Since it was initially made available at no cost two years ago, some boaters have called it one of the most useful documents to have aboard when anchoring in waters across the Sunshine State. Others are saying it's a great educational tool when they are confused about local and state anchoring regulations.
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Now, Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) offers an updated '2013 Florida Anchoring Information' sheet to clarify for everyone, from the boating public to government agencies, the current status of the 2009 passage of Florida House Bill 1423 and the five pilot mooring field projects. Most importantly, the 2009 law gave relief to many boaters and meant they no longer had to fear their boat 'overstayed its welcome' and needed to move on.
'Every boat owner wants to follow the law, but in Florida, some boaters, anglers and sailors may still fear a visit from law enforcement that will force them to move on from an anchorage,' said BoatUS President Margaret Podlich.
Four of the five pilot project areas include the City of St. Augustine, Monroe County (Key West, Marathon), City of Sarasota and City of Petersburg which have established mooring fields and passed local anchoring ordinances. These areas will be used to test policies that promote public access, enhance navigational safety, protect maritime infrastructure and the environment, and deter improperly stored, abandoned, or derelict vessels. As of press time, the fifth pilot area, Martin County/City of Stuart, was still drafting an ordinance likely to come on line in 2013.
The 2009 law also clarified the meaning of 'live-aboard': Full time, active cruisers who sleep on their boats with no permanent residence on land are no longer considered live-aboards under this law and, as a result, their anchoring cannot be regulated by local governments, other than in pilot project areas. (For more: FLHB 1423, Chapter 2009-86, Section 6)
BoatUS has been monitoring the pilot program and investigating its impact on boaters. 'We recognize that there are still boaters who have not heard of the legislation but continue to arrive and enjoy Florida's gorgeous waterways,' said Podlich.
'They should know it is illegal to restrict anchoring of non-live aboard vessels in Florida outside of mooring fields, except in the jurisdiction of the five pilot projects. In 2014, the anchoring ordinances of these five localities will expire unless renewed by the Florida Legislature. In the meantime, boaters should know that anchoring close to the any of the five pilot program mooring fields today can be limited by these participating local governments.'
BoatUS encourages boaters to become familiar with these local regulations and provide the association with feedback on how they are working. To download and print a copy of the Anchoring Sheet, click here, or for more on this issue and to provide comment, click here.