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

albintoilet

Gear: Albin Pump Marine Toilet

Head Start Is there room for a new marine toilet? Albin Pump Marine thinks so, having just introduced its line of Swedish-built heads—ranging from compact to full-size models—to the American market. The toilets feature vitreous porcelain bowls and either wooden or thermoplastic ...read more

07n_45R2699

Multihull Sailor: Classic Cats

If you’re looking for a decent sub-40ft cruising cat, you have few choices when it comes to new-boat offerings. It is a well-known fact that the multihull market has taken off in a way very few could have predicted. Despite Hurricane Irma’s recent destruction of a large part of ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell. Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.com Thanks a bunch  This scene is very calm and seamanlike. No frantic rope throwing or shouting. As he passes the line to the gent on the dock, the crew on the boat says, quietly and clearly, “Would you ...read more

mcarthy-and-mouse

Experience: McCarthy and the Mouse

Sitting at the helm in a light breeze, my arms crusted with a fine rime of salt, my skin so dry I’d lost my fingerprints, I heard a clatter and a curse from below. There were only three of us a thousand miles from shore and only one on watch at a time. Usually, the off watch lay ...read more

2018-giftGuide

2018 Holiday Gift Guide

Brass Yacht Lamp Does someone on your gift list spend the whole winter missing the warm days on the water? Let them bring a little bit of nautical atmosphere home with this new lamp from Weems & Plath. The glass enclosure means the flame cannot be blown out even by ...read more

image001

Opinion: On Not Giving Up Sailing

E.B. White was 64 when he wrote his now-famous essay “The Sea and the Wind That Blows,” which begins as a romantic paean to sailing and then drifts, as if spun around by a pessimistic eddy of thought, into a reflection on selling his boat. Does an aging sailor quit while he’s ...read more

1812-JeanneaueNewsVideo

Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 410

Designed by Marc Lombard, the Sun Odyssey 410 shares much in common with her older siblings including of course, the walk-around deck. Other features that set the 410 apart from other models being introduced this year include the 410’s “negative bow” shape allowing for a longer ...read more