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State Bill Would Require All Boats 'On The Hook' In Keys To Haul Anchor Every 90 Days

a photo of pascale beregovoi-davis on her sailboat off key west
Courtesy Pascale Beregovoi Davis
Pascale Beregovoi-Davis has lived on a boat at anchor off Key West for 20 years.

A bill regulating boats is making its way through this year's Florida Legislature and one provision applies only to the Keys. While it's aimed at one local problem it could make another much worse.

The bill says boats anchored in Monroe County — unless they're in a city mooring field — would have to pull up anchor and move every 90 days.

That's purportedly to prevent derelict vessels: boats that get into such bad shape that they leak, sink and damage the environment.

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But it could also cause a big problem for people who live "on the hook," one of the last forms of relatively affordable housing.

"It's the heart of Key West, the people that live out here. You know, you have the entertainers out here, the people that make food, the servers," said Pascale Beregovoi-Davis. "There's working people out here and what alternatives do we have?"

Beregovoi-Davis has lived on a sailboat anchored off Key West for 20 years. She raised her daughter there and she works as a teacher at a local school.

She says responsible boaters like her care about the environment and they also don't want derelict vessels — as they could drift and crash into her boat. However, she says forcing responsible, well-anchored boats to move isn't the answer.

"If you're going to pick up your anchors, you're going to destroy the seagrass and then you're going to plonk it down somewhere else," she said. "Really? Is this really how we want to treat our marine sanctuary? By churning up the bottom every 90 days?"

The city of Key West mooring field has 139 spots, and they're all taken. The city also provides pump-out service now for more than 200 boats that are at anchor off the island.

The waters of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary are already a no-discharge zone, which means boats must pump out their sewage, not dump it over the side.

Nancy Klingener covers the Florida Keys for WLRN. Since moving to South Florida in 1989, she has worked for the Miami Herald, Solares Hill newspaper and the Monroe County Public Library.