Thursday, June 19, 2014

Up the lazy river in the land where sailboats and beer come to die

From Vero to Cocoa to Titusville and Daytona to St. Augustine there was a common theme - dead sailboats and bad beer. Wherever there was a spot to drop anchor there was a collection of dead sailboats. By dead sailboat I mean one that doesn't, can't or will not sail ever again. Some of the dead sailboats have people living on them and some are abandoned. Some may even have dead people on them for all I know. I'm pretty sure no one has inspected them for some time.


I find it hard to look at them. What were once pretty under sail are now an eyesore. When we are anchored among them I feel the look of disgust from the other boaters passing by. "Hi! We're not one of them! We cruise!" This is what I feel like yelling out to the passers by. Why should I care?
First of all it's all it's a shame to see a good boat lay rotting. Second, it's an eyesore. Third, they take up precious anchorage and forth, the leave a stain on the sailing community.

Permanent eyesore

Not sure what's going on here
There are many many more to see along the ICW in Florida but I felt wrong taking pictures of vessels with people living on them. One guy looked right at us as we anchored and stood there with his hands on his hips. No return wave, just a dirty stare. We weren't remotely close or were we blasting Marley as we dropped the hook, but he just stared...for a while. Pretty creepy.

People who live on these dead sailboats have the freedom to live the way they want, which is pretty much the motto of our country. Well, used to be. So, should we fault the folks for living at anchor on a non functioning sailboat when it's obviously their home? There were plenty of homes in our old neighborhood that were eyesores but we didn't boot the people out. Some of these folks out here are actually commuting to work. They just don't make enough to properly care for the boat, I like to assume. Not knowing someone's life story and how they got there should keep us from criticizing. But...

I would like to see the FWC or the USCG inspect these boats for waste management, containment of hazards, and seaworthiness while maintaining the owners right to anchor. If the boats do not meet the criteria and are a hazard to the environment, navigation, or a danger to other boaters then they should be fined, or removed. I think most of us around the water agree that getting into a dinghy as a turd floats by is unsettling. The kids splashing along the shore or fishing do not want to snag a human clarke bar either. Would you want to be anchored behind one of these old boats in a blow? I would hope the harbor master or the FWC would be inspecting the vessels to determine if they are derelict or liveaboards.

I remember coming through Cocoa the first time and thinking the anchorage was packed. Turned out most were dead sailboats. The dinghy ride to shore proved I was right. One powerboat looked like a couple was inside the pilot house watching us go by. I waved. No response. On our way back I noticed the couple was again watching us, but not moving. They were mannequins! WTF.

So, what do towns like Cocoa do about these dead boats? If you tow them they may sink. You can't fine someone who has no money. Scrapping a boat on the spot is costly and hazardous to the environment. Not sure what the answer is here. I understand the communities not wanting to have harbors end up like Cocoa's, and I understand the expense to taxpayers in trying to remove dead vessels. The folks living on the water have a right to do so in any way they please I guess. It's a tough situation and I don't have any answers, but I know this situation is getting worse in this crappy economy with austerity budgets and our ignorance of a crumbling infrastructure, which includes safe waterways.

Imagine this scenario:
SV Kelly Nicole pulls into an anchorage with a blown head gasket. We can't find a good mechanic to come out. I attempt the job myself and screw it up. Deb gets tired of a month in the same spot smelling of diesel and oil and goes home to the kids. I hang out on the boat where I spend my money in a local pub. Deb files for divorce and gets half the boats value. I run out of money and can't find a job. The dinghy gets stolen while I'm ashore. I sit and watch as the local liveaboards raid and strip Kelly Nicole. I move under a bridge. Kelly Nicole sits rotting with new squatters living in her and I'm helpless to do anything.
Sad story eh? I bet this is a reality for some folks.

Recently I watched a completely rusted old steel Ketch being towed by a small boat to a spot out front of the city of Fernandina Beach just outside the mooring field. The anchor was dropped and I can bet that next fall she will still be there. In fact she will still be there years from now until she sinks from rusting through. She has a person living on her. She will never be maintained or restored. She will perish on the spot unless the city asks them to leave before that.

So, will there ever be an answer to these dead sailboats?? I doubt it. Americans and politicians are slow to react and now nothing gets done unless someone's pocket is getting lined in green. Laws will be passed forbidding anchoring or giving us time limits. More moorings will be placed and condo owners will demand an unobstructed view. I think we have people fighting for our side in this issue but I'm not sure how much lobbying power they have.

Bad Beer. Oh the horror.

Corporate beers rule Florida. We had a hard time even finding Sam Adams in stores. The bars and restaurants mostly serve the usual mega brewery beers and very few actual craft brews. Apparently Florida is where the big tasteless brewers have drawn the line on craft brews eating into their profits. They are buying lobbying public officials to write laws forcing the craft brewers to use their distributors if they want to sell outside their brewery. Sounds like extortion to me.
We heard from one brewer in St Augustine that Cigar City brewing is about to leave Florida over this underhanded political move. So much for helping the small business person.

This is probably the biggest selection we saw. The
Funky Buddah tasted like the last burning ember of a joint
you sucked off your roach clip.

Red Stripe to the left, Due South to the right. Due South wasn't bad.
Too many IPA's
Some people may assume that we have the boat stocked to the max with beer and that we get sloshed every night. Far from it. We like to have a few good tasting beers when we get into port and no way do we ever get silly unless we are tied to a dock and even then we are talking maybe three to four beers in one night. There have been a few noted exceptions :)  We are definitely lightweights when it comes to chugging, as those days have passed us by. So if we are not consuming mass quantities then we want something that tastes good. Craft brewing came along and we are loving it. So many flavors and styles to enjoy, just not in Florida. One exception is Jacksonville, which has some pretty good brews by Green Room and Bold City. Dukes Brown ale is probably our favorite. St. Augustine has the A1A brewery which has some good brews as well. We are just used to having large selections of tap handles to choose from and Florida was a big disappointment.

Our old town of Rochester has become one hell of a brewers paradise of sorts. We miss our Rohrbach's and Roc City brews. I guess we have to stock up on some good stuff before our trip this fall. Once we get to the Bahamas we may have to switch to Rum, as we are spoiled by the good craft beers we have tasted to ever like Kalik or Presidente. But, when the stores are empty and the sun is hot you  have to make exceptions and I'm willing to bet an ice cold Kalik will taste pretty good while at anchor in the bright blue waters.



  1. Our experience has shown that most of the people living on derelict boats are veterans.We don't take care of them properly and that's the only alternative to living under a bridge.

    S/V Kintala

    1. It's a shame really. We can afford a trillion dollar war but can't care for the men and women who fought in it.

      The derelict boat situation is getting out of hand. It will not be long before we lose anchoring rights altogether in some of these communities. If the boat is not being lived in then it should be removed, and laws regarding sea worthiness of vessels and environmental laws concerning them should be enforced. Hell, the USCG and the FWC have no problem just hopping on my boat for a full unwarranted inspection, how about they take a look at the dead sailboats!

      Hate to see us forced to pay for moorings all up the FL ICW.

  2. Hi, we have seen the same thing in Hilton Head which is quit a wealthy community. But just a short distance across the waterway sits multi million dollar homes. Interesting

  3. Hi , We have seen the same thing here at Hilton Head, interestingly enough just a short row across a waterway to multi million dollar homes.

  4. Nice post on the derelict boats. This has been in our news lately as WA state has now created a fund for disposing of abandoned boats safely. This is a huge step. The state would use money to help dispose of commercial boats, but not recreational ones, although the money was supposed to be there for this. Big sigh as the 'big boys' get preferential treatment once again. Finally that's fixed and there is a fund for disposing of what were once recreational boats that have been left to rot because the owners cannot afford to dispose properly. I know that Portland is having this same issue with liveaboards who are living on what looks like derelict boats. The sad thing is that yes, it affects cruisers by limiting anchorages; not just by taking up space but by having cities resort to passing laws that limit anchoring as well as living aboard. Very sad. Now in terms of craft beer, you are cruising in the wrong part of the country. If you want good craft beer, this is the place to be.

    1. Good for WA to finally do something about the dead boats. Wish Florida would do the same. One of my fav brews is Rogue Dead Guy Ale from up your way. We spent some time with our daughter in Portlandia and enjoyed our happy hours. Amazing craft beers.