News & Events for Chesapeake Bay

New legislation would eliminate several popular Florida anchorages - UPDATE

Date Posted: 2016-01-04
Source: Florida House of Representatives

anchorage-new.jpgUPDATE: A Florida Senate Bill was also introduced, identical to House Bill 1051, banning overnight anchoring in several popular anchorages including Middle River in Ft. Lauderdale, Sunset Lake in Miami Beach, between certain islands along the Venetian Causeway, and at Crab island in Destin. SB 1260 was introduced by Senator Wilton Simpson of New Port Richey, FL. 

(Posted Dec. 30, 2015) A new bill introduced in the Florida State House of Representatives would ban overnight anchoring in several popular anchorages in Fort Lauderdale, Miami Beach, and Destin FL. House Bill 1051, to be entitled "An act relating to recreational boating zones," was filed by Rep. Matt Caldwell of North Fort Myers FL, who chairs the State Affairs Committee which held a anchoring restrictions workshop in Oct. 2015. 

According to the bill text, "a person may not anchor or moor a vessel at any time between the hours from one-half hour after sunset to one-half hour before sunrise in the following recreational boating zones:

  • The section of Middle River lying between Northeast 21st Court and the Intracoastal Waterway in Broward County. (Middle River is one of the very few viable anchorages for cruising-sized boats in the Fort Lauderdale area. At the public workshop (held by the State Affairs Committee of the Florida House of Representatives on October 8, 2015), Rep. George Moraitis, Jr. of Broward County (Ft. Lauderdale) stated that he planned to introduce a bill that would declare Middle River a "Water Recreation Area" where anchoring is prohibited. He said that he has constituents who complain that water skiers have no room due to the amount of boats anchored there – see related article: Anchoring setbacks and time limits discussed at Florida House.)
  • Sunset Lake in Miami-Dade County. (This Miami Beach anchorage is popular for cruisers waiting for a weather window to cross to the Bahamas, and in the past afforded easy access to Miami Beach for services and provisioning. It is adjacent to the residence of one of the most vocal advocates of anchoring bans in Miami Beach, who has anchored 30 small sailboats in Sunset Lake behind his house to restrict others from the ability to anchor there – see related article noted above. The City of Miami Beach recently passed an amendment to an ordinance which now makes it unlawful to tie a dinghy to the canal wall to visit the city, leaving only limited dinghy access – see related article: Miami Beach cracks down on dinghy access).
  • The sections of Biscayne Bay in Miami-Dade County lying between Rivo Alto Island and Di Lido Island, San Marino Island and San Marco Island, and San Marco Island and Biscayne Island. (This is another popular anchorage area for cruisers, and one section is adjacent to the residence of another vocal advocate of anchoring bans. These islands are connected by low causeways, and the anchorage areas are in no way well-suited for water-skiing – see related article noted above.)
  • Crab Island in Choctawhatchee Bay at the East Pass in Okaloosa County. (This is a popular party spot in Destin Harbor. In October 2015, Okaloosa County had requested to establish a vessel exclusion zone consisting of a 40 foot wide corridor through the area "to allow unobstructed access by emergency vehicles and vessels to provide services to protect the public," according to a notice from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) – see related article: Vessel exclusion zone ordinance requested for Destin FL party spot.)

The bill provides that "any person cited for a violation of any provision of this subsection shall be deemed to be charged with a noncriminal infraction, shall be cited for such an infraction, and shall be cited to appear before the county court. The civil penalty for any such infraction is $50, except as otherwise provided in this section. Any person who fails to appear or otherwise properly respond to a uniform boating citation shall, in addition to the charge relating to the violation of the boating laws of this state, be charged with the offense of failing to respond to such citation and, upon conviction, be guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083. A written warning to this effect shall be provided at the time such uniform boating citation is issued."

If enacted, the provisions would take effect July 1, 2016.

  • Comment submitted by Lee LaRochelle - Wed, Dec 30th

    This needs to be stopped.. where will it end.. if we don't stop this, sailing and cruising in Florida will be damaged or destroyed... Florida has always been a safe passage for all sailors on their way here, to the Bahamas or the Caribbean.. a safe place to purchase needed supplies. .Lets work together to stop the selfish few who would damage our way of life.

  • Comment submitted by James Skok - Wed, Dec 30th

    1st it's restricted waterfront 2nd it's restricted beach access 3rd it's restricted waterways 4th it's now "get out; go away you commoners are spoiling my view!" AND, sad to say, our representatives listen to the ultra-privileged few. WHY is that, I wonder...hmmm!

  • Comment submitted by Daniel J. Kiefer - Wed, Dec 30th

    This type of activity is an example of pure government overeach and speaks volumes as to how seriously intrusive special interests are taking over our free world. They do not stop to take into consideration the amount of revenue which is generated in their given states or what economic impact the Marine and Cruising industry contributes to maintaining the waterways, employing people and creating tax dollars. These special interest Nazi's are simply concerned with eliminating freedom selfeshly for others while attempting to provide for themselves (the ruling elite), what God intended for all free people to cherish and enjoy. If people living in these areas did not like boats and watching people enjoying their freedom on the water, they should have located their residences and moved into the deepest woods or tallest mountains where people do not frequent as often. I am completely and totally exhausted by these Zealots! Thank God for Boat US and other Marine Organizations who fight this type of overreach and insanity!

  • Comment submitted by Joseph Huberman, s/v Prestissimo - Wed, Dec 30th

    It sure is sad about the anchoring rules in Florida and anti dingy rules in Miami Beach. We sailed down every couple of years and enjoyed it immensely, but no more. Even when we wanted to find a marina in Miami Beach, none had available space for transient boats. There was some availability at astronomical costs, but I could fly down and stay at 5 star hotels for the price of docking a 40' boat.

  • Comment submitted by Paul Alcock - Wed, Dec 30th

    If this bill is passed, it will add a new milestone in book of Laws for the Rich. The Bill is creating a law that has no function other than to please a small group of high end property owners. Elimination of overnight anchoring does not have any safety purpose, else it would eliminate anchoring at any time of the day. Our politicians need to recognize that they are employed by all tax payers, not just the few that sponsor their long political terms. We can be certain that if this law is enacted, it will be just a short time before other 'zones' are closed. Time to step up to the plate again to protect the rights of all. Paul

  • Comment submitted by Richard FAIRBANKS - Wed, Dec 30th

    I live at the New River and Intracoastal Waterway. I am looking out over this anchorage/waterski area now. There are no boats anchored and no water skiers skiing. I am not sure why we are worried about this non event but someone with influence must have great powers over his representatives

  • Comment submitted by Wally Moran - Wed, Dec 30th

    Here we go again, up against the cabal of rich, privileged people who wish to see us gone. I'd say what I'm thinking, but I try not to use that sort of language publicly. This time around, we need a victory that stops these people once and for all.

  • Comment submitted by Judy Hatchett - Wed, Dec 30th

    This is so sad. In our well protected creek on the Chesapeake Bay all boaters are welcome. The skiers go around the anchored boats, everyone plays together in harmony. We invite anchored boats to use our dock if they need to come ashore. We've even given a select few the keys to our car for the week as well as the keys to our home. I don't understand the FL waterfront owner mentality.

  • Comment submitted by Richard Williams - Wed, Dec 30th

    We cross to the Bahamas every year and routinely enjoy the Fort Lauderdale and Miami area. The proposed legislation would have a negitive effect on all cruisers awaiting a crossing or transiting the area. Please contact your representative. Active boaters contribute significantly to Florida's economy.

  • Comment submitted by Wally Moran - Wed, Dec 30th

    I expect we're going to hear a lot of moaning and crying over this latest attempt to restrict our rights. I'll just say this: if you are concerned about this, DO SOMETHING. Whining in a forum such as this is useless, worse than useless, you waste time. Over the next short while, you'll be hearing about what you can do, via myself, Mike Ahart here, the Seven Seas Cruising Association....when a suggestion is made about something you can do to stop this - DO IT, please. The only way we can win this is if you - yea, you! - get personally involved. Even if you live in Ohio, and never anchor, you can do something. Write to the representatives promising not to come to Florida for your next vacation, sign the various petitions that will be out, etc. If you live in Florida, get people involved and aware, make sure the politicians know you won't be voting for anyone who supports this kind of legislation. But DO something.

  • Comment submitted by Glenn - Wed, Dec 30th

    This is 98% a sailboat issue & 2% trawler (ex sailors). Quit crying & get a slip & help the local economy.

  • Comment submitted by Gus - Wed, Dec 30th

    Is Florida become the worst state for boaters Is west side better or Floridian are all the same....... WELCOME ANYWHERE IN QUÉBEC TO ALL BOATERS Next will it be WHITE Anchorage ONLY ????

  • Comment submitted by Scott - Wed, Dec 30th

    Do the legislators think this will end with boaters? I don't. Next those........constitutes will be looking over the fence and across the street. I'll bet you that they will not be happy with what they see. And you can bet there will be no stopping there. It's there world and we better not forget that.

  • Comment submitted by Dave Milligan - Wed, Dec 30th

    I think finding out Rep Matt Caldwell's party affiliation would be indicative. Find out who he's actually representing and email and call his office frequently. I doubt he ever wants to have to get a real job.

  • Comment submitted by greg henley - Wed, Dec 30th


  • Comment submitted by Brian Thompson - Wed, Dec 30th

    I have cruised my boat thru FL a few times on the ICW. I do believe the legislation is trying to target the folks sitting for 3 months (for example) with no pumpout. Instead of addressing the real issues of homeless aka derelict we keep trying to banish all. Let's find a real solution I would help. .

  • Comment submitted by Carl - Wed, Dec 30th

    I have been told to"claim safe harbor" anywhere you need to stop and no one can do anything about it.this was from a fl official that should how.

  • Comment submitted by John Mc - Thu, Dec 31st

    Rep. Moraitis makes a ridiculous argument. Do people really ski in the dark?

  • Comment submitted by Eric - Thu, Dec 31st

    The Middle River restriction is simply rediculous. The anchorage basically borders a corner to a very tight channel. The main section of the middle river there is wide open and perfect for water sports. In addition, miles of other water connects to this section. This restriction is simply without merit.

  • Comment submitted by Michael g - Thu, Dec 31st

    seems the time is nigh for the Miami Boat show to become the NOT Miami Boat show, if we all are really sticking together. Who is making the case to them? That would send a loud message.

  • Comment submitted by J. Ebmeyer - Fri, Jan 1st

    The owners of stores, restaurants, etc. like the revenue gained from transient boaters coming into the State, just like the revenue from thousands of motor vehicles that bring visitors to the State. They should be working against this legislation, as it will hurt their businesses. I have twice cruised to Florida during the winter months. If this kind of crap goes into effect, I likely would not do it again.

  • Comment submitted by Dave P - Sat, Jan 2nd

    There should be an effort to restrict boats anchored for over a month, or abandoned. In just a 15 mile stretch from Daytona to Ponce Inlet there are at least 10 boats that have sunk or gone ashore with no hope of being salvaged. They are a eyesore and a hazard to navigation. If you don't like looking at boats, don't buy waterfront property.

  • Comment submitted by Junab Ali - Thu, Jan 7th

    St Petersburg has banned anchoring in any of the downtown basins to, as they put it, "encourage" the use of the mooring balls. Many of us local sailors avoid downtown and visit Gulfport and spend our money there. There are many more moderate priced restaurants on the beach and they appreciate the business. I suggest you avoid downtown St Petersburg.

  • Comment submitted by Robert Beringer - Thu, Jan 7th

    Here is copy of letter I sent to both my FL State Rep and State Senator. Feel free to steal my words and send to your rep too. Jan 5, 2016 FL Rep Lake Ray State House of Representatives Tallahassee, FL Dear Representative Ray: In March 2015 we exchanged emails regarding Senate Bill 1548, which would have restricted anchoring in our state. You thought it would not pass and you were correct. But it looks like the rights of the thousands of boaters who enjoy travelling our state are again threatened with HB 1051, filed by Rep. Matt Caldwell, which would prohibit overnight anchoring in parts of Ft. Lauderdale, Miami, and Okaloosa County. Again I urge you to take a firm stand against this misguided and foolish bill. It will serve no purpose other than to dissuade the many thousands of responsible boaters who travel our state from coming or worse, to compel them to cross the potentially dangerous Gulf Stream before a proper weather window opens. And I have anchored in the Di Lido Isle site; it is a prime place to await safe passage to the Bahamas. From Fernandina to Key West to Pensacola, the Sunshine State should remain boat friendly, welcoming recreational cruisers from all over the world—so many businesses benefit from their visits. Write me if you require additional information on this matter. I thank you, in advance, for your efforts. Best regards,

  • Comment submitted by Perry - Thu, Jan 7th

    I say we BOYCOTT every boat show until they get their heads out of the sand.

  • Comment submitted by John - Thu, Jan 7th

    We just had another untended boat sink today near our dock. It is not the cruiser that anchors and stays aboard, it is the boater that leaves their boat untended and improperly anchor to avoid slip rental that is going to ruin anchoring for everyone. A lot of these boats are derelict and a hazard to all boaters. We cruise and anchor too and do not want to see anchorages become off limits to responsible boaters.

  • Comment submitted by boater - Fri, Jan 8th

    As a boater who lives in a beautiful small town on the ICW, I must say that I understand the concerns of the locals in Florida. Right now we have 3 apparently abandoned sailboats which were anchored but have drifted into the shallows and lay on their sides. It looks terrible. How would you like a junked car parked in the street outside your house?

  • Comment submitted by André - Sat, Jan 9th

    We come from Canada. ..we are ancored in the sunset ancrage. .we have never seen an unfreindly state. real dingy dock. .seatow that that cut dingy lines. ..can t wait to get to the bahamas. ..

  • Comment submitted by Steve Adams - Sat, Jan 9th

    My Letter to Rep Matt Caldwell: Dear Sir: Your introduction of House Bill 1051 is an affront to Florida's maritime tradition, and makes navigation in the areas affected by this bill just that more dangerous for those who safely navigate and cruise the waters of Florida. This bill was not thought through, and it does nothing to address the problems that affects everyone in our coastal communities. We of the boating community are just as appalled at those who leave derelict vessels anchored, who do not maintain their vessel's seaworthiness, and leave their unworthy vessels unattended with inadequate ground tackle for extended periods of time. Would it not be more effective to address these problems with their offenders, rather than put an entire way of life in peril, and diminish the associated industries responsible for millions in income and jobs to our state? All this bill will be accomplishing is whittling down citizens maritime rights as a whole to please others' narrow interests. Very much the tactics expected from an overbearing government. This type of power grab is all too familiar these days. And their purposes are obvious. I hope you will reconsider moving this bill forward. Florida needs to find the offenders who irresponsibly abandon their property leaving it to others to tidy up the loose ends. That makes more sense than punishing everyone for the offenses of a few. I believe you would find a community well willing to work together to tackle this problem if they were not being strong-armed by the powerful state. This bill is wrong. It is an affront --- not a solution. Please take it down from the table.

  • Comment submitted by Kevin Gilbert - Wed, Feb 24th

    We enjoy cruising. .live in Florida ,and have meet wonderful people ..these areas are very important to cruises as safe harbors , Cruises Need these areas for overnight and bad weather hold days of use make sense as far as liveaboards ..

  • Comment submitted by Capt. John - Thu, Mar 10th

    What is the problem? I have been living on my boat(s) full time for over 20 years. However, for the exception of a couple weeks a year, I am a full time cruiser - cruising on the Great Loop somewhere. I agree "derelict" vessels are easy to spot and should be removed. You can find them all up & down the Atlantic ICW. Just remove them! Other than that, what is everyone complaining about? Isn't the reason those people bought those $multi-million dollar waterfront homes - so they can see the boats on the water?

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