1 LiveBloggin' the ICW: Ready for the 2016 Anchoring Fight?

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Ready for the 2016 Anchoring Fight?

This coming fight season year, the gloves are off. There’s not even the slightest pretence of ‘boater safety’ or any other relevant boating issue in the latest proposed anchoring legislation, as noted in Waterway Guide by Mike Ahart. http://www.waterwayguide.com/latest-news/news/6000/new-fl-house-bill-would-eliminate-several-popular-anchorages 
The issues are clear cut - they want us gone, out of their cities, and they're going to legislate to do it, even if they have to lie to us to do it. What, politicians lie? Yep, I'll tell you at the end of this blog post.
According to Mike Ahart, the legislation proposes to create no anchoring at night zones in several areas, including Middle River in Fort Lauderdale, Sunset Lake in Miami Beach, as well as areas along the Venetian Causeway, and several other areas. 
Note folks - our good friends, those charming anti anchoring advocates Frederick Karlton (of the 22 illegally anchored dinghies fame) and Mark Gold (sued a strip club for $19k he spent because he got drunk, claims they overserved him) live in Sunset Lake and along the Venetian Causeway. How coincidental is that? 
Just for fun, google both their names and couple them with the term ‘domestic violence’ and see what comes up. Such lovely people the politicians are asskissing for donations. This is what your vote - their political donations I should say - buys them. They’re so special....and wow, did you see that, I pegged the sarcasm meter that time.
I’ve been told that this bill is expected to grow, that amendments to it will expand it beyond what we’re seeing now as other legislators try to shoehorn their constituents’ wish lists into it.
In other words, everything we gave up to get the new anchoring legislation and the rules that led to the Pilot Program - all the effort and time - was wasted. I can’t say I told you so, I wasn’t so much a part of this fight back in 2007 - 09 - but there are people I know who can, people who warned those negotiating on our behalf, that this would happen. They were right it seems.
So now, instead of setting new laws in place that have been seen to work (in a perfect world of course) from the Florida Anchoring Pilot Program conducted by the FWC, we’re getting the same old crap we got ten years ago - Florida communities attempting to ban anchoring outright, to appease wealthy waterfront homeowners. 
We’ve spent close to ten years fighting to get - nowhere. We’re back where we were then, with municipalities trying to get rid of us with restrictive anti anchoring legislation.
Frankly, I’m sick of this, so I have a couple of suggestions for those of you who’d like to do something concrete about the situation. First, I need to tell you a story...you've probably already heard part of it.
In Miami Beach, the city council last spring set up ordinances that forbade tying off your dinghy to the seawall. Of course, there’s really no place else to tie off to in most of Miami Beach, so in effect, Miami Beach has effectively banned anchoring if you want to go ashore. (http://www.waterwayguide.com/latest-news/news/5501/miami-beach-cracks-down-on-dinghy-access)
I detect our friends Karlton and Gold behind this one - very clever, very slick, a nice and apparently legal way to keep boats from anchoring. To enforce this new legislation, the City of Miami Beach has contracted with Sea Tow to tow illegally tied dinghies away. 
Does Sea Tow perhaps not realize their income comes from boaters who own dinghies just like those ones?  We can’t fight City Hall - I tried, by the way, addressing Council on the anchoring issue some years ago and got shut down by the Mayor herself - but we can let Sea Tow know that we don’t approve of what they are doing. 
Sea Tow, since they answer to customers like you and I, rather than wealthy landowners, is vulnerable to pressure from boaters who can choose to buy - or not buy - their service.
I propose that each of us contact Sea Tow corporate at the email addresses noted below. Tell them flat out that you will not be renewing your towing policy with them if this Miami Beach agreement continues, if you have a policy. 
If you don’t have a policy with them currently, tell them that you will not even consider them for your towing company as long as this Miami Beach situation exists. Tell them you will also tell other boaters and ask them not to purchase Sea Tow services.
“But I live in Idaho, and only have a jon boat and never anchor’.....Fine. That doesn’t mean you can’t support us in fighting this injustice.  And frankly, we need your help here. We need everyone to lend a hand. We're in trouble big time this time around.
Call or email your local Sea Tow franchisee, let him know the situation in Miami Beach concerns you AND it should concern him as it will be costing him money. Trust me, he'll quickly be in touch with the Sea Tow franchisors and also with the guy who runs the Miami Beach franchise. 
That's what we want to happen. I don't like to see someone else suffer or lose money, but we're at the point were being nice just isn't getting the job done. We're way too close to losing our rights to anchor in this fight. Way closer than we've been since 2009 in my opinion. We need to act now.
Next, email the Sea Tow owners and executives shown below with your remarks, and if you’d please copy me at northchannelsailing@gmail.com, that would be great. Be polite, but be very clear - you object to what the Miami Beach Sea Tow franchise is doing, and you will not purchase Sea Tow services for yourself nor recommend Sea Tow services to others.
Trust me, if enough people do this, Sea Tow in Miami Beach will very quickly drop this contract, and I don’t see TowBoat US picking it up, since they strongly represent boaters' rights. 
Plus, the bad publicity for Miami Beach will help us in our fight against the rest of the anchoring laws. 
What can you do next? I’m not sure, to be honest. It's being discussed now, and no consensus has arisen yet. I will let you know once a direction has been decided upon.
One suggestion for you however: join the Seven Seas Cruising Association, as they will be front and center in this fight and they are 100% on the side of we cruisers. You can find them at www.ssca.org. Tell them I sent you, it gets me a free month of membership!
Also, consider giving an hour or two per week of your time as this situation develops to involve yourself more actively in this fight. Two things it will take to win this - money, and time, and the more of each we have, the better we can fight back.
Finally, be watching here, and on the Sailing and Cruising group on Facebook for updates. Another excellent source for current news is Mike Ahart's Waterway Guide updates.

I promised I'd tell you how the politicians are lying to you....ok, in Middle River in Fort Lauderdale, they want to create a recreational exclusion zone for water skiing,  and eliminate anchoring at night with this new legislation. 
But it's against the law to waterski at night in Florida.  So just who do they think they're fooling, making it illegal to anchor at night to permit waterskiing during the day? If this were for real, they'd eliminate anchoring during the day....oh wait....they are trying to do that too. For more on the Middle River and Fort Lauderdale situation, read this LiveBloggin' post  and see just what kind of people we're really up against in Middle River.
Thanks to Scott Doublisky of Sailing and Cruising for pointing the rule against waterskiing at night out.

Here are the emails for Sea Tow corporate offices: