General Services Director Jim Piggott and other city officials were on hand this morning for the initial mooring ball placement; marking the next step in the mooring field portion of the city’s Harbor Management Plan.
Establishment of the mooring fields has not been without controversy — complaints have come from waterfront residents, recreational boaters and those who have made St. Augustine harbors their transient (or permanent) home while living on their vessels.
According to city officials, “Whether a boat owner or not, it is clear that the entire community will benefit from the development of an organized anchorage in the city’s waterways,” Piggott said. “Without designated mooring areas, a live aboard boater may drop anchor for an unlimited amount of time in any location often resulting in some using the bay for “boat storage” in a manner that is dangerous for other boaters and perhaps harmful to the environment.”
There are three areas available where boaters have a choice of mooring their vessels — in Salt Run or in Matanzas Bay either north or south of the Bridge of Lions.
The city began accepting reservations for specific moorings during the month of June with priority given first to city residents with waterfront property, then all other city and county residents, and finally the general public regardless of residency.
Director of Public Affairs for the City, Paul Williamson, told Historic City News that, “Moorings organize a harbor in a manner that is safe, secure and environmentally responsible. With vessels restricted to designated moorings, boats are anchored in a safe location away from other vessels and owners must dispose of trash and sewage properly. Additionally, the program will minimize the derelict vessel problem where boat owners dispose of entire vessels which then become the responsibility of the city.”
Mooring sites in Matanzas Bay (San Marco Field located north of the Bridge of Lions and Menendez Field which is south of the bridge) are more expensive that those in the Salt Run Field. Also, rates are higher for live-aboard vessels than “wet storage,” and for those living outside the city or the county.