Monday, November 21, 2011

Waterway Guides Wades into the Battle

As many of you are aware, I'm one of Waterway Guide's Cruising Editors, so it is with great pleasure that I reprint here the news from the Waterway Guide forum, written by Mike Ahart.

Where Can I Anchor in Florida?

Reported By: WG Staff

Editorial – Mike Ahart, Waterway Guide
Have you ever watched a football game at a stadium? The field is massive - 100-yards from goal line to goal line. It's no wonder that "football field" has become a unit of measurement in American society - it means "really, really long."
The City of Stuart and Martin County in Florida approved an ordinance stating that "anchoring and mooring of vessels is prohibited within three hundred (300) feet of any maritime infrastructure" or "marked boundary of any permitted mooring field" in areas they have designated as part of the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Pilot Program - Manatee Pocket, Jensen Beach, Rio, and the City of Stuart waterfront. Just how far is 300 feet? You guessed it...a football field.
Manatee Pocket 
Here's Manatee Pocket with a 300 foot rule, without construction of a mooring field. Looks like 5 or 6 boats could anchor in the middle, and maybe one in the lower basin, without breaking any rules. With a mooring field? Just the one boat - maybe.
Think of your favorite anchorages - in Florida, or Maryland, or Tennessee, Michigan or Maine. Try to imagine anchoring there while keeping a football field length from any "floating structure, houseboat, dolphin pole, dock, pier, wharf, seawall or bulkhead" (Martin County's definition of "marine infrastructure"). Could you still anchor there? No-Name Harbor? No. Lake Sylvia? No. Just about any protected creek off the Chesapeake Bay? Mostly, no. Anywhere that provides all-around protection? Probably not.
Clearly, this ordinance, if adopted and then approved by FWC, would set an insidious precedent, although it is probably unlikely to pass the scrutiny of a court challenge. Let's hope pressure from the cruising community, and common sense, keeps it from coming to that.
(Martin County plans to adopt this ordinance at its Nov. 22 meeting and then send it to FWC for approval. Martin County Commissioners can be contacted here.  FWC Commissioners can be contacted here. Can you attend the meeting? When you arrive, fill out a "speaker form" to speak during the public comment period.)

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