Tartan 27' owner
Join Date: Jan 2008
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Re: picking up a vacant mooring
I wanna park my RV on the lawn of the White House!
I wanna anchor my boat near the U.N. in Manhattan!
I wanna pitch a tent on the sidewalk in NYC and not pay for a very expensive hotel!
I wanna anchor by and explore the Aberdeen Proving Grounds on the Chessy!
I wanna go to the beach behind these rich peoples house so I'll just park in front and walk across their lawn!
The mooring situation is just the tip of the iceberg. Most of the above not so well thought out ideas will get some form of Lawn Enforcement on you in a hurry.
You don't park your car in a Handicapped spot without the proper decals just because it is closer to where you want to go, do you?
I am saddened by all the layers of bureaucracy that beach access, anchoring and moorings are governed by. Florida may be a flash point for these kinds of restrictions but it seems to go on nearly everywhere in the US and may vary from harbor to harbor in the north east.
I think you need to apply the 'reasonability smell test' to most situations regarding picking up a seemingly unused mooring. The first smell test is to check the local regulations as laid out in the Coastal Pilot. The second is if the mooring you choose has very clean pennants then it is likely the owners will return soon. The third is if it is an emergency situation or not. The fourth is how 'lucky' you feel at that moment since you have no idea of what kind of ground tackle is holding the mooring marker. There may be other sniff test criteria but that's all I've got for now.
The most 'reasonable' thing to do is to contact some local authority to inquire where a transient may anchor or pay for a mooring. If there is a lack of local authority (could be a local fisherman or other boater) then you are on your own. If you have a real (or perceived) emergency on your hands you should have a lot more leverage for just grabbing any unused mooring. By grabbing any unused mooring you find you should also be prepared to move quickly and/or paying for the consequences of your actions.
That said, I have grabbed a mooring in Lloyd Harbor (mentioned previously) for an hour or two to watch a Weds. night race. I noticed the local harbor master patrolling the area and was uncomfortable with the idea of spending the night there without an 'invite'. I found a transient mooring for the night inside Huntington Harbor for $35/night that let me sleep more soundly had I stayed where I was not 'allowed' to stay.
Situational awareness has a lot to do with what is safe, what you can get away with and what is the most prudent way to go.
Paying your own way feels a lot better then pulling the "dock, dine, doze and dash before 6 AM" routine. Anchoring where acceptable is even better as it usually costs a lot less.
Interesting thread in any case.
"The cure for anything is salt water~ sweat, tears, or the sea." ~Isak Denesen
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