So what more can our "friends" and officials do for the boating
public in the Sunshine State? Well read this post on Claiborne Young's site,
Cruisers' Net - Eastern Florida
IMPORTANT - MSD "Raid" at Sanford, FL Marina
Published: July 3, 2008
OK, before getting negative, I actually do know why we all go cruising on Floridian waters. All I have to do is call to mind the beautiful, newly rebuilt marina at Fernandina Beach, lying snug at anchor on a "lost loop" of the upper St. Johns River, enjoying a warm January breeze in Key West Bight while the rest of the USA is shivering, or strolling around downtown Boca Grande, and I can't wait to get back to the Sunshine State.
BUT, when I read a report like the one below, it does cause me to question whether the Florida state government really wants the cruiisng community on its waters. I dont' want to repeat all that Captain Frank has to say below. He does an ADMIRABLE job of reporting on this disturbing incident. However, just to summarize a bit, it would seem that the Florida Fish and Wildlife folks may be intent on ticketing all vessels in Florida waters which have Type I and Type II MSD devices aboard. And, that ticketing is based on a rather blatant mis-interpretation of Florida state law in defining a "houseboat." At least, all this seems to be true in Sanford, Florida.
What I find really, truly disturbing about Captain Frank's IMPORTANT report below is that state of Florida Fish and Wildlife officers actually conducted a "raid" on a marina, and ticketed vesels with USCG approved Type I and Type II MSD deveices aboard.
I find this whole incident particularly unfortunate, as the Florida Fish and Wildlife people in Talahassee have clearly been friends of the cruising community in regards to the ongoing fight to set up fair, uniform, statewide anchorage regulations. Perhaps the "raid" described below originated at some regional or local level. If that is true, let's hope word of this incident percolates up the chain to Talahassee in a hurry.
FOR THE MOMENT THOUGH, ALL OF US WHO HAVE VESSELS DOCKED IN FLORIDA NEED TO BE AWARE OF WHAT HAS ALREADY HAPPENED IN SANFORD, AND BE PREPARED IF A FLORIDA FISH AND WILDLIFE INSPECTION TEAM APPEARS AT YOUR MARINA OR ANCHORAGE. I would suggest RESPECTFULLY quoting Florida state law as noted by Captain Frank below. If that does no good, you will just have to take the ticket, and decide whether to fight it in court. Remember, it almost never does any good to antagonize on-the-scene law enforcement personnel.
IF ANY OF YOU HAVE HAD SIMILAR EXPERIENCES REGARDING THIS "HOUSEBOAT - MSD ISSUE" PLEASE MAKE A POSTING TO THE CRUISERS' NET by sending e-mail to CruisingWriter@CruisersNet.net, or click the "Contribute Cruising News" link at the top of this and most Net pages.
On Saturday the 28th of June, 12 Fish and Wildlife officers accompanied by a county sheriff deputy converged on our Sanford Florida marina and boarded all boats that had people living on them. They were looking for compliance with Florida Statutes 327.53 1-7. These officers sited a couple of people for dumping raw sewage. $250.00 fine, well deserved, disgusting !
The problem came when they cited vessel owners with approved Type I or II MSDs. The catch 22 is they classified these boats as Houseboats under Statute 327.53(2). There reasoning for this classification was that, " any vessel used primarily as a residence for a minimum of 21 out of 30 days is a houseboat and regardless of the MSD Type it must be directed and locked to a type III holding tank
only. At this point some of you may say " and the problem is "?
Let me quote 327.53(2) " Every houseboat shall be equipped with at least one permanently installed toilet which shall be properly connected to a United States Coast Guard certified or labeled Type III marine
sanitation device. If the toilet is simultaneously connected to both a Type III sanitation device and to another approved marine
sanitation device, the valve or other mechanism selecting between the two marine sanitation devices shall be set to direct all sewage to the Type III marine sanitation device *(and while the vessel is on the waters of the state)*, shall be locked or otherwise secured by the boat
operator, so as to prevent resetting.
Notice the words I bracketed. Once classified as a houseboat you cannot use your Type I or II Approved MSD on any intracoastal or coastal waters in Florida irregardless of the Code of Federal Regulation Title 40 140.3(2). These Wildlife Officers stated that boats are being checked across the state including boats passing through.
I don"t know if it was their training or ignorance of the Statutes but Florida Statute 327.02 Definitions paragraph (13) states: "Houseboat" means any vessel which is used primarily as a residence for a minimum of 21 days during any 30-day period in a county of this state, AND this residential use of the vessel is to the preclusion of the use of the vessel as a means of transportation."
On the Florida Department of Environmental Protection web site under Clean Vessel Act FAQ a houseboat is "defined as a vessel used primarily as a residence and NOT moved for 21 out of 30 days in a county of this state."
Finally on the Florida Fish and Wildlife site Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
on a news release dated February 8, 2008 in which they talk about Operation Overflow, the increased inspections and citations, they themselves define a houseboat as a "vessel used primarily as a residence for a minimum of 21 out of 30 days in a county of this state, AND this residential use prevents it from being used as a means of transportation.
While I was not on board during this inspection
, my neighbors Motor
Yacht was classified as a "houseboat" even though he regularly cruises. He is planning on fighting. What could be the motive for the increased poop patrols besides environmental? On the Florida Department of Environmental Protection web site under Clean Vessel Act- Spotlight- the agency brags about receiving $3.5 Million in CVA funds from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
, more than the other 27 states received. But if you research
the qualifications to receive and be able to keep these funds you will see that the State of Florida has to prove and document enforcement and improvement to the Florida waters.
If you are on the hook in Florida and the FWC cruises up and ask you if you live aboard you will know what is coming.