Karen and I have been cruising full time for two years, much of which was spent anchored in Florida. Wherever you are, anchoring is a full-attention task and the legal battle here in Florida has made it harder! Worse, the Florida fight to ban anchoring now extends to a ban on shore access for dinghies in some places. For those of you heading to and from Florida, here's an update as of today, March 31, 2016, with the new current and upcoming prohibitions.
First, we have been working with our friends at Seven Seas Cruising Association (SSCA) as a member of their Concerned Cruisers Committee (CCC), and also as the Boating Watchdogs for the Marine Trawler Owners Association (MTOA). These groups, in partnership with the Americas Great Loop Cruisers Association (AGLCA) and Boat US, have been fighting the fight for years, and are deserving of your time and financial assistance.
PassageMaker has also been a vocal advocate of anchoring rights, as has Mike Ahart at Waterway Guide, a positive force in the center of the storm who provided much of the updated information here. Many others, such as boating writer and cruiser Wally Moran of Canada, have also been fighting against these new laws and regulations. Sadly, we are losing the fight.
As of today:
1. Miami Beach’s local anchoring ordinance basically limits anchoring to 7 days before you are then considered a liveaboard vessel and no longer legal to be anchored there. This applies to the areas along the east side of Biscayne Bay adjacent to Miami Beach, including the Venetian Islands and Sunset Lake/Sunset Harbor. This is not a new ordinance, but is being newly enforced.
2. The new law which bans overnight anchoring in Sunset Lake and between some of the Venetian Islands doesn’t go into effect until July 1, 2016, but at that time, anchoring overnight in these areas will be unlawful, with only a few emergency and activity exceptions. See Mike Ahart’s report here:
3. As far as visiting Miami Beach by dinghy, many sea walls are posted as "no access" zones and dinghies are being towed. There are parts of the sea wall further up to Collins Canal that do not have signs prohibiting tying up, and the Publix dinghy dock is still ok and without a time limit; however, it has become very crowded and tough at low tide, according to Mike Ahart.
4. Dierdre Funcheon of the Broward/Palm Beach New Times just published a comprehensive article, digging deep and objectively into the history of the boater/homeowner/city clashes. See: The clash between boaters and Miami Beach. www.browardpalmbeach.com/news/liveaboards-and-cruisers-clash-with-homeowners-in-florida-7681126
5. An editorial comment: Many legal commentators, including myself (I am a Florida-licensed attorney) believe these bans and restrictions may be challenged successfully in court. Will there be challenges? Yes, but not in time to prevent the citations, fines, and towing actions described above, which have already begun.
Please be informed and cautious when anchoring and traveling to shore in certain parts of Florida.