Join Date: Jan 2014
Thanked 5 Times in 5 Posts
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Re: Florida is at it again
I really appreciate the diverse discussion regarding anchoring restrictions. We sailed in Florida for about 30 years and I have some experience with the issue of anchoring near homes. In my mind there is a huge difference in storing one's boat for months or years at a time very close to someone's home versus trying to find a suitable place to anchor for a few days. We have had to anchor near homes (which we do not prefer) due to bad weather, poor holding in other areas, approaching darkness and no other options in sight, or just to get a few days rest on a long passage. The issue I have with the legislative approach in Florida to date, is that there is not a real good distinction between these two uses. Yes, I know a provision was added to one of bills to allow one to anchor near a home in the case of exhaustion.
However, how would the exhaustion provision be enforced by police officers? Here is the scenario: One is forced to anchor within the setback limit for one of the "legitimate" reasons listed previously. It is midnight, and a homeowner complains to the water police. The police are obligated to motor out to investigate and wake up a very tired old couple (like us) from a deep sleep. Ever been approached on the water at night by law enforcement? We have and it can be quite unsettling (for everyone involved). So, then what happens? Does the officer tell you move if you can't convince them that you are "exhausted"? Are you issued a ticket to later argue in court?
If you think I am overplaying this, you haven't done enough cruising in Florida and its coastal waters. The problem with this law, like many others, is that the unintended consequences of such a provision will not be addressed adequately before it is passed. Further, the law could give individual municipalities the right to make there own set of rules, which could be completely different than the municipality just next door. Does everyone know exactly where the county line or city limit crosses a waterway?
I am thankful that organizations like SSCA and BoatUS appreciate these difficulties and are attempting to work out a good law that will address derelict and at-risk vessels while maintaining reasonable access and use of the waterways.