

And the parking thing is also spot on... like no parking from 2am to 4am which means you have no place to leave a car.

The harbor thing is all about private property and making money. Dropping an anchor is way too outlaw for these landed gentry even if they do have a yacht on a mooring. Some local folks get a whole bunch of moorings for themselves too.

Oyster Bay was nasty... as a friend offered me the use of her mooring for a weekend last fall. The man who takes care of the moorings insisted that I could not have launch service and if I left my dinghy at their dock I would have to pay dockage... even though the mooring came with launch service as part of the deal. Its greed, its power and abuse of power.

My suggestion is Newport... forget LI.. these people are nuts.

sv Shiva
Contest 36s

hellosailor 30-05-2006 19:18

Jef, bear in mind that when Newport built the "new" bridge they intentionally chose to keep it narrow to make access difficult and keep the place exclusive. Similar to the reason there is no convenient airport *in* Newport and the nearest Amtrak access is over in Kingston, an hour local bus ride away. They had the option to have 138 made into a full interstate feeder to I95, they rejected it because, like a wider bridge, that would have let too many of the hoipoloi in too easily.

Newport welcomes *rich* sailors. Don't mistake it for having entirely open arms. You can bring your boat--but only if you're ready to leave lots of money in town.

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