Your Right to Anchor in Florida Is Once Again in Jeopardy
As the Florida Legislative Session begins, we are once again expecting a slew of bills to be filed that call for banning overnight anchoring in specific areas in Florida. This has been an on-going issue for several years, and the Seven Seas Cruising Association, as part of a coalition formed to protect Boaters’ Rights, has been successful in keeping most anchorages open for our members. Please read on for the history of this issue, the expectations for the upcoming legislative session.
For several years, anchorages have been under attack in Florida, sometimes by waterfront home owners who prefer not to have boats anchored in the waterways outside their homes. More often, however, responsible boaters are caught up in the “derelict vessels” issue, which is a serious problem in Florida. By working with their state legislative delegations to pass restrictions on anchoring in their waterways, municipalities think they’ll have an easier time ridding their area of abandoned boats and/or those anchored with no intention (nor ability, in many cases) of ever moving.
In 2015 a bill was filed to ban anchoring within 200 feet of
developed waterfront property in Florida. Cruisers were successful in
defeating that bill. Thinking our efforts were over, the boating
community did not actively participate in the process in Tallahassee in 2016,
and a bill passed that closed four anchorages in the Miami/Fort Lauderdale area
to overnight anchoring.
Expectations for the Coming Legislative Session:
We are expecting the legislative delegates from several
additional municipalities, to once again try to amend the existing statute to
add their anchorages to the list of those that are closed to any overnight
anchoring. We must remain vigilant or we face losing the right to anchor
in additional areas, and the Florida gateway route to the Bahamas and Caribbean
will see new hurdles for boaters.
What We Need from Cruisers:
At the moment, what we need most is your feedback. We
last went to our membership in 2017 asking for contributions to help keep
anchorages open. Boaters were generous, and about $11,000 remains from
our coalition’s last call for funding. We estimate needing an additional
$20,000 for this legislative session.
For those of you interested, there are two local meetings
being held next week in Florida that could effect anti-anchoring bills being
introduced this session. Any municipality wanting a change to Florida
statutes must have their legislative delegation introduce a bill. We
anticipate bills being introduced to limit anchoring within the City of
Hollywood (they attempted a bill last year) and the City of Melbourne (their
city council has already voted to pursue this with their legislative
delegation). The State Legislative Delegations representing both of those
cities will meet next week. Following are the details:
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