1 LiveBloggin' the ICW: 2016

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Luxury Living on the ICW

Today's blogpost is about what has unexpectedly become one of the highlights of this trip. 
While planning the Sail to the Sun ICW Rally stops, I began to panic when I came to organizing the Savannah section. It seemed that no marina could take more than five boats, and two told me flat out that they wouldn't even consider reservations until ten days to two weeks before our arrival.
When you're booking for 20 boats, that makes it time to panic.
Then, out of the blue, I get a message on Facebook from Ted Arisaka, a member of Windmill Harbor Marina on Hilton Head Island. Why not bring the Rally into Windmill Harbor, a lovely marina protected by a lock? What an idea? Could this marina handle the group?
Well, not only could they handle the group, they rolled out the red carpet for us and made everyone a huge fan of what can only be described as one of the nicest marinas I've ever stayed at. Well, everyone but Let It Be, Frank and Mary Grace's 44 foot catamaran, which couldn't fit in the lock. They took a slip at Skull Creek Marina, about a mile or so away.
The Rally crew started rolling into the anchorage outside Windmill Harbor shortly after noon, waiting their call to enter the lock. Because of the depths in the entrance, the shallow draft boats entered first, and were directed to their slips while the rest of the group waited patiently at anchor. One by one, we entered and cleared the lock until we were all tied up at our assigned slip in perfectly still waters with no tide at all. How pleasant is that? It reminded me of the Great Lakes, not having to worry about tide.
Then the fun started. Ted and his lovely wife Patti hosted a pizza party (24 pies!) at his home that evening, while everyone oohed and aahed at the view. Just spectacular, as you can see.
That's Ted behind those pizza boxes!
The following day, most of the group headed out for Savannah to explore. Others just hung out and enjoyed the yacht club and facilities, which were made available for our group - bar, dining, tennis, gym and sailing.  I could get used to living like this.
Most of us ended up dining in the clubhouse that evening after a (very) happy hour at the bar and, as expected, the food was delicious - and very well priced too I have to add. 
Wednesday, they had some small boat racing on Harbor 20s planned, but the wind didn't co-operate. A few folks headed for the pool instead. Others in the group were enjoying community and home tours of the 'plantation', as it's known. Some even did laundry - dedicated souls that they are, I salute them while in my getting kind of filthy jeans! I can do laundry tomorrow, they still pass the sniff test. (note: if you're a real cruiser, you know what that is!)
Wednesday evening, we were hosted to a reception (complete with nibbles, wine and beer) and a presentation by JR Richardson, the founder of the South Carolina Yacht Club. 
View from Ted's property
Ken (Mauna Kea) and Ted exchanging burgees
Clubhouse at Windmill Harbor
JR discussed the history of Hilton Head and of the development of Windmill Harbor - a story he knows well, being one of those intimately involved with this community and the island itself from a young age. Some of the photos of historic Hilton Head were amazing, and his personal anecdotes were well received.
Everyone, and I do mean everyone in the Rally thoroughly enjoyed their time at Windmill Harbor. One came to me openly astonished to tell me that as they walked around looking at the many beautiful homes, neighbours would step out and say "Are you the sailors? Welcome to Windmill, we're so glad you're here."
It's just that kind of southern hospitality and charm that made it so great to be there - and so hard to leave on Thursday morning.
Here's the best part for those of you cruising south - Windmill is open for transients and they'd love to have you visit them too. Check out their website and, on your way south, consider trying something a little different - and a lot nicer than most marinas you'll come to. That's not taking anything away from the many great marinas the Sail to the Sun ICW Rally has stayed at - but Windmill Harbor is just a cut above almost every place I've ever been.

Remember, you can also follow the Sail to the Sun ICW Rally at www.cruisingworld.com/wheres-wally. Our precise location can be found via my Delorme Inreach device, and that map is found at Where's Wally?
If that's not enough Rally excitement for you, you can like and follow us on Facebook at the Sail to the Sun ICW Rally page.
The Sail to the Sun ICW Rally page is now at Jekyll Island, and preparing for Thanksgiving at the St. Marys GA Cruisers Thanksgiving Potluck. Stay tuned.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Food, Fun, Frivolity and Friendship - it's a Floating Feast!

It used to be that when I went south, I'd lose a few pounds by the time I got to Miami - long days, skipping lunch, just moving about on the boat or rowing to shore all took the pounds off. Not a bad thing considering that I was then in bathing suit territory, although my days of strutting about in a speedo are long gone...
But the Sail to the Sun ICW Rally has been one fun day after another, and most of these fun times are involving food, food and more food. And as we continue, I'm noticing that my jeans are, well, they aren't as loose as they were in Annapolis and my lovely, svelte figure is not quite, well, so svelte any longer.
It all started in Coinjock, where the Rally group dined out - make that feasted - on prime rib - and man, it was great. Not long after that, we're doing a potluck and wine and cheese in Dowry Creek Marina.
Then at River Dunes, a great meal in the clubhouse restaurant. And we also did a shrimp bbq while we were there, which I mentioned in my last post...31 pounds of shrimp, plus all the extras everyone brought down for the party.
Dockside in Beaufort NC
Of course, walking down the waterfront in Beaufort NC meant passing some great restaurants, so lunches were usually outside overlooking the anchorage, along with a couple of brews....
A special surprise at Beaufort - two of this year's ralliers, Jim Schwartz and Sharron Randall, who had to cancel their trip due to family issues hosted a wine and cheese on the docks for the entire group, and what a great time that was! Thank you again guys, that was so special, and very much appreciated by all.
Then we went to Swansboro, where this small but wonderfully friendly town's restaurants hosted a mini feast on the town docks, with each restaurant providing its share of a signature dish. Some of us then went on to have dinner at one of these restaurants, and I can assure you, the prime rib at the Icehouse is just wonderful, and thanks to Michael Dunleavy for that treat.
Are you starting to see a pattern here? Travel, eat, travel, eat some more....and of course, all of these events involve adult bevies, which doesn't help the waistline at all. Even worse, the great offerings at Osprey Marina - like chocolate raspberry jam.... What's a guy supposed to do?
In Southport, a couple of days later, Frank and Mary Grace, from the catamaran Let It Be, hosted the rally group to oysters, which we shucked and ate on the docks, overlooking the ICW.
Then - we headed for Georgetown SC and not one, but TWO eating events....the Taste of Georgetown, and the following day, another oyster fundraiser for a local school.
Best of all, about two thirds of the way through the afternoon, the organizers started serving blue crab along with the oysters. There were also grits, hot dogs, and the beer and wine was priced at whatever you wanted to donate.
Oblivious to all but that oyster!

Blue crabs anyone
By now, I was ready to hit the nearest store and buy a size larger pair of pants, and a new belt for them.  I suspect I may not be the only one either!

Remember, you can also follow the Sail to the Sun ICW Rally at www.cruisingworld.com/wheres-wally. Our precise location can be found via my Delorme Inreach device, and that map is found at Where's Wally?
If that's not enough Rally excitement for you, you can like and follow us on Facebook at the Sail to the Sun ICW Rally page.
On to the low country next. See you in Charleston!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Croquet Madness, Shrimp on the BBQ and More!

From Midway Marina, the 2016 Sail to the Sun ICW Rally's next stop was Elizabeth City. While this meant a bit of backtracking, since we hadn't run the Dismal Swamp - it was badly beat up during Hurricane Matthew - it was a trip well worth the detour in the group's opinion.
Elizabeth City, the Harbour of Hospitality, is known for its friendly locals, Rose Buddy receptions, and free dockage. Along with drinks and nibbles, each lady is given a rose, a tradition started back in 1983 and continued by the Chamber when the founders passed away. The Sail to the Sun fleet was this year's first Rose Buddy reception - and if they are unable to reopen the Dismal soon, it may be the last for this year as well, sorry to say.
With time to enjoy the city, the group spread out to explore the museum and other sites, while several of us headed for Byron's Hot Dogs. This small restaurant makes absolutely great 'dogs', and sells them for $1.25 - $2.50, depending on how you dress it. Best of all, the Coconut Pecan cake for dessert was amazing. This is one of those hole in the wall establishments that, should you be lucky enough to discover it, is the ones you always remember.
The next day in the early morning fog, the goal was to cross Albermarle Sound and get into a safe anchorage at Tuckahoe Point before the near gale force winds predicted late in the day struck.
Albermarle Sound was calm, flatter than I've ever seen it in 28 previous trips.
Last year coming north and fleeing Joaquin, gusty winds blew out my dodger and bimini while propelling me along at 7.2 knots...the Sound can be like that sometimes. You never know. Despite being a shallow body of water, or perhaps because of, it's one that bears caution while crossing if there's any serious weather about.
The S2TS fleet was soon across and tucked in safely for the night, watching the front come over the horizon. Reports from those who crossed the next day were that it was 'sporty' - so sporty in fact that the bridge was closed due to high winds. It was a good choice to leave when we did.
The winds were lighter than expected the next morning and of course, the Alligator Pungo canal offers good protection.
Everyone set off for Dowry Creek Marina, but that day wasn't without it's problems. One of our two smaller boats, a Cape Dory 28, managed to back down on the dinghy painter and, you guessed it, wrapped the prop.
Everyone got involved in the 'rescue', one of the group donned a mask and went in, but wasn't able to remove the line, so Steve, in his Seaward 26, our other small boat, towed it to a dock at the end of the canal where they were finally able to get the line off and Sweet Pea finished the trip under her own power.
Meanwhile, in the confusion, another of our boats managed to wrap a prop and required towing assistance to the marina. There, Frank from Let It Be donned his dive gear and quickly had the problem sorted out. It's a resourceful group we have here!
In any event, the multiple problems in the canal reminded me of last year's rally when we had a rash of stuffing box leaks, including mine, and which necessitated tows for two of us. Is this year's epidemic to be wrapped props? I sure hope not, and for the moment, everyone's boat is running well. Still, as we know, things happen on boats. It's all part of the adventure, as was everyone pitching in to solve the problems.
Nick and Mary at Dowry Creek hosted our group with a wine and cheese reception which was most welcome, and provided an opportunity for everyone to talk about the excitement of the day. The next day was given over to shopping in Belhaven, boat chores and laundry. Some things just don't change!
On the way to our next marina, River Dunes, I stopped at the seafood dock in Hobucken and picked up 31 pounds of fresh caught shrimp. The plan was to have a shrimpfest that evening, and what a party that was. 
In fact, during this year's Sail to the Sun ICW Rally we've already seen some great parties, and the fun is just starting to ramp up. One comment was that the Rally was just a floating two month long party - that's not really all that far off actually. 
The following day, we convened by the pool to play croquet - and the ladies won the first game, but with a considerable amount of creative tactics, such as kicking the ball through wickets and turning the wickets sideways for the men's shots. The men were far too polite to notice this of course. The next game was a tie, with the men winning the third game, making the overall result a tie. Everyone seemed quite satisfied with that.
Our next party the following evening was a dinner at River Dunes with Bob Laverty playing. Turns out that some of the crews knew Bob, from Cape Cod.
Bob is a fellow boater with a great voice, and just as last year, provided an evening of great music for us. The meal, chile and clam chowder, which doesn't sound inspiring, was superb, as I've come to expect here. There's a reason this marina has been judged as one of America's top 25 marinas.
We've also been blessed with some really good sailing conditions, and several times at the dock I've heard tales of the crews hitting hull speed during the day. 
This is despite some naysayers claiming you cannot sail on the ICW. Truth is, there are a lot of areas you can, and even more in which you can motorsail. It just requires some determination to get those 'emergency white things' up the mast, which this group does with enthusiasm!
That's it for this post - stay tuned as we head on to Beaufort NC, home of Edward Teach, also known as Blackbeard. 

You can also follow this adventure at http://www.cruisingworld.com/wheres-wally, and also follow our location on the Where's Wally Delorme Map, which will give you our precise location.
If that's not enough Rally excitement for you and you want to follow the fun on a daily basis, click to our Facebook page, Sail to the Sun Rally - it's almost as much fun as being with the crew! Just look at their smiles!


Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Are We Having Fun Yet? OH YEAH!

part of the Rally fleet on the lock walls
Between Matthew, the Annapolis Sailboat Show, the Sailing and Cruising Dinner, the Sail to the Sun Cruising Seminar, and prepping for the Sail to the Sun ICW Rally and the kickoff wine and cheese dinner, and getting from Naptown to Hampton, I've actually not had a lot of time to blog and keep you up to date. I'll try not to let that happen again!
I will tell you this, it's been an exciting couple of weeks, and the culmination of all this activity was October 17, when the 2016 Sail to the Sun ICW Rally left Hampton - 19 boats heading south towards their cruising dreams. And although we've only just ended day two, it's been an amazing two days already.
Sail to the Sun Cruising Seminar, Greg from Mantus speaking
Part of the leadup to the Rally was the Sail to the Sun Cruising Seminar, held at the Annapolis Maritime Museum, where more than 60 boaters listened to Lin Pardey, Dave Skolnick, Jeff and Jean Grossman, Joan Conover and Greg Kutsen discuss cruising. Topics included crossing the Gulf Stream, cruising as a couple, the Bahamas, the ICW, anchoring, ending with Lin discussing proper maintenance while cruising.
At the end of the day, we held a Q&A session, and then a opportunity for those attending to share nibbles and adult beverages with the speakers. Wonderful session, with many people commenting on how much value there was in the day for them. Be watching here for an announcement of a similar day long session later this year in Florida!
Next morning, it was time to sail to Hampton VA - and the winds were kind, either very gentle out of the south making for easy motoring, or stronger from the north making it possible to sail.
In Hampton, our kickoff wine and cheese was hosted by Dave, the manager at Bluewater Marina - and thank you again Dave for a great time! Much appreciated.
Guest speakers were Ed Tillett from Waterway Guide, who discussed current issues on the ICW and how to keep track of them using the Waterway Guide app online; and Bill Knowles from the Salty Dawg Rally, who explained his rally program to the group. All in all, an excellent session.
The following day, it was an o'dark:30 departure from the docks to get to Great Bridges and the lock there. Our original plan was to 'do the Dismal', but flooding due to Matthew has closed the Dismal, possibly until spring. No one is quite sure yet just how bad the problems there are, but there are many downed trees and new shoaling to deal with before it reopens.
Brad removing masthead gear
Dockage now looked to be an issue with the change in plans. With some kind assistance from Atlantic Yacht Basin, we scored the required slips for everyone as well as putting a few of our vessels on the new free dock at Great Bridge and on the walls following the lock.
With the flooding, our big issue was bridge clearance for the taller boats. The first problem bridge was right after the Great Bridge lock - and sure enough, Reflections was too tall even after having removed his masthead gear - all but one item that put him one inch over the limit. Back to the dock and back up the mast. Such fun!
Next came the Pungo Ferry bridge, which was showing 63.25 feet at the notice board. Seems someone measured Reflections' mast height wrong - it wasn't 62.5 as Brad had been told - it was 63.4, enough to stop Reflection from proceeding.  Now what?

Look Ma! No, wait...don't look!

Ken, from Mauna Kea, hopped over and went out to the end of the mast - wasn't enough to heel the boat over that teeny little bit and Ken is not a small guy either.
Then Ken saw some older teens swimming and 'volunteered' them to help out. Three got on the rail, and one clambered out to the end of the mast like he'd sailed on tall ships his entire life - and that extra bit of weight made the difference - according to Brad, about a half inch of clearance as they went through.
Tomorrow, we may get to watch it all again as we come to the bridge here in Coinjock...we're hoping the water will have gone down just enough this won't be necessary.
Oh, and thanks to Terry here at Midway Marina for putting together the required dockage on such short notice when we discovered the Dismal was not happening for us.
So how is the rally crew handling all this excitement? Pretty darn well, from the laughter and chatter going on at the restaurant at Coinjock Marina, where the boats' crews filled half the restaurant to feast on their excellent prime rib dinner.
Thanks also to Cruising World for hosting this blog - you'll find future updates on the Rally every couple of days at http://www.cruisingworld.com/wheres-wally, as well as the Where's Wally Delorme Map which shows you exactly where the Sail to the Sun ICW Rally is at any given time.
Make sure you bookmark the Cruising World link so that you can follow the Rally on its way south. If you want to watch the fun on a daily basis, follow us on Facebook, at Facebook Rally Group - it's almost as much fun as being with us, but without the mast climbing!
Tomorrow morning, we're off to Elizabeth City and their Rose Buddies reception, the first of this year's cruising season - and sadly, possibly the last for this year since the Dismal is closed until spring.
Stay tuned for more fun with the 2016 Sail to the Sun ICW Rally!

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Here Comes Matthew - Anchoring Techniques to Save Your Boat

This is going to short and sweet, and is meant for those whose boats are at risk from hurricane Matthew. Here are three excellent articles on anchoring techniques.
One that I see as having merit is the tandem anchoring technique. Don't forget chafe gear, and don't stay on your boat - it can be replaced, and we'd hate to lose you....Good luck, and our prayers are with you during this time.




Saturday, September 24, 2016

Update on the ICW 2016

I'm currently heading north to Annapolis for the sailboat show, and due to the winds being out of the north - despite the ongoing lies from the NOAA weathermen about south winds - I've been plugging along at about 70 miles per day on the ICW. That pace forces me to break all those great rules I give people at the boat show seminars... you know the ones - pace yourself so you don't overtire, arrive at the ICW trouble spots at half tide or better, work the currents when you can....all those tips that make the ICW an enjoyable passage.
As a result, I've been getting into parts of the ICW at less than optimal times, and observing the ICW at less than its best.
The news isn't all bad actually, but there have been some surprises. The biggest one is South Carolina, which I'll come to in a bit, but first, an overview. Since I'm going north, you'll get this in reverse order....
Florida of course presents no problems, other than Matanzas, a few miles south of St. Augustine, and it's no big deal. Although it feels scary, just stay well over towards the beach, about 20 feet or so off the buoys and watch your depth sounder. Even at low tide, you shouldn't see much under 8 feet of water. As you come out of the inlet going south, start moving over towards the center of the channel, again watching your depth sounder so you don't move over too quickly.
Coming into Georgia, the big three are still the big three - Hell's Gate, Little Mud River and Jekyll Creek. Of the three, Hell's Gate is the one that's most likely to cause you trouble, not because it's any more shallow, but because of the currents there.
Go to the buoy in the river when you enter - don't shortcut it. Aim for the buoys you see ahead of you, staying to the center of the channel. Look behind you frequently to check you're still in the channel, not being pushed out of it, as the current will be on your beam, not ahead or behind as is usual. The buoys here feel rather far apart, so a close watch is critical.
Most importantly, if you draw over five feet, don't enter Hell's Gate at low tide - give it an hour or so. There's typically 7- 9 feet of tide in this location, so every hour you stand by will add another foot to the depths. Best is to enter at half tide and rising, so that if you do get pushed out of the channel and aground, the tide will rescue you.
Little Mud River is, as usual, a mess. It shallows out to under five feet, so again, you don't want to be coming through it on a falling tide. Waiting until you're an hour into the tide will give you a foot or more extra water under the keel and that will be adequate for most boats.
I found that the best depths were to the east (left side going south!) of the magenta line, and since I was on a rising tide, I zigged and zagged looking for better depths - there weren't any! Again, remember the mantra - Half Tide Rising - it'll get you through.
Should you arrive in this area and the tide isn't in your favour, there are several spots you can anchor out nearby, or you could trek 8 miles up the Darien River to the free dock at Darien. It's a nice town with a couple of decent restaurants nearby. Just remember, you'll have to come those 8 miles back and if the tide is against you, it's a looong 8 miles. For a taste of Darien, check out this video I made when last there...

 Jekyll Creek actually seemed better this trip through, despite a report on Waterway Guide I read calling out three foot depths - which I didn't find - so that skipper was clearly out of the channel. I touched once at five feet, but plowed through the silty mud and found that had I zigged over to the left about 40 feet or so, I'd have had 6 feet beneath me. It seems as if the currents have cleared this channel out a bit, but I'd still not try it on a falling tide.
South Carolina was a surprise. I've been finding the water to be overall somewhat more shallow than in the past, and I don't think it's just that I've been pushing through.
The good news is that the bad patch at Isle of Palms, just north of Charleston, has been dredged. There's still lots of shallow water in the area from the Ben Sawyer bridge to Isle of Palms marina, but it's not the problem it was last year and the year before.
The 1.5 mile stretch just south of Mclelandville is shallowed out to about 4 - 5 feet in places, so again, most cruisers will be wanting a rising tide to get through. There's a shoal patch at red 42, and it's dodgy from 39 to 42 - it's very difficult to discern any sort of a channel in the area. Further south, it runs about 6 - 7 feet for a considerable distance.
Again - go with half tide rising! The good news is, if you arrive at low tide, the creek into the Leland Oil Docks has been dredged and you'll find 7 - 8 foot depths all the way to the marina.
Two good sources for up to date information on ICW conditions are the above mentioned Waterway Guide, and the Salty Southeast Cruisers Network. Both of these websites feature cruiser submitted reports, and both vet all reports before posting them. Just remember - the boater might be in error, as the Jekyll Creek post shows - so take all warnings with a grain of salt.
What about the rest of the ICW you ask? That will be my next blog post, I've got to get there before I can report on it! In the meantime, if you'd like to see my full webinar on transiting the ICW, you can view the trailer to the video below...lots of great tips to make your trip easier.
Have you purchased your tickets for the Sail to the Sun Cruising Seminar yet?
This day long event will be held at the Annapolis Maritime Museum on October 10, the Monday of the boat show. Featured speaker is Lin Pardey. Also speaking are Jeff and Jean Grossman, Dave Skolnick, Greg Knutson and myself. Topics to be covered will be cruising the ICW, effective couples' cruising, effective anchoring techniques, crossing the Gulf Stream to the Bahamas, and cruising the Bahamas. There will also be a round table question and answer session following the seminars, giving everyone the chance to ask their own questions of the group. It will be a lively session, I assure you.
As noted, it's an all day seminar with a lunch, and a happy hour following, and you won't want to miss it. For more information and for tickets, go to https://www.eventbrite.com/e/sail-to-the-sun-cruising-seminar-tickets-26973144401
Finally, due to a cancellation due to illness, there is one remaining spot on this year's Sail to the Sun ICW Rally - and about three couple's hovering over it wondering if they should join.
If you're interested in having the best time on your trip south this year, check out the details at the Sail to the Sun website, and request a brochure.
If you're seriously interested, don't hesitate, because one of those three could make up their mind at anytime and grab that last spot!

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Day long Seminar Featuring Lin Pardey

This fall, during the Annapolis Boat Show, the Sail to the Sun ICW Rally will be hosting a day long seminar event for both Rally participants and members of the cruising public. The Sail to the Sun Cruising Seminar will be held at the Annapolis Maritime Museum and is geared to helping cruisers new to cruising on their way south, with seminars discussing the ICW and the Bahamas.
If this is your year to cast off the dock, this is the seminar with the information you need and want from the people who have been there and done that - Lin Pardey, Jeff and Jean Grossman, Greg Knutson, Dave Skolnick, Wally Moran and more - and if you're still in the planning stages of cutting the lines, this seminar will provide you with valuable information towards your goal.
Our featured guest speaker is cruising icon Lin Pardey, who will be discussing offshore sailing - and who better to discuss this topic? This seminar will be of interest to newbies and old salts!
Also speaking will be Captains Jeff and Jean Grossman on the topic of couples training. Jeff and Jean also assist new cruisers in every phase of purchasing a boat and entering the cruising life, and will be able to address your questions on those topics during the anything goes Roundtable discussion following the speakers' talks.
Captain Dave Skolnick, past president of the Seven Seas Cruising Association, will be discussing the topic on every new cruiser's mind - how to cross the Gulf Stream. Dave's tips and advice will make this tension fraught decision much easier for all captains crossing the Gulf Stream.
Speaking to a crowded room, I discuss cruising the ICW
If you've ever worried about your anchoring skills,

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

"Though this be madness, yet there is method in't."

Osric: A hit, a very palpable hit.

For those who remember their Shakespeare, this quote comes from the fencing scene in Hamlet where Hamlet is killed by the poison on the tip of Laerte’s foil.
Hamlet scores a hit, which is denied by Laerte, leading to Hamlet’s requesting a judgement on it.
The scene has certain parallels with what just happened in Miami Beach. 
You’ll recall that Miami Beach began enforcing their one week anchoring ordinance this past spring after several years of no action (since it was illegal!) and you’ll recall that I and others stated that it was illegal for them to do so.
Cruiser and local veterinarian Dr. Michael Tenzer decided to stand up to the injustice and was given two tickets for illegally being anchored on two different occasions by the Miami Beach police. One of these was given on the day that we held a demonstration in Miami Beach at the anchorage to protest the harassment of boaters legally at anchor.
Mike consulted with a number of people, including Boat US and myself, and then hired a lawyer to contest this ticket.
To make a long story much shorter, the City of Miami Beach knew damn well that they were in the wrong and, when someone confronted them with it, they bailed. They settled with Dr. Mike, agreeing to issue no more tickets to anyone at anchor in Miami Beach's South Beach anchorage, and to pay half of his $10,000 legal fee. 
I happen to have some issues with that aspect of the settlement - since the City of Miami Beach admitted it was wrong, it should have paid for the entire cost of Mike's defence. That is now water under the bridge. What's done is done and I'll take half a win over no win at all. In any event, I'll be discussing this settlement further in another post very soon after some further research and discussion with Dr. Mike. Watch for it.
For those following the battle closely, this is now the fourth time that a legal challenge against a local anchoring ordinance has been defeated in the courts or through legal action or the threat thereof - out of four incidents. The others were in Naples, Sarasota and Stuart. A fifth fight involved duking out the legal issues in the media and we won that one also.
In Naples, local boaters forced the police to give one of them a ticket for violating a local ordinance that stated boaters could not anchor within a certain distance of, I believe, a seawall (news story). The judge, in deciding, hammered Naples for its actions (news story and also this news story).
In Stuart, Vince Sibilla took on the locals three times, losing twice until he hired a maritime attorney, Barb Cook Esq. She forced the city to back down with the threat of a civil rights lawsuit - (see story here), and the City also partially reimbursed Sibilla for his attorney's fees, plus agreed to stop enforcement of the illegal local ordinance.
In Sarasota the City Attorney figured it out before the illegal ticket got to court (online story here) and actually recommended that Sarasota consider repealing the illegal ordinance.
Finally, I took on Melbourne and its Mayor in 2007 over an illegal three day anchoring ordinance. Following a story I wrote published in Southwinds Magazine (story here) on page 31, Melbourne stopped enforcing its illegal anchoring ordinance.
What's my point? Here's where I'm going off the reservation because almost all of the people leading the anchoring fight don't agree with me on this. 
The only wins we have had in the anchoring fight - five to date as noted - have not been in the Legislature. They've been in the courts, with reference to the law. Four of them involved lawyers schooling the cities as to the rights of boaters. 
Yet the organizations involved in fighting on your behalf - the SSCA, Boat US, MTOA and others - want to sit down with legislators and 'craft' laws that work for us. And just what have the results of this approach been? 
First of all, we got the 2009 Pilot Program that saw five areas of Florida get specialized rules along with mooring fields. We were assured at that time that there would be no local legislation enacted during the life of the Pilot Program, ostensibly 2014, now 2017. 
Despite that, on July 1, 2016, a new state law saw five areas of Florida deemed off-limits to overnight anchoring. Those areas included the family home of one of the bill's sponsors: Fort Lauderdale's Middle River. Two other areas in Miami Beach include the properties of the two most toxic dirtsiders I know of - Frederick Karlton of Sunset Lake, and Mark Gold of Venetian Causeway.
I assure you, more and more communities in Florida are going to attempt to get on this bandwagon. Already, Palm Beach and Boca Raton have tried, and I'm hearing rumours that Gulfport and some other cities are starting again to enforce illegal ordinances. For sure, Miami Beach is going to continue to fight against us until they can move us out, using whatever measures they can, such as the no dinghy tie up law they've enacted.
In fairness, perhaps the legislative route might have worked had we had a paid lobbyist as we did the year previous. However, the money wasn't there for this, although the City of Fort Lauderdale had a paid lobbyist for this action, and Miami Beach put significant local resources into the fight. We cruisers simply don't have access to that kind of money. 
In my opinion, I think we need to let the legislature do whatever it wants - and then take them to court using the Public Trust Doctrine, along with other maritime laws and precedents that support our cause.
That won't be cheap either, the courts never are, but we're spinning our wheels fighting in Tallahassee. It's the old joke about why you shouldn't fight in the mud with pigs (or legislators!)....because the pigs enjoy it! 
The reality is that legislators answer to their constituents, not transient boaters, and especially the wealthy ones who are financing this fight against us. Winning in the legislature is difficult, and will take a tremendous amount of time, effort and money. And, a win can be turned around on us in the next legislative session. The fight simply doesn't end if we choose to fight there. We've been fighting this fight for over 30 years and we're still fighting it. It's time to change tactics.
A fight in the courts on the other hand, should we win - and I admit there are risks to going to court, like losing - will be permanent. The court's decree trumps Tallahassee. It ends the fight.
Yes, we saw several years of peace after the enactment of 327.60, the law that stopped Florida municipalities from creating local regulations, but pressure from those same municipalities has put us into the situation we're now in. Laws can always be changed, and politicians, especially Florida politicians, can always be bought to change them. That's just how it is.
But as we can see - we're four for four in the courts, while we're losing badly in Tallahassee. Maybe we need to rethink our strategy before it's too late for us.
One last comment - I believe that the upcoming legislative session in Florida will be our biggest battle yet. I suggest you get ready for it - prepare to spend time, and to open your wallets, to defend our rights.
Otherwise, prepare to lose them.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Thurston Howell III on LiveBlogging? What's that about?

Yes, it's Thurston Howell III
It’s been an exciting several weeks since my last blog post. The 2016 Sail to the Sun ICW Rally is now 2/3 full, and there are only a few spots remaining. The itinerary is set up, but not set up in stone because experience shows that there are invariably some last minute surprises - great ones - from cities, towns and marinas wanting to join in on the fun. I like to leave room for the impromptu - it’s what makes a trip such as this so exciting. If you’d like to see the itinerary, check out the website, www.ICWally.com
Week before last, as many of you know, I lead the Vientos de Cambio/Winds of Change rally to Marina Hemingway from Key West, and that was a most exciting trip. It certainly changes the dynamics of being in Havana when you’re there with 30+ other people rather than on your own - and in a very good way too. We all had a fabulous good time and a group of people got to know a little bit of what Cuba is all about. Be watching for a video very soon on the trip.
The only downer on that trip was that I was unable to hold the online Hangout in Havana that was planned for June 1 - the wifi in Hemingway simply wasn’t up to it. 
I was barely able to get online for email most of that day, much less conduct a webinar requiring lots and lots of bandwidth. That webinar will be rescheduled for sometime in the next week or ten days - I just have to find a location to conduct it from - many areas of the Bahamas also have issues with dependable wifi - such as here at Guana Cay. Stay tuned for an announcement on Facebook Sailing and Cruising.
As I write this, I’m now back in the Abacos in Marsh Harbour, and just loving it. This is my first trip into the Abacos, and it’s considerably different from the Exumas, Eleuthera, or the Out Islands. Some will definitely prefer these other locations, while some enjoy what I’ll call the ‘Bahamas Lite’ ambiance of the Abacos.
Hope Town - beautiful small town in Abacos
Why ‘Bahamas Lite’? It’s like this - in most areas of the Bahamas, you’ll not find American style hardware stores, full line grocery stores, pharmacies and so on. But in Marsh Harbour, where I am now, you’ll find all of these and many other amenities that appeal to the casual cruiser who wants a different - but not TOO different, cultural experience. What you won’t find here - at least, I haven’t as yet, are rake and scrape bands and other cultural norms for the Bahamas.
You see this difference most clearly in the pubs catering to the tourist crowd. Very few locals around, unlike in other parts of the Bahamas. A beer is $6, 50% more than on most other islands. 
The hotel tourists wear high end casual clothes, co-ordinated to the max. The boat charter people aren’t far behind them, which looks kind of odd when you see them coming in to the dock - I mean, who dresses up like that to go sailing? The yachties - high end sportsfisherman and big powerboats - all sport brand new deck shoes that, honestly, look like they’ve never been worn. 
The yacht crew types, usually the youngest of the crowd, all hang together, some in crew uniforms, others in shorts and t’s. They’re easy to spot, and easy to chat with too, unlike their owners, who are generally quite standoffish. That’s if they even bother to come ashore to hobnob with we lesser types.
these guys...must be cruisers!
The cruisers, well, we stand out because we look - how do I put this? A bit careless about our dress? T-shirts rather than fancy printed tropical shirts, and well worn rather than Bermuda shorts? Flip flops instead of pricey boat shoes? Hair cuts a bit past the ‘best by’ date?
The difference between cruisers and these other groups, excepting the boat crews, are that they are only ‘experiencing’ cruising, while we are ‘living’ the life. I guarantee you, you’ll not ever see these people at a ‘rake and scrape’ somewhere down island, or at a beach sundowner’s party.
Actually, that’s not quite true. I can’t recall what island I was anchored out at last year, but it was somewhere in the Exumas. A big boat, well over 100 feet, anchored up and very shortly, a 26 foot Intrepid and a smaller boat were launched. On shore, the crew set up tables and a tent, white linen, crystal and all, for about 20 people. 
Meanwhile, not a soul could be seen on deck on the big boat except for an occasional crewperson.
About mid-afternoon, the Intrepid and a big inflatable started to bring people from the megayacht plus a second big boat that had just arrived. Every man going ashore was dressed in clothing that would have put Thurston Howell III, of Gilligan’s Island fame, to shame. White slacks, belts and shoes, blue blazers, the whole clichéd thing. The women were, thankfully, more tastefully dressed.
Everyone stood about for 20 minutes or so with a drink in hand, then on command sat down to their meal, served by the crew of course. Within a short time, well before sunset, they were back on the big boat. 
Beach in the Abacos...
At no time could you hear the least noise from the group either - no singing, no laughter, no voices raised in an ‘anchor discussion’. It was all very...well, very ‘civilized’ - read booooring! It didn’t look like a lot of fun to me. I've seen more excitement in a corporate boardroom meeting.
The crew worked until sunset to clean up and returned the next morning to break down the tents, after which the boats raised anchor and motored off.
I’m sure it’s very nice to be fabulously wealthy or friends of the fabulously wealthy, and to be catered to all the time. Nonetheless, I can’t help but think of the pleasure and camaraderie these people missed out on in not setting up their own party, not wandering to the water’s edge and splashing about, not coming ashore in small dinghies rather than large tenders - one with a landing craft type front that opened out on the beach, I kid you not. Can’t get those Jimmy Choos wet, can we?
I mean, who in hell wears Jimmy Choos on a tropical beach? Who are we kidding here?
I’m 100% certain that had any of us from the anchorage wandered over to talk to the guests, we’d have been shooed off by the crew. As a result, none of us wandered down to that area of the beach. 
Contrast this with a cruisers’ beach party - you’re in danger of being sucked in if you’re within 100 yards of the group, and handed a cold beer and a plate of food - regardless of how you’re dressed.
Ok - the conclusion? Maybe I’m just a poorly dressed, flip flop’s from K-Mart kind of guy in a small sailboat who likes noisy parties - but at least I, and all the other cruisers I know, understand how to have a good time, and the importance of being on the beach with friends to watch yet another beautiful sunset.

Sunset at Marina Hemingway
For those wanting more information on the Sail to the Sun ICW Rally, you can get further information, including the current itinerary, at www.ICWally.com. The cost of the Rally is $895 US and includes all navigational assistance, advice, parties and potlucks, plus discounted dockage rates at many marinas, and much more.

Included in this is all the friendship from fellow southbound cruisers that you can handle! I promise you, by the time you reach Miami, you’ll realize the two conclusions all the other past Rally participants have come to - one, you should have gone south years ago (like you thought!) and two - the Rally will have been the best investment in safety, fun, friendship and great memories that you’ve made in boating in years.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Cruising in the Real Bahamas....

I recently spent two weeks at Great Harbour Cay Marina in the Berrys, and it's just lovely, but like any time spent on a dock, it's not quite the real thing. Nonetheless, if you're up that way, I highly recommend it as a place to visit - great staff, excellent social activities such as weekly potlucks and the Chill and Grill on Friday nights, wonderful beach, snorkelling and spear fishing - this place has it all. Don't miss the fresh bread from the bakery either - excellent! Manager Hans Febles has got this place running superbly.
Like all good things however, it comes to an end, and I moved on to Sandy Point, my first stop in the Abacos. Sandy Point is quite remote - so remote you can't use credit cards there and there's no bank machines. As I had no cash, this meant no cold beer at the little pub on the beach....but, the waitress, Mercy, sister of the owner, Nancy, handed me a cold Kalik and said, "To welcome you on your first visit!" The people are just as wonderful as the location! The next day, I scrounged through my lockers, found all my laundry money, and managed to buy my own beer to enjoy the beautiful sunset.
Rather than tell you all about this place, let me show you in this two minute video just what you're missing if you don't stop by Sandy Point...
Next stop - well, I'm actually there now - Little Harbour and Pete's Pub. Stay tuned. This place is also very cool.

As many of you know, I'm away on May 27 to lead the Vientos de Cambios (Winds of Change) Rally from Key West to Marina Hemingway - stay tuned for a post directly from Havana!

I've been asked by Commodore Escrich of the Club Nautico to do a presentation while at Marina Hemingway on how Cuba can improve its outreach and facilities to and for cruisers coming to Cuba. The audience will be made up of cruisers, about a dozen invited Cuban officials and at least one American with diplomatic status.
I'm very excited, honoured - and humbled - to be asked to discuss this issue and have a hand in guiding Cuba as it opens its waters, harbours and marinas to America. I'll be videoing the presentation and will make it available to all you LiveBloggers upon my return to the US.

If you haven't yet signed up to join this fall's Sail to the Sun ICW Rally, you'd better move quickly - there are only a few spots left now after last week's announcements in Waterway Guide and the Salty Southeast Cruisers Net.
I expect to be making a very exciting announcement about the Rally shortly regarding some extra and very exciting events that will be a part of it. These events alone are worth the price of admission in my opinion - and will be in yours also!
For more information on the 2016 Sail to the Sun ICW Rally and how you can get south safely, comfortably, and hassle free, check out our website - ICWally

Friday, April 29, 2016

Not quite a Mayday...

And not my boat either, so you can relax now! 
A group of us are sitting here in Chub Cay Harbor, Bahamas, listening to the VHF and waiting on the return of a Canadian boat, Sainte Paix, that attempted to leave this morning. 
The boat had a serious grounding before its arrival here, bending its rudder shaft and damaging the keel. Apparently the prop shaft was also damaged as on observation by a diver, it wasn’t turning true.
The owner’s insurance took care of basic repairs to the rudder, but wanted him to continue under his own power to Nassau (36 nm) where the boat would be hauled. Several of us advised against this, as his boat vibrated very badly under power. Nassau is of course directly upwind from here so sailing wasn’t a great option, and sailing into and through Nassau harbor isn’t a good idea in any event.
We suggested that he move instead to Bimini, then Florida, which would be a broad reach under sail, and come in south of Key Biscayne, using the motor only to enter the marina when he arrived, or have his towing service pick him up when he got in close enough.
So Sainte Paix left this morning in light and variable winds with another Canadian, Frank Horvath, who was heading for Nassau in his Westerly 23. They got about three miles or so when the stuffing box overheated, sending clouds of smoke out of the engine room. 
The smoke isn’t a big issue, but if the stuffing is burned out, this guy is going to have a lot of water coming in to his boat, and he’s in several hundred feet of water at the moment.  
When this guy gets close enough - he’s now under sail so it will take a while - I’ll go out with the dinghy and tow him into the anchorage. We could get him now but we’re giving him time to reflect on what a foolish risk he’s taken. Once he’s back here, it’ll be up to his insurance company to deal with getting him to a repair facility.
Lesson: when you are on your first cruise and get advice from people with ten, twenty or more years cruising experience, you should probably listen to them. Taking a disabled boat out onto the ocean isn’t the smartest thing you can do, nor the safest. And that’s not to mention what it does to the people who are worrying about you.

So as you can see, I’m now in the Bahamas, anchored in Chub Cay, an absolutely gorgeous slice of paradise. The water is so clear you wonder if it’s even there. Anchoring is very difficult however - you have to be careful not to drop your hook or chain on top of the tens of dozens of starfish that are just everywhere. From my cockpit, I can see 10 to 15 of them. Why is it cruising has to be so challenging?
From here, I’ll head up to the top of the Berrys, a small group of islands with remote, quiet anchorages, then across to the Abacos, which I’m told is South Florida Lite. 
I don’t care much for the sound of that, but I’ve never been to the Abacos before, and I’d like to see for myself.
I went out spearfishing yesterday to see if I could catch myself some dinner. I’d have loved some lobster, but they’re out of season now. The locals tell me that taking a couple of ‘summer crab’ is a common practice but I’ve so far managed to avoid that temptation. It’s been easy, I haven’t seen any ‘summer crab’ to be tempted by.
I did see a small Nassau grouper - too small to take, a small tuna that was too fast to take, a ray that I decided not to take, and what looked like a hogfish that was too far away to take. Did I tell you that spearfishing wasn’t one of my better skills?
So it was a nice swim and I had ribs for dinner. I’ll try again later today and perhaps have better luck.
Now that I’m here in the Bahamas, I’m asking myself why I wasted so much time in Miami this winter. Sure, I stayed for the Miami Boat Show, but that was in February. The Bahamas offers so much more than south Florida.
First of all, they are happy you are here. I asked to tie up my dinghy at the resort dock in Bimini and got a cheerful “Yes Sir” in response. When I said what a nice change that was from Miami, the dockhand looked at me and said, and I quote: “It’s the Bahamas, we’re all about the love”.
Well, imagine hearing something like that in south Florida. Hah! There, it’s all about the money, the bling, the status - it’s all attitude. In south Florida, love is a fungible commodity. 
Here in the Bahamas, it’s smiling faces and sincere hellos from strangers walking by.
Then, there’s the water. Here, you can clearly see the bottom as if through a turquoise curtain at 20 and 30 feet. Sealife abounds, and you’ll often see fish around your boat feeding.
Here, there’s no one to tell you “you can’t do this, can’t do that, can’t you see the sign?” You don’t see police boats from four different forces patrolling endlessly to justify the money they spend on manpower and equipment just to make sure your y-valve is closed or your flares are all current, all the while ignoring stupid or dangerous boating practices that kill and injure people.
Here, it’s expected that you already know what you’re doing and you’re smart enough to keep yourself out of trouble, respect the beauty of the islands and the integrity of the people. No one needs to constantly watch over you.
The difference is breathtaking, and I haven’t felt so relaxed in quite some time. That’s not to say I didn’t know all of this before - but this trip, for whatever reason, it’s resonating with me. I even found myself a while back laying back on a dock, watching the clouds overhead and thoroughly enjoying myself...beats doing spreadsheets I’d say!
In other words, it truly is “better in the Bahamas mon!” 
After next fall’s Sail to the Sun ICW Rally, I’ll be right over here and take in the Junkanoo festivities on New Year’s Eve in Nassau, then go for some ‘scorch‘ and a Kalik at the Twin Brothers restaurant on Potters Cay. I hope you’ll be able to join me!

Talking about the Sail to the Sun ICW Rally, I’m pleased to say that we’re now officially half subscribed. My last two ICW rallies were both huge successes and this year promises to be the best one yet. If you’ve been considering joining up for the most fun a cruiser can have going south on the ICW, you need to register soon as last year, we sold out in less than a month.
The concept of the Sail to the Sun ICW Rally is to make your trip down the ICW both easier and more enjoyable. I have 27 trips on the ICW under my belt now and provide navigational guidance, helping you by the difficult parts of the ICW, as well as arranging for dockage, and safe anchorages. You also have the reassurance of a group of concerned friends about you.
There is also a fun social aspect to the Rally. First of all, you’re traveling with like minded folks, people who are living their dream of cruising south as they travel with you. Then, we have towns and marinas eager to host us and show us a good time, and believe me, a good time is had by all. There are barbeques, potlucks, and all manner of celebrations as we travel south.
Plus, if there are aspects of boating that you’re unsure of, I’m glad to teach you what you need to know. That includes docking and anchoring by the way. You’ll also be provided with advice on provisioning, passagemaking, handling currents and tide - every aspect of cruising so that at the end of the Rally, you’ll be prepared for your next destination.
Best of all, you’ll have new friends who want to continue on with you as you explore this wonderful world you’ve become a part of - maybe even come here to Chub Cay to see just how great this cruising life can be.
If you’d like more information on the Rally, you can go to the website at www.ICWally.com and request the Sail to the Sun ICW Rally brochure there. If you have questions, you can email me at ICWally@gmail.com and I’ll get right back to you - that is, provided I’m not out with Aduana walking on a gorgeous beach here in Paradise.

p.s. Saint Paix has safely returned and is at anchor again. We're working on a solution to get the boat safely to a repair facility.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Memo to Miami Beach: We are NOT going away

Illegal anchoring ticket being given to boater
Once again, Miami Beach is ground zero for boaters fighting to keep their rights in the state of Florida. The first time was when Miami Beach created their seven days only in one month anchoring ordinance, an action which ultimately led to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Pilot Program when cruisers fought back.
Among other things, the new state legislation enacted in 2009 made the city’s ordinance illegal, as it stated that no city outside of the five appointed Pilot Program cities could enact anchoring legislation.
But Miami Beach didn’t rescind their ordinance, not at all. It remained on the books, a slight odor of disuse coming off of it, until Sunday, March 20, 2016, when the full and odious stench of Miami Beach’s illegal law struck home. 
That afternoon, a Miami Beach Police Marine Unit officer went round to some half dozen boats to hand out tickets for illegal anchoring based on Miami Beach municipal ordinance 6-88. Warnings were handed out to two more boats, giving them seven days to move on or receive their own tickets. 
Watching this unfold were more than 20 concerned cruisers from as far north as Palm Beach and south to Marathon who had come out to quietly register their protest against this act.
Not that it matters that the City of Miami Beach had no legal right to do this. Hell no, what on earth makes anyone think that this particular city cares anything about what the law says anyhow? I mean, we have wealthy citizens who are upset, the law clearly doesn’t matter here. Gotta kiss those rich asses, we need their contributions towards our next election campaign. 
Interestingly enough, two of the people who are the loudest voices against anchoring and who will benefit greatly from the anchoring bans soon to be enacted by the state just happened to give $65000 in the 2012 election cycle. Gee, what a coincidence. 
And the sponsor of that bill, George Moraitis? His family home is on Middle River, another area where overnight anchoring is to be forbidden. But I digress. Let’s get back to Miami Beach.
View of anchorage,
Tenzer's boat in foreground
I was told by a source within the police department that a senior officer went to the City’s attorney, asking why city ordinance 66-8 couldn’t be used to get rid of unwanted liveaboard boaters. The city’s lawyer, either ignoring (or just ignorant of) state law forbidding the ordinance, said ‘hell yea’, and gave it his blessing. Let’s go get those boat bums, those perverts and poopers...
What? Perverts and poopers? Yep, that’s what the city of Miami Beach thinks of you, along with various state representatives. If you want that firsthand, I’ve copied the text from the October 14, 2015 council meeting below and the video is linked. Don’t you feel so....so....special? 
If so, you’re a better person than I am, I just feel incredibly angry. It’s probably very fortunate I wasn’t in the council chamber at the time. I might have been compelled to ask one person at the meeting about the public accusations against him of domestic violence from a few years ago. What’s a little poop between friends when we’re talking about beating up women?
It didn’t matter that police officers in the marine unit aware of the state law’s impact advised against enforcing this ordinance. It didn’t matter that more than one boating organization contacted the city to state that the ordinance was illegal. It clearly didn’t matter that the city of Stuart , Florida, tried a similar move some years ago and got slammed with a civil rights lawsuit - and folded their tent like thieves in the night while tossing money at the plaintiff to go away.
One former MB city commissioner, a lawyer by trade, noted without prompting when told of the upcoming ticketing that it would create a civil rights violation. I’ve been told he went to the city to discuss this in an attempt, apparently, to dissuade the city from acting, but if so, it was clearly a failed effort.
No - the law didn’t matter at all to Miami Beach. What mattered was that some local citizens don’t like looking at boats anchored out or the people living on them...and what the fabulously wealthy want in Miami Beach, the city is more than glad to bow down and give them.
The best comment I’ve heard was from a marine unit officer. He said, “If this ordinance was legit, (Frederick) Karlton wouldn’t have spent a fortune on those dinghies or with his lawyer looking for other ways to get rid of liveaboards.”
So Sunday, tickets were handed out to local liveaboards, including Dr. Tenzer, who owns a veterinary clinic two blocks up from the waterfront where he keeps his Hunter 45. 
As you would expect, Dr. Tenzer doesn’t fit the image that Miami Beach’s city hall would like you to have of liveaboards - perverts pooping in your water and spoiling the view for all while trespassing on your property and stealing you blind. 
A slim, fit man, his boat is neat and attractive as you can see in the photo here. He even has a composting head so that unlike Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood and Miami Beach, he isn’t pumping feces into the water. 
Sewage pipe off south Florida coast
Oh, you didn’t know about that? Those cities account for multiple millions of gallons a day in sewage being pumped directly into the ocean - and the pipe’s outlet is within the three mile limit that boaters have to clear to be legal should they choose to pump their tiny 20 gallon tanks overboard. 
It would take 50,000 boats pumping overboard every day for a month just to equal a miniscule portion of the discharge south Florida spews out every year.
One man, a pilot, told me that to fly over where the pipes discharge is just disgusting. I didn’t have the courage to ask if he meant the view, or the smell, but talk about disgusting - the odor of the hypocrisy of south Florida cities on this issue is beyond disgusting. They ticket recreational boaters for the smallest of infractions, while legally pouring hundreds of millions of gallons of untreated and partially treated sewage into the ocean. But back to our topic.
Interestingly enough, the illegal anchoring tickets that were given out did not give a date for a hearing. Instead, they all stated ‘to be determined’. I asked the officer what that meant.
He advised me that those in receipt of a summons would have to contact the court for a court date. In other words, if they just ignore the ticket, nothing happens. 
Well, not quite nothing. If the boater doesn’t leave the anchorage, he’s going to get another ticket next Sunday, and again every Sunday following, but as the officer noted, that’s not so bad. He could legally give out a ticket every day from Sunday onwards. 
Clearly, and this was the subtext of the officer’s comments both then and in subsequent discussions, the city hopes that these boaters will just leave, go away, and not force the city into a confrontation that they must know they will lose. On Monday, the day following the issuing of tickets, the officer who gave out the tickets noted that several of the boats had, indeed, moved on.

Unfortunately for Miami Beach, Dr. Tenzer and several others are not in the mood to accommodate the city. They intend to fight their tickets, using the same civil rights legislation used in Stuart. 
Some people reading this are thinking - well, those boats were probably derelicts and needed to be removed. Not the case at all. Of nearly 20 boats in the anchorage this past weekend, none appeared to be scummy or falling apart. None had decks covered in refuse or junk. Only two small boats under 20 feet had no masts. One of those had a small outboard on it, so was apparently capable of moving under its own power.
I saw considerably worse looking boats permanently moored in the legal mooring field at Boot Key Harbor in the Keys just two weeks ago. Frankly, I’ve seen considerably worse looking boats at docks in Miami Beach, but of course, since their owners are not at anchor, it doesn’t matter, does it? 
I often ask myself if these boaters’ real sin is finding a way to live affordably in Miami Beach when they aren’t filthy rich. I mean, what’s life in Miami Beach without a gold bidet or black Maserati, and a team of illegals doing your yard work?
Then of course, there’s the twenty or so bird crap and barnacle encrusted dinghies belonging to Karlton anchored out in Sunset Lake. These ‘vessels’ are clearly in violation of the FWC’s own rules on derelicts, not to mention other boating violations which the FWC agreed with when I contacted them about it - three years ago.
However, I’ve now had two police officers tell me that Miami Beach and its police officers were told, direct from Tallahassee, to leave Karlton alone. Like the ad says, wealth has its privileges. One of those, I guess, is being allowed to break the law with official permission.
Dr.Tenzer was chatting with two young ladies out paddleboarding a week ago, and mentioned that all of the boats in the South Beach anchorage might soon be removed. The ladies were upset, stating that it was the boats that made the harbor so attractive, so quaint. Without boats, they said, it simply wouldn’t be as nice a place to look upon. Wait until they, along with hundreds of jet skiers, fishermen, kayakers, charter boats and even the duck boats, find out the city is looking at closing down access to the public ramp they used to get out onto the water, as I was advised by one city code office employee. No unauthorized recreating in Miami Beach waters, oh no. Can’t have that.

So what happens next? That remains to be seen. This fiasco could take several directions, but here’s my thinking on this. The City of Miami Beach could come to its senses and rescind these tickets, recognizing that it is in the wrong. I’m betting against that one. There’s too much pressure on them from the wealthy cranks who don’t like people anchoring to back down. 
It will be much easier to get shot down in flames in court, and then say - “see, we can’t do a thing about it.” The politicians and bureaucrats are then off the hook after having tried. 
Not a bad play really, but it’s going to get expensive for the City. They were warned in advance. If they choose this route, I hope the judge has the option of some form of punitive damages against the City, perhaps teach them an expensive lesson.
The bigger play is in Tallahassee. The new law just passed banning anchoring in five locations in Miami Beach and Fort Lauderdale’s Middle River comes into effect on July 1, and will sunset in the fall when the Pilot Program comes up for review. At that time, the State is to put in place rules which will govern the entire state.
Now anyone who thinks that Miami Beach is going to give up what it has won in Sunset Lake and along the Venetian Causeway needs to think again. If for no other reason than they would have to suffer Karlton’s screaming fits over it, they’ll fight to keep those bans - and frankly, from what I’ve seen, heard from and about the man, I can’t blame them.
What I am terribly afraid will happen is that the state of Florida will permit overnight anchoring bans in any city that wants them - and we’ve already seen that Boca Raton and Destin, to name just two, are eager to get on the bandwagon. West Palm Beach is apparently right in there also. How many more?
Allowing overnight anchoring bans throughout the state will create the requisite level playing field. Of course, it will totally destroy Florida insofar as cruising is concerned. Boaters will either be forced to bypass Florida entirely, or pull into non-existent marina slips, or unavailable mooring balls. 
Keep in mind, Marathon’s Boot Key Harbor had a wait list of 55 boats from December right up until mid March, and Miami had neither slips nor balls available at Dinner Key right through the busy transient season.
I myself was forced to anchor out behind the Las Olas mooring field in Fort Lauderdale coming through late one evening this past February, as there were no balls available, and no one around to assign me a non-available slip in the packed marina. 
I already knew that Lake Sylvia was packed full because of weather delays holding cruisers from crossing to the Bahamas and would have been unsafe to enter that time of night, and it was too late to continue on past Lauderdale inlet in the face of an oncoming storm.
How many more of us will face the same difficult circumstances next winter, when Middle River is closed off to anchoring, along with the other anchorages in Miami Beach, and God only knows how many more that we haven’t heard about yet?
My original summation was to exhort everyone to fight, but it seems that cruisers are tired of fighting, if this past few months is any indication. Only 2.5% of the Seven Seas Cruising Association’s membership donated money to the fund to hire a lobbyist. 
And who can blame the cruisers? This fight goes on and on, never ending as the Karltons of south Florida keep pouring their ill will and their lies about cruisers into the ears of local and state politicians, and their money into those politicians’ campaign funds.
So let me end with this question: what will you do if anchoring in Florida is closed off to you? 
Have you thought about that and what it will mean to your cruising plans? Do you realize that Florida is 380 statute miles from Fernandina Beach to Miami. 
How many of you are ready for and capable of doing a three to four day overnight run to avoid the state, against the Gulf Stream? 
Perhaps more honestly, how many of your spouses are willing to put up with that? Be honest with yourself - an anchoring ban in Florida could mean the end of your cruising plans, couldn’t it?
What will you do if the weather is against you, as it often is during the transient season? Northers are a frequent occurrence, typically every four to seven days. And if the winds are with you, out of the north, how do you plan to deal with the Gulf Stream, which comes in quite close to the Florida coastline? We’re talking short period wave heights to 13 feet and more. Again guys, how many of your spouses are willing to put up with that?
How will you cross to the Bahamas if you aren’t able to stop and anchor out in Florida, reprovision, fuel up, do any last minute repairs, and even just rest up? You won’t be able to get a slip, there are no slips available, nor any mooring balls.
And all of the above is just to get to the Bahamas. What if your cruising plans are to go to Cuba, or the western Caribbean? The only rational places to stage for those destinations are the Keys. Guess what? You’re beat, no place to tie up.
Will it get this bad? I hope not, but the possibility is certainly there now and we need to - we must - think about it. It’s that, or buy an RV and hang out in Walmart parking lots, and wear sandals with socks. 
I’d rather stay home and shovel snow.

(p.s. I have been advised that my articles on this topic are read by members of the Miami Beach City Council. The preceding article and the following comments are especially directed to those folks for their edification.
to the City of Miami Beach councillors and Mayor Levine - 

Perhaps in the face of a little contempt from others for your egregious and boorish behaviour, you’ll tone your actions and misguided rhetoric down to something a bit more reasonable and rational. Or not. Based on past actions and remarks, probably not and frankly, I don’t care. Doesn’t matter, the courts will ultimately slap you down for your high handed actions.
I and others have made it clear to you, and the state of Florida, that the cruising community and its major organizations - Seven Seas Cruising Association, Boat US and others, will work with you to resolve the problems you face and, in particular, the derelict boat problem which I’m advised by city representatives is a major concern.
We sympathize with you and are on record on this issue as the derelict boat issue is a problem for us also. Derelict boats and boaters, who become lumped in with the rest of us, create discord and problems we simply do not need. 
Responsible cruisers take pride in their vessels and in their chosen lifestyle. We want to work co-operatively with the many communities we find ourselves, even temporarily, a part of.
The derelict vessel problem has been noted by your own FWC as being a problem involving residents of Florida - not visiting cruisers. The FWC is on record as stating that these people are by and large people with substance abuse problems, mental health issues, PTSD and just plain overwhelming poverty. 
As such, they are not boaters. To them a boat is just a convenient abode, more comfortable and safer than living under a bridge. These people represent a social welfare problem that you, as politicians, need to get a handle on. 
Calling these people boaters and then enacting repressive boat oriented legislation to make them go away is not a responsible manner in which to deal with this problem. And, it goes without saying, it is grossly unfair to ‘real’ boaters.
Worse, it shows an essential lack of humanity in you, along with an excess of expediency. These people need help and all you do is to point them down the road, run them out of town to be someone else’s problem until they are run out of the next town. That’s not solving the problem, is it, because the ones from the next city or county over will soon be coming along, given the bum’s rush by that jurisdiction’s own irresponsible politicians. Musical chairs for indigents - how charming.
We, the cruising community and our organizations, have solutions if you wish to sit down respectfully and discuss them with us. These solutions, provided the State and its representatives and the local communities work to fairly and honestly implement them, are answers to the issues we all face.
This would be a far better way to proceed rather than having elected representatives who are clearly unaware of the realities of boating - and I base that on the sheer idiocy of the laws I see being proposed and/or enacted - imposing unworkable solutions on the boating community. 
This community cannot accept so called solutions that put us at risk, violate our fundamental rights, or give our historic rights away to others without any sort of justification.
Those unworkable solutions will only cause this disagreeable situation we find ourselves in to continue. No one wants that.
However, if your attitude continues to be such as is shown in the council meeting of October 14, 2015, or of the statements of various state representatives, then we will just continue to fight, won’t we?

Text of October 14, 2015 Miami Beach Council Meeting and link to video.

The video link is here also. The video minutes are different than the meeting minutes, The discussion starts at meeting time 1:42 as seen on the screen.

Commissioner Grieco(MG)- we want to provide direction for MB to participate in mooring field pilot project to mitigate the squatting.... The equivalent of someone living out of  a van in front of  your house and making your life miserable"

Lobby for mooring so we can Mitigate boaters that are squatting, camping out behind peoples homes.

Weithorn: It clearly is a problem. Someone outside, essentially your backyard.Some of these people think they can use our docks for their personal ability to walk through the neighborhood and go to the grocery and do a variety of things.If you talk to residents I think you'll find out that that does happen.The whole mooring on pub property that we passed was because they can't get to peoples docks so they pull up to sea walls and they attach them which we've now stopped as well. These are people who believe that they have the constitutional right to run around on the water, pay no taxes, pay for no services.I see them there for weeks and months at a time so I know that they are discharging into the bay things they shouldn't discharge. Interestingly there's no ability to enforce their noise issues, um , because you guys(marine patrol) can barely get there. Um and so they have been a problem.(42min mark) The problem we've had is that the state of fl doesn't particularly want to deal with it which I think you guys(MP) are aware of. It really is not the city of Miami Beach's jurisdiction. We've done everything that we can do . We can make it illegal to moor your boat on a seawall.We can make it illegal for you to trespass on our public property. We can call you guys(MP) if someone get's off on our dock and I have had someone get off on my dock and I had to tell them I was calling you and then they got back on their boat. you know, we can can do those things but the water has been the state's jurisdiction. (asking MP) Any ideas that you have, please let us know. I think your right (to MG) we have to lobby the state. I know I personally went up there, there's a very powerful lobby on the other side.

So I think the objective here, chief, is to give a policy directive, we want you to work with fatima and lobbyists to push for this legislation

Comm Steinberg (MS)
I think MB has always represented to the state regarding the mooring issue. I think your(MP?) hands are tied as to what you can do. There's an environmental aspect, They dump hazards into the water. It's a nuisance, it's a safety issue for families that live there and then you have just boaters that are docked behind that are peering through or..eh , it's a mess. and I think there are other municipalities in Sofl that are currently lobbying the state as well and I think that as far as policy direction, we should go forward and continue and do what we can and arm you all(MP) with as much as we can so that we can lobby effectively.


Can I ask what would be an ideal. Would it be local control. Would we pass whatever reasonable local ordinance we wanted so we could control mooring . What would we be asking for.

I think that what's being discussed in Tallahassee is the concept of expanding the mooring program . If the city provides options to create a mooring field, then that gives us the opportunity to police the areas that are outside of that mooring field for squatters and that's the pilot program.
That's what they're pushing for now. the other aspect of this and this is what I need to educate myself on is regarding the tablets that you can put in the tanks. What do we currently have a policy program, How aggressive is it. There's actually something you can do where you can board a boat and put a tablet in the tank, what is it the septic tank(chief _discharge tank) To make sure that these squatters or any of these boats for that matter are not putting sewage into and fecal matter into the bay. Which has been a huge complaint.(NOTE>>http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/article42956091.html  NOTE)
So I guess I've gotta ask law enforcement about that and the city attorney. What is it that we do? What are we legally allowed to do? and what is it that we're doing now.


We do have tablets and when we do inspections, we do check. However it's easier said than done.People, they close their valves, so that when we put the tablet in, it obvously doesn't flussh out. So, at the end of the day, or at night or when we're not around is when they do whatever it is....it's reasonable to believe, obvoiusly that they are uh are flushing wasste into the water. It's very hard to catch. I do occasssionally see boaters coming in onto our marina onto our docks and they have bags and they throw away; I have no idea what they throw away. But they're throwing away garbage.It's not all of them, It's very, it's easier said than done . We do have tablets and we do check but they close their valve so that it doesn't go through. And that's basically what the tablet are. When we check the marine sanitation device, if the tablet once it flushes in and it comes out obvously the water's gonna change color beneath the boat and we'll know if the valve is open. These guys aren't they're alittle smarter than that  they close their valve. At nighttime or whenever it is that they do, then they might open it

I think bottom line the only thing that will stop this is an action from tallahasse allowing us to have a mooring area where we can then enforce the outside

The idea is that we can have a mooring area so that we can enforce outside that area.
I don't think we can full control, I think that's never gonna happen, but we can have a mooring area

So we agree we can havee our team, we can have our lobbyists proceed towards this goal to have an established mooring field, so that we can have some kind of greater regulation of these squatters

Karlton asked by MC what's going on in Tallahassee.

Karlton. I was in front of committee that dealss with this. The way legislation is moving is to empower ccities to control their own waterways. They are still encouraging us to create a mooring field.And I did some design work Which I may have shared with some of the city officials here which I created with biscayne engineering privately I'd be happy to send it if you'd like to see it. It's very possible in the very near future that you will be getting some of your powers back because they recognize that broward county and miami are the worst off of florida. Not just so fl but fl.
It just goes without saying that as I saidd to some of you before, look, the public swail has the protection and if anybody were to park their vans outside of anyone's homes and dump their sewage, it wouldn't last thirty seconds and yet we don't have this protection in the waterways. We have absolutely no options. You know, it's been suggested to me that I pick up my home and that I move it and I'm just not strong enough to do that. So , boaters have many many options, other places to go and we have none. 

Thanks fred for everything you're doing for us for everybody cause it's not just you it's for the entire city.
How do we deputize fred as an honorary marine patrol?
So our direction? Alec?

City Atty?
One other thing that's important that thee commission understand, Dumping sewage is of course a violation of state law. The officer is clear that you have to catch it. I've done a memo on the placement of dye tablets but it really becomes an issue of catching it. Now there is a requirement that does mandate that the vessel can not essentially, moor, for lack of a better within a certain distance of a seawall and that is also enforcable prohibition right now even though there is a preemption regarding mooring in and of itself so if theey do breach that distance...

What is the distance?
Atty_( Big sigh)

MS you don't know?

Karlton - there isn't a distance right now but I do want to say one thing

Atty. Sorry I don't have that right now but I've sent a memo on this before , there is some distance they have to be from the back yard. So that is something that.. It's either a hundred feet or a hundred and fifty feet.

Fred Karlton. 
They don't care, these people don't care. They're dumping their sewage. You can go a=out there and fine them 10,000 dollars a day. They're not US citizens. They tear the ticket up and they're gone

So that's the direction . We're lobbying