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Florida Eases Boat Anchorage Rules

by Glen Shapiro,, New York

04 August 2009

New legislation passed recently in Florida will make life easier for boat owners in the state, who have previously often been harrassed by local law enforcement officers telling them to 'move on'.

Under Florida House Bill 1423, as of October 1 municipalities may not enforce any ordinance regulating anchoring, except for 'live-aboards', outside of marked mooring fields. Local governments will be allowed to create 'boating restricted areas' in the interests of public safety, but there are limits on where they may be placed and they are only enforceable after a uniform waterway marker is in the water.

In addition, the definition of a 'live-aboard' vessel has been substantially narrowed: owners who reside on and move their boats are no longer considered live-aboards.

The Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) says it worked with law-makers to get the new regulations onto the statute-book. “BoatUS wants to get the word out that the local restrictions on where and how long a boat may anchor are not applicable,” said BoatUS Vice President of Government Affairs Margaret Podlich. “As of today there are no enforceable anchoring ordinances outside of the marked boundaries of mooring fields anywhere in Florida,” she added.

Before the passage of HB 1423, boaters sometimes had as little as 24 hours before being told by law enforcement they had to depart or fear a written citation, says the Association, which has created a new, easily downloadable two-page reference sheet, Anchoring Information for Florida Cruisers that gives the details of the new law. “Anyone boating in Florida should have a copy aboard in case any misunderstandings arise. Law enforcement officers may also find the document helpful,” added Podlich.

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