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Old 25-07-2017, 07:27   #1
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Transient boat laws

Ok, new here, asking some basic questions. Around 10 years from retirement, planning how I want to spend those years. Was really interested in travelling via RV trailer for at least a few years. Have seen very little of the country...work, kids, etc. I follow a lot of RV you-tubers and one of the biggest challenges for them is finding free campsites. I couldn't afford to stay in a campground every night. So, now looking into boating and realizing pretty much the whole eastern part of the country is accessible by water or a short drive via a rental car. I could see myself doing this until I exhausted the eastern half of the country and then head west. Was a history major in college and love colonial and Civil War history.

So, is it correct that you can cruise the waterways, find some safe anchorages, stay as long as you want and only put into to marinas for water, showers, supplies, pay a day use fee and move on. Is that basically it or am I thinking wrong. Can you anchor in some inlet off a river or lake and stay or are there laws saying how long you can stay or property owners that will tell you to move on?

Who controls the waterways? Are laws different by state or local, or is it just common sense that you don't anchor 20 few off in front of someone else's property. Does this make sense?
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Old 25-07-2017, 07:44   #2
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Re: Transient boat laws

Things have been changing over the years. anchorages are getting smaller and anyplace you would want to be, wealthy folks have already developed it. Over the last 10-15 years, 'new money' on land is trying to legislate the waterways and anchorages.

Expect this to get worse. If the next 10 years are anything like the last 10 years, you may find yourself limited by the time you cast lines.
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Old 25-07-2017, 08:04   #3
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Re: Transient boat laws

The answer you got is pretty negative and it's not really that bad.


There are plenty of places to anchor a boat without hassle. Now anchoring a boat and taking a dinghy to shore to be somewhere you might want to be for a day or a few days is a different story. You can't just anchor anywhere and you can't take your dinghy ashore just anywhere.

To anchor, pretty obviously, you have to have water deep enough so your boat won't hit the bottom. You should anchor where current, wind or wakes from other boats won't be a concern. You have to anchor outside of the channels and you can't just drop an anchor in front of a marina or private boat dock. You have to stay out of the way.

You can't land your dinghy at private docks or on private property. There will be restrictions at many public docks. Also, there are places where you would want to take two people ashore, one to visit and one as an armed guard to guard the dingy and motor.

There are state and local laws in some places regarding where and for how long you can anchor a boat. These laws sometimes change and some have been challenged in court. These are mostly around heavily populated areas, marinas, mooring fields, etc. There is usually somewhere nearby to moor or dock your boat but there will be a fee.

I can't recall a marina with a "day use" fee. You can pull in for fuel of course and they may let you dump garbage and fill your water tanks or they may charge you. We've never tried this, we pay for a night's dockage and fuel if needed. Showers, water and trash disposal is usually included in the fee. The charges we have paid range from a dollar per foot to three dollars per foot.

If you are thinking that boating is a low cost hobby or a way to see the country for free, you need to rethink this. Just like with an RV, there is no free ride. You can hole up on an old boat at a pretty low cost but you'll be living as a hermit.

You are talking about ten years from now. My advice is to work as much as you can and save as much as you can. Start planning now for your retirement.
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Old 25-07-2017, 08:36   #4
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Re: Transient boat laws

[QUOTE=csnlynn;2441022

So, is it correct that you can cruise the waterways, find some safe anchorages, stay as long as you want and only put into to marinas for water, showers, supplies, pay a day use fee and move on. Is that basically it or am I thinking wrong. Can you anchor in some inlet off a river or lake and stay or are there laws saying how long you can stay or property owners that will tell you to move on?
[/QUOTE]

That is basically true. The catch is that anchoring may be resisted in areas with development and that just because you can anchor free doesn't mean there is a way to get ashore and see/do anything. But in areas undeveloped etc there are lots and lots of places to just hang out at anchor. With that said I've come down the east coast the last 10 months and found lots of anchorages with places to land the dinghy and walk to the store etc. for free (and have also had places that I had to pay to use a dinghy dock).
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Old 25-07-2017, 08:55   #5
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Re: Transient boat laws

rwidman,

Not looking for free travel, but lower cost. Used to tent camp, moved to visiting areas and stayed in hotels, now airbnb, but can't help to think boating could be lower cost than RVing.

For times I wanted to explore an areas for just the day, I imagine some places might have overnight or maybe 24 moorings, but in between times, would want to find a secluded anchorage and drop anchor.

Real world example, I live near Lake Michigan. The city of St Joe, Michigan is on the lake. The St. Joe River runs into the lake. If I wanted to visit that town, I would moor at one of the marinas, take in as much as I wanted, but if I was not ready to leave the area to see something new, about 1/2 mile up river is a golf course. What would prevent me from dropping anchor off shore, staying a few days, deciding where to travel next, then move on? Will the "river police" come around, will people complain, is there really not a law, but people don't do that so people will complain?

If I was in a RV and in the same scenario, find a campground, visit the city, stay in the campground until I decide where I want to go next. In my mind, on the boat, I am not paying anything at that point, in the RV, it's $80 a day just to hang out.

By the way, more hermit than social, so the idea of an isolated anchorage sounds nice to me.

P.S. Worked for a corporation for 15 years, would have retired from there, retirement all set. They decided to downsize and sold our branch to competition, just for our tech, no people. In the midst of the 2009 recession. Blew through savings, tons of pressure on family, finally took job at 2/3 the pay and then the divorce...slowly rebuilding.
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Old 25-07-2017, 09:12   #6
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Transient boat laws

In general, yes. You can anchor for free in most places, but there are local restrictions which seem to increase the closer you are to large urban areas. But the world is a big place. If you want to find spots to anchor with no hassles, and no fees, you certainly can.

Cruising with a modest sailboat is certainly not inexpensive, but depending on your choices, your abilities and skills (to fix things ), and your needs, it can be done relatively cheaply.

Your specific example regarding the golf course would require more info, but if it was an acceptable anchorage, and there were no other restrictions in place, in general the answer would be yes, you can anchor for free. You probably can't come ashore though.

BTW, I'm writing this from an anchorage in the St. Lawrence River. No costs, no hassles. Just big tides!
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Old 25-07-2017, 09:28   #7
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Re: Transient boat laws

One thing that no one has mentioned yet is registration laws. If you come to Florida, and stay for more than 90 days, the law requires you to register your boat in Florida. Most states have similar laws.

You also cannot just pull your dinghy up anywhere you would like. The golf course example would probably not work, because it is (most likely) private property. They do not have to allow you to beach your dinghy there at all, never mind for several hours or a day.

You also cannot moor "at" a marina. That is, unless they have moorings that they will let you have for a charge. If you want to anchor for free, it has to be out of the way. Not "at" the marina. Perhaps not a long dinghy ride away, but certainly not right "at." Then they may charge you to dock your dinghy there, even for just a few hours. Public dinghy docks are available in some place, but definitely not everywhere.

I would add that traveling by boat is almost certainly going to be MORE expensive than traveling by RV, not less so.

Don't wish to burst your bubble, but I don't think that what you are hoping for is really possible. You cannot just go anywhere you want, drop anchor anywhere you want, leave your dinghy anywhere you want. If you plan ahead, find suitable places to anchor, suitable places to dock your dinghy, then you can travel quite a lot by boat. But it is not as simple as I think you were hoping that it would be.

Good luck.
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Old 25-07-2017, 09:37   #8
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Re: Transient boat laws

sailerboy1,

What you said is more in what I had in mind. I knew getting ashore might be the biggest challenge, but wasn't sure if finding a place to rest for a few days without being hassled and paying would also be a challenge.

Looking for something new. Wife gone, kids out of house, can't see myself planted here for, god willing, for another 30 years. If I am wanting to pay to travel, don't also want to have to pay to have a home base that I really don't have any emotional ties to. As long as I am healthy, see this as a viable lifestyle.
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Old 25-07-2017, 10:07   #9
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Re: Transient boat laws

Being nearly at the end of my own divorce tragedy, and all the emotions and feelings of disconnection (PTSD?) that go with it, you are in my same exact camp. I've been studying sailboats for 5 years now, and feel much more comfortable about how to (pick) the right sailboat. People are (always) the full issue, not the anchorage. Beautiful people-less places abound on our planet/ or places with (fewer) people... those places will be easier, simply because there are less people. More people, more perceived stratification, more laws, more theft, the list goes on forever.
There are some great places on or off the water (that could really use your help: ranches, non-profits, orphanages, etc.). The very best advice is to retire (to) something, not to (nothing). Study like you love history, and find those places that are enthralling... and have less people. Life will be simpler.
I understand where you are - I'm 3 to 4 years from liveaboard, and would welcome you as a partner in crime if I could
You (can) (and should) do it.
It's a big old world for history buffs... Horatio Hornblower is calling your name. Seek and you shall find.

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Old 25-07-2017, 10:25   #10
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Re: Transient boat laws

Quote:
Originally Posted by csnlynn View Post
Ok, new here, asking some basic questions. Around 10 years from retirement, planning how I want to spend those years. Was really interested in travelling via RV trailer for at least a few years. Have seen very little of the country...work, kids, etc. I follow a lot of RV you-tubers and one of the biggest challenges for them is finding free campsites. I couldn't afford to stay in a campground every night. So, now looking into boating and realizing pretty much the whole eastern part of the country is accessible by water or a short drive via a rental car. I could see myself doing this until I exhausted the eastern half of the country and then head west. Was a history major in college and love colonial and Civil War history.

So, is it correct that you can cruise the waterways, find some safe anchorages, stay as long as you want and only put into to marinas for water, showers, supplies, pay a day use fee and move on. Is that basically it or am I thinking wrong. Can you anchor in some inlet off a river or lake and stay or are there laws saying how long you can stay or property owners that will tell you to move on?

Who controls the waterways? Are laws different by state or local, or is it just common sense that you don't anchor 20 few off in front of someone else's property. Does this make sense?
Without all the details of anchoring and laws and where and such, one simple fact I have to toss out. Boating is never going to be less expensive than RV'ing. Your fuel cost will be more. You will have some marina expenses like pump outs and water and such. Your maintenance costs will be more. I wouldn't advise anyone to switch from RV to Boat to save money. Just won't happen. Perhaps the answer is still to boat, but perhaps it's to find a cheaper way to RV. We personally prefer boating.
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Old 25-07-2017, 11:49   #11
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Re: Transient boat laws

Boating at a given level of comfort and appearance is always more costly than RVing.

Even a broken down ugly old boat will be more expensive to keep going than buying a nice RV.

Plus you can still live in a broken RV.

The boat sinks.
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Old 25-07-2017, 12:07   #12
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Re: Transient boat laws

One possible suggestion for the OP - in year one, find an inexpensive marina or join a small yacht club that you think you could enjoy staying at, and keep your boat there for a season. You will know the cost already, you have a paid-for place, and it's your base from which you can make exploratory trips. The right place will have enough interesting destinations nearby that will keep you busy for a season or two.

Then you have more info and experience which will help you decide whether you want to be footloose.

Good luck.

PS - sail NOW. Buy a small crap boat, or go with friends. Boating is too great a pleasure to put off.
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Old 25-07-2017, 12:08   #13
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Re: Transient boat laws

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Originally Posted by BandB View Post
Without all the details of anchoring and laws and where and such, one simple fact I have to toss out. Boating is never going to be less expensive than RV'ing. Your fuel cost will be more. You will have some marina expenses like pump outs and water and such. Your maintenance costs will be more. I wouldn't advise anyone to switch from RV to Boat to save money. Just won't happen. Perhaps the answer is still to boat, but perhaps it's to find a cheaper way to RV. We personally prefer boating.
I’m surprised by this BandB. I’ve never RVed, so I have to believe you, but I don’t see how it can be so.Unless you are ‘boon docking’ as the RVers call being away from organized parks, then I can’t see how it would be cheaper. Finding good boondocking seems to be a lot harder than finding anchorages. And as I understand it, most RVs aren’t set up for long-term self-sufficiency. Water and holding tanks are smaller than good cruising boats, necessitating more servicing. RV parks are damn expensive. Cheaper than marinas I suppose, but it’s fairly easy to avoid marinas if you decide to. And fuel… well, we sail (much of the time ).

Like I say, I’ve never RVed so may be mistaken. RVing is cheaper than boating… wow.
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Old 25-07-2017, 12:09   #14
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Re: Transient boat laws

For RVing you can save money by staying a month at a time at an RV park which is much cheaper then daily rate. Plus boondocking out west, where some folks camp for free for a goodly part of the year. Much tricker on the east side of the country.

On boating it's still pretty easy to anchor outside larger metro areas. Myself I spend 3/4 or more of the year at anchor and take a slip every 2-3 weeks for a few days for shopping, trash, water, etc.

I'm in the SF bay and Delta area and while there are anchoring laws on the books in almost every county in the bay area, enforcement is hit but mostly miss. It's doable even here. Though perhaps in 10 years or so it will be harder.
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Old 25-07-2017, 12:12   #15
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Re: Transient boat laws

I can't really address the cost vs. RV'ing, but sailing is more physically demanding than driving. I'd look at a Great Loop adventure, then switch to the RV for the West.


There's a good website on the GL that addresses finances. Your voyage around America's Great Loop
Good luck to you.
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