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Private boats and moorings

Discussion in 'Florida' started by Aigtbootbp, Feb 16, 2010.

  1. Aigtbootbp

    Aigtbootbp Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Bradenton, Fl.
    I have a small sailboat and I am wanting to do some diving in Florida this year. What i would like to know are the moorings at sites like the Oriskany, Imperial Mica, and the plethora along the Keys open to the public? Can I just sail up, tie on and dive or are they reserved for anyone special.
    Also are there any regulations about having to leave a person on board while the rest are diving? This would be a non commercial boat, just a bunch of friends out having fun.
    Gary M
  2. fireplug

    fireplug Divemaster Candidate

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: South East Ohio
    I believe that they are public moorings as we have seen small (17') private boats tied up on them. In 4' seas no less.... Also, make sure that your are tying up to a proper site. We were tied up near, not on, the NOAA Sealab site. Our Divemaster warned us stringenly to not go near any of the buoys on the 4 corners of the site. Heavy duty federal type fines for messing with anything connected to it.

    I am pretty sure that there has to be someone left on the boat that is able to operate the boat. I cannot imagine coming back up to no boat because a line broke or, however unlikely off Florida, LOL, someone stole your boat. I can appreciate your passion but suggest you look into taking a Coast Guard boating course to answer all of your questions. Any idiot with a down payment can drive a boat. I would not want to be one of "those guys".:crafty:
  3. Johnoly

    Johnoly ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    Like many of the florida boating laws, there is a 'catch all' regulation that is normally written on the citation that an officer will hand you. It is:

    Anyone who operates a vessel with willful disregard for the safety of persons or property will be cited for reckless operation (a first-degree misdemeanor).

    Leaving a boat unattended while everyone is diving is considered willful disregard for the safety of persons and property. It is up to the officer's discretion to write the ticket, but almost all of them will if they catch you. The younger kids like to tie an anchor rope to their belt and hunt while tethered to the boat above, it's called redneck diving and they get busted frequently. I understand alot of people do this type of diving and I know alot of people that have to go to boating school because of it.
  4. Nemrod

    Nemrod Solo Diver

    We leave our boat unattended all the time including in Florida while diving, it is not unattended, we are below it. I have also tethered off to my kayak nearly every time I have used it. Note, without knowledge of local conditions it would be very unwise to leave your boat without somebody to come get you, new to the area for diving and boating is asking for trouble. The Keys and the northern Gulf can both have strong currents that easily can sweep you away if you get lost on the bottom and surface down stream.

    The buoys are public and are for the public. It is good etiquette to use them in a timely fashion and then move off so another boat can make to them, in other words share.

    However, for example, the Mighty O the buoys are actually submerged, you have to send a diver down to hook on. The buoys on most Keys locations are on the surface. In the northern Gulf it is routine to set anchor, in the Keys and other areas with living coral, that is a bad thing obviously. However, the O is sitting in about 240 feet of water, anchoring, at least for my small boat, is not really practical at that depth.

    To the OP, when you say "small" sailboat I have no idea what you mean, sailboats generally make horrid platforms for diving and if there is a fixed keel many of the passes in the Gulf and shoals and reefs in the Keys are challenging to navigate as it is without a keel dragging bottom. Beware, running up on a reef will ruin your day and now that might result in a fine if coral is damaged. But of course, boats have been running aground in the Keys for hundreds of years.

    Four foot seas might be rough but we have came in with much worse over the years in small boats, next, what, we have marine patrol measuring the average wave height and issuing tickets for negligence.

  5. Dr Dive

    Dr Dive Captain

    # of Dives:
    Location: Pensacola, FL
    I'll let others speak for the Keys and other locations, but I can speak to the situation on the "O". As mentioned, the buoys are submerged and are privately maintained. That being said, they are essentially "first come, first served" though the maintainers certainly appreciate it if you work with them when they are trying to hookup to a buoy they maintain. You do need someone to hook you in. You also should have someone onboard at all times who can be responsible for the boat. The wind and current can shift in a minute, literally, and your boat can do substantial damage to other boats if there is no one there to fend off, or drop off your mooring and clear away from the situation if necessary. In season, there can be over a dozen boats onsite at one time, and an unattended vessel is an accident waiting to happen.

    Also consider that you are 19 miles from the closest point of land and are well beyond the range of self rescue if you become separated from your boat. Currents are an issue at times and you can get swept away from your boat quicker than you care to imagine. That being said, the "O" is a great site, the buoy system has worked well for many seasons without government intervention or interference and the community of divers and operators is supportive and willing to help, if you care to visit. I'd recommend taking a paid charter to get the lay of the land and I'd be happy to take you and show you around. Much like a "site briefing" for a new or unfamiliar site, it is well worth doing.

    Give a call, or drop us a note if you decide to come this way. There is a lot of local knowledge to be had that can make your experience a positive one.

    Capt. Jim
    Dr Dive
  6. Aigtbootbp

    Aigtbootbp Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Bradenton, Fl.
    Thanks for all the replies, your answers have been quite informative.
    As for the boat, well, it is a MacGregor 26X. I know, sailing purists hate it but I have spent many hours and many miles at sea in it and have a pretty good idea of it's capabilities. It does have a ladder and I know I can go in off the side or out the back. Getting back on is simply using a life sling type set up to lift the gear while the divers simply board the ladder.
    As for the actual dives. I guess I will have to find a non-diving buddy to watch the boat.
    Hmm... how much beer is that gonna cost me...
  7. aquaregia

    aquaregia NAUI Instructor

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Santa Cruz, CA
    Tell you what: fly me out from CA and I'll watch your boat :)
  8. showboat

    showboat Photographer

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Hollywood, Florida
    I double that..I will also watch the boat as U dive... better safe then sorry...
    If tied off to a boat while U dive is not a great idea.. Still someone can pull up to the boat when one is under and
    1. Release the line attched to you and take off
    2. Pull up and start the boat and take off and one comes up way too fast and get the bends.....
    3. Read about you for a Darwins Award??
  9. chucksaul

    chucksaul Barracuda

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: East Texas
    Ok I'm not gonna debate the McGregor 26 but if you have the model with the 50 hp you are about as good as anyone else out there only you have a kitchen, etc... We have a 32' Dutch Flyer. I have made one trip to the O with Down Under and think it would be a nightmare. Not only are the bouys submerged but when we were out there it seemed there were half a dozen commercial dive boats tying up to just a couple of balls. If I were to head out I would make sure I was willing to raft up, make sure you have plenty of fenders and ropes. I would also beg to dive off one of the dive boat platforms... Sure will make life easier... Did not look like a very sailboat friendly environment to me... I would never dive in a sailboat without a good dinghy and 5-10 hp motor and someone on board who can rescue/chase... No matter how well you plan there are just too many variables to create problems, not to mention getting back in the cockpit...

    But thats just my 2cents....
  10. Dr. Eaver

    Dr. Eaver Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Ocala, Florida
    Wow, we have dove from our boat in the Keys more times then I can remember without someone staying topside. We are however very consious of the weather - if its crap, we dont go (we live in Florida... why bother with a crappy day when a good one is around the corner!). It is always in the back of my mind how much it would suck to surface to an empty ball. :confused:
    As we get older - our stuff gets more expensive, may need to start enlisting non diving early morning risers!!

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