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Mermaid Hunter
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Discussion Starter #1
As most of us are aware there is legislation pending in the Florida Legislature that would ban overnight anchoring anywhere within 200 feet of any waterfront homes, whether they have boats or even docks or not. This provision could have significant adverse effects on the freedoms of cruisers and boaters cruising Florida waters. The Seven Seas Crusing Association (SSCA) have engaged to strongly oppose this.

The background is really quite simple. First, there is a problem with derelict boats in Florida just as there is in some other states. Cruisers and other boaters are as disturbed by the problem of derelict boats as anyone else. Second, there is an unpleasant movement by wealthy waterfront homeowners who feel they have bought the view with their property and want to preclude anchoring in "their" view.

SSCA has effective volunteer and professional lobbyists meeting with members of Florida leadership, committee chairs, committee members, committee staff, and member staff. They are making progress.

You can help. We NEED your help. Here is what you can do:

1. Join SSCA. It's the best $55 you can spend each year to protect your rights and to gain other benefits of membership.

2. If you are a Florida voter, write to your state representative and senator making clear you are watching them. See http://www.ssca.org/downloads/ccc/SSCA_Anchoring_brochure.pdf .

3. If you are not a Florida voter, write your Federal representatives to let them know you are concerned about pending restrictions on the Federal rights to navigation.

4. Contact the manufacturers of equipment you own or are considering purchase and ask them to wake up the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) and get them in the game.

5. Write to BoatUS Government Affairs ( BoatUS - Contact BoatUS Government Affairs ) and let them know this issue is important to you.

SSCA is a global organization. We care and work in support of cruisers across the globe. It happens that Florida, a cruising waypoint that many of our members pass through, seems to be sending a message that Florida wants our money but not us. We've been successful in Florida before. We've been successful in Maryland and Rhode Island and Mexico. We need your help to be successful again.

For more information about SSCA see Welcome to the Seven Seas Cruising Association ; for member benefits see The Seven Seas Cruising Association - IX - Member Benefits .
 

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You really are funny!!
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I understand completely from a cruisers perspective why they'd want to fight rules like this. What I don't understand is why the same cruisers would undoubtedly be appalled and fight it with all means available if random people traveling in RV's decided to frequently overnight on the street right in front of the cruisers land home.

What's the difference exactly? Why are RV's supposed to go to designated RVing areas (and certainly not in front your homes throughout the RV season), while cruisers on boats should be able to park wherever they please? As a non cruiser, I can certainly see the homeowners perspective that they paid a very high premium to live in the area, while cruisers didn't. As a former wannabe cruiser I can definitely see why you'd want to be able to anchor freely, but it makes less sense to me nowadays without viewing it through boaters eyes.

Can anyone explain the difference to me between people randomly parking RV's in front of your home on your street, and cruisers randomly anchoring in front of peoples homes? Isn't it basically the same thing, one being expected as a right, the other obviously being unacceptable as they have designated areas and no one wants a bunch of random RV's in front of their homes all summer/winter?
 

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The cruising community needs to unite to come anywhere near balancing the voice of the landowners, who greatly outnumber the boaters. However, there also needs to be a compromise here, as there are two valid sides of the story.

Personally, I have a hard time sleeping, when anchored less than 200 feet from anything hard. As we all know, that looks a lot closer than it is.
 

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Learning the HARD way...
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I understand completely from a cruisers perspective why they'd want to fight rules like this. What I don't understand is why the same cruisers would undoubtedly be appalled and fight it with all means available if random people traveling in RV's decided to frequently overnight on the street right in front of the cruisers land home.

What's the difference exactly? Why are RV's supposed to go to designated RVing areas (and certainly not in front your homes throughout the RV season), while cruisers on boats should be able to park wherever they please? As a non cruiser, I can certainly see the homeowners perspective that they paid a very high premium to live in the area, while cruisers didn't. As a former wannabe cruiser I can definitely see why you'd want to be able to anchor freely, but it makes less sense to me nowadays without viewing it through boaters eyes.

Can anyone explain the difference to me between people randomly parking RV's in front of your home on your street, and cruisers randomly anchoring in front of peoples homes? Isn't it basically the same thing, one being expected as a right, the other obviously being unacceptable as they have designated areas and no one wants a bunch of random RV's in front of their homes all summer/winter?
Some communities ban overnight parking on the streets within their jurisdiction. The community members either pay the taxes to INSTALL and maintain the street, or pay directly to install and maintain the street, and it's supporting infrastructure.

That said, unless there are perking restrictions, or an overnight parking ban, I believe that you could pull up in your Winnebago and set up camp. There is a large motor home parked just around the corner from me here in my private community in Ft Myers, Florida. I believe that my neighbors have guests.

While some Florida communities have constructed canals, they have not constructed the lakes and ponds that are tied to the canals. Nor did they construct the mangrove swamps. The property owners, and the communities have paid for the rights for the land up to the mean HIGH high water mark, and nothing more. The water rights belong to the State (within 3 miles) and Federal Government, and they are to managed for the PUBLIC good.

This comes down to a property rights issue, and delineating where property ends. The native americans had no concept of PRIVATE property, and why they relinquished the right to Manhattan for $24, and some beads...
 

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The entire public certainly invests significantly in our waterways, from navigation to dredging to environmental control, policing, rescue, etc.

I am ultimately on the side of the boater, despite my willingness to compromise, but I'm trying to make sure the blade is sharp here.
 

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Mermaid Hunter
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Discussion Starter #6
What I don't understand is why the same cruisers would undoubtedly be appalled and fight it with all means available if random people traveling in RV's decided to frequently overnight on the street right in front of the cruisers land home.
The RV analogy is raised periodically. There are several differences. First and foremost is the history, captured in Federal law, of freedom of navigation. There is the precedent of free anchoring going back to the formation of our country. Just look at the issues of where property rights end (generally MHHW or the high-water mark).

Personally, I have a hard time sleeping, when anchored less than 200 feet from anything hard. As we all know, that looks a lot closer than it is.
There are many parts of the country where there is little choice. In my own stomping grounds Spa Creek and Back Creek in Annapolis are not wide enough to swing 200' clear from docks and shores. Similarly the upper reaches of the Magothy River, Granary Creek and Dividing Creek off the Wye, common anchorages along the tributaries to the Patuxent and Potomac Rivers, and much more.

In Florida the proposed restrictions would turn almost all of Southwest Florida into a no-anchoring zone. The shape of canals, lakes, and ponds really limits anchoring space.

Many other portions of the US and anchorages across the globe require being pretty close to shore, including the use of shore lines.
 

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Chastened
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Dave,

I'm not very clever. Does the SSCA have a "pro-forma" letter that I can use, to write my Federal rep? I understand the problem, but I'm not sure I could articulate it in an effective manner.
 

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Mermaid Hunter
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Discussion Starter #8
I'm not very clever. Does the SSCA have a "pro-forma" letter that I can use, to write my Federal rep? I understand the problem, but I'm not sure I could articulate it in an effective manner.
I'll get one up here today.
 

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I understand completely from a cruisers perspective why they'd want to fight rules like this. What I don't understand is why the same cruisers would undoubtedly be appalled and fight it with all means available if random people traveling in RV's decided to frequently overnight on the street right in front of the cruisers land home.

What's the difference exactly? Why are RV's supposed to go to designated RVing areas (and certainly not in front your homes throughout the RV season), while cruisers on boats should be able to park wherever they please? As a non cruiser, I can certainly see the homeowners perspective that they paid a very high premium to live in the area, while cruisers didn't. As a former wannabe cruiser I can definitely see why you'd want to be able to anchor freely, but it makes less sense to me nowadays without viewing it through boaters eyes.

Can anyone explain the difference to me between people randomly parking RV's in front of your home on your street, and cruisers randomly anchoring in front of peoples homes? Isn't it basically the same thing, one being expected as a right, the other obviously being unacceptable as they have designated areas and no one wants a bunch of random RV's in front of their homes all summer/winter?
Waterways, unlike roadways, are in the PUBLIC TRUST. They are designated for all to use unfettered.
 

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The argument that relies on the way navigable waters had been originally regulated 200 years ago, will be refuted with witch burning and slavery. Laws change. That's directly their point for introducing legislation to do so.
 

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The argument that relies on the way navigable waters had been originally regulated 200 years ago, will be refuted with witch burning and slavery. Laws change. That's directly their point for introducing legislation to do so.
Yes, but are there Federal limitations that supersede the states' ability to legislate over this? NJ shore towns' ability to ban non-residents from their beaches was overturned overturned in the Federal courts. Does similar issues apply here?
 

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You really are funny!!
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I did some minor reading on the public trust doctrine, what legal arguments to counter are Florida/Florida homeowners using against the public trust doctrine?
 

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There are many parts of the country where there is little choice. In my own stomping grounds Spa Creek and Back Creek in Annapolis are not wide enough to swing 200' clear from docks and shores. Similarly the upper reaches of the Magothy River, Granary Creek and Dividing Creek off the Wye, common anchorages along the tributaries to the Patuxent and Potomac Rivers, and much more.

In Florida the proposed restrictions would turn almost all of Southwest Florida into a no-anchoring zone. The shape of canals, lakes, and ponds really limits anchoring space.
OK as someone who sails and who also just bought a home on a Florida waterway I can see a LOT of room for compromise if some common sense is applied.

Auspicious raises a good point. One area of compromise could be that areas that have historically been used as anchorages would remain anchorages. If you buy a home fronting an anchorage you should have a reasonable expectation that people will anchor there.

While towns would not be able to restrict anchoring they could for example enforce noise ordinances after 10PM. So there would be some recourse against bad actors.

Another compromise could be to limit the time (days) a boat could be anchored. This would prevent derelict vessels but allow a cruiser to wait out the weather.

Remember not every waterfront homeowner in Florida owns a multi-million dollar mansion and most are not spoiled billionaires. In fact most waterfront homeowners in Florida are probably boaters themselves.
 

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Mermaid Hunter
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Discussion Starter #14
If you buy a home fronting an anchorage you should have a reasonable expectation that people will anchor there.
I suggest that if you buy a waterfront home you should expect people to anchor there.

I also suggest that if you have a dock you should reasonably expect (if you have any competence at all) to be able to get your own boats on and off your dock.

While towns would not be able to restrict anchoring they could for example enforce noise ordinances after 10PM. So there would be some recourse against bad actors.
To date, in the anchor wars the waterfront houses have been the sources of noise.

In my opinion what anchorage restrictions are appropriate should be at the State level, not by towns and other localities. Is it asking too much for cruisers to expect consistent regulation in a State?

Another compromise could be to limit the time (days) a boat could be anchored. This would prevent derelict vessels but allow a cruiser to wait out the weather.
Why? There are lots of ways to directly address derelict vessels without restricting the rights of law-abiding people. There are in fact existing laws that address derelict vessels. Unfortunately there is no funding to deal with the problem. The politicians are proposing to pass laws that hurt lots of people, driven by a small number of wealthy waterfront landowners who are motivated entirely by keeping anchored boats out of "their" view over waters they do not own.
 

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I suggest that if you buy a waterfront home you should expect people to anchor there.

I also suggest that if you have a dock you should reasonably expect (if you have any competence at all) to be able to get your own boats on and off your dock.
Why the insult???? I never mentioned docking????

Because I bought a house with a dock I'm the enemy now? :confused:

And in the case of the canal behind our place there really isn't room to anchor in the channel without restricting vessel traffic.

To date, in the anchor wars the waterfront houses have been the sources of noise.
Again, not sure where that came from? Noise ordinances go both ways.

In my opinion what anchorage restrictions are appropriate should be at the State level, not by towns and other localities. Is it asking too much for cruisers to expect consistent regulation in a State?
I suggested no such thing. I was agreeing with you that some areas, while narrow, have historically been anchorages and should not be restricted.

I would disagree that they should be regulated at the state level. Navigable waterways should be Federally regulated under a well defined set of rules to prevent local cat fights. That way if I'm cruising south down the ICW I don't have a different set of laws in every state.

Why? There are lots of ways to directly address derelict vessels without restricting the rights of law-abiding people. There are in fact existing laws that address derelict vessels. Unfortunately there is no funding to deal with the problem.
I'm suggesting a compromise at 30 days. maybe that could be rephrased to limit anchoring to 30 days if you are outside a designated anchorage.

It wouldn't make much sense for someone to anchor their vessel permanently as a liveaboard in the middle of a 40' wide channel in the middle of a residential neighborhood would it? I'm not talking about the ICW here. I can think of one neighborhood on Big Pine where there's barely enough room for two center consoles to pass in the channel. A boat anchored there would be a hazard to navigation.

The politicians are proposing to pass laws that hurt lots of people, driven by a small number of wealthy waterfront landowners who are motivated entirely by keeping anchored boats out of "their" view over waters they do not own.
I can't speak to who's driving the laws or to their motivation.

My point is most waterfront home owners aren't billionaires. Most are regular people who are also boat owners. Why not tone down the rhetoric and tap into them for support?
 

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Mermaid Hunter
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Discussion Starter #16
For starters, neither of us gets to decide so this is just a discussion.

Why the insult???? I never mentioned docking?
I intended no insult. My point is that homeowners with marine infrastructure like private docks have a reasonable expectation to get on and off their docks, just as slipholders in marinas do, and users of boat ramps do. I think 200' is excessive but access is reasonable. I think that stand offs from bulkheads aren't appropriate. I don't think a 12' jetski needs 200' to get on and off the dock. Frankly I don't think a 40' boat needs 200'.

Because I bought a house with a dock I'm the enemy now?
Nope. I want you on our side. *grin*

And in the case of the canal behind our place there really isn't room to anchor in the channel without restricting vessel traffic.
And that may be the case. Send me lat and long and I'll check charts and we can engage civilly.

Again, not sure where that came from? Noise ordinances go both ways.
I was referring to a particular individual, one Frederic Karlton of Miami Beach (see Florida: The Most Cruiser Unfriendly State? (VIDEO) | | PassageMaker ). Most people who have followed the anchor travails in Florida are familiar with Mr. Karlton. I'm not aware of any instance in which cruisers (not ski boats or day boaters) have been the instigators of a noise issue.

I would disagree that they should be regulated at the state level. Navigable waterways should be Federally regulated under a well defined set of rules to prevent local cat fights. That way if I'm cruising south down the ICW I don't have a different set of laws in every state.
I'd be thrilled to have it regulated at the Federal level. Federal agencies and courts have deferred to states unless commercial or interstate commerce is affected.

I'm suggesting a compromise at 30 days. maybe that could be rephrased to limit anchoring to 30 days if you are outside a designated anchorage.
Why? To my mind if a boater can demonstrate that his or her boat is suitable for navigation and all sewage and other regulations are met why set a number? That won't help with the real derelict boat problem and just drives more tourists away from Florida.

I can't speak to who's driving the laws or to their motivation.
I've been working this issue for some time. I ask you to take at face value my description of the motivations of the money behind SB 1548.
 

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Mermaid Hunter
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Discussion Starter #17
I'll get one up here today.
Here you go:

Subject: Oppose Ban on Anchoring

Dear

The Florida state Senate is considering SB 1548 which contains a provision that is attacks the rights and freedoms of boaters. The Florida House of Representatives may take up a similar bill soon.

The bill, titled "An Act Related to Vessel Safety", attempts to remedy a number of true safety issues, attributed usually to derelict and unattended vessels: fuel and oil leaks, dumping of waste, sinking, and unmaintained ground tackle or moorings.

Under this same label of vessel "safety" there is an orphan provision promoted by some special interests, specifically a small group of waterfront landowners, who want to eliminate boat anchoring across huge swaths of Florida based solely upon proximity to spots where another person chose to build an upland "dwelling unit". The politics driving this provision seem to be some anecdotal disputes between high-profile homeowners and boaters in specific locations, mostly in the urban lower east coast. Such fights should be resolved through existing enforceable remedies related to harassment or nuisance on a case-by-case basis, not through an over-reaching statewide ban.

While stripping the rights of boaters throughout coastal Florida from the panhandle, through the Keys, and all the way to Jacksonville, the supporters have not performed an assessment of how many anchoring areas would be eliminated and how many of the 1,000,000 boats visiting Florida each year would be shut out. Also, these supporters have not performed an assessment of the adverse economic impact, lost revenue, lost jobs and lost taxes that would result when these boating customers no longer frequent the thousands of Florida's small businesses that rely on this activity.

The portion of SB 1548 creating an anchoring setback to rope off a view for a few politically-active landowners is an over-reaction to a problem that has better, more fair, solutions. This provision would establish one class of people located shore-side and define them as "winners" while others who choose to be on Florida's public waters as a class that
"loses". This setback is not safety related. It is not fair to boaters. It is unfair to all Floridians who pay taxes and collectively own the submerged land beneath these public waters. It is unfair to coastal small businesses. And it is not Florida.

As a boater who values the maritime rights existing on the public waters of Florida, I respectfully ask that you vote against this bill or vote to remove this orphan provision.

Respectfully yours,
 

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... we can engage civilly.
Dave, the heck with that we should argue over beers like gentleman ! :laugher

I'm coming to this party a bit late. I checked out the video you linked and yes, it looks like the guy in the McMansion is a bit of a nut job. You could anchor the Queen Mary in there!

I'm looking at it from the perspective of having a place on a little canal in the Keys (I sail a 30 ft Catalina, I'm not buying a Miami mansion).

So my perspective is a little different...
 

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I just retired and hope to get as far as Florida by boat. If the state makes it a hassle to visit I will just sail until I feel welcome.
 

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You really are funny!!
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200' doesn't seem at all unreasonable if you think about it, 200' is not very far. If you can't anchor, move along until you find a place where you're at least 200' from a persons home. I don't see the big deal here.

From a non cruisers perspective, it's kind of hard to view why exactly your recreation/vacation whims should take precedence over homeowners who have invested in the area for the long term and actually live there and pay taxes there. 200' seems pretty reasonable, you're still close, and the homeowner doesn't have a bunch of anchored transient cruisers parked on top of him with a 200' buffer law in place.

Property is valued higher when it's on the water (typically), and there is a reason for that. Seems kind of entitled to think you have an automatic right to anchor wherever you want in an area you have zero investment in just because you want to, regardless of what the locals feel about the matter. Saying things like "they think they own the view", while whining about not being able to (temporarily) own that view yourself seems like double speak.

I'll never understand why cruisers often hold the locals of tropical foreign lands in the utmost regard, and totally respect their culture and customs, but at home often show none of this courtesy to their fellow citizens. I also do believe sincerely that if RV's suddenly started landing less than 200' from your home, blocking your views that you don't own, you'd probably be up in arms and have the problem dealt with in short order.
 
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