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I purchased a 24' Sailboat around the beginning of September 2018, with plans to teach my son how to sail. I took the boat to the Ballard Park area of Melbourne, FL and moored it out. Ballard Park is a well know anchorage for boats.

Everything was fine for the first month or so, and then one day a Melbourne Police Officer shows up to my home with a handful of tickets for violation of:

Florida Statute 327.50 § (2): No person shall operate a vessel on the waters of this state unless said vessel is equipped with properly serviceable lights and shapes required by the navigation rules.



He was claiming I did not have an anchor light. I immediately went out to fix the anchor light and to my surprise the anchor light was actually working. The light is a solar powered light and it can be seen in the boat picture at the top of the mast.

About a week later the same Police Officer shows up to my home again and gives me another handful of tickets for the same thing. At this time I questioned the Officer about it and informed him that I went out and checked on the boat and the light was working. He told me that the people who lived around the cove were complaining about the boats being anchored out there and that I should just move the boat. I told him the law is not for him to run me out of a place I am legally allowed to be, just because someone else doesn't like it.

After the second round of tickets I filed for court dates and started to research the law. The law states "No person shall OPERATE a vessel on the waters of this state unless said vessel is equipped with properly serviceable lights and shapes required by the navigation rules." as shown in the picture above.

The law has a section that defines the word "operate":



The law specifically states that "operate" means "while the vessel is underway". The definition of "underway" is:

According to 33 USCS foll 30 R 3 (i), the word underway means “that a vessel is not at anchor, or made fast to the shore, or aground.”



I was not "underway" or "operating" ANYTHING! I was home SLEEPING!

After doing some more research, I found out that the City and States jurisdiction only applies to vessels "operating" upon the waters of this state, as per:

Florida Statue 327.58 Jurisdiction.—The safety regulations included under this chapter shall apply to all vessels, except as specifically excluded, "operating" upon the waters of this state.



Otherwise the jurisdiction falls under the United States Coast Guard, who I have seen out there plenty of times and haven't received a single ticket from, obviously because my light was working and they aren't trying to illegally run boats out of places they are allowed to be.




..."jurisdiction of the United States includes territories and territorial waters."

If the U.S. Coast Guard gave me the tickets, that would be fine as they have the jurisdiction to do that. But they didn't because my light actually was working. But even if my light wasn't working, the City Police do not have the jurisdiction to issue me these tickets, as per the law.

There is even a section of the law that states:

327.60 Local regulations; limitations -
 (2) This chapter and chapter 328 do not prevent the adoption of any ordinance or local regulation relating to "operation" of vessels, except that a county or municipality "may not enact, continue in effect, or enforce any ordinance or local regulation":
...
(f) Regulating the anchoring of vessels outside the marked boundaries of mooring fields permitted as provided in s. 327.40, except for:
1. Live-aboard vessels; ...



This section of the law clearly states that THEY ARE allowed to adopt ordinances and regulations relating to the "OPERATION" of vessels...
and MAY NOT enact, continue in effect, or enforce any ordinance or local regulation:
(f)  Regulating the anchoring of vessels outside the marked boundaries of mooring fields permitted as provided...

Ballard Park is not a mooring field and my boat was not a live-aboard. The state law is clear, if you are not "OPERATING", you are under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Coast Guard, NOT the states jurisdiction.

Over the next few weeks, the same officer continually came to my home and issued me tickets for the same thing (my working anchor light). In total, I have been given over 30 tickets, about $2,500 dollars, in a span of a little over a month, for my "working anchor light". Which they do not even have the jurisdiction to issue.

After the second round of tickets, the officer showed up to my home with more and more police, I assume it was to show these other officers who I am so that they could mess with me, because he is a water cop and not on the streets. On the last occasion they showed up with 3 police cars, to give me "anchor light tickets." It does not take 3 police officers to give me some light tickets. This is not how our government is supposed to operate.

I finally decided to sell the boat because I'm tired of waking up to a gang of Officers at my front door issuing me bogus tickets. I am now fighting these tickets and have hired the best attorney's I could find and I would appreciate any help from any other boaters or really anybody. This is wrong on so many levels. The problem is most of us can't afford the time or the money to fight something like this.

If the United States Coast Guard issued me a ticket, I bet they would have given me time to fix it, kinda like how you have a month or so to fix a headlight if it goes out. They haven't given me a ticket because my light really was working and they aren't trying to run any boats out of places they are legally allowed to be.

This blatant extortion attempt needs to be exposed and corrected.

I would appreciate any help from any other boaters or really anybody. This is wrong on so many levels. This is extortion, lack of due process, blatant disregard for the law by our trusted government officials.

This is a straight money grab by our City Police, this is extortion.

THIS IS WRONG! PLEASE HELP ME!
 

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Land lubber
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Over the next few weeks, the same officer continually came to my home and issued me tickets for the same thing (my working anchor light). In total, I have been given over 30 tickets, about $2,500 dollars, in a span of a little over a month, for my "working anchor light". Which they do not even have the jurisdiction to issue.

After the second round of tickets, the officer showed up to my home with more and more police, I assume it was to show these other officers who I am so that they could mess with me, because he is a water cop and not on the streets. On the last occasion they showed up with 3 police cars, to give me "anchor light tickets." It does not take 3 police officers to give me some light tickets. This is not how our government is supposed to operate.
No, this is not how our government is supposed to operate.

1. Next time he shows up, call 911. Put a trespassing warrant on him. Tell him in no uncertain terms that if he steps foot on your property again, you will have him arrested.

2. File a complaint in the local police dept./sherrif's dept. against him and all other officers that showed up at your house.

3. Have a good attorney file a lawsuit against his municipality AND HIM PERSONALLY for damages AND PUNITIVE DAMAGES.

This Gestapo crap is what they just pulled on Roger Stone. This can not stand.

https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/martin-niemoeller-first-they-came-for-the-socialists

First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
 

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Ian :

This "set foot on my property and...." sentiment is an extension of the same motivation of those people down by the lake that want the boat moved.

As for shooting someone dead, well, how the hell will that help resolve anything ????
 

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I would have just called the local news channels consumer advocate reporter to run with it if I was 100% certain I was right and nothing was wrong with my equipment. You may be surprised what a little quality time on TV can do for bogus ticketing if all they were sighting you for was your anchor light not working appropriately when there was nothing wrong with it.

Is there any chance that its not staying lit all through the night and they may be rightfully ticketing you for a boat in your control not having an operating anchoring light all night long and into the early morning hours shortly before sunrise? Are you also 100% sure that its is actually bright enough to be seen at the required distance?

As for jurisdiction if they are operating under FWC control although part of a local Police unit they may still have jurisdiction over that part of the Eau Gallie River or the Indian River Lagoon depending on where you are moored.

I am next door to the US Coast Guard station near Sand Key and the Local Police, FWC and Coast Guard all have jurisdiction over boating in that area but give way to each other as for jurisdiction over certain offenses, regs, etc.

Threatening harm to a Police Official is an offense that can put you in jail so I would not go that route.
 

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First post. Sounds like an awful experience and there is no doubt that Florida has a mission to reduce/eliminate boats on long term random anchorages. I don't like it, but I somewhat understand their motivation. Some are serious eye sores, as you can live aboard a real junker year round down there. We rarely see them up here, once winter sets in. My Father lives in FL and I've seen numerous abandon wrecks on the shore.

Of course, there are wealthy waterfront property owners who have some muscle in this fight too and that's unfair. Nevertheless, the entire population owns the water, not just the boaters, and we're grossly outnumbered.

Not to take away from your strife, but I suspect there is slightly more to it. The idea that your solar light may not make it through the night is worth considering. Were there any other usage regulations for that anchorage.

If you hired an attorney, what are they doing? Do they agree with your legal assessment of jurisdiction? My gut tells me that a local LEO agency, with any jurisdiction over the water, would be entitled to enforce an anchor light. It might be contained elsewhere. You asked for help, but it's not clear what kind of help you're asking for. If you're looking for a sympathetic ear at the bar, you've got it.
 

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That's horrible! Decided to sell your boat and lose out on that experience with your son becasue of someone with more power than compassion, and complicit, corrupt authorities.

The Barracks Lawer in my says you have a viable civil claim once you get the citations thrown out.

There is absolutely no reason those citations could not have been delivered by mail. None. You were being bullied and intimidated from the outset. If there is another encounter at your home, I would suggest calmly pointing that out and asserting that there is no reason for the officer, or half his crew, to be on your doorstep.

The suggestion about warning the officer about shooring him for tresspass is an exceptionally bad idea. It would fly in Texas, not so much in Florida. Better to call 911. Who knows if the guy is even on duty.

I think you have been damaged. I think you have a civil claim against the city, the PD, possibly the cop personally (was he on duty? or was he doing a favor for his waterfront owning, sailboat hating friend...), and possibly the people who complained in the first place. I seem to recall something about being able to face your accuser (maybe that doesn't apply, but you may be able to get some mileage out of it.)

I hope you run over the top of them, and I hope to see this in the news. Make them buy you a bigger boat, and a boat slip.
 

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bell ringer
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I think it's a total waste of time to chase this "operate" word thing.

The thing you need to prove and show is it that you are allowed to be anchored when you are and you are operating and showing the correct anchor light.
 

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Captain Obvious
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I looked at the chart and there is a small and reportedly very poor anchorage on the opposite side of the basin from the park at the end of the channel called Eau Gallie. Is that where your boat was??

I am sure there are some people who are politically connected on the other end of this. I would read up as much as I could about the judge, and find a very savvy local lawyer. You need to read up on the local ordinances and the harbor plan. I suspect the anchor light thing is either a clue that they local ordinances are insufficient, or its the usual local racket. Either way, they don't want your boat there and they know how to write violations.

That said, do not over react..... ianjoub that is the stupidest comment I have ever read on sailnet. A good way to end up in jail for a long time or dead. Over a ticket for an anchor light.

As you have sold the boat, and essentially complied, then you just want the $2500 reduced to $50 and walk away. I think if you get a good lawyer and you make enough of an argument then that is the best result you can hope for. Good luck. I hate Florida.
 

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Sal - Unfortunately some people do seem to have a knack for getting on the wrong side of FWC and the local Police however most folks I know at the Sailing Center have very few problems with them. Police, FWC and Coast Guard officers who visit us have never been a problem and are always polite and reasonable. Most are happy to work with you through any issues that develop if you sincerely ask them what you can do to become compliant with a reg they feel you have fallen short on.

Pushing the issue on leaving what sounds like a trailer sailor out on the Eau Gallie River or the Indian River Lagoon may a bit much especially if the light in question is not actually an approved anchoring light but a home center solar patio walkway light that may or may not be up to the tasking of staying lit bright enough from dusk to dawn. We have plenty of snips of the various regs and such that are believed to apply here but nothing showing how and where the boat is moored or of the offending light making it harder to determine what the situation actually is like.

Police do not usually come with backup to issue tickets unless there was a situation during prior interactions to warrant it such as a belligerent attitude, excess profanity, etc. Most will send notices of non-compliance in the mail first or tag the boat with a notice of violation and then show up only after those are ignored for a lengthy period of time. That the officer had a fist full on both occasions would make it appear that the boat is not being regularly maintained and is being left out on the water unattended for extended periods of time. People moor their boats like that and abandon them too regularly in Florida so that its become a dumping ground of derelict boats which is also likely behind them aggressively going after unofficial mooring fields in the inlet near the park.
 

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I'm surprised he didn't try to give you a load of crap for not having a day shape displayed.

Seriously, you do need to be able to show that your anchor light met the requirements. If so you might be able to get the tickets dropped if your lawyer can frame it to the judge in the right way. The fact that you let a huge number of them accumulate is not going to help though. And I agree that i'd let the jurisdiction argument go. There are few thing that judges hate more than claims that "the police don't have jurisdiction over me/my property/etc."

Also, talk to your lawyer about any possible effect on your drivers' license. I don't know Florida law but in some places these unpaid tickets might affect renewal or even suspension of the license.
 

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Seastar I buy that. I have found the same thing. Unfortunately I have also found the opposite. But I can sort of read between the lines, and I agree with much of what you say.
 

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cmac321 said:
He was claiming I did not have an anchor light. I immediately went out to fix the anchor light and to my surprise the anchor light was actually working. The light is a solar powered light and it can be seen in the boat picture at the top of the mast.
While I agree 100% that this is simply bullying, I see a few potential problems if you go to fight this:

#1 You will need to prove your "solar light" meets the very stringent rules for navigation lights. If it is not a USCG "certifed" or ABYC A-16 certifed navigation light, one that is tested for COLREGS compliance, there is a very high chance it does not meet the navigation lights requirements and would be disqualified as an anchor light. The fact that it could not be seen easily may not way in your favor.

Rule 20 Application: (e) The lights and shapes specified in these Rules shall comply with the provisions of Annex I [to these Regulations | of these Rules].

Annex I is in the CFR Code of Federal Regulations (33 CFR 84) and spells out very clearly what it means to have a legally compliant navigation light. It must meet color, intensity, horizontal and vertical compliance sectors. Imanna Labs, one of the independet USCG/ABYC A-16 testing authorities, fails "navigation lights" fairly regularly and these are from companies who actually believe they have built a light that they believe complies enough to pay to have it tested.

#2 Unless you are technically anchored in a designated "§ 109.10 Special anchorage area" then an anchor light would technically be required. While this is often not enforced, especially in local mooring fields, if a legal authority wanted to push they issue they usually have the law on their side to do so. On the other side of that, if where you anchored is designated a special anchorage you are not required to show an anchor light at all so the case could just be thrown out. There are not a ton of defined special anchorages but do look into it.
 

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Ian :

This "set foot on my property and...." sentiment is an extension of the same motivation of those people down by the lake that want the boat moved.

As for shooting someone dead, well, how the hell will that help resolve anything ????
It looks like IanJoub edited his post and wisely removed any suggestion of shooting anybody. Yeah, bad idea.

As for calling 911 to report some police officers to,....other police officers. I can't imagine that going well. Thinking that they will respond by saying, "What, some over zealous police officers have been harassing you? That's unacceptable! We'll send some of our police officers over to talk with those police officers and tell them to stop". That's not likely to to happen.

A call to 911 like that is about as likely to be appreciated as the people who call 911 to complain that McDonalds gave them cold french fries.
 

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I purchased a 24' Sailboat around the beginning of September 2018, with plans to teach my son how to sail. I took the boat to the Ballard Park area of Melbourne, FL and moored it out. Ballard Park is a well know anchorage for boats.

Everything was fine for the first month or so, and then one day a Melbourne Police Officer shows up to my home with a handful of tickets for violation of:


This is a straight money grab by our City Police, this is extortion.

THIS IS WRONG! PLEASE HELP ME!
CMAC321, I noticed that you just joined this group and this is your first and only post. Is this your only reason for coming on here? How about the questions that people have posted on this thread? Is your anchor light an approved anchor light? Is the battery lasting through the night? We are curious to know the full story.
 

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Post a copy of the ticket showing the ordinance that was violated or just site it here.
 

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There is so much wrong with the OP's original rant.

It doesn't mention if he's a resident, filed as a homesteader, or a snowbird, or whatnot. If he is a resident of the same jurisdiction...and a voter...there are always local politicians looking to score points. District leader, assemblyman, whoever. And the local TV and newspaper "help me" contacts are always looking for something. Coming to SN and bitching about it...comes off more like there's some agenda.

As to the anchor light being USCG approved--that's of no real importance. Lights just have to meet USCG standards, they DO NOT have to be approved, as has been discussed so many times before. Usually, for small craft, that means "Go someplace that is two miles away on the map. Look for your boat while someone on board blinks the link. Can you see the light?" and if the answer is yes, that's all the USCG requires. I'd bet the USCG could be asked about that sufficiency, in writing, and they'd pretty much reply "Yes that is sufficient" which is all you'd need to show a judge. Or whatever bozo adjudicates those tickets.

Then of course the OP apparently doesn't come from America...where we know that crooked cops can and should be formally charged with misfeasance. In some places there are particular "police review boards" to file charges with, in others, you go through the local DA's office, either way it is at no charge. You don't need to hire a lawyer to report a criminal violation and insist on prosecution. Failure to prosecute escalates into misfeasance and malfeasance and more trouble for the folks who fail to do it.

I filed charges against a cop (who was going off shift soon) who refused to give a drug/sobriety test to the guy who ran into my car. Three weeks later I get a call "from his sergeant" saying he's a good cop he just wanted to go off shift, couldn't I just drop it? I said hell no, I didn't care how good a cop he was, he was letting someone thoroughly drugged stay on the road and he could kill somebody next time.

Either you are a citizen, and you do some work about running the place, or you're a rube, at best, and not entitled to complain about the way you've left others running it.
 

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Seastar I buy that. I have found the same thing. Unfortunately I have also found the opposite. But I can sort of read between the lines, and I agree with much of what you say.
Most police officers will play nice with you if you play nice with them is really what I have seen.

I did serve as a police data consultant in Florida so have spent some extended time assisting officers with court, jail and prison data systems on a State, County and Local level so I may be a bit Pro-Police due to that. In all that association I had not once encountered a situation where the police went out of their way to harass or be unfair but found quite the opposite to be true that for the most part they go out of their way to give even known convicted felons fair and decent treatment even when the person they are dealing with starts to cross the line. Unfortunately its not the hundreds of thousands of calls for service done above and beyond the call of duty that get National attention but the small handful every few months or years that fall short that are used to typecast all officers.

This situation appears to have gaps as there should have been at least notices left on the boat duplicated by the ones the officer showed up with at the door on both calls. Yes this all could just be a troll for someones amusement to get police haters all in a frenzy. The ticketing software should have triggered the visits by the police due to past due response on the tickets. For the past 20 to 30 years most police forces in any community with more that a small handful of officers will be using a dedicated police and jail management package of some kind tied in with the courts along with 911 to manage and track all of this. This isn't 1950's Mayberry.
 
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