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Weekly tropical update

Date Reported: Sep 25, 2014

Reported by: Mark Malsick


Good Morning,

Tropics? Bleh. Only feature of quasi-interest is a weak area of low pressure, 96L, in the Central Atlantic near 15N, 045W with all the ferocity of a ’76 AMC Pacer. The consensus of the models has been to ignore this feature outright with regards to track and intensity. 96L does not have an environment conducive for intensification. 

Elsewhere over the North Atlantic, Caribbean and GoMex, tropical storm formation is not expected.

Mark Malsick
Severe Weather Liaison
South Carolina Department of Natural Resources
State Climate Office
1000 Assembly Street Columbia, SC 29202

Source: South Carolina Department of Natural Resources

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PFD 'Type' numbers may soon be history

Date Reported: Sep 24, 2014

Reported by: Mike Ahart, News Editor

PFDs.jpgConfused as to the difference between a "Type-I" and a "Type-III" personal flotation device (PFD)...and which type is the throwable one again? These "Type" codes may soon be history.

The Coast Guard has issued a final rule to remove references to type codes in its regulations on the carriage and labeling of Coast Guard-approved PFDs. According to the Federal Register notice, "removing these type codes from our regulations will facilitate future incorporation by reference of new industry consensus standards for PFD labeling that more effectively convey safety information, and is a step toward harmonization of our regulations with PFD requirements in Canada and in other countries." This final rule is effective October 22, 2014.

A Standards Technical Panel will be charged with developing a standard for wearable PFDs that will be more descriptive. The Coast Guard will continue to establish minimum safety standards, as well as procedures and tests required to measure compliance with those standards, for commercial and recreational vessels, and associated equipment.

The Coast Guard historically has used type codes in its regulations to identify the level of performance of an approved PFD. Types I, II, and III have referred to wearable PFDs (lifejackets) in decreasing order of performance; Type IV had referred to throwable PFDs; and Type V had referred to any PFD that is conditionally approved as equivalent in performance to Type I, II, III, or IV (for example, wearable life jackets requiring automatic or manual inflation for buoyancy).

Coast Guard regulations specify which Coast Guard-approved PFDs are acceptable for particular applications (recreational boats, uninspected commercial vessels, and sailing school vessels specify particular type codes). In 2004, a study suggested that the current "Type" labels were inadequate and that users do not adequately understand the PFD type codes.

The Coast Guard reaffirms that approved PFDs marked with type codes will still meet carriage requirements as wearable or throwable PFDs, as appropriate, as long as they remain in serviceable condition, and manufacturers may continue to use the "Type" codes until new standards are created and publicized.

Read complete rule: Personal Flotation Devices Labeling and Standards, 56491-56500 [2014-22373].

Images: Personal Flotation Device Manufacturers Association www.pfdma.org

Source: Federal Register Vol. 79, 10/22/2014

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Don't Forget Insurance, Towing and Safety 'Provisions'

Date Reported: Sep 24, 2014


As their annual migration south approaches, sail and powerboat cruisers are stocking their boat’s lockers, checking systems and taking inventory of spare parts. But that’s not the only preparation these cruising “snowbirds” will need to do, says Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS). They need to look at their boat’s insurance policy, should strongly consider having an on water towing service, and rent an EPIRB for those taking an offshore route. 

“Checking insurance paperwork, towing and communications gear may not be as exciting as stocking the boat, but they can make or break the trip south,” said BoatUS spokesman Scott Croft.

Are you covered? Your boat’s insurer will need to know when you are outside the “home waters” named on your policy, and waiting to the last minute can be a pain because they may require additional payment or delay a departure date by requiring a rigging or engine survey – so do this early. Croft says the BoatUS insurance program offers upfront “no-hassle” cruising limit extensions for popular cruising destinations that can be set up at the beginning of a boat’s insurance policy. “This one-time approval gives the boater the coverage they need, eliminates surprises and takes away the hassle of having to ask each year or pay for an extension every time they depart home waters.” Additionally, in Mexico, all boats are required under Mexican Law to have liability insurance issued through a Mexican insurance company. BoatUS can help find this coverage through a partnership with a Mexican insurer.

Ready for a grounding? The second most important task is having an annual on water towing plan for the Intracoastal Waterway’s (ICW) notoriously shallow waters. “Every ICW chat board is filled with grounding stories,” said Croft. “It’s wise to have an on water towing plan before you go, as paying for ungrounding services out of pocket can be very expensive.” BoatUS offers an annual Unlimited saltwater towing plan at BoatUS.com/towing for $149 that includes BoatUS membership.

Calling for help offshore? Croft advises those making offshore passages to have an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) so their safety needs are met when cruising beyond VHF radio or cell phone range. If snowbirds don’t want to make the investment, the BoatUS Foundation offers $65 weekly EPIRB rentals for the boat and Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs) for the crew for $45 weekly, plus shipping. Boaters can order online at BoatUS.org/epirb or call 888-663-7472 and mention code “DISC10” for a 10% discount on their weekly rental rate through December 1, 2014. All beacons are shipped via FedEx in watertight hard cases and come with a prepaid FedEx form to easily return when the passage is complete. 

Do you know what lies ahead? New navigational issues are always a part of each new boating season on the ICW. To help boaters keep clear of troubles is the complimentary “East Coast Alert” bi-weekly email service by liveaboards and authors Tom and Mel Neale available by signing up at BoatUS.com/eastcoastalert. Some recent alert information has included warnings about shifted buoys and shoals, dredging activities, and changes to drawbridge operating hours.

Get a discount on fuel, overnight slips: While saving money isn’t a provision, BoatUS members ($24 annually) pay less for gas – from $.05 to $.10 off each gallon of fuel at dozens of BoatUS Cooperating Marinas along the ICW. Many marinas also offer discounts of up to 25% off transient slip fees and up to 15% on boat and engine repairs. BoatUS.com/map can help snowbirds find BoatUS Cooperating Marinas along the way.

From BoatUS press release: Snowbirds: Don't Forget Insurance, Towing and Safety "Provisions"

Source: BoatUS

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Planning to head south this winter?

Date Reported: Sep 18, 2014

Mile: 0.0

Reported by: Mike Ahart

Boats-In-A-Row-Mike-Ahart.jpgIt's mid-September already? Time to start planning your southbound migration to stay ahead of the cold weather. Will you be ready? Here's a checklist...

1: You’ll need a boat (or maybe a new boat!). Even if you have your boat already, you need all of that new stuff you promised that you would get for the next trip (for "safety" purposes, of course). You’ll find everything you need at one of the many East Coast boat shows coming up: 

(don't forget to pick up the newest editions of Waterway Guide Chesapeake BayAtlantic ICWSouthern, & Bahamas).

2: You’ll want to get together with other cruisers to share ideas on where to go and what to see this year – and while you're at it, get boatloads of good advice from the experts. Here's a number of upcoming seminars, rendezvous and rallies:

3: If you haven't already, sign up to receive your Waterway Guide Cruising Club card for discounts on fuel, dockage, and services at hundreds of places along the waterways – it's FREE

4: Be sure to check your email each Thursday afternoon for the Cruiser's Weekly Update, with timely Navigation Updates, Cruising News and Fuel Prices – all verified by the Waterway Guide staff.

5: Don't forget to tackle that long list of boat projects, or at least get it down to a couple pages or so (Ahh, forget it – just do it all along the way!)

Happy cruising!

Source: WG Staff

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Businessman hopes to revolutionize marine commerce

Date Reported: Sep 17, 2014

Reported by: Mike Ahart, News Editor

Don-Douglas.jpgThe owner of BoatsandShore.com was recently interviewed for an article posted at StAugustine.com:

Don Douglas has created a website that he thinks will help a lot of people in the marine products and service industry make some money.

How much of that eventually trickles down to him is still unknown, but Douglas hopes it can at least be a benefit to the boating community and small business owner.

The website is boatsandshore.com and acts as an online marketplace for water-based commerce — even waterfront real estate.

What makes the site, which was launched in October 2013 at a boat show in Fort Lauderdale, somewhat revolutionary is that it doesn’t charge for basic ads...

Read StAugustine.com article: Businessman creates website he thinks can revolutionize marine commerce.


Source: staugustine.com

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World's best maritime museums

Date Reported: Sep 17, 2014

Reported by: Mike Ahart, News Editor

Worlds-Best-Maritime-Museums.jpgIn its September 2014 issue, Destinations Travel Magazine published a list of what it considers the best maritime museums in the world. Out of the 15 museums listed, seven are in Waterway Guide's coverage area:

  • Michigan Maritime Museum – South Haven, MI
  • Maine Maritime Museum – Bath , ME
  • Annapolis Maritime Museum – Annapolis, MD
  • Mariner's Museum and Park – Newport News, VA
  • Mystic Seaport – Mystic, CT
  • Patriot's Point Naval and Maritime Museum – Charleston, SC
  • Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum – Paradise, MI

Each of the museums have earned their place on this list because they are "unique, have amazing collections, and have an important significance in the maritime world."

Destinations Travel Magazine is a photojournalistic online travel publication focusing on international travel.

See Destinations Travel Magazine article: World's Best Maritime Museums for descriptions and full list.

Source: Destination Travel Magazine

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The value of backup power

Date Reported: Sep 15, 2014

Reported by: Steve D'Antonio


An event that occurred recently reminded me of the importance of a few seafaring and technical axioms, including preparedness, possessing basic troubleshooting skills and having the right tools aboard.

I walked my dogs, I do religiously and every day I'm not traveling, from my home to a boat ramp that's situated at the end of my road.  In the warm weather I let them off the leash to swim and cool off.  As I did so one morning a few days ago I encountered a couple who were obviously having trouble starting their engine, they were poring over the fuse box, manual open, while periodically turning the ignition key. 

Each time they did so a less than promising 'click-click-click' would resound from the starter.  I walked over and introduced myself and offered to help.  I looked at the battery hoping to find a loose or corroded terminal; unfortunately they were clean and tight...

To view the rest of the answer and more, please follow this link:  


This is an excerpt from Steve D' Antonio's "Marine Systems Excellence" blog. With nearly 25 years of experience as a marine mechanic, electrician, consultant and boatyard manager, Steve ranks as one of the most knowledgeable boating experts in the country. His ability to explain highly technical information on a wide array of boating topics in a clear, easy to read and easy to use manner has made him one of the most widely read boating writers and lecturers today. Steve's commitment is to strive to improve the safety and reliability of boating products while increasing the confidence and enjoyment boat owners. In short, Steve strives to help bring the fun back to searching for, building, maintaining, repairing and owning a boat. Text and photos by Steve D'Antonio - © 2014

Steve will deliver lectures at the 2014 International Boat Builders' Exhibition (to register visit IBEX), held in Tampa, Florida (a new location for this event) from September 30 to October 2. Lecture titles and descriptions include:

  • Steering Systems Design and Installation
  • Enhancing Vessel Reliability, Failure Analysis and Prevention
  • LP Gas Systems, Design, Installation, and Avoiding Common Problems and Safety Issues

Visit Steve's website for more information.

Source: Contributing Professional

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Free 'Boater's Guide To Winterizing' from BoatUS

Date Reported: Sep 10, 2014

Mile: 0.0

Reported by: Mike Ahart, News Editor

Guide-to-Winterizing-BoatUS.jpgNot every boater can spend the winter on the water in warm places. For all of you suckers out there (like me this coming winter), BoatUS is offering a handy guide for getting her ready for freezing weather:

Water expands in volume by about nine percent when it freezes, creating a staggering force that can crack a boat engine block, damage fiberglass, split hoses, or destroy a boat’s refrigeration system overnight. As fall approaches, Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) recently dug deep into its insurance claims files unearthing a trove of winterizing-related boat insurance claims and found that more than three-quarters involved cracks in the engine block or the exhaust manifolds. Now, the national boating services, safety and advocacy group is making available at no-cost the 15-page “Boater's Guide to Winterizing” that can make the task easier for any type of boat.

“These claims come from all over the country, not just from the states that get snow every year, and give us a very real picture of what goes wrong and what we can do to prevent this damage,” said BoatUS Director of Technical Services Beth Leonard. “Boaters up North know they need to winterize, so their freeze claims almost always involve poor winterizing. In the temperate South, the issue can be a case of no winterizing, or relying on a heater when the electricity goes off, usually when you need it most.”

The downloadable brochure addresses the reasons for more than 95 percent of the freeze claims handled by the BoatUS Marine Insurance Program in the past decade. Included are chapters on: Storing your boat - The options and the tradeoffs; a Winterizing Checklist to use as the starting point for creating your own boat’s winterizing list; Engines and Drives - The dos and don’ts; and Plumbing - Getting the water out, which is great for larger boats. 

Additional information includes tips on choosing antifreeze, lessons learned from BoatUS Consumer Affairs about protecting yourself with a winterization contract, and green winterizing information. 

The checklist is available at www.BoatUS.com/winterizingguide.

Source: BoatUS

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Voice your views on Florida railway bridge issue

Date Reported: Sep 09, 2014

Mile: 0.0

Reported by: Mike Ahart, News Editor

The All Aboard Florida passenger rail service, as proposed, would add 32 trains to the FEC rails from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m every day from Cocoa to Miami, and would severely affect vessel traffic at:

  1. The bridge across the St. Lucie River at Stuart (closed vertical clearance: 7 ft. – also part of the Okeechobee Waterway Route)
  2. The busy New River in Ft. Lauderdale (closed vertical clearance: 4 ft. –see related Waterway Guide article: Ft. Lauderdale: New rail services to impact New River navigation), and
  3. The bridge across the Loxahatchee River in Jupiter (off ICW Mile 1005, closed vertical clearance: 4 ft.).

FEC-RR-BRIDGE-New-River.jpgThese bridges are normally in the open position except when a train is approaching or crossing, but with the increased train traffic, openings would happen only a few times per hour and could be dangerously brief. Freight trains currently use the tracks, and each lowering of a bridge closes the waterway for up to 20 minutes. Under the new passenger service plan, the freight trains would continue to also use these bridges to make a total of 42 to 46 trains a day – in fact, due to the connection of the company with Port Everglades and its expansion to accommodate Post-Panamax ships, freight on the tracks is expected to increase.

These bridges also have frequent problems – the FEC bridge in Stuart is frequently closed for repairs, and I once waited nearly an hour at the FEC bridge on the New River in Ft. Lauderdale due to a malfunction.

This issue especially affects businesses and local boaters and cruisers in these areas; however, access to the Okeechobee Waterway and marinas and facilities upstream from these bridges will be hampered for all boaters. In light of a recent catastrophic boat fire in the anchorage just south of the Stuart railroad bridge, emergency response would also be stymied at these locations. The increased railroad traffic which would travel at high speed through some of our favorite cruising stops, such as Vero Beach, Ft. Pierce and Stuart, is also raising alarms (see related Waterway Guide article: Vero Beach raises concerns about All-Aboard Florida).

The following Coast Guard notice and request for survey information does not mention All Aboard Florida or any details on possible increased traffic and bridge delays, but the connection is clear. Here is the notice and details of the survey questions, but you must download the actual survey and mail it, email it, or drop it off per the instructions (don't use a copy/print of this article and send it). Here's the notice:

All interested parties are notified that the Commander, Seventh Coast Guard District, is conducting navigational surveys of three waterways impacted by rail traffic. We are soliciting written comments through this notice and will be accepting written comments regarding the reasonable needs of marine traffic at the following locations at the date and time indicated:


A. Waterway: New River, mile 1.82, Downtown Fort Lauderdale, Broward Co., FL (Lat: 26 o07’06.64”N, Long: 080 o08’43.56”W). Comment collection: October 1, 2014, from 7-9 p.m., at Embassy Suites, 1100 SE 17th St, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316.

B. Waterway:LoxahatcheeRiver,mile1.23,Jupiter,PalmBeachCo.,FL(Lat:26 o56’51.50”N, Long: 080o05’25.10”W). Comment collection: October 2, 2014, from 7-9 p.m., at Embassy Suites, 4350 PGA Blvd, Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410.

C. Waterway:St.LucieRiver,mile7.11,OkeechobeeWaterway(OWW),Stuart,Martin Co., FL (Lat: 27 o 12’13.02”N, Long: 080 o 15’36.79”W). Comment collection: October 3, 2014, from 7-9 p.m. at Hutchinson Island Marriott Beach Resort, 555 NE Ocean Blvd, Stuart, FL 34996.


In order to ensure the reasonable needs of navigation are being met by current bridge operation regulations, the U.S. Coast Guard is gathering written information from mariners to help determine if a change in federal bridge operating regulations should be considered. Interested parties are encouraged to complete the enclosed navigation survey and return it to the Seventh Coast Guard District offices to be included in the official record. Information helpful to this effort includes current and future use of the waterway (especially through movable bridges), the kind and type of vessels used, frequency of use, navigational hazards such as currents, obstructions, and those hazards that may not be evident from charts and published materials.


In an effort to meet maritime needs, interested parties are requested to express their navigability concerns in writing. Comments will be received for the record at the Office of the Commander, Seventh Coast Guard District, Brickell Plaza Federal Building, 909 Southeast 1st Avenue, Suite 432, Miami, Florida 33131-3050. Comments mailed on or before November 1, 2014, will be made part of the official record. Written comments can also be received via email at: USCGD7DPBPublicComment@uscg.mil. Written comments will also be received at the locations and dates listed above.

Survey questions in a nutshell:

  • User information (Name, Address, Phone)
  • Type of waterway user (Pleasure, Commercial; Licensed, Unlicensed)
  • Vessel Info, including bridge clearance requirements
  • Waterways used (New River, St. Lucie RIver, Loxahatchee)
  • Do you use the main channel?
  • When do you transit these waterways? (Season, Frequency, Time of Day)
  • Other comments.

Download the Public Notice pdf survey here, fill it out, and email it to 

USCGD7DPBPublicComment@uscg.mil (or mail or drop off per instructions).

Learn more about the proposed train service:

Source: USCG 7th District

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Campaign against proposed anchoring restrictions

Date Reported: Sep 08, 2014

Mile: 0.0

Reported by: Jay Campbell, JD

Editor's Note: Thank you, Capt. Jay, for your well-thought-out message, and your excellent photography (photo credit: Jay Campbell). SAIL Magazine online just posted Wally Moran's account of the Vero Beach FWC meeting, along with an interesting short video and a concise history of the issue: Reporting Live from the Anchoring Meetings in Florida. See bottom for other related links.

Three important components of an effective campaign against the FWC's Proposed Anchoring Restrictions:

  1. A Template Letter;
  2. A Campaign Plan; and,
  3. An explanation of the strongest argument against FWC, using their own proposal against them!

1. A Template Letter:

To: Captain Gary Klein, FWC


Trawler-Jay-Campbell.jpgFrom: John R. (Jay) Campbell, JD, 

Dear Captain Klein:

I am a Florida Licensed Attorney, with over 25 years of practice in the State. I have owned many residential properties, including waterfront property in Tampa, as recently as 2013 when my wife and I moved full time on to our boat in Palmetto. We reside at a Marina, but often cruise Southwest Florida and Southeast Florida, anchoring as is prudent, dictated by weather, tide, travel schedules and the need to rest.

I have read and completely oppose the proposed FWC restrictions on anchoring in "concept 2" related to establishing setbacks from residential property. These proposals seem designed to benefit only a few wealthy landowners at the expense of the public's right to use and enjoy these waters, as established by the federal public trust. The proposals do NOT set forth any concerns or problems the proposals are designed to address, nor do they note any review done by the FWC to ensure the setbacks are a reasonable response to any such problems. Therefore, the proposed setbacks are not reasonable encroachment of the public rights, and are illegal. 

Regarding the set back proposals, I note the following in support of all boaters, and voters, who also oppose these proposed restrictions:

  1. Where are the studies FWC has done or reviewed to support the proposed 150' or 300' anchoring set backs?
  2. Where are the concerns, set out in writing, that FWC is attempting to address with these setbacks?
  3. Where are the legal opinions that these proposed setbacks are lawful, and not an illegal encroachment on the federal regulation of waterways as a public trust?
  4. If the concern is derelict boats, or stored boats, why doesn't the proposal state so, and tailor a proposal to this more narrow concern, rather than prohibit EVERY boat from anchoring?
  5. If the concern is the potential discharge of sewage, why doesn't the proposal state so, and tailor a proposal to this more narrow concern, rather than prohibit EVERY boat from anchoring?
  6. If the concern is a reasonable amount of unencumbered room for landowners to use near their docks and access channels, why doesn't the proposal state so, and tailor a proposal to this more narrow concern (for example, using a common standard of 1 1/2 times boat length from the protected structure) rather than prohibit EVERY boat from anchoring?
  7. Regarding the proposal to return regulation, in part, back to small local governments, why does this proposal suggest that FWC should administer a program which will allow every municipality to apply for and create it's own anchoring rules, thereby turning Florida into a patchwork quilt of regulations without a sound basis, or statewide enforcement?

The proposals seem to be unlawful, poorly thought out, against the interest of Florida citizens who are boaters, against the interests of Florida businesses which cater to boaters, and in support of ONLY a few wealthy landowners, represented by legislators who control the FWC funding. This is not how laws and regulations should be developed and implemented to support the public interest. - Jay Campbell, JD

2. A Campaign Plan 

How to Effectively Oppose the FWC Proposed Anchoring Restrictions 

Step one is to mobilize a massive e mail/mail response,within the next week, to FWC using their "concepts" document. This should be done, if possible, by a coalition of SSCA/Boat U.S./WaterwayGuide/Sail Magazine and others, sending a proposed response template to all members. That is some 120,000 in Florida, many times that in the US. My opinion only, I do not speak for any of those organizations. 

Step 2 is to use that coalition to respond, with a new template, to the second survey which FWC will send out in the next 3 weeks. 

Step 3 will be to organize a statewide volunteer effort, by sending specific information how our coalition members can overwhelm every legislator, media outlet, and marine vendors with our best argument. Part of that will be agreeing to certain derelict boat and stored boat and sewage discharge and reasonable set back from public ramp structures, while drawing a line in the sand regarding residential set backs and local creation of anchoring restrictions without public input and state oversight. 

All of this requires that this coalition create and agree upon talking points, materials, videos, media schedules, etc, and keep up the pressure with a standard political process: voters visiting politicians and threatening to support someone else. The issue of residential setbacks being unlawful is key: without that, this will never go away. The other issues are lawfully subject to reasonable regulation, in my opinion. At least, that is what has worked for me in the past. 

Karen and I will volunteer, for free, to travel and speak and debate and e mail if such a coalition develops. Wally Moran, Scott Berg, Philip Johnson, and Michael Ahart are a few of the key players, and Boat US, without which this movement cannot succeed. - Jay Campbell, JD and Karen Campbell.

3. An explanation of the strongest argument against FWC

FWC handed us a very strong legal and political argument in their printed concept #4 (6 concepts handed out at the meeting) where they expressly state that any municipality must show 2 things before being granted the right to impose new anchoring restrictions.

  1. They must show "substantial competent evidence demonstrating specific local PROBLEMS that the regulation intends to resolve." And,
  2. They must also show "substantial competent evidence of how the proposed regulation addresses specific hazards ... While minimizing impacts to access to state waters, fishing, and other water-related recreational activities." 

This is strong. Why? They publish these standards because these are a reasonable approximation of the standards one must meet to encroach upon a legal right of the public, such as the Florida Public Trust Waterway.

But WHERE is the "substantial competent evidence" they show to support, under their setback concept #2:

  1. the problems they are trying to address;  and,
  2. how the proposed 150' or 300' set back would address these problems while minimizing impacts to state waters access.

There is no such evidence on either point (not when the other concepts address derelict boats, sewage, etc). When I pressed him (tactfully, I hope), Moore simply wouldn't answer. On this issue, their position is in legal jeopardy. But right now, it may create a political mess for FWC, to our advantage. They have published the standard, and have not met it, all in the same document!

Related Waterway Guide articles:

Source: Cruising Contributor

Comment submitted by John Kettlewell - Mon, Sep 8th

Very well put by Mr. Campbell, and I basically agree though I am pessimistic that we will gain traction by pointing out inconsistencies in what the FWC writes and what it actually does. For example, one of the stated goals of the Pilot Program was to improve access to the waters of the state, while the program did the opposite by limiting anchoring. Plus, the FWC's stated Mission is “Managing fish and wildlife resources for their long-term well-being and the benefit of people.” How does limiting anchoring pertain to this mission? The strongest argument, IMHO, is where is the documented evidence of the need for such laws that will limit the historical rights of boaters?

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