St. Augustine Says Too Many Cruisers Looking for a Free Ride

This is a tough one. We believe cruisers should be able to anchor where they’d like (within reason) but we also understand that cities shouldn’t bear the burden of our garbage or other issues that arise as the result of having our boats in their harbors. We hope they can come up with an agreement that is fair to all.

St. Augustine’s attempts to clean up its waterways by charging cruisers mooring fields is drawing the ire of boaters who just want free anchorage, wherever and for how long they want it.

If the city of St. Augustine gets approval of an ordinance by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission next month and the City Commission in December, stiffer rules will affect boats wanting to tie up without paying the mooring fee.

Wally Moran has organized a boycott effort because of what he calls the city’s “hostile attitude” toward free anchorage. His site is www.anchorsawayinFlorida.blogspot.com. His issues are the city’s mooring field daily charges and the proposed Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s pilot program for five harbors — St. Augustine, Marathon-Key West-Martin County, Sarasota, St. Petersburg and Stuart. The cities applied for and were chosen to test new rules aimed at eliminating pollution that affects water quality and the marine environment.

The FWC’s intent is to see if possible state legislation would give local governments greater control over live-aboards and transient cruisers. The city’s proposed pilot program ordinance is up for FWC approval on Nov. 17 and subsequent City Commission approval on Dec. 12.

The proposal would establish minimum distances that boats not in moorings fields can be near public or private docks, shellfish harvesting areas, channels and other boats anchored in mooring fields. And it would allow boaters to anchor free of charge for up to 10 days in a mooring field in a 30-day period. On the 10th day, they have to move just outside the mooring fields for one day. Then they can move back in and their 10 free days start all over again. If approved, it will be in effect until July 1, 2014.

For the complete story, go to www.staugustine.com.

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