Florida Polls Boaters on Anchoring Rules

Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 08:14PM - Comments: (9)

Courtesy Sarasota Water Atlas, B. Paul Patterson
Courtesy Sarasota Water Atlas, B. Paul Patterson

One of the aims of the new mooring rules is to protect sensitive seagrass beds, like those near the Sarasota Sailing Squadron, where Practical Sailor carries out much of its testing.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission is conducting a two-week survey to collect public comment on its anchoring and mooring pilot programs in five municipalities: City of St. Augustine, City of Stuart/Martin County, City of St. Petersburg, City of Sarasota, and Monroe County/Marathon/Key West. As it stands, these pilot ordinances—which regulate anchoring and mooring of non-liveaboard boats—will expire on July 1, 2014, unless the Florida Legislature extends the program. Copies of the anchoring ordinances in the pilot communities can be found here.

I cannot comment on how the pilot programs in other areas are going, but in our home city of Sarasota, the ordinance has been poorly executed—to say the least. It effectively usurped public submerged lands and put them in the hands of a private enterprise that has been profiting for decades on corporate welfare. It cost local taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars, endangered boaters, drove middle-class sailors away from the sport, and compounded the environmental problems associated with anchoring in sensitive seagrass areas. The details of this fiasco are too comic and convoluted to go into here. But suffice it to say, the pilot mooring field experiment in Sarasota has been, in the words of my 9-year-old son, an “epic fail.”

I am all for providing well-planned mooring services at a reasonable price where the need exists, but to force people to use marginal mooring installations for the benefit of a few powerful and connected waterfront-business owners is not in the best interest of any community. The lack of public notice and short duration of this survey is typical of how this pilot program has been executed.

I urge anyone who sails in Florida and is impacted by these pilot programs to take a few minutes to respond to the FWC's survey.

Comments (7)

Chuck M.

I think you need to read the Libertarian Platform, though the "Libertarian Platform" has been taken over by the extreme right wing, and really has nothing to do with libertarianism anymore. But this is PUBLIC land that has been handed over to private enterprise, and that is where it got screwed up. Private enterprise that was not concerned with anything more than making a short term profit. I don't understand why the local government had to give the management out to "private enterprise" as nothing more than a pure corporate welfare giveaway. If you want to protect the sea grass, then post limitations to anchoring, there was no need to add the moorings.

There are better ways to get rid of derelict boats within the laws. Inspect and if they don't meet Coast Guard safety standards then fine them, if they don't pay fines, impound boats. Problem solved. The biggest issue I think is that land owners don't want the boats there even though the boats were there before they devolved the land.

Posted by: Paul W | October 28, 2013 11:01 AM    Report this comment

The moorings in Marathon were very controversial when first installed, but have been a great success. There is still some space for anchoring, but the derelicts, sunk boats, and bum boats are largely gone. The moorings and associated city marina are quite popular and booked solid in season. Marathon City Marina has been my home port for the past 12 years and I like the changes I've seen. Other than Marathon and Key West, I can anchor anywhere in the Keys so I don't feel overly restricted.

Posted by: Bernard G | September 25, 2013 8:59 PM    Report this comment

Chuck, you're kidding right? This is state land, it belongs to us and we anchored here for free. Now we (the state) are leasing our land to a city to rent it back to us under private contractors and management who failed to do what they were paid to do. Who is meddling with who? This entire program is a violation of the right of boaters to anchor, as provided for in federal regulations.

Posted by: Michael F | September 25, 2013 11:59 AM    Report this comment

For anyone traveling through Florida to the Bahamas, Florida's laws are a MAJOR concern. 'It cost local taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars, endangered boaters, it's driving all sailors (e.g. Canadian, US, and Florida) away from the sport' in Florida just to benefit a handful of land owners at any given location. Florida has benefited for double digit increases in marine industry revenue plus employment of 220,000+ since 2000 but Florida's current attitude towards cruisers could do more damage to that revenue than the ill fated 1991 luxury tax. And to make the situation worse, Florida counties have been making their own definition of 'live aboard' that range from 2 days, 5 days to that agreed upon by the state, The definition of 'live aboard' impacts docking (when anchoring is not an option). With the definition of 'live aboard' being 2-5 days in some counties - all weekend cruisers, week vacations, charters, snow birders and cruisers are at risk of not being able to dock at marinas in those counties unless that county offers 'live aboard' permits to the marinas. I don't have an issue with Florida and all other states requiring cruisers to keep their pump out receipts (or have proof of a composting or incinerating head) because most cruisers are very environmentally conscious and I'm thrilled that Florida has affordable or even free (plus tip) pump-out services in all the locations I've been.

Posted by: Julia A | September 25, 2013 11:37 AM    Report this comment

Sarasota was always one of my favorite stops when cruising Florida's West Coast. But if the only choice is an expensive slip at Marina Jack's or an expensive mooring that may not hold in a heavy blow, the choice is obvious, don't stop there. Counties and cities should be encouraging middle class boaters to anchor in their waters and spend their money.

Posted by: Kevin M | September 25, 2013 11:27 AM    Report this comment

The Sarasota Moorings make the Sarasota parking meters look like a good idea.

Posted by: Scott D | September 25, 2013 10:45 AM    Report this comment

OK. So the government is meddling in what should be private enterprise and it is all fouled up? Is anyone surprised at this?

Read the Libertarian platform.

Posted by: Chuck M | September 25, 2013 10:45 AM    Report this comment

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