Most cruisers become experts at anchoring - they have no choice. They also take great care in selecting and maintaining their ground tackle, since not only a good night's sleep depends on it, but also their boat and even their lives.
So - why should any of us risk our vessels and our safety on mooring balls that are demonstrably not safe?
Not safe, you say?
Yes. That's right. In Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, one local and well connected cruiser has stated publicly that some 123 of 226 mooring balls are out of commission, with no money to pay for their repair or replacement. That means large areas of the mooring field are closed to use. (Correction - the harbourmaster, Richard Tanner, has advised that 71 balls were out of commission and as of mid October, that was down to 41, all slated to be back in use by no later than November, weather permitting).
In Sarasota and apparently also in Titusville, the installation of mooring balls was incorrectly done and in Sarasota, two boats came loose when their mooring ball failed to remain anchored to the bottom.
Just what does this mean to you when you choose to take a mooring ball at either of these two locations? Here is the exact wording from the contract you sign in St. Augustine - the Boot Key contract reads essentially the same:
Licensee acknowledges that he/she has inspected the mooring ball or dock space and is
satisfied that it is safe and suitable for use.
This agreement creates a license for rental of a mooring ball or dock space by the
Licensee for a specific vessel at the Licensee’s sole risk.
WARRANTIES: Licensee fully understands and agrees that the City does not
warrant the condition of the slips, docks, piers, gangways, ramps, buoys, mooring
gear or any other parts of the Marina to be safe for docking, berthing or mooring vessels ...
In other words - if the mooring fails, tough luck chum. You signed your rights away and the City is not liable - even if they've not ever bothered to check the mooring balls. That's your responsibility, and you signed for it.
But think about these restrictions. Are they even reasonable? The current in St. Augustine is so strong, even professional divers would have difficulty in carrying out an inspection of a mooring ball, much less a retired snowbird who probably doesn't dive anyway - and it's below the surface where most failures occur. There's a term in law for a contractual condition that is neither reasonable nor enforceable - if any lawyers check in here, I'd love to hear from you on this. Also, I'd love to hear from anyone who either refuses to sign this document, or crosses out the offending terms.
Insurance issues: In case you weren't aware of it, if you sign such a contract, you are giving away your boat insurer's right to subrogate, that is, to sue for damages caused to your boat by another's negligence. Signing this contract could invalidate your insurance. For details on this, click here
How can you stop this insanity? Click here... and let others know of your outrage at what is being done.