Today we moved to an exponentially better anchorage right in the heart of downtown West Palm Beach. Before I begin my first published rant since the demise of MySpace, here are some photos of a downtown exploding with Christmas cheer!

 I have been looking forward to seeing a sailboat all lit up with Christmas lights since June!
Christmas tree made of sand. It even has a name, and that name is Sandi.
Here, the town dock, which will be the subject of the following rant.

It seems the free town docks are a well-kept secret. We discovered both the docks and the reason for the town’s lack of promotion when we ran into a couple of liveaboards who have been at anchor in the area for years, making full use of said docks whenever they need to get to shore. The docks are supposed to be closed from 12am-5am, but it doesn’t look as though the few who have stumbled upon them always honor that rule.

The whole – Free Town Dock! – idea makes a lot of sense for a town that wants to bring in all the money it can from visiting yachtsmen. While the mega-yachts and others might prefer to stay at a marina all the time, the average Joe Cruiser would probably rather anchor, but will use the money saved in bypassing the marina on dinner or other enticements in town. So, providing an easy way for the cruiser to get to shore to spend her money is a smart move. But problems arise when the visiting cruiser decides to plant himself on your convenient free dock for the rest of eternity, where he then lets his boat go to shit and decorates with dirty laundry and grimy fenders.
Now, I couldn’t care less what other people want to do on their boats or how they look. I have nothing at all against the resourceful people who live aboard – for I am one – and good for them for finding a way to live the semi-off-the-grid dream. But I can sympathize with the fancy folks looking out from their condos, who get tired of looking at the same derelict boat day after day until it sinks, creating a hazard for everyone else (see WFSAIA Part II). It’s because of these eyesores that the fancy folks use their influence to pass new ordinances or plan developments that – short of actually declaring the water in the ocean to be private property – take away access to the waterfront for everyone, including those visiting yachtsmen who would love to come and spend some money in town, if only they could.

This has already happened in St. Augustine, where anchoring is prohibited by ordinance in nearly all of the areas where a boat can safely anchor within a couple miles of town, and we hear this is the coming trend for all of Florida. (If I am not boring you to tears and you have any interest in learning more about these restrictions, you can read about it in this handy brochure.) 

In other words, as so often happens on our over-crowded planet, the few powerful and the few negligent ruin it for the reasonable many. So, Average Cruisers of the World: come land your dinghy at the free docks in West Palm Beach, heck even dock the big boat for the day! It’s pretty much your only shot at getting to shore, and soon there will be a ten minute limit on your stay and a $500 fine for breaking the law.

4 thoughts on “Why Florida Sucks and is Awesome: Part III (The One Where I Get Real Judgy)”

  1. Hey guys, I just finished snow blowing the driveway, so you know I'm enjoying reading about your adventures. A belated Happy Birthday Ashley… and a Merry Christmas to you both.
    -John & Nina

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