you can anchor outside all the mooring fields in Florida per state statute 327.02 this is law,plain and simple. put in place to clarify anchoring and defines anchoring as part of navigation.
the mooring field experiment is the end around play by the municipalities that feel they are above the law they perpetuated, promoted, and propagandized through misinformation campaigns and scare tactics sensationalizing rare incidents of boats washing ashore, and portraying anchoring sailors and liveaboards as bums,criminals and scofflaws.
Unknowing,in educated landlubbers and even many weekend boaters ate it up,hook, line and sinker.
there is and have been for years, laws in place to deal with abandoned, derelict, and unregistered boats. they are not being enforced.harbor master positions need not be created as anyone who has spent any time in Florida can attest there is ample law enforcement. the mooring fields are just a knee jerk response, there is not a single one that does not loose money.
I respectfully disagree with that.
I saw the mooring fields as a way to manage the level of boats and traffic, and create a better environment for the city as a whole - including the boaters. I never saw them as a direct money making tool. But smart cities have learned that many cruisers have money. If you can give them a safe, secure, and pretty place to go on their boats that is not outrageously expensive, you will help the local businesses.
Have you forgotten the years in Boot Key and Fort Myers Beach when there were no pumpout boats? Everyone anchored on a shoestring? Heck, go through Boot Key now and you will see the same from some boats. The only thing that has kept some of these boats here and in FMB from not being the newest mangrove wind chime or fish haven is that there has not been a good storm through either in years. These boats WERE dumping straight into the bays, with no regard to the kids or tourists who swam on the shores beside them. There were no shower facilities, dedicated washing facilities, ability to get water, and I don't even remember a dinghy dock. SO what did the friendly boat-bums do? They tied up to the restaurants, swam (yes swam... I saw it several times) to the closest bars and walked up the docks, or my alltime favorite, they would go up one of the canals and tie off to someone's personal dock/house and tramp through their yard. I lived there so don't tell me it didn't happen. It was FILLED with vagrants. Many of those boats had not (and could not) move. It was a disaster and an eyesore and gave us all bad names.
The mooring field at Boot Key in Marathon is the perfect example of how to run a mooring field in a top notch way. Very clean and sturdy balls, a very large dinghy dock, a pumpout boat that comes in any weather and will come twice a week if you want, friendly staff, a place where the cruisers can hang out for free wifi, a library of books, a tiki hut looking over the bay with bi-weekely meet and greets, bbq grills, places to dispose of hazardous waste/diesel/gas for free, work benches to work on stuff, water, lockers to store things, place to park your cars and bikes, lots of showers and restrooms for free, descent washing facilities, and an overall sense of community. You want go give all that up and go back to anchoring with the homeless boaters? If you do, you are right, the vagrants will move back in. Look what's happening right now around Key Largo. They have the old anchored vagrants out there that are bathing (in light of day and front of kids) in the freaking public fountain, cursing, fighting, drunk, walking around naked, etc. Now, this is not all the people there. There is a good group of people and all it takes is a few dummies to screw it up, but if these people had the facilities available like are available at Boot Key, would they be doing that? No. But the reality is that these people don't have $300 to their name, and if they did, it has Pabst Blue Ribbon on it. They are Vagrants, homeless in a boat, plain and simple. THey are what gives all of us a bad name unless you sail in on the Maltese. In response to these actions, as you may well know, the city board was going to shut off the dinghy dock to ALL boaters and basically run them off... even the good live aboards who anchor there. Pleas from the 'good' liveaboards that anchor there have given the dinghy dock a short reprieve, but I doubt it will last long.
What is happening there is exactly what I remember happening in FMB before the mooring fields. There are still a bunch of vagrants back there outside of the field, still dumping their stuff into the bay, drunk and hollering at night, or sinking. At least the mooring field has helped it some. Me, I vote to keep the mooring fields in areas like FMB, Boot Key, Key West, etc. I hope they open one up in Key Largo, Islamorada, Factory Bay, and other large destinations. I think it is good for the environment, good for the cruisers, good for the liveaboards (that aren't bozos), and good for the city. It also helps keep the cost of marinas in check when they aren't the only option.