1 LiveBloggin' the ICW: ANOTHER Florida anchoring fight....

Saturday, May 17, 2014

ANOTHER Florida anchoring fight....

Sunset in Miami
As many of you know, I never discuss politics.....much! Here's a political issue that cruisers need to be aware of, and an issue that I've been fighting against, personally, for the last several years.
Southeast Florida isn't particularly cruiser friendly - unless you mosey on up to a dock and shell out $3 or $4 a foot. Many of us choose to anchor out, and that means that the wealthy people who own the waterfront homes get all upset with us for not realizing they own the view all the way to the horizon. Who knew?
Recently, an article was published in the Sun Sentinel of Fort Lauderdale about anchoring - here's the article - and following this, here, is my rebuttal to this article and the people quoted in it.

Response to Sun Sentinel Article - feel free to republish, with credit and links please.
Look out.  Hide the women and children, lock up the silverware. The lowlife sailboat hordes are coming. No, wait! They’re here, right amongst us, in Middle River.
That’s what Carol Eich would like you to believe. She believes that her property rights don’t end at the property line, that they continue all the way to the horizon, and that sailboats, and their scummy owners, have no place being in that view.
Well, Ms. Eich - let me give you a little hint: if you don’t like looking at boats at anchor, buy a house in Arizona and move there. Boats have been anchoring in your back yard for a lot longer than your home has been there. We have rights too. And we aren’t scummy either.
I do hope you were misquoted by the writer of Sunday’s article about water skiers not having room to turn here. Because if you weren’t misquoted, then you’re lying. Yes, I said it. You’re lying and you know it, because all weekend you and I watched dozens of water ski boats go round and round out here.
And Mr. Sprague, you want to put moorings down to protect the bottom of the river? Mind if I ask what you’re protecting it from, and why? I’m quite serious. If you’re going to blither like an idiot, then you need to be prepared to defend your words.
All you want is a shot at my wallet, to charge me for mooring here. Money that will go to the city, so that politicians and bureaucrats can waste it, instead of letting us spend our money with local businesses where it can do them some good. So now that I’ve brought up money, let’s talk about it. 
Mayor Seiler, I suggest that you listen closely here. From your remarks, you appear to need an education in Cruising Sailboat Economics 101 as well. 
For starters, moorings are a net drain on tax dollars. They cost more to install, maintain and monitor than they bring in. I’m sure your local tax base will appreciate you wasting still more of their hard earned dollars on this sort of thing, won’t they, as you save them from we sailboaters. Don’t believe that? Ask the City of Marathon in the Keys what their mooring field costs their taxpayers annually. 
Each of us here in the anchorage eat. Yes, it’s true. We actually purchase, cook and eat food. And we buy it from the Publix which, as the writer noted, is conveniently located near George English Park. 
In three days, my current guest aboard has spent $100 on wine and snacks on top of what I buy for groceries. Perhaps we should ask Publix shareholders if they are unhappy with that? For those anchored in Lake Sylvia, it’s the Winn Dixie, just in case you think the cheapskate sailboaters there don’t bother eating. I assure you, they do.
Or perhaps we should ask the Starbucks here if they don’t want the money that a half dozen of we skinflint sailors bring in every day for our coffee and muffins? 
Or gee - how about the True Value Hardware, where another boater and I spent over $250 just yesterday for tools and other items? Maybe you should ask Chuck, the owner of Sailorman’s, about how much money we spend at his business. Or how about West Marine’s local manager? Do you need their phone numbers perhaps? Lots of us have them, on speed dial no less.
How about the Serafini restaurant, where three of us had a lovely dinner the other night? How about the CVS? How about the Yanmar dealership where I bought engine parts the other day?
Are you getting the picture? We contribute to your economy. We are not freeloaders, Ms. Eich, Mr. Mayor, Mr. Sprague.
Nor are we all transient boaters who are anchored here. Oh no. Fact is, the two largest boats in the Middle River anchorage belong to Florida residents. One owns a home and large business, the other owns a home in Seminole. Care to tell them what their rights are, since they pay taxes to the state? I thought not.
Dear, dear, Ms. Eich, those are public waters. The owners of those two boats have an absolute right to anchor in the public waters of their state. How about we tear your ugly house down so they can look at a much prettier natural landscape instead? They have as much right to demand that as you do to demand that they be gone.
Seriously speaking, what Ms. Eich wants is exactly the same as someone who demands that no one enjoy the park lands behind her home anywhere she can see them. 
What? You say that isn’t happening, that no one complains if someone picnics on public  land where Ms. Eich and her ilk can see them? Then how about acknowledging that we boaters have the same rights in public waters?
Do I sound annoyed? I sure hope not, although it’s only in Florida that state representatives accuse us, in public speeches, of peering into people’s homes with binoculars, or imply that your children aren’t safe, that we’re dangerous. Yeah, one of your dirtball politicians actually said that a couple of weeks ago. (ed. note: the link for the videoof this is available on the Florida.gov site)
Well. Let’s examine that bit of crap. Two of the people here in the anchorage have full time jobs in town. Another one just got a good construction job. Another is retired, former military. Another, as mentioned, owns a business. Another retired cruiser owns a house in another part of the state. 
Three of us are cruisers - on land, you would call us tourists, and every winter, this state spends millions of dollars in advertising to get tourists to visit. I really wish you’d told us to leave our boats at home. Who knew that southeast Florida is full of people like Ms. Eich, miserable nasty souls who hate sailboats? We really didn’t want to annoy you.
And who am I? I write for several prominent boating publications, and at one time, as a newspaper owner in Canada, wrote many lovely things about Florida for my readers who visit here. I was courted by tourist associations, feted about, wined and dined, to encourage people to come here. 
Things are not quite the same. Quite frankly, I cannot wait to get out of this state and away from the miserable, small minded people who inhabit the waterfront homes, and the politicians they’ve bought who, like little ventriloquist’s dummies, harp about us and make our lives unpleasant, who accuse us of being perverts and thieves and more.

Every year, I speak to over 1000 people at boat shows and seminars about making the trip south. I assure you, I now have very little good to say about Florida, and especially Fort Lauderdale, other than that it’s a nice place to stay for as little time as possible until you can go to someplace that appreciates your business, like the Bahamas.