1 LiveBloggin' the ICW: May 2019

Friday, May 31, 2019

Anchor Rant - Now it's Georgia's turn

Well, the Florida anti-anchor illness has now spread to Georgia. Georgia just quietly passed a law that will force you to pay $5 per night to anchor in Georgia, and you can only anchor in approved locations. You will also be required to keep a log of your pumpouts.
Here's the problem. What locations are going to be approved for anchoring? What if they disallow anchoring off Fort Frederica? What if they forbid anchoring in any of the hundreds of side creeks, such as Kilkenny Creek, or Big Tom, or Warburg Creek, not that that would be real easy to enforce, but what if?
It's almost impossible to go through Georgia without having to anchor out at least once in the remotest of areas, areas that often don't have phone or internet service. That means you may not be able to avoid breaking the law, because you can't get to the online portal when you arrive. That means you can't find out if the anchorage is permitted, and if it is, you can't get online to pay the $5 charge. Should a DNR vessel come by and demand your permit, you're screwed.
Then there's anchorages such as the one in Jekyll Creek. The nearby marina is often full during snowbird season, and there is no place else nearby. Or how about Cumberland Island? Many cruisers stop to visit here and there is only the anchorage. What if they disallow these two locations?
The fact is, we have no idea what is coming. The Department of Natural Resources has asked for public commentary. A shame they didn't do this before making the new law, but hey - our pols know what's best for us, don't they?
Now here's what I see as an even bigger problem. Georgia has come up with a new idea here, paying for anchorage rights in designated anchorages, and Florida is going to look at this and wonder how they can adopt this for themselves. Count on it.
What do we do then? And what if South Carolina follows suit? Suddenly, the thousands of boats heading south will all be forced into a limited number of locations. Can you see that working out real well? It's bad enough now as it is with no restrictions, since the lay of the land already eliminates many locations for us. Imagine what this will be like when a group of bureaucrats, with NO idea what's involved in cruising, decide where we can anchor.
Georgia, up until now, didn't allow liveaboards to anchor out for more than 90 days per year. Now, they can anchor out year round for $240 per year. Those pristine anchorages that we now enjoy? They'll fill up with local liveaboards and be useless to those of us just passing through.
Of course, we can always just go offshore and avoid Georgia. That's of course assuming that you are willing to do an overnight sail to accomplish this, that the weather is favourable, that you have the skills to do it and are properly equipped for offshore. Just forget about visiting Savannah, or Brunswick/St. Simons, or Jekyll Island and Cumberland Island. And what will this do to the annual St. Mary's Cruisers' Thanksgiving celebration? There is no dockage there. Are we looking at the end of that event? I sure hope not.
At this moment, the Department of Natural Resources is looking for comments, and as cruisers, we need to fill their inbox on what a bad idea this is. You have until July 15 to comment, so do it now so you don't forget!
Here's the link to make comments: Kelly Hill, Coastal Resources Division, One Conservation Way, Brunswick, GA 31520. Kelly.Hill@dnr.ga.gov
Additional information is available at www.CoastalGaDNR.org. Click on the “News and Notices” tab or click this link: https://coastalgadnr.org/notice-rule-making-coastal-marshland-protection-and-boating-regulations
Here is a link to a letter from the executive director of the Georgia Marine Business Association. What she says sounds good - but note my comments following. https://cruisersnet.net/anchoring-under-attack-in-georgia/
We will be following this issue closely on Facebook, at Sailing and Cruising. Let us know what you think there.

For some time now I have been considering the need for a national Boaters' Rights organization, one that will monitor attempts at regulations such as this and work to see that they do not infringe on our rights to anchor or otherwise enjoy the cruising lifestyle. The organizations currently in place do lobbying at the legislative level, and as we can see, have missed this entirely. That's not a good thing - we can do better. If you think a new organization is a good idea, let me know on Facebook and respond to the survey at 

In happier news, this year's Sail to the Sun ICW Rally is one boat short of being half subscribed, putting us well ahead of previous year's enrolments.  If you're going south this year and want to have a hassle free trip, consider joining the Rally. On top of expert navigational advice and assistance to get you through the challenging spots of the ICW, you get to share your adventure with 19 other boats. You'll make new friends that will be closer than family, explore neat anchorages, villages and towns - and a lot of local pubs too - see a rum distillery, and participate in dozens of adventures.
The Rally has been called "a two month long floating party", and I'm more than happy to go with that description. We have a great time every year, and you will too!
If you'd like more information, or a brochure, go to Sail to the Sun ICW Rally and read all about it. You can also sign up directly from the site.
Best of all - we'll get you through Georgia 'hassle free'. (full disclosure - the new rules don't start until 2020 :)