Tag Archives: Anchoring

The Key’s to It All

Nervous Iguana at Boca Chica

Nervous Iguana at Boca Chica

I’ve been working on the manuscript of another novel pretty much since the last post here. Only have so many keystrokes in me per day, so the blog has been riding in the dinghy on a long painter.

This week we took a break (never turned the laptop on) in the Florida Keys checking out anchorages, and marinas prior to deciding whether to take Brilliant Star down there. It was great weather (actually, the same as at home in Vero). Friendly people. Great Food. Decent hotel with (gasp) tolerable prices. More about the food in coming posts. The issue in the Keys is depth, depth, depth. We draw just enough that sheltered anchorages are few in prevailing winds on the Hawk Channel side (south). Since marinas are full, this puts us traveling in worsening weather (more thunder, more heat) later this spring. Still think we’ll go, just haven’t thought out the details yet.


200 foot setbacks to destroy limited available anchorages

This trip came as the hateful and greedy along Florida’s waterways have introduced a Bill to destroy anchoring out in Eastern Florida pretty much as predicted here and in many other blogs. There is no reason to believe they won’t succeed this time since they have a whole session to correct the blundering blunderbuss approach they took last session; still, the demonization of cruisers continues.

Since marinas and mooring field owners have a vested interest in killing off anchoring,  and having attended the public FWC sessions regarding this in the past months, we don’t have a lot of hope this situation will end up in respectful compromise.

Coming Up, Mrs. Mac’s, Fish Tales, Lazy Days, and Harriettes.

Florida Anchoring: Groundhog Day

klaxonstrongWell, the three public meetings have come and gone. “The 300 Feet is the Starting Point” is now 150 feet, and that change is worse than meaningless since it is just a place to renew the political discussion and some cruisers may mis-read it as an actual improvement and disengage from the discussion.

However, the survey itself has been improved and clarified. The issues have merit, but merit, truth and balance are the first casualties of political discussion, especially when the Pols have already smeared those of us who anchor with villainy approaching barbary.

The new survey is at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/AnchoringSurvey and must be completed by Dec 7. It still ignores cruisers’ need for a place to anchor awaiting a good weather window for crossing the Gulf Stream — something I mentioned directly to Major Moore and documented in my submission at the Vero Beach meeting. Since marinas and mooring fields stand to gain from those of us cruising to the Bahamas being trapped for several days (weeks last season) by weather and potentially draconian anchoring restrictions, this omission is troublesome. So, I will say it again, the safe harbor language in the survey doesn’t engage with this issue sufficiently.

From the “300 Feet” post

I have run a test on some popular anchorages and what a 300 foot keep-out zone means. Basically, Faber Cove would cease to be usable, and the same for Lake Boca Raton and Lake Sylvia.

On the other hand…


Faber Cove


Lake Sylvia

Having reanalyzed the charts by halving the keep out distance from 300 to 150 feet, the change improves anchoring access in Faber Cove, and Lake Sylvia (green 300 feet, blue 150 feet keep out). Lake Worth and Hobe Sound are largely unaffected.

NoAncHowever the shoreside locals we heard from at the Vero Beach meeting would prefer 1/4 mile or out of their county whichever is greater. One very angry attendee would have gladly substituted country for county. [Before he angrily stomped up the aisle and left, He said, He had no idea people could anchor behind his waterfront property when he bought it.  ?!?!?]

POST SCRIPT From the “300 Feet” post (re: evaluating anchorages)

I looked no farther south [than Lake Sylvia] as we don’t travel any farther south than necessary to get to the Bahamas where cruisers who anchor are more welcome.

Unfortunately, I posted that sentiment before Mr. Carey of the Bahamas National Trust cast considerable doubt on how welcome cruisers (vice their money) are in the Bahamas. Interestingly, within just a few weeks of his grapeshot broadside at everyone who anchors in the Bahamas, The BNT launched its annual $$$ appeal without including a repudiation of his remarks. Thus, they have also informed us.

Florida Anchoring — 300 Feet is Just the Starting Point

klaxonstrongI find it interesting after all the Happy Hour outrage over the proposed adverse rule making that came on the heels of the announcement of the current Florida FWC concept exploration, the public meetings have come and gone with almost no comment. Postings here, Cruisersnet, Seven Seas, and Waterway Guide have garnered all of three comments.

I have run a test on some popular anchorages and what a 300 foot keep-out zone means. Basically, Faber Cove would cease to be usable, and the same for Lake Boca Raton and Lake Sylvia. On the other hand, the 300 foot keep-out zone applied to North Lake Worth, and Lake Worth proper and Hobe Sound would have almost no impact given the bottom contours and ICW channel proximity. The charts are below.

I used the shoreline to profile the zones, as Capt Klein of the FWC said they had exempted docks from their definition as it would be too hard to draw contours around them. So clearly he wasn’t thinking 300 feet from the structures of houses and condos.

Notwithstanding the problem of the State ceding control of State waters to municipalities and Federal prerogatives, the trouble is 300 feet is a starting point — there is an equal probability the number will get larger or smaller. Since 300 feet still allows  two or three small cruisers room to anchor in Faber Cove, Lake Sylvia and Lake Boca Raton, we should be watchful for attempts to move up from 300 feet.

I looked no farther south as we don’t travel any farther south than necessary to get to the Bahamas where cruisers who anchor are more welcome.

Florida Anchoring Meeting, Vero Beach (And the Beat Goes On)

klaxonstrongTonight I attended the FWC hosted Vero Beach meeting on regulatory Concepts for anchoring in Florida. The meeting was well run by Maj Moore of the FWC who was supported by Capt Klein and a staff of non-uniformed personnel. Seven regulatory Concepts were presented with repeated requests throughout the meeting for the attendees to put their thoughts in the comments sections of the questionnaires provided. A similar meeting is scheduled for Bradenton tomorrow evening. A regulated open mike session allowed time for cruisers, other boaters, home owners, members of the boating industry and locality representatives to speak.

The core purpose of the meeting was to provide the FWC access to a broader thought base when developing regulatory alternatives to respond to legislative attempts to return to locally controlled anchoring. While the FWC Anchoring Pilot Program was extended for three years in the last session, there is no reason to believe it won’t come up again this next session.

The elephant in the room issue is a regulatory concept allowing anchoring keep out zones in the vicinity of waterfront residences. The initial language proposes expansive keep out zones which would largely eliminate anchoring in Florida’s most populous and/or geographically constrained waterfront regions — a boon to marina owners and mooring field operators — and quite possibly unconstitutional if not simply illegal.

As is usual in cases like this, the public comment was all over the map. About 75% of the comments were on topic, the rest were either meandering or sales pitches or diatribes of some sort. Some comments were more appropriate to a legislative comment environment. Of the on topic comments, about half were polite rants [actually this was a very polite crowd, considering the potential downside of both legislation and the FWC keep out concept] the other half contained a few useful ideas and raised issues that will likely require a court challenge to ever see settled. Several people spoke in favor of uniformity in application — but several worried one size may not fit all considering Florida’s geographic variety.

About 100 people attended. Roughly a third spoke. A couple of people on both sides of the issue behaved badly, but they failed to ignite audience passion or participation.

I agree with Major Moore. It is better to have this dialog now and concepts in hand when the legislative juggernaut starts up again than it is to respond to proposed legislation with “duh.”

All seven concepts can be found at. http://myfwc.com/media/2847550/anchoring-public-meeting.pdf


Dereliction Friction

EastCoastwstatsThe Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has an excellent (not yet fully implemented) online tool  for tracking location and essential information on derelict boats. For the Florida East Coast, when the underlying data is parsed it reveals:

  • 66% of derelict recreational boats are Florida registered, and this percentage is slightly understated because the “Registration NA” boats probably contain some number of Florida registered boats.
  • Of the derelict boats for which length data is available (87%), the median boat size (all types) is 26 feet and the mean is 27 feet (discounting an outlier). Two thirds are between 22 and 32 feet.
  • Across both registration categories sailboats account for 40%, cabin-power for 19%.
  • 75% of the 170+ derelicts are in Monroe, Miami-Dade, Brevard and Broward Counties, but…
  • In Broward County 68% of the boats identified as derelict are in slips.
  • Most of the pictures of “Registration NA” boats and many of the “FL Registered” depict hulls so old that removal would entail little legal effort.


  • The few commercial hulks, barges, etc were not counted.
  • The boat registration and length data is extracted from graphics files in the FWC tool by hand; there may have been a few errors.

What can we draw from this?

  • The registration data doesn’t support derelict boats being driven by out of state/foreign cruisers.
  • The size data doesn’t support derelict boats being driven by cruisers, period. Yes, we have taken over 500 and 1000 mile trips in a 23 footer (1976) and a 29 footer (1980), but what we see on the waters today is 35-45 footers. Although to be balanced, 18% of the measured derelicts are 35 feet or greater — the same percentage as boats 21 feet or less.
  • From the FWC photos, the sailboats, with few exceptions, are not equipped as long range cruisers, they look to be local boats that were either uninsured or insured and totaled, and the local owners just walked away.
  • Broward County’s slipped derelicts should be discounted when talking about anchoring issues.
  • Money for removal is more of an issue than authority for removal.

Finally (well, that apparently never happens in this debate), we don’t like looking at or being anchored near derelicts or imminent derelicts any more than any other Floridian. We don’t like them clogging up our few and far between safe anchorages. We don’t like them driving municipalities to create maritime ghettos that wipe out those few and far between safe anchorages.

We believe the data above is a reason for the latest shift to attempting to ban anchoring on the basis of defamatory accusations rather than data. It’s pretty clear from the data, cruisers don’t come to Florida to abandon their boats.

Anchoring in Florida — A Survey

This from the SSCA Forum.

“The Florida Fish and Wildlife is looking for input from cruisers on it’s Mooring and Anchoring Pilot Program. If you think it’s important, you can go to the link here, http://www.myfwc.com/anchoringsurvey and complete the survey. The program is due to expire in July 2014 and the results of the survey may make a difference in any future legislation.”

The Collector

The Collector

We have only used the mooring field in St. Augustine, and twice was enough, Now we skip the town altogether and anchor north in the Tolomato and south in the Matanzas. I suppose the city losing our considerable semi-annual provisioning business was a small price to pay for getting rid of the derelicts who spent nothing.

BoatUS LInkFlorida had all the laws it needed to deal with derelicts and dischargers, and Federal law was clear on unlawfully restricting navigation. Now that municipalities are making money off the mooring fields that resulted from the Pilot Program, based on our experience, it is unlikely they will reduce their field sizes to allow for safe and comfortable anchoring near shore.

Having said that, we are also somewhat pleased that this unfavorable change drove us to look harder at the charts and guides, and not just near St. Augustine. We now find it possible to make it from Brunswick to Fort Pierce with only one marina stop required (though we usually make two). From Fort  Pierce, we now sail offshore to West Palm and then from there to Port Everglades where we anchor in a previously one night anchoring only basin to wait for good weather for the crossing to West End. We still have to make a provisioning stop somewhere in there, but at least it’s not in a town that doesn’t want us there unless we pay for an uncomfortable, if not unsafe, parking space — which is what the whole program seems to have been about.