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  1. Roger Long

    Roger Long

    Joined Nov 22, 2008
    3,563 posts, 8 likes
    Endeavour 32
    US Portland, Maine
    Long time readers may remember the post from my now archived forum which went spectacularly over the top in view count at 30,708. The title was. “I’ll Never Go To Florida Again.”

    http://forums.sbo.sailboatowners.com/showthread.php?t=148671&#post990210

    (BTW the archived forum of my previous adventures, resorted into chronological order for easier reading, can be bound here: http://forums.sbo.sailboatowners.com/forumdisplay.php?f=142. Numerous pictures have disappeared but I hope to get the links restored someday.)

    Now that I have crew and can consider doing much of the coast offshore, going to Florida seems more attractive. Dreameagle is also more interested than I am in getting to warmer waters and, as we all know, it isn’t a happy ship if the crew isn’t happy.

    My problem is that I am a resident of Maine which does not independently register vessels with Federal Documentation. For an excellent rundown on the issue, see this article by my friend John Kettelwell who many may know from his excellent ICW chartbook.

    http://www.oceannavigator.com/May-June-2013/A-fog-of-regulation/

    I called the tax office in Nassau, the ICW gateway county for the state, and was told that I could bring my vessel into Florida for up to 90 days as long as I had a valid Coast Guard Certificate of Documentation on board, even if not also state registered. I asked about getting the Sojourner’s Permit, essentially a temporary FL registration and referred to by responders to the post linked above as the solution to my operating legally in Florida. I was told that, since I didn’t need the permit unless I was in the state for more than 90 days, they didn’t want to issue it. I should cruise until shortly before the period was up and then obtain the permit at the nearest county tax office if I needed it. This is completely at odds with Kettelwell’s article so I got back to him. As he has reported on Cruisersnet.net, he contacted the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC), the lead agency for on-the-water law enforcement in Florida, and wrote:

    So, as is all too often the case with state agencies, the left hand doesn’t know what the right middle finger is doing.

    Many, and probably most, FL cruisers from Maine, Massachusetts, North and South Carolina, the states that do not register documented vessels, have not experienced problems. However, in view of the heavy handed law enforcement and frequent boardings reported in the state, I would like to be fully legal there, especially after my experience with the same issue in Maryland reported here:

    http://forums.sbo.sailboatowners.com/showthread.php?t=161267&#post1107210

    I think I got out of that one as easily as I did only because they realized that I was a guest of a major institution in town which is also the landlord for the slips in which they keep their patrol vessels. If I had just been passing through, who knows?

    The Florida state department in charge of enforcing laws on the water says I can’t bring my boat without a piece of paper that the office charged with issuing it says I don’t need and is reluctant to give me, crazy. I have another inquiry into the FL FWC to see if anything has changed. I’ll let you know.
     


  2. jibes138

    jibes138

    Joined Jan 27, 2008
    2,759 posts, 98 likes
    ODay 35
    US Beaufort, NC
    NC is now requiring documented vessels to register, pay a fee and apply a state decal at the bow. Just another tax.
     


  3. Chris Patterson

    Chris Patterson

    Joined Oct 17, 2011
    2,759 posts, 57 likes
    Ericson 29
    US Southport..
    You ain't gonna beat North Carolina out of a nickel, Jibes.
     


  4. steve_hayes_maine

    steve_hayes_maine

    Joined Oct 4, 2010
    6 posts, 0 likes
    Pearson 323
    US Rockland
    Can't help with FL, but rest assured, Maine gets its money. The actual registration is cheap and is waived; the excise tax is far greater and must be paid. In fact, I can't even register my mooring without paying my local excise tax. They always, always get you.

    Steve
     


  5. Tom J

    Tom J

    Joined Sep 30, 2008
    992 posts, 36 likes
    Catalina 310
    US Quincy, MA
    Same in Taxachusetts.
     


  6. Roger Long

    Roger Long

    Joined Nov 22, 2008
    3,563 posts, 8 likes
    Endeavour 32
    US Portland, Maine
    It isn't about the money. I'm willing, although not happy, to pay Maine. I'm willing, although not happy, to pay Florida. Neither can find a way to give me a piece of paper that will prevent a time consuming and inconvenient flap following a "Show me your papers" boarding by a FL FWC officer.

    I'm working on another angle as described in this email to BoatUS of this morning:


     


  7. waternwaves

    waternwaves

    Joined Feb 6, 2009
    256 posts, 4 likes
    Hunter 40
    US Camano Island
    welcome to Flor-exico.

    Even worse if the boat was registered at one time in Florida with a previous owner.
     


  8. Chris Patterson

    Chris Patterson

    Joined Oct 17, 2011
    2,759 posts, 57 likes
    Ericson 29
    US Southport..
    There you go Roger, sic the big dogs on 'em..
     


  9. kloudie1

    kloudie1

    Joined Nov 6, 2006
    7,662 posts, 449 likes
    Hunter 34
    US Mandeville Louisiana
    Similar stuff in Louisiana. The state passed a law requiring registration for documented boats. Law says to have the Louisiana numbers on the bow as a small powerboat would. Feds say it is illegal to display numbers on documented vessels. I stirred up some stuff by writing to the local newspaper and the director of the Wildlife and Fisheries wrote back to the newspaper saying how numbers would not be required but the registration decal must be displayed. I have a copy of that in my boat papers in the event I have trouble with local enforcement since the law still does not have a provision for documented vessels. Since Florida has gotten strange about registration, I make sure all that stuff is in the boat before heading there.
     


  10. 567mft

    567mft

    Joined Sep 30, 2005
    1 posts, 0 likes
    jensen marine cal 29
    US chicago
    Similar in Illinois, you still have to register, but only have to display the state decal, no numbers. They just want the money. But I do get an official registration certificate.
     


  11. justsomeguy

    justsomeguy

    Joined Feb 20, 2011
    6,134 posts, 727 likes
    Island Packet 35
    US Tucson, AZ/San Carlos, MX
    Just the money...
     


  12. Roger Long

    Roger Long

    Joined Nov 22, 2008
    3,563 posts, 8 likes
    Endeavour 32
    US Portland, Maine
    Update:

    I received both an email and phone call from Dave Kennedy. BoatUS is great, these folks work hard for us and are very responsive.

    Dave emailed the fellow in charge of boat registrations in Maine and was told exactly the opposite thing that I was told by someone farther down the ladder. Maine will not prevent me from registering without surrendering my USCG document. I have sent an email inquiring how to do this since the people I would normally contact have told me that I can’t.

    The fellow in Maine also told Kennedy that I could pay my local excise tax and obtain new decals by mail as early as December 1 of the previous year so that I was not in the position of cruising in the south with expired ME stickers on the bow as bait for every LEO that passes.

    I called the city treasurer’s office of my legal address and was told that I could not pay and receive new decals by mail. I persisted and explained my situation and was bumped the next rung up the ladder to someone who said that I could do it by mail since they have the copy of my still valid document from last year. However, they have not yet received the 2015 decals which typically arrive in late February or early March. More right hand vs left hand. However, the treasurer did take my phone number and promised to call me just as soon as the decals arrive so I can pay by credit card and have them mailed to me.

    In any event, I am hopeful of having a ME state registration soon to pull out during “Show me your papers.”, boardings.

    As it happens, Mr. Kennedy is meeting today with a top person from the FL FWC and will try to get a formal clarification as to whether USCG Documentation alone entitles me to operate in FL for the 90 day grace period. A verbal opinion about that and a quarter won’t get me a cup of coffee with a FWC officer in the state but, if the answer is affirmative, I will pursue getting a written opinion from FL that I can show to FWC boarders.

    Stay tuned to this channel for further developments.

    Roger

    While I was writing this, the following email arrived from Maine:



     


  13. justsomeguy

    justsomeguy

    Joined Feb 20, 2011
    6,134 posts, 727 likes
    Island Packet 35
    US Tucson, AZ/San Carlos, MX
    Good luck with the bureaucracy.
     


  14. The Garbone

    The Garbone

    Joined Nov 7, 2012
    672 posts, 16 likes
    1978 Catalina 30
    US Wilbur-by-the-Sea
    Lots of hand ringing here. The pure volume of transient traffic in Florida makes me think this would only be an issue if you decided to stay in one spot for a year or so with no current paperwork from any agency. As long as you are documented someplace, don't direct discharge and have the right gear you will be fine.
     


  15. Roger Long

    Roger Long

    Joined Nov 22, 2008
    3,563 posts, 8 likes
    Endeavour 32
    US Portland, Maine
    That's my job here, wringing my hands for the rest of you.

    Oh sure. And, in reality, I would (and may) just head down into FL without worrying to much. However, it's nice to know you are fully legal when the blue lights flash or that boat you thought was just a close passing jackass suddenly pulls alongside, grabs the lifelines, and yells to shut down your engines.

    Not according to the top FWC guy. Read above if you didn't.

    Did you read about my experience in much more civilized MD? This could have gone quite differently.

    http://forums.sbo.sailboatowners.com/showthread.php?t=161267&#post1107210

    As a former pilot and law abiding boater, I believe having your ship's papers in order is an important part of cruising. Dotting all the t's and crossing all the i's is good practice for going abroad.
     


  16. Roger Long

    Roger Long

    Joined Nov 22, 2008
    3,563 posts, 8 likes
    Endeavour 32
    US Portland, Maine
    I have finished with the very helpful Deputy Tax Collector in my hometown and will shortly be receiving a ME number (which I can't actually put on the boat due to Federal law), the same paperwork I would with a ME registration in absence of documentation, and an entry in the ME database. The state excise tax decals will be sent to me when the city gets them in a couple months. In the meantime, I will have the state registration to show any FL FWC cops and be able to cruise for 90 days in FL.

    After all this, about 12 hours of phone calls and emails, I guess I'd better go to FL just to make it all worth while. I do like the portion of the state down to St. Augustine and love the St. Johns River and Green Cove Springs. Friends will be there attending to their hauled and stored boat early in February so we will probably go down to help and meet up with them.

    Florida, here we come!
     


  17. DCWebME

    DCWebME

    Joined Jan 28, 2013
    4 posts, 0 likes
    Nauticat 33
    US South Freeport, Maine
    Roger,
    I read with interest your posts as well as replies from others. I have asked numerous people about this and also get conflicting answers. Your follow through seems to provide the most definitive answers yet.

    Before we left Maine this fall we made arrangements with our town tax office to expedite a new excise sticker For whenever they arrived. We also corresponded by email and I copied and carried the email in documentation stating they would call when stickers arrived in early 2015. I then did get a call and email as soon as the new stickers arrived.

    I believe boatUS could be of significant help in finding a, perhaps less expensive, remedy to the registration issue.
    Regards,
     


  18. Roger Long

    Roger Long

    Joined Nov 22, 2008
    3,563 posts, 8 likes
    Endeavour 32
    US Portland, Maine
    That also address the real issue which is to have something in writing to show a boarding officer that you are a Maine vessel. The full registration only cost me about ten bucks more than the excise tax I have to pay anyway so seems worth it to have a formal document.

    If a FWC officer should want to verify your ME registration by calling Maine, the state will know nothing about your boat which could cause you some additional time and hassle to get sorted out. With the full registration, the Maine counterpart to the FWC will tell them, "Yes, ME number ME ## ## and everything is in order." You can also get the full registration paperwork as early as Dec 1 which helps with the decal delay problem.
     


  19. DCWebME

    DCWebME

    Joined Jan 28, 2013
    4 posts, 0 likes
    Nauticat 33
    US South Freeport, Maine
    $10 boat registration is pretty cheap insurance! I thought it was significantly more than that. This sounds like a good plan: apply a registration sticker and excise sticker, carry email correspondence re next year sticker and remain as polite as possible.
     


  20. DCWebME

    DCWebME

    Joined Jan 28, 2013
    4 posts, 0 likes
    Nauticat 33
    US South Freeport, Maine
    Maine State Registration for documented vessel

    My town folks figured out our boat registration will be $27 (plus the excise).
    I'm ok with that. It is still cheap insurance for travel, and I know $ is divided between marine patrol and inland fisheries and wildlife.

    I do think the cost will grow substantially for anyone with a larger boat or larger engine. The registration fee is calculated upon a formula that considers LOA, age of vessel, and engine HP.

    It would be interesting to find out how other states handle this.
     



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