NOTICE: This post is about a bill introduced in Spring, 2015. It was defeated. Pretty much every session of the Florida legislature, similar bills are introduced . . . and cruisers and other boaters are called on to put pressure on legislators to defeat them. Please do what you can . . . and keep doing it, year after year. Keep Florida a place where boaters can anchor!
The following is a guest post by Wally Moran, who is spreading the word about the latest Florida anchoring threat (two bills were defeated in 2014; this is a new one). Info at the bottom of the article as to how you can show opposition.
The Sky IS Falling….
In case you haven’t heard, Florida state senator Dean has introduced legislation which would eliminate your right to anchor overnight on Florida waters within 200 feet of a residence.
Not so bad you say?
Sure, if you aren’t concerned that this will eliminate over 90% of all the anchorages south of Palm Beach, including such historic ones as Sunset Lake, Hurricane Harbor and others, and leave Lake Sylvia able to hold only two, perhaps three, carefully anchored boats.
The threat is real, and it’s being pushed by wealthy homeowners who believe that their deed of land includes the water behind their homes all the way to the horizon. Those wealthy homeowners have put incredible pressure on local and state politicians about this issue. Just two outspoken (and obnoxious) Miami Beach men donated $65,000 in 2014 alone. And that’s just what I could find out with a very cursory search.
Don’t believe the talk about derelicts. Sure, they exist and are a problem, but there have been laws in place for years to deal with derelicts, such as FWC General Order 21. You can read that here. The problem is that there is no funding available to remove these derelicts. The law is effectively toothless and isn’t enforced.
Let me put it this way: why would you put a new law in place for derelicts when you already have one….UNLESS there is another agenda in play? If you were to put out a law that only mandated setoffs, you’d have people furious at the legislature for pandering to the wealthy. So instead, you pick a nice issue that matters to everyone – derelicts. No one wants derelicts….now watch this hand, NO not that hand, THIS hand, watch THIS hand carefully while I stab you in the back with the knife in the other hand.
That’s what’s happening right now. However, the cruising community has largely caught on to this, thanks to forthright stands by the Seven Seas Cruising Association, and others. The scam has been uncovered, and boaters are fighting back.
So what can you do to help prevent this unlawful takeover of our water rights? I’m glad you asked!
First, join the SSCA, or at least sign up on their Facebook page, to keep up with this issue. You can also follow the issue on my blog, where I give some rather candid overviews of the situation….you expected any less from moi?
Third, download this PDF from the SSCA’s website. In that PDF, you’ll find the contact information you need to kick up a fuss with Florida politicians. Don’t worry if you don’t have a boat, or don’t live in Florida – you are a potential tourist, and if you tell Florida you are so angry with them over this issue you will not come there and spend your money – they will listen to you.
If you live in Florida – call your state rep today and make it clear – and don’t be shy about this – that you will not vote for him/her if he/she supports this bill, which you can read here.
Lastly, write letters to the editor of large Florida newspapers stating both your objection to this bill, and that you won’t be spending your money there if it should pass. Here’s a link to newspapers, magazines and other media in the state.
Remember, he who makes the most noise, wins. If we’re going to retain our rights in Florida, the time to start kicking up a fuss is now, and the time to quit is when it’s over. Not before.
So yes, the sky IS falling. We need – no, we MUST have your help to stop this attack on our rights. Please, please involve yourself in this battle, and thank you.
Wally Moran is a well known sailing writer with SAIL Magazine, a full time cruiser and a regular reader of The Boat Galley. His current project is to complete his circumnavigation of Cuba and create a movie on the experience.