On the Path to Balance Anchoring Rights, Is There Light Ahead?
Date Posted: February 27, 2023
Source: BoatUS

BoatUS says the Broward County, Fla., ordinance is a win for responsible boaters, communities

SPRINGFIELD, Va. Feb. 27, 2023 – Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) is applauding a recently passed Broward County, Florida, ordinance that, according to the recreational boating advocacy, services and safety group, could lead to a successful path ahead in fairly balancing the needs of both local communities and responsible cruising-boat owner's rights when it comes to anchoring.

The ordinance revolves around two small manmade lakes in Hollywood, Florida, North and South lakes, each connected to the Intracoastal Waterway. Locals have long shared the waters – North Lake was designated an idle-only area, drawing sailors and paddlers, while South Lake was used for powered-vessel water activities. For years, responsible long-distance cruisers were welcome in both anchorages.

Derelict and damaged vessels contaminate the waters of North Lake in Hollywood, Florida (credit: Rick Legow).

A dramatic increase in abandoned derelict vessels (ADVs), at-risk or improperly long-term anchored boats over the past few years have changed that equation, however, crowding out all other activities with some vessel owners anchoring for months and even years. These vessels are often poorly maintained and their anchoring gear is prone to failure. Each storm only increases the number of safety hazards in the water and ashore. Many anchored boats don't meet U.S. Coast Guard safety regulations on required night time lighting or sanitation equipment. Irresponsible boaters have simply been squeezing out locals and responsible cruisers alike.

Approved last November, Broward County's ordinance tackles the issue directly, allowing for up to 45-days of anchoring for any vessel within any six-month period. It also adds an exemption for imminent or existing hazardous weather – increasing boater safety by not requiring crews to haul anchor and head out into potentially unsafe weather conditions.

"We believe 45 days is a reasonable time frame for a vessel to remain in a particular area and will allow all active, responsible cruising and recreational boaters to use, anchor, rest, repair, visit, re-provision, and enjoy these bodies of water," said BoatUS Government Affairs manager David Kennedy.

Kennedy notes, however, that efforts to educate the public, including installation of local signage, updating of navigation aids as well as online cruising resources, and ultimately any enforcement activity could take some time before significant results are seen. "We'll be monitoring the situation closely," he said.

Since 2009, the Sunshine State has been at the center of the nation's stormy challenge in trying to balance the rights of responsible boaters and local communities when it enacted a state-wide bill to limit local governments from regulating anchoring. For a bigger look into Florida's anchoring story and recent success, go to the February/March 2023 issue of BoatUS Magazine, Big Win for Responsible Cruising Boaters.



Comment Submitted by Ed - March 1, 2023

How will the local authorities determine compliance? Lists of boats, issuing permits, stickers? Remember when GA wanted everyone to come into local town halls to buy permits?

Comment Submitted by Randy - March 1, 2023

It seems that landing a dinghy and leaving it unattended for up to five hours would give a transient boater the ability to go for dinner and a movie in town.

Comment Submitted by Bill - March 1, 2023

The City of Hollywood says you can't land your dinghy at the boat ramp in the North lake and leave it unattended. Will that change?

Comment Submitted by Robert - March 1, 2023

I believe this is a reasonable solution for bona fide cruisers and local boating enthusiasts. It will not be agreeable with those who are trying to establish long-term accommodations at the expense of the boating public and marine based communities.

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