New Florida law will allow cruisers to stay longer

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Boaters cruising Florida waters might find it easier to anchor for extended periods in a number of cities where local ordinances limited anchoring to as little as 48 hours.

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist recently signed House Bill 1423, a general legislative package for the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission that includes a provision preventing local communities from forcing boaters to leave an anchorage unless the boat is a liveaboard vessel.

The law specifically defines a liveaboard vessel as one that is used solely as a residence and not for navigation, one represented as a place of business, and/or one that is declared to be a domicile.

The new law also prohibits local governments from regulating anchoring outside of established mooring fields unless the boat is a liveaboard vessel.

"This law will not only have a positive impact on boaters in the area, but generate revenue for local businesses by allowing boaters more freedom to anchor," said David Dickerson, NMMA director of state government relations, in a statement. "We are encouraged by this law's effort to make Florida more boater-friendly than ever."

The National Marine Manufacturers Association, BoatU.S., the Marine Industries Association of South Florida and the Southwest Florida Marine Industries Association have advocated for clarification of the law since 2006, when Miami Beach set an anchorage limit of seven days within any 30-day period.

Fort Lauderdale, Daytona Beach, Gulfport, Marco Island and other coastal communities soon enacted similar restrictions, with the most restrictive law being a 24-hour window for boaters anchoring in Fort Lauderdale.

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