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Old 10-11-2006
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Anchoring in Florida

The following may be of interest to people who intend to do some extended cruising in Florida. It's fom Sipper Bob's web site.
Anchoring in Florida

NOTE: After more than 30 years Florida has at last reversed its attitude towards cruisers. For many years communities in Florida have placed anchoring restrictions on boaters. From outright bans on anchoring in their waters to time limits. Florida House Bill 7175 signed into law and effective July 1, 2006 may change all that.

Under the provisions of this bill Florida communities may not impose anchoring restrictions on boaters other than those defined as “live aboard” or “business” except in designated mooring fields. As there are only a handful of “designated mooring fields” in Florida, this implies that cruisers may anchor pretty much wherever they want except where their doing so would impede navigation by other boats. (Don’t block the channel)

The most important exception to this bill for most cruisers is “Live Aboard” boaters. This is construed to mean people that have no other residence and whose intent is to “take up permanent residence” in that area. This further enforces the idea I have advocated for many years. Never identify yourself as a “live aboard” boater. There are far too many negative connotations to that term. Rather, always identify yourself as a “fulltime cruiser” or as someone on an “extended cruise”.

For the 8 ½ years we cruised full time, we maintained our legal residence in Hanover, Pennsylvania; even though we had no apartment or home there. To change your legal residence you must take up “residence” in another location. Our mail came to a Hanover address. We voted with absentee ballot from that address. We paid our state and federal taxes from that address. In the eyes of the law during that period we were legal residents of Pennsylvania even though we were cruising in the Bahamas, Florida, East Coast, Canada and even the Great Circle Route at the time. We were not “live aboard” boaters as defined by Florida since our boat was not our legal residence.

Thus, if you are approached by law enforcement officials while anchored in Florida waters because they believe you have anchored in “their” restricted waters you should take these steps. (1) Identify yourselves as “long term” or “fulltime cruisers” actively engaged in navigating Florida waters. Never use the term “live aboard”. (2) Obtain the name, organization, and/or badge number of the individual requiring you to move. (3) If the law enforcement official continues to insist you move, I recommend you do so. Don’t try to create a scene by objecting. Simply point out the new law. Tell him or her to have a nice day and move. (4) Regardless of the outcome of any encounter, report the matter to David Dickerson, director of the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) at ddickerson@nmma.org or 202-737-9761.

Many Florida communities (Vero Beach comes to mind) have had restrictive anchoring laws for more than 30 years. It is going to take some time for this law to be recognized at all levels and in all communities in Florida. In the meantime it is incumbent on boaters to report those communities and law enforcement agencies that are not aware of this change in law. With time we should see a more relaxed atmosphere towards anchoring by cruisers and the introduction of additional mooring fields in Florida. (September 23, 2006)
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