Another Florida Anchoring Threat

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.

What do you want to look at

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 websiteIn 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 MoranWally 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.

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  • Laura Zechin
    Posted at 17 March 2015 Reply

    That stinks! I bet they like the money that cruisers spend in their towns…

  • David Grimm
    Posted at 17 March 2015 Reply

    Just wait the boats will soon be covered with mold and really looking good.

  • Dominic Spina
    Posted at 17 March 2015 Reply

    How can they claim water rights when they can’t own the beach past the high tide mark?

    • Tom Corbett
      Posted at 17 March 2015 Reply

      Excellent point. I’m a surveyor and constantly arguing w homeowners that believe they own more than they do.

  • Frank Collins
    Posted at 17 March 2015 Reply

    Florida will lose millions on people cruising that will eliminate Florida and the millions spent by these boaters around the state

  • Ruth
    Posted at 17 March 2015 Reply

    We visited a marina in Key West as a paid transient recently. My husband was verbally attacked by a “resident” power boater when my husband said we were passing through the area. The man said he shouldn’t be on the dock and continued with those “damn sailors” who anchor out and don’t pay taxes.” The guy went on and on, until my husband let him know we were paying (overly priced rates) to stay there. The guy backed down then, but it makes me wonder how many in the boating community see it as an “us vs. them” issue, and that we are not only having to worry about land owners thinking they own their view. Thoughts?

    • Wally Moran
      Posted at 17 March 2015 Reply

      Jackasses like that should be told, very bluntly, that cruisers spend upwards of $18 million per month in Florida – that’s based on 12000 cruisers per year coming in, at $1500 per month budget.
      Then he should be told, in very clear terms, to shut up. They don’t deserve our courtesy with that sort of attitude.

  • Carol
    Posted at 17 March 2015 Reply

    First, Florida is not as “boater-friendly” as some may think. That has become blatantly apparent since I arrived about a year and a half ago. Second, when people purchase homes, they buy the building and the property it’s built on. They do not purchase the waterway, harbor, ocean, lake or any other body of water the property fronts. The State or Federal Government lay claim to these kinds of things. The simple fact of the matter is – we have the wealthy, politicians, and most likely, attorneys, who own property in these areas and get a bug up because “average folks” share what they feel is theirs because of their property ownership. Having the money and the schooled knowledge that they possess, they form laws, rules and restrictions to take and control what they have no right to take and control. It is sad that such a beautiful State has become controlled by those who feel they are more privileged than others because of personal wealth. But, then again, that seems to be the direction in which the world is taking – those who have the most get whatever they want, and those who do not, get nothing – even when it is there to be shared by all.

  • Tom Corbett
    Posted at 17 March 2015 Reply

    Id bet 90% of all these homeowners never even made their money in Florida, yet they come here and wish to impose their will upon people that wish to live a simple life on the water. Btw who in their right mind would rather look at a dingy then a beautiful sailboat….. Kooks!

  • Wann Rawles
    Posted at 17 March 2015 Reply

    Anchorages (that exclude derelicts) are beautiful. What home owner in his right (non-ideological mind) would not want them?

  • mike powers
    Posted at 17 March 2015 Reply

    Dade county and city of miami has a on going attempt to deprive Floridians from access to the water.we have a limited access to one of the greatest resources in the world Biscayne Bay..Everyday, people attempt to take that access away from us by closing some of the few ramps and beach’s available to boating public. There are few enough locations now to service the community ,but we owe the entire state the opportunity to visit and have access to our BEAUTIFUL bay. Protect our water from the massive land owners , who would disenfranchise the public.

  • John Bray
    Posted at 17 March 2015 Reply

    I’ve lived on boats all over the map and it’s the same grabopoly going on everywhere…restrict anchor-outs, liveaboards, and minimize cruiser anchorages. Pathetic.

  • ChrisW
    Posted at 17 March 2015 Reply

    Having attended a FWC sponsored public meeting on this subject after re-establishing our Florida residency and docking our boat here for now, I have a few informed observations which may not make people happy.

    $18 million is absolute chicken-feed-husks and it is dropping as cruisers age out of cruising, and Millennials invest in kayaks. In 2011, Walt Disney World generated $18.2 Billion in total economic activity (the park + surrounding businesses + transportation). With an improving economy that number has grown by about a billion. 18 Million is one tenth of one percent of that, folks! Florida tourist taxes run 10+% What we spend on boating here in FL won’t buy three tables at a low-end fund raiser.

    Cruisers are notoriously cheapskates and generally don’t participate in the Florida marine economy beyond what they absolutely must. Yes, Fort Lauderdale and Jacksonville have Super Wests, but their bread and butter is center-console fishermen and tubie-towers. The marina and mooring denizens, though part of the $18 million are largely unaffected by the discussion as they have generally opted out of anchoring anyway.

    Cruisers at public meetings have shown themselves to be polite, aged, disorganized whiners, (Florida has lots of experience dealing with those.) The dialog has all been about “you can’t do this to us,” and the issue of “public trust” has languished. The only people who have been worse than the cruisers have been the few shore-side folks who pretty much consider cruisers trailer trash and are willing to back up their intellect with plenty of four letter words and plenty of cash. While I have seen the boating press and advocacy groups at these meetings, I have also seen people throw heads of lettuce through a fan. The outcome was about the same.

    We have written our state officials and legislators on the topic and have received heart-warming boilerplate letters about how wonderful the legislative process is…in Florida?!?!. The reason this bill is not already law is the sponsors failed to follow legislative process when they tried to ram it through at the end of last session. This time they have started early and will cross every I and dot every T (how they do it here) to see that it passes. Unless you vote here and I mean with a checkbook way bigger than cruisers writ large. I would start thinking about anchoring or destination alternatives.

    One last (unpopular) thing. We have been boating in and around Florida since the early 70s with time out for a military career. While the matter of public trust is a valid one, the fact is many, many cruisers have abused that public trust over the last four decades and have done the cruising lifestyle far more harm than any external actor. We may leave an individually clean wake, but when it comes to anchoring we are sailing in a collectively soiled one.

    • Wally Moran
      Posted at 18 March 2015 Reply

      Well written, thoughtful and largely accurate, but defeatist. I will say this – we have a choice: we can fight, or we can lay down and let these people kick us. I can promise you, I’ll be the guy they drag screaming out the door, kicking and punching, over this issue. You, I’m not quite so sure of. You sound like you’ve given up already.

      • ChrisW
        Posted at 18 March 2015 Reply

        If I had given up, I would not have written the government types involved, and I will be continuing to do so when I see opportunities to make a difference. But to be blunt, the issue is violation of the doctrine of public trust. All the other aspects have added noise which have confused the issue and given the bill’s authors seams to exploit and examples to deride. When they hear a cruiser say I am going to take my money elsewhere, They hear a tantrum not a credible financial threat. When they see a cruiser show up at a public meeting looking like they live under and underpass and telling people they aren’t a source of derelicts, they just smile and thank us for a case in point..

        for close on four decades I had a graphic on the wall of my various offices. It was a mouse giving an owl the single digit salute right before the talons pierced. It was always emblematic, but sometimes, it was prophetic. Good luck to us all.

        • EveN
          Posted at 19 March 2015 Reply

          ChrisW, you are 100% on point… people should not muddy the issue. The very best argument is that limiting public access to public waters is a violation of the doctrine of public trust. Period. It’s also the only one with any legal teeth! Everyone… please focus on this point in your letters to elected representatives.

          While the argument that we might all take our cruising dollars elsewhere may resonate with Chambers of Commerce, it does not hold any credible threat from a financial or legal perspective.

    • Pierre Lachance
      Posted at 22 March 2015 Reply

      Anchoring in front of people’s property can be very annoying to the people that live on the water front. An halyard not well attached that knocks on a mast, music in loud speakers, people yelling or screaming on the boat or calling a friend on the other boat etc…. can make a taxpayer very mad at the community of boats that anchor in front of their property. That said, I’m a boater and have been for more than 50 years and I also live on the water front on the St-Lawrence seaway and yes, boaters from surrounding marinas come every weekend to anchor in my bay. While most of them are ok and care not to disturb our peace and privacy, I have seen and heard those unwanted boaters that ruins it all. I even called the police on one of them. Those are the trigger of the problem you are now facing form the water front people who have enough of the noisy boaters and i hope you now all realize that it is not only in Florida. It’s everywhere.
      I wish you guys luck in this fight as I also anchor out very often every summer and will most probably anchor out with you guys next winter in Florida but do address the boating community to educate boaters to be no-noise responsible went anchoring near properties.

  • Dave Skolnick
    Posted at 17 March 2015 Reply

    I’d like to reiterate Wally’s point – if you think this is a problem there are three things you can do: 1. join SSCA – the best $55/year you can spend on boating, 2. volunteer your time to help, and 3. write to legislators, Chambers of Commerce, and businesses in Florida to let them know that legislation like this will affect your cruising plans and that you will take your money elsewhere.

  • Dan Deckert
    Posted at 18 March 2015 Reply

    If these dingy’s are moored, can’t you just tie up to the dingy and us it as a mooring ball? Also, who owns these boats, are the registered? Is there no law against abandoned boats, like there is abandoned vehicles? I’ve read this article several times and I don’t quite get it. How is it illegal to anchor and working, well kept sailboat there, but not illegal to tie up a decrepit dingy? I’d be willing to bet, that if one of the these boats happened to drift off its mooring and float into a channel where another boat hit it, a law suit would soon follow.

  • John Colley
    Posted at 18 March 2015 Reply

    cut the mooring chains,or sink the dinghies

    • Claire Ford
      Posted at 19 March 2015 Reply

      John Colley, just make sure your boat is between you and the land. If theses people can afford this, they can afford high powered surveillance. Or, do it under the cover of darkness.

  • Renee
    Posted at 18 March 2015 Reply

    Non motorized vessels need no registration in Florida. So no one can tell who owns them.

    • Wally Moran
      Posted at 18 March 2015 Reply

      The dinghies belong to Frederick Karlton, of Miami Beach – no secret there. He’s the guy that used to play rap music loudly and shine spotlights at people’s boats, and there are numerous reports of him buzzing anchorouts with his seadoo and his own t-top boat.
      There is a letter, written by Major Daugherty of the FWC, in the Miami Beach Police office in South Beach that they claim says the dinghies are legal. I’ve read the letter – it doesn’t really say that – and Daugherty told me back in 2012 that the dinghies were illegal. I guess when you donate tens of thousands of dollars politically, the rules are different.

  • Rod Seggio
    Posted at 18 March 2015 Reply

    Make this easy for any Floridian voter to help fight this.

    How to find your Florida state legislator:

    How to find your Florida state representative:

    Cut and paste this message below and email it to your legislators and representative after you look it up on the links above:

    Do NOT vote for SB 1548: Vessel Safety.

    If you vote for this bill I will NOT vote for you!

    This will eliminate most anchorages in Florida.

    Increase funding or percentages of existing funding to remove hazards to navigation.

    Maintain statewide consistency of anchoring rules established in F.S. 327.60 and prohibit local or regional exceptions to this state wide policy.

    Oppose any effort to establish setbacks which recognize upland “residential” rights, or restricts overnight anchoring and navigation of waters in public trust.

  • Sandra T
    Posted at 22 March 2015 Reply

    Has anyone started a petition on I would sign.

  • Les
    Posted at 18 June 2015 Reply

    Isn’t it sad that everything in our society is about Money !
    Rich, poor , middle class , cheepskates .
    The waterways are not own by individuals.
    There should be no argument about who spends what ,where ,or how.
    Until Florida votes out the greedy politicians , this will continue. Make home owners understand they only own what their lawnmower mows, prior to purchase.
    And where are the Indian tribes of Florida? Were they not the original owners?

  • Karl
    Posted at 31 December 2015 Reply

    the link to the SSCA pdf to download, doesn’t work… get a “404 not found”

    • Carolyn Shearlock
      Posted at 31 December 2015 Reply

      This was last year’s anchoring threat bill. There is a new one, introduced just a couple days ago. SSCA took down the PDF from last year and is working to create one for this year.

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