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News Section: Opinion

Letter to The Editor: Warning to Boaters Visiting Boca Grande

Published Tuesday, November 29, 2011 1:58 am

ATTENTION all visiting Boaters and Yachtsmen intent on anchoring in Boca Grande Bayou in proximity of the Pink Elephant Restaurant. Be advised of the existing attitude of the Gasparilla Inn management (Jack Damoli, mgr.) that, "we" visiting Boater's and Yachtsmen are "not welcome" and that "boats anchored" in the afore mentioned locatiqn will be "charged with trespass and the owners arrested."


This "statement" (threat?) was made by Mr. Damoli during a telephone interview!27 October 20P, and is based on his claim that "the Gasparilla Inn owns the Bayou bottom land". When asked for proof of the ownership of the disputed bottom lands, Mr. Damoli stated the documents relating to ownership were "private" and that he did not have to show them to anyone or prove ownership!


During a recent interview with Lt. Jim Brown, of the Lee County Sherriff's office, regarding this anchorage issue, Lt. Brown stated, "The Sherriff's Office could not prove, or disprove ownership of the aforementioned bottom lands, as existing records are incomplete, and that it may never be known who does own these bottom lands." Lt. Brown, also stated, "As long as vessels were in compliance with State and Federal regulations, his deputies would not force anyone to leave, as ownership of the bottom lands was undecided."


It is this writer's learned opinion that, as long as this Bayou is open to navigation, and since anchoring is an integral function of navigation, anchoring in this location is permissible, as long as vessels comply with existing State and Federal regulations.


Mr. Damoli's petty and mean spirited attitude projects a negative image on the Gasparilla Inn and Boca Grande in general. Mr. Damoli's position may also be in violation of State and Federal statutes regarding interference with navigation and anchoring, as defined in Florida Statute #327.60. Hopefully, the Farish Family, owners of the Gasparilla Inn, will be gracious enough to review and reverse Mr. Damoli's "Bully Pulpit" position, which is not only rude, but possibly illegal.


I recognize that in the past, abandoned and derelict boats have been problematic, however, that issue has been effectively addressed. The issue at hand is the right of visiting Boaters and Yachtsmen to seek safe harbor and anchor in the Bayou and allow them access to visit the beautiful town of Boca Grande j without fear of intimidation and threats of arrest, which is certainly not in the spirit of Mr. Bayard Sharp, a wonderful and gracious man who supported BocaGrande and encouraged it's visiting yachting community.


Terry Sibley

Boca Grande

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My name is Bonnie Basham and I am the Florida lobbyist for BoatUS. IT IS ILLEGAL to keep boats from anchoring outside a permitted mooring field. The legislature put all local governments on notice two years ago that all anchoring restrictions with five pilot project locations as exceptions were repealed. BOatUS worked alongside other cruising and boating organizations to put a halt to the anchoring restrictions. The five locations are: Sarasota; St. Pete; St. Augustine; Monroe County (Key Largo and Key West) and Stuart.

Unless the restaurant has a private marina, they cannot restrict anchoring. If the restaurant has a private marina, their state land lease most probably allows anchoring.

The Florida Statute citation on this portion of the boating law is 327.451. IF you want further information you can call Florida Fish and Conservation Commission either at their local number or in Tlh; you can go on their website: and look under boating; BoatUS has the same information on their website:
Don't let this guy bully you as boaters.
Posted by Bonnie Basham on December 1, 2011

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