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Siesta residents have been keeping track of a boat (top right of photo) they first observed anchored about 200 yards off Beach Access 7. It since has moved farther from shore and up the Key’s coastline. Photo by Lourdes Ramirez.
Siesta Key Thursday, Oct. 13, 2011 6 years ago

Island Beat: Boat offshore raises lots of questions

by: Rachel Brown Hackney Managing Editor

About the same time that property owners on North Beach Road began engaging in a dispute over their rights early this month, other Key residents started spreading the word about a sailboat anchored approximately 200 yards off the beach near Access 7.

Lourdes Ramirez, former president of the Siesta Key Association, alerted me to the situation.

“The last thing we need is to see a lot of boats moored off the beaches,” she said.

When I contacted county Code Enforcement Officer John Lally Sept. 30, he said the matter had been turned over to the Sheriff’s Office.

“I can’t swim that far,” he said in his distinctively humorous manner.

“I put in for a boat (for next year),” he added, “(but) was told, ‘Not even a life vest.’”

During the Oct. 6 Siesta Key Association meeting, Lally reported that the sailboat had been pulling up anchor and gradually moving further north. As of that afternoon, he said it was anchored offshore between Beach Accesses 5 and 6.

“As long as it moves somewhere,” he said, “it’s legal.”

The boat also had moved farther out in the Gulf; it was about three to four miles offshore.

When I spoke Oct. 7 with Sgt. Scott Osborne of the Sheriff’s Office, he said the law requires a vessel to move a minimum of 500 yards every 48 hours. As long as a boat moves regularly and it has power and a working septic system, the owner is not subject to fines or other measures.

This boat is complying with the law, Osborne said, though apparently the owner prefers sailing to motoring.

According to sources, the boat’s owner bought the vessel to use it for his home. His goal eventually is to reach the mooring field on the bayfront, by the Marina Jack complex.

Coming soon
One comment that aroused considerable interest during the Oct. 6 SKA meeting was Lally’s mention of a new restaurant coming to the Village.

SKA board member Michael Shay told everyone the machines from the laundry mat adjacent to the Siesta Market had disappeared practically overnight. When he asked whether Lally had any information about that, Lally responded that a new restaurant was going into the space. The owner’s lease is supposed to become effective Nov. 1.

Shay also remarked on the abundance of garbage around the site. Lally said that was why he had approached the owner. The man said he would get everything cleaned up once the lease became valid, Lally added.

Asked if he had any idea what type of restaurant it would be, Lally said, “It’s not a doughnut shop, (in spite of) what everybody thought.”

Back to boats
In light of the recent discussions regarding boating on the Key, the SKA board invited two representatives of the Sarasota Power & Sail Squadron to make a presentation during the Oct. 6 meeting.

“We’re the best-kept secret in town,” Commander Leon Warshaw told the approximately 25 people in the audience.

The squadron, which has existed for almost 60 years, is part of an international organization, Warshaw said. Its office is on Hyde Park Street.

About 70% of the boating accidents involve skippers who never had a basic safety course, Warshaw said. That’s why squadron members provide the “ABC,” or American Boating Course, which teaches “the very basic rules of the road and how to behave and how to be courteous on the water,” he added.

Most boating accidents occur when people stop paying attention to what they’re doing, Warshaw said. As part of a group, especially, he said, “You’re all having lots of fun on board … You’re kind of forgetting where you are and where you’re going.” When the boat is traveling 30 mph, he said, “that is dangerous.”

Florida has become the top state for boating accidents, he added, taking the title from California.

Along with the American Boating Course, the squadron provides free vessel checks. “We go through a checklist,” Warshaw said. Every boater whose vessel passes gets a sticker to display. If the person doing the check finds problems, he’ll tell the boater what to do to meet the proper safety standards.

The ABC boating course is taught over four nights. For upcoming dates when it will be held, visit or call the squadron at 953-7565.

Sorry, wrong number
After writing last week about her free, environmentally friendly taxi service called the Green Hopper, I learned from Briana O’Brien that I had provided the wrong phone number. Anyone wanting to contact her should call 877-323-7238.

With season shortly coming into full swing, the Pelican Press is asking the public, churches, condominium complexes, organizations and any other entity not included in those categories to send in information about upcoming events.

Thanks to The Observer Group’s purchase of the Pelican Press during the summer, the paper has a bigger full-time staff, enabling it to cover many more events than in the past.

Please feel free to send event details to [email protected] or call 366-3468, Ext. 314.

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