The 2015 Florida Regular Legislative Session has come to a close three days earlier than scheduled, sounding a victory for boaters who frequent Florida's coastal waters.
The Seven Seas Cruising Association (SSCA) is pleased to report not one bill that includes any bans on anchoring was adopted by the state's legislature.
"We are elated to report that the freedom to anchor in Coastal Florida waters remains intact," said Phil Johnson of the SSCA's Concerned Cruisers Committee (CCC). "We applaud the way that the cruising and boating family came together, became organized, developed a clear strategy and then implemented it in a methodical, controlled way."
Joined with BoatUS, lobbying firm Capitol Access, and numerous boaters, the SSCA spent much of the last year fighting SB 1548, a bill introduced to the Florida House that would have revamped the restrictions on anchoring and mooring. Under SB 1548, it would become illegal to anchor or moor a vessel, "within 200 feet of the shoreline of developed waterfront property... between the times of one hour past sunset and one hour before sunrise." The exception to the rule being a vessel under distress. In this case a a "safe harbor" clause declares a "...vessel may remain anchored for 7 working days until repaired, or in the event of extreme weather, until weather conditions improve to the point it is no longer perilous to operate the vessel."
To add insult to injury, the new, expanded setback area of 200 feet would cause overlaps in many areas, effectively eliminating them to anchoring all together.
SB 1548 included several other tighter regulations regarding anchored boats, the full text of which can be found here.
Johnson however reiterates that this victory is only a band-aid solution to the ongoing anchoring battle.
"There is an ongoing need to work through some of the problems raised by proponents of anchoring legislation. We will need to formulate a position on this and come to a reasonably amicable resolution so that this issue does not continue to be a recurring threat," said Johnson via SSCA press release.
The SSCA will participate in a host of workshops this summer with the goal of finding an amicable solution to the anchoring question. In the meantime a GoFundMe campaign has been launched to ensure the SSCA and related parties continue to have the strength to continue the fight. Those who wish to donate can find the campaign here: Gofundme.com/Right2Anchor
"It is safe to celebrate [for now]," Johnson said. "To all those captains and sailors at anchor in Florida today (or contemplating it), raise a glass to toast Maritime Freedom!"
Click here to read the report from the SSCA.
The SSCA wishes to thank Lobbying firm Capitol Access and Lobbyist Jerry Paul, Robert Shave and Jamie Miller; as well as their teammates at BoatUS and especially Bonnie Basham.
Special thanks to the crew that worked so hard on this by attending the hearings and working the rigging from offshore via their keyboards. At the risk of leaving someone out, the SSCA especially applauds the efforts of Judi Mkam, Kim Russo, Jim Neff, Mike Bodin, Phil Werndli, Jackie Werndli, G.W. “Casey” Jones, Bob Burns, Sue Ross, Kingsley Ross, Sally Marcinek, Becky DeVillier, Eric Eiscle, Brian Davidson, Brian Schaefer, Glenn and Eddie Tuttle, Scott Berg, Ken Chumley, Jay Campbell, Dave Skolnick, Wally Moran, Mike Ahart and Mark Doyle.