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Old 11-09-2003, 19:31   #1
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Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Marathon Florida
Posts: 16
Boot Key Harbor, Marathon Florida

Boot Key Harbor, Marathon Florida.

Looks like there is both good news and bad news coming out of Boot Key Harbor, Marathon Florida.

First the good news;

Please ALL Florida Live Aboards listen up.

There is NO FLORIDA STATUE (Law) stating a vessel may only anchor on state owned waterways for only 6 months. Let me repeat… There is NO FLORIDA STATUE (Law) stating a vessel may only anchor on state owned waterways for only 6 months.

That is correct, there is no Florida Statue limiting a live aboard boater to 6 month anchorage. It is not even a regulation, it is a policy that was put into a bay bottome lease and then stipulated to be put in all bay bottom leases. And there is a BIG difference between a State Statue (law) and a policy.

You see a policy may be changed depending on the needs and requirements of the given locality. Since this has been brought to the attention of Marathon Florida’s city leaders, one of Marathon’s City Councilmen put forth a city resolution whereby, the waters surrounding and within the city limits provide one of the best and last, year round live aboard anchorages and the 6 month rule created a hardship, as that a large percentage of live aboard boaters provide a year round work force for the city.

The City of Marathon is starting to understand that the live aboard boater is not only a large part of the cities work force, but that Marathon is unique in the fact that the live aboard anchorage is in fact affordable housing.
Marathon’s City Leaders will be addressing this issue with State Representatives and the State Board of Trustees. You see the policy about a six-month limit on anchoring was not intended to displace workers and families in such a unique place as Marathon. That is not and was not the intended spirit of the policy.
Now on the bad news side…

Yet another boater has his vessel boarded and seized by Marathon City Officials, without Due Process. That is correct, there was NO COURT ORDER, NO HEARING, NOTHING, the vessel was seized not by any sworn law enforcement personnel, but by the Harbor Manager.

According to Florida Statues 701.103 Whenever a law enforcement officer ascertains that an article of lost or abandoned property is present on public property and is of such nature that it can be easily removed, the officer shall take such article into custody and shall make a reasonable attempt to ascertain the rightful owner or lienholder pursuant to the provisions of this section.

As we said no sworn law enforcement personnel were involved in the boarding or seizing of this vessel.

According to Florida Statutes 810.08 Trespass in structure or conveyance.—
Whoever, without being authorized, licensed, or invited, willfully enters or remains in any structure or conveyance, or, having been authorized, licensed, or invited, is warned by the owner or lessee of the premises, or by a person authorized by the owner or lessee, to depart and refuses to do so, commits the offense of trespass in a structure or conveyance.

The term "person authorized" means any owner or lessee, or his or her agent, or any law enforcement officer whose department has received written authorization from the owner or lessee, or his or her agent, to communicate an order to depart the property in the case of a threat to public safety or welfare.

According to Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, Law Enforcement, GENERAL ORDER 21, DERELICT VESSELS;

It is unlawful for any person, firm, or corporation to store or leave any vessel in a wrecked, junked, or substantially dismantled condition or abandoned upon any public waters or at any port in this state without the consent of the agency having jurisdiction thereof or docked at any private property without the consent of the owner of the private property, as outlined in section 823.11, Florida Statutes.

The F.W.C., Division of Law Enforcement has been designated as the state agency authorized and empowered to remove any derelict vessel, as described in section 823.11, Florida Statutes, from public waters.

Once an abandoned vessel has been located, the sworn member responding to the scene must determine if the vessel is a recovered stolen boat, lost property, abandoned property, or a derelict vessel. In order to make this determination, the sworn member shall conduct an investigation, apply the definitions in chapters 705 and 823, Florida Statutes, and discuss the findings with a regional supervisor. A regional supervisor will make the final determination of the vessel's status.

The sworn member responding to the scene will determine if the reported vessel constitutes a hazard to navigation or is an actual or potential pollution threat. If the vessel is a hazard to navigation, then the nearest U.S. Coast Guard station should be notified. If a pollution threat exists, the sworn member will ensure that the appropriate U.S. Coast Guard Marine Safety Office and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection's Bureau of Emergency Response are notified.

Only if the vessel meets the criteria in section 823.11, Florida Statutes, and all efforts have been expended to have the vessel removed from public waters by its owner, the regional field office shall designate the vessel as a derelict vessel and mark accordingly with the letters "DV" and the incident summary number assigned by the regional field office. The marking of the vessel will be done in such a way that the vessel will be readily identified as a specific derelict vessel by a prudent mariner and/or a removal contractor.

So as you see there is a LEGAL PROCESS that is to be followed before any action is taken. But not in Boot Key Harbor, not in Marathon Florida. It appears boaters have no rights when in Boot Key Harbor,. No right to due process. No right to protection from illegal search and seizures. Currently there is no protection from City Officials who violate your civil rights.

If you come to Boot Key Harbor, right now, it is at your own risk. We can only hope through groups like “Take Back Marathon”, that one day boaters too will have Civil Rights in Marathon Florida.

ABANDONED PROPERTY - All tangible personal property which does not have an identifiable owner and which has been disposed on public property in a wrecked, inoperative, or partially dismantled condition or which has no apparent intrinsic value to the rightful owner as described in section 705.101, Florida Statutes.

SEIZED PROPERTY - Any property taken into custody, either constructively or physically, pursuant to writ, statute or other legal authority.

SWORN MEMBER - Sworn law enforcement personnel.

Jim Lowry
35 Sombrero Blvd.
Marathon, Florida 33050
Jim Lowry
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Old 05-05-2004, 17:00   #2
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robert dazevedo's Avatar

Join Date: May 2003
Location: Maule lake Marina N. Miami Bch. Fl.
Posts: 1

one question?
Why did the harbour master confiscate the boat? you give no explenation!
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