SARASOTA COUNTY - Boaters who moor their vessels in Sarasota Bay will no longer be able to do so for free.
The City Council voted this week to create a mooring field where many sailors currently drop their anchors and live. The mooring field will cost about $650,000 and will be run by Marina Jack's. City leaders will soon begin charging boaters about $250 a month to moor in Sarasota By.
The new ruling affects boaters like Lorrinda Vail, who along with her husband and son, has called Sarasota Bay home for eight years.
"We're not going to be able to stay, which means I have to take my son out of the school that he loves," she said.
Sailors like Vail who are unable or unwilling to pay the mooring fee can pull up their anchors and move somewhere else. A likely stop for many of them is Bradenton Beach.
"We welcome cruising and recreational boaters," said Bradenton Beach spokeswoman Lisa Marie Phillips. "We absolutely do and we know that we have live-aboards and that we co-exist with very well."
However, people who live aboard their boats will only be welcome in Bradenton Beach for a short period of time, as they too are in the process of putting a mooring field in place.
Cities in Pinellas County are also embracing this trend. Currently the city of Gulfport allows free mooring, but it is currently in the permitting process to create a regulated mooring field, which they expect will be in place within six to eight months.
While officials said they hope to cut down on the number of broken-down boats in Sarasota Bay, environmental concerns also play a big role in the new regulations for boaters
"It's a known fact that a number of these boats just dump their effluent," said Sarasota resident Ronald Ward. "The reason we know that is they live on their boats and they don't bother coming in to the dock."
Ward said he is glad to see the new regulations put into place.
However, for law-abiding boaters like Vail and her family, the change in the law means a change in her way of life.
"I think what they're doing is wrong," she said "I think they're taking Sarasota and trying to turn it into a profitable business for the marina."