Storm clouds on the Florida anchoring horizon
Date Posted: March 4, 2015
Source: SSCA

The Seven Seas Cruising Association does a lot more than organize a network of harbor hosts and throw big parties  – it also spends a lot of time and effort lobbying on issues that are important to the cruising life. As SSCA continues to battle for anchoring rights in Florida, here's the latest statement from Phil Johnson of the SSCA's Concerned Cruisers Committee:

(March 3, 2015) There are storm clouds on the Florida anchoring horizon. Most who are familiar with the developments in recent years of the Florida anchoring drama know that the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission solicited the public via meetings and a survey this year. Those recommendations can be found at www.MYFWC.COM/boating/anchoring-mooring/. As we come upon the 2015 Florida legislative session, boaters face what some believe will be an uphill battle between legislators who want to establish anchoring setbacks from residential property and pro-boating legislators who want to preserve anchoring options for those who cruise in the state. With Senator Dean’s filing on 27 February of SB1548,, the legislative squall is now visible to the boating public and, as currently written, is not a friendly bill to boaters who anchor in Florida waters.

Florida Senate bill SB1548 is still in its early stages and a similar house bill has not yet been offered. 

Contained within the bill are the following issues:

In the definition of “safe harbor” there is no consideration for crew incapacitation, time to obtain vessel entrance or clearance statements or time to cure these issues.

It prohibits anchoring within 200 feet of mooring fields, public ramps and other public launch facilities. SSCA believed 75 feet was more appropriate.

It prohibits anchoring within 200 feet of the shore line of developed waterfront property between one hour past sunset and one hour before sun rise. SSCA believes if setbacks are warranted they should be established, keeping the navigation rights of cruisers in mind. It does include prohibitions on anchoring derelict or near derelict vessels. SSCA viewed this as a positive step in addressing derelict vessels.

It provides for noncriminal infractions, which include fines of $50 for a first offense, $100 for a second offense, and $250 for a third and subsequent offense, and misdemeanors if one fails to respond to citations to appear in court.

SSCA had suggested that anchoring restrictions off private property should be addressed with the following wording: Prohibit the anchoring of vessels within 75 feet of docks and other maritime launching and dockage infrastructure attached thereto and properties with mixed waterfront residential and commercial properties.

Boaters need to prepare to speak up and address upcoming bills that may severely limit anchoring in Florida waters. If you are a registered voter in Florida, please let your representative and the Senate and House Committees know your concerns. If you anchor in Florida, please express your concern to the Florida legislature who will likely have the anchoring issue before them this month. The attached Trifold on Florida anchoring provides phone numbers and email addresses.…/ccc/SSCA_Anchoring_brochure.pdf.

For more information on SSCA, visit its website – and consider becoming a member.

Comment Submitted by Rich Morrical - March 6, 2015
As I read the proposed rule, a space the size of two football fields laid side-by-side would be too small by another whole football field to anchor a boat with a 100 foot swinging radius. Surely there is a less restrictive way to protect shore side placements and access. I hope this visualization gets passed to the people who are considering what to do.
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