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Old 12-11-2009, 07:39 PM   #1
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Having now sailed most of the Australian coast and enjoyed the freedom of dropping our anchor basically where ever we please (within the various maritime safety regs relating to shipping channels and some indigenous areas in the Northern Territory where landowner permission is required) - the right to anchor is an issue that has never come up.

Forgive our ignorance but we are slowing realising from reading various posts and yachting magazines, for yachties in the US and UK that this is not always the case?

UK sailors talk of someone furiously rowing out from shore with an invoice if they so much as remove the cover of their anchor winch and many US posts seem to be constantly asking about legal anchorages.

Cruising the islands around Vanuatu we would drop our anchor and immediately go ashore to introduce ourselves to the local chief to ask for permission to stay over and learn which areas had fishing taboos and any other restrictions - this was more out of natural courtesy and respect for their country rather than governmental law. I would imagine this would be the case for most Pacific islands.

Australian states and territories are slowly reaching a uniform and consistent maritime policy in regard to boating & safety around our coast but I'd be horrified if we started introducing what appears to be very restrictive anchoring policies.

Anchoring restrictions are an anathema to us and we'd be interested to know just how restrictive anchoring is for many of you outside of OZ and more importantly, has this always been the case or were there significant 'tipping points' which brought in anchoring legislation?

Just how fortunate are we here in Oz?

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Old 12-11-2009, 09:17 PM   #2
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Ahhhh, mico, you've touched one of my buttons. I hope I don't lose everyone by the time I'm finished (or run out of breath and time)!

The United States used to be pretty much the way Oz is. However, in many places things have changed significantly. The main reason is that there are too many people and too many boats!

For example, Block Island, an island off the Rhode Island coast (NE US). Back in the 60s and 70s 'tweren't many people with boats going out there. The original harbor, Old Harbor, had plenty of room for the occasional sport fisherman and sailboat, but it was not a natural harbor, it was created by the setting of several breakwaters. New Harbor is the Great Salt Pond, and is - - - a great salt pond - - - that had a channel cut to the ocean to make it a very large harbor. Old Harbor is too small nowadays, and New Harbor is chock-a-block full of moorings, marinas that raft boats three and four boats deep from the dock, and a relatively small anchoring area. So much of the time one must pay for a mooring to feel safe there. In another nearby Massachusetts island, Cuttyhunk, it got so crowded by the early 1980s with boats were blocking the seaplane landing area, that the inner harbor was restricted to boats on moorings. No anchoring allowed. It's even worse now, with perhaps another 100 moorings set down!

In general, though, there's not a great many restrictions to anchoring in the NE of the US, primarily, I think because it's too cold in the winter for anyone to want to live on their boat and commute by dinghy to shore.

Not so further south. Florida makes the news and the cruising boards because it has been closing more and more anchorages in order to get rid of the derelict boats anchored anywhere. Our laws don't provide for an easy way to get rid of these boats, even when abandoned, and so many Florida communities (especially the "upscale" ones) have passed ordinances prohibiting anchoring for more than 48 hours. Several cruisers have challenged these laws and been successful, so Florida is working on "Plan C" to restrict and regulate boats.

Because our riparian laws prohibit ownership below the high water mark of shore, there is no private ownership of the sea bed - generally, anyway. So anchoring is usually legal everywhere, just with some restrictions, the biggest that we found in some places that sometimes there is no place to get ashore. And boy, when we encountered that in the Florida Keys, we were really, really cranky. We're going to give it a second try this winter, I think, but that's Peter's hobbyhorse, not mine so nothing's certain.

In the Solomon Islands and the out islands of Papua New Guinea ownership extends offshore to as far as the owner can free dive to the bottom. They're pretty good, so they own a lot of the sea bed. In general, courtesy allows one to anchor just about anywhere, but courtesy demands that the visitor visit the owner or the village chief, and ask permission. They want the trade that visiting yachts bring so I have never heard of a place where one was unwelcome.

Lots of other places have similar traditions, and so one needs to learn the local customs so as not to offend. The Caribbean, even the US and British islands, have (poor word but nothing else comes to mind) "socialized" the shoreline. I.e., one cannot be denied a place to tie up one's dinghy and go ashore, EVEN IF THE PLACE IS BUILT, MAINTAINED, AND OWNED by a private party or enterprise. A resort on Barbuda (of Antigua & Barbuda) got away with denying access to "their" beach, but that's because few yachts wanted to go where they were harassed and made unwelcome and nobody had the time or energy to complain to the officials. And the resort was very, very expensive and probably had lots of influence over the local officialdom.

SE Asia. We found no place in Malaysia, Thailand, or Indonesia where we could not anchor, but each of those countries did have different rules regarding entry and free passage through the islands, so again, learn about the country before just plunking down an anchor.

---- Sorry, I warned you I'd talk a lot -----

I can't speak for the Med. In the Baltic, we again found anchoring to be freely allowed everywhere we went. We also found that marinas were not only "first come, first served", but practically open to everyone who came - sometimes with what seemed to be absurd rafting of boats to fit them all in. But it meant safe haven for everyone who needed it. And one paid. But we found plenty of places to tie up to wharfs of private buildings where nobody sent us away. The opposite, we were chatted up and welcomed everywhere.

So, anchoring prohibitions in the place we've been, as above, are the exception, not the rule.

I can't speak for the Med, though, and that's a popular destination and also has lots and lots and lots of boats.
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Old 12-11-2009, 10:28 PM   #3
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The United States used to be pretty much the way Oz is.

Thank's for the great response JeanneP - not long winded at all

So I take it that many of the issues relating to anchoring in the US have more to do with simple availability of anchoring areas and overcrowding?

I'd be interested to hear from any UK sailors as to anchoring there as I believe that all the seabed is owned by the Crown?

I guess we're pretty fortunate down here in having so much coast available to us. In sailing from Perth across the top of Oz to Cairns Northern Queensland we were very surprised and delighted to find that Queensland Marine Parks had put in a significant number of moorings all up and down the coast in order to cut down on damage to the reefs.

Unfortunately with the current downturn and state budget cuts, many of these are now falling into disrepair and simply not being replaced - which does tend to make a bit off a mockery about the current concerns of protecting our reef environment. While global warming is threatening our coral - you should see what a 45lb danforth does when its ploughed through a pristine field of delicate plate coral

fair winds
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Old 12-12-2009, 02:40 AM   #4
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On the US west coast it is easy to anchor in the Pacific Northwest because there are many anchorages. Many federally designated anchorages (places where travelers are supposed to be able to go and drop the hook safely) all up and down the west coast. But in Southern California, in some places overcrowding created the need for limits and controls on anchoring. In other places it is simply NIMBY (Not In My Backyard) mentality that people want a "view" of the water and don't want to look at someone's boat in that view.

I'm anchored in San Diego. Here until the 1980's you could anchor just about anywhere in the bay without a problem. But over the last 20 years the port has squeezed out all the anchoring so that it is only allowed in few very small anchorages. One of the major reasons they did this was to get rid of liveaboards on derelict boats . Unfortunately, there are numerous mooring fields that all the owners of derelict boats have moved to since the rent on those moorings is between $100 and $200/month. So, it is a strange thing to see the three huge mooring fields here with--when you look closely at those tightly packed boats-- about 1/3 of the boats looking like floating trash piles! There are years and years long waiting lists for the moorings but since the trashpiles don't move...it is hard to get a mooring here.

I digress. I wish there was a better way to make everyone happy but as it stands right now, the landowners pay the taxes and get what they want-which is prettier water views without those boats anchored nearby.
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Old 12-12-2009, 03:46 AM   #5
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...... the landowners pay the taxes and get what they want-which is prettier water views without those boats anchored nearby.

[/quote]

What could be more prettier than looking out your window at a beautiful 33' Alujuela traditional cutter bobbing serenely at anchor in your bay?
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Old 12-12-2009, 04:21 AM   #6
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Well, many people don't find cruising boats attractive at all. Sad isn't it? You'd think they'd like seeing a nice little 33 footer with faded sunbrella bimini, a noisy wind turbine and a few solar panels, a bunch of gas and diesel cans tied to the lifelines, a faded inflatable dingy, two rows of laundry flying in the breeze and a dirty brown fiberglass stain along the waterline. I just don't get it
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Old 12-12-2009, 02:05 PM   #7
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Hello Mico, I'm a Brit ( bet you didn't notice my avatar.. ) although at the moment I'm wintering down in Southern Portugal.

The situation at home in the UK is basically as JeanneP describes in relation to the USA, only on a much different scale. In years gone by it was possible to anchor virtually anywhere around our coasts but with the increase in boat ownership and ironically the building of marinas, often in the bays and rivers previously used by folk to anchor, space or lack of, is now the main problem.

Many of our rivers and estuaries are also subject to conservation laws. To enforce those laws, to protect the area wildlife, maintain bouyage etc: the local councils make a charge. It's true, in many places a yacht entering such an area will be met by perhaps the Harbour Masters launch or a rib and a charge made for anchoring. Unfortunately the people in those ribs etc: are not always the grizzly old retired seafarer that you might hope to meet, but super keen "money collectors" who can hardly wait for you to get the hook down!! The vast majority though are just happy for you to pay the fee when you're ready and are polite enough. Of course the attractive cruising areas get busy, and as they are generally beautiful parts of the country are very often subject to conservation laws.

There are many areas still though, and I'm thinking of the beautiful and uncrowded West coast of Scotland and the Western Isles where you can anchor basically where you can find shelter. Sometimes the locals even put down mooring bouys for visitors which encourages people to go ashore and spend money in the village pub or shops. There are still other places around our coasts where no one will bother you, but sail into one of the 'picture postcard' locations, particularly on the South and South-Western coasts and you'll be expected to pay.

Outward bound on this voyage I anchored in such a place, on the lovely River Dart, right opposite Dartmouth Town Quay with all it's facilities for buying stores, collecting water etc: It cost me 6.50p per night, (help yourself to fresh water from the quayside tap)

After leaving Dartmouth I sailed Westward down the coast for another sleep stopover (I'm a singlehander) I anchored in Cawsand Bay in the lee of Rame Head. A fabulous anchorage, a stones throw from the end of Plymouth breakwater, completely free of charge.

So, yes there are charges made to anchor in the UK, but you know how legends get bigger with the telling on the cruising grapevine?

Last port of call for me before leaving England was Falmouth in Cornwall. Anchored in the Town Anchorage off Custom House Quay cost me 7.50p per night ( I'm 33 feet overall and it goes on boat length) But Falmouth is a major seaport with all the bouyage, harbour facilities and services, so fair enough I pay up. All the best Saxon.
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Old 12-12-2009, 02:24 PM   #8
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Thanks for updating the situation as it is in the UK.
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