Anchoring Rights in Florida Are Under Threat Again - Sail Magazine

Anchoring Rights in Florida Are Under Threat Again

Author:
Publish date:
Anchoring in Florida might become a more complicated issue

Anchoring in Florida might become a more complicated issue

For more than a decade now, the issue of legal restrictions on anchoring in Florida has been simmering away, fueled by the number of derelict boats littering some parts of the state’s waterways, and by property owners who don’t want to see boats anchored behind their homes. These two principal factors have been intertwined for years.

On one hand, derelict boats are an aesthetic, health, environmental and sometimes safety issue for local and state jurisdictions and their constituents. Leaking fuel tanks, the discharge of untreated sewage and potential sinking are all valid concerns. Some long-term liveaboard boats can also be hard to distinguish from derelict boats without intrusive inspections.

On the other hand, daysailors, weekenders and long-term cruisers have historically been able to anchor in Florida for a night, the weekend, a week or even months at a time. Most, although certainly not all, are pristine boats with owners whose behavior is exemplary.

As for the homeowners, many sailors believe residents who oppose anchoring merely want to “own the view.”

In 2009, new legislation moved control of anchoring regulation from localities to the State of Florida and deployed an Anchoring Ordinance Pilot Program. The Pilot Program helped move the State of Florida from what has been described as “the wild west of anchoring,” in which every local jurisdiction had different and often contradictory regulations, to a consistent statewide approach.
Now, if they are passed, two bills being debated in Florida as we were going to press—HB 1051 and S 1260—could in practice hand some power back to localities. The legislation would restrict anchoring in five specific places in Florida: the section of Middle River lying between Northeast 21st Court and the Intracoastal Waterway in Broward County; Sunset Lake in Miami-Dade County; the sections of Biscayne Bay in Miami-Dade County lying between Rivo Alto Island and Di Lido Island; San Marino Island and San Marco Island and San Marco Island and Biscayne Island; and Crab Island in Choctawhatchee Bay at the East Pass in Okaloosa County. Some of these restrictions pit boater (those anchoring) against boater (those water skiing).

dreamstime_6657234

Some organizations opposing the legislation are concerned that in addition to establishing an unfortunate precedent, it will be amended to expand anchoring restrictions to other areas.

Frederic Karlton of Miami Beach has been at the forefront of the effort to impose restrictions on anchoring. When I spoke with Karlton, who identifies himself as a boater, he returned again and again to two concerns—his right to privacy and the discharge of untreated sewage in the waters behind his home.

He maintained that, ultimately, the issue was about human beings respecting other human beings, and that regulation and expectations should adapt as times change. He pointed out that many of the standing laws, rules and standards for freedom of navigation, including anchoring, have foundations dating back to the 1870s and that the world is now a different place.

However, Capt. Phil Johnson, USN (Ret), chairman of the volunteer Concerned Cruiser’s Committee (CCC) of the Seven Seas Cruising Association (SSCA), sees things differently. Historically, he says, those who traverse our nation’s waterways have been able to anchor as and where they will, subject only to navigational limits such as not anchoring in channels. As a representative of the cruising community, there is therefore no justification for abandoning long-held rights.

Capt. Johnson points out that there are both transient and destination locations in Florida that could be affected by changes in legislation.

Transient locations attract boaters who anchor for short periods, including locals out for a weekend or cruisers on their way north or south on the Atlantic or Gulf ICW. They are also used by cruisers as staging areas while awaiting a favorable weather window for the hop to the Bahamas.

Destination locations attract longer-term cruisers who—much like other snowbirds who travel by air and road from points north—spend weeks or months in Florida. Popular destinations include St. Augustine, Punta Gorda, and a number of historic anchorages between Ft. Lauderdale and Key West.

Kim Russo, Director of the America’s Great Loop Cruisers’ Association (AGLCA), gives credit to Capt. Johnson’s leadership in the effective coordination of SSCA, AGLCA, BoatUS, MTOA, and the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) in successfully holding off 2015 legislative efforts to limit anchoring in Florida. The same group of organizations is working together this year to protect boaters’ rights in Florida. The state is a bellwether for boating issues, and problems arising there will likely affect other anchoring issues in other states.

Dave Skolnick currently operates AuspiciousWorks in Annapolis, Maryland providing communications services and yacht management

Photo by Alanbrito/Dreamstime.com; map by Skvoor/Dreamstime.com

April 2016

Related

SWTR005_SWJK022

MPX Pro Offshore Jacket

Heavy Duty JacketMusto’s new MPX Pro Offshore Jacket features the same waterproof, breathable three-layer Gore-Tex fabric as its predecessors, but weighs 15 percent less. Changes to the hood make it easier to adjust and the fleece-lined collar and hood pod provide both warmth and ...read more

2018-BestBoatNominees

Best Boats Nominees 2019

As we approach the upcoming fall boat shows, perhaps the best word to describe the boatbuilding industry’s latest crop of new designs is “consolidation.” Specifically, in recent months we’ve seen a number of innovations introduced in years past continue to work their way up and ...read more

9781472947666

Book Review: The Atlantic Crossing Guide

Jane Russell & the RCC Pilotage FoundationIf you have a yen for sailing across the Pond to explore the delights of Northern Europe or the Mediterranean, you’d best do some homework first. There’s no better primer than this weighty tome, now in its 7th edition. It’s crammed with ...read more

shutterstock_63705382

Raytech Gelbox Line

Well GelledEvery so often you run across a product you never knew you needed, and then you wonder why it took so long for someone to come up with it. Thus it is with the Gelbox line from Raytech. These reuseable plastic boxes for low-voltage connectors are filled with gel, so ...read more

shutterstock_295810247

Cruising: Nova Scotia’s Bras d’Or Lake

I have rarely had a cruise that wasn’t different from my expectations, and my Nova Scotia travels have borne that out. For my friend and shipmate, Steve White, and me, our 2017 trip to Cape Breton Island and the Bras d’Or Lake on One Timer, my Sabre 362, was a much anticipated ...read more

ElanGT5-a

Boat Review: Elan GT5

Aboard many modern yachts, it can be hard to remember exactly what boat you’re on until your eye happens to light upon a logo. However, this is most definitely not the case with the Elan GT5, a performance cruiser with a look all its own and style to burn.Design & ...read more

01-Lead-P1060210

Handheld VHF Radios

For many sailors, cell phones have become their primary means of both ship-to-shore and ship-to-ship communication. Even the Coast Guard will often ask for a cell number after it receives a distress call. None of this, however, makes a VHF radio any less important—and this goes ...read more

Seascape24

Boat Review: Seascape 24

Since its inception in 2008, Slovenian builder Seascape, founded by a pair of Mini Transat sailors, has focused solely on creating boats that are both simple and loads of fun to sail. With their 18-footer and then a 27-footer they succeeded in putting out a pair of trailerable ...read more