cruising all I can
Join Date: Apr 2007
Thanked 24 Times in 19 Posts
Rep Power: 10
THese folks explain it much better-
There are three elements of the bill that are of particular interest to cruising sailors.
Statute 327.60 (2) is now amended to read:
“Nothing contained in the provisions of this section shall be construed to prohibit
local governmental authorities from the enactment or enforcement of regulations
which prohibit or restrict the mooring or anchoring of floating structures or liveaboard
vessels within their jurisdictions or of any vessels within the marked
boundaries of mooring fields permitted as provided in s. 327.40. However, local
governmental authorities are prohibited from regulating the anchoring outside of
such mooring fields of non-live-aboard vessels in navigation.”
In plain English this means that, except in designated mooring fields, municipalities have no
authority to regulate where a typical cruising vessel anchors, unless they can prove the vessel is not
used for anything other than a residence or place of business.
Bear in mind that Florida defines the term “live-aboard vessel” quite differently than does
the average cruiser. Here’s how Statute 327.02 paragraph (17) of the Florida Statutes defines “liveaboard
(a) Any vessel used solely as a residence; OR
(b) Any vessel represented as a place of business, a professional or other commercial
enterprise, or a legal residence.
A commercial fishing boat is expressly excluded from the term "live-aboard vessel”.
By co-opting the term “live-aboard vessel”, the state is forcing boaters to alter their
language. Maritime attorney Ted Guy advises cruising sailors who live aboard their boats to adopt
the term “fulltime cruisers” when referring to their lifestyle, thus shifting the responsibility to
municipalities to prove the vessel is a residence under Florida law. There are other formal
requirements for establishing a legal residence in Florida, but this statute is clear: if you represent
your boat as your residence, a locality may regulate where you anchor.
Florida’s Attorney General expressed his opinion 85-45 as follows: if you use your boat for
transportation or any number of recreational purposes, regardless of how long you stay aboard, it’s
not a live-aboard vessel, unless you represent it as such. In his conclusion he writes: “Thus, it
would appear that the plain statutory language of s. 327.60(2) and the common-law inclusion of
rights of anchorage as an element of the exercise of rights of navigation compel the conclusion that
a municipality is prohibited from regulating the anchorage of non-live aboard vessels when such
anchorage is incident to the exercise of rights of navigation.”
Cities who want to regulate anchoring may do so by establishing marked mooring fields in
accordance with state law. There are few approved mooring fields in the state at this time.
Hopefully, this new legislation will pave the way for improved access and availability for both
visiting and local boats. Those boaters unwilling to pay for moorings will still be allowed to anchor
outside the marked boundaries of mooring fields.
The statute does not allow a locality to regulate anchoring by redefining a vessel as a “liveaboard
vessel” after an arbitrary time limit, as Miami Beach does. A locality may not establish
anchoring set-back requirements from docks, seawalls, or homes, as Marco Island does. Any area
restricting anchoring must be permitted, and marked by approved signage or buoys, as required by
Statutes 327.40 and 327.41. Restricted areas may only be established after consultations between
municipalities, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWCC), and the U.S. Coast
Guard to ensure that restrictions comply with state and federal regulations. Localities are prohibited
from placing any regulatory markers in, on, or over the waters of the state or its shores without a
permit from the state.