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The Award Winning & Best News on Anna Maria Island, FL Since 1992

"The Award Winning & Best News on Anna Maria Island, FL Since 1992"

Thursday, Apr, 17, 2014
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Date of Issue: March 17, 2005

Sandscript
Screwy flowers for screw pine
Lacking traditional petals as in most flowers, the screw pine blossoms look more like something you would find in a bath tub than a garden. The screw pine, Pandamus utilis, is more like a palm than a pine, native to Madagascar and Micronesia, and grows to 25 feet in Florida. The tree is distinctive in its mangrove-like roots that branch out from the center of the trunk to the ground. This tree is found in Holmes Beach.

Coming to a waterfront near you: boat mooring fields?
Our neighbors to the south appear to have finally made motions toward establishing a special place with special rules for boats to moor in Sarasota Bay. It's only taken 13 years that I'm aware of.

Sarasota City officials are preparing to go out to bid to have someone manage a mooring field for boats just north of Selby Gardens. The area has been used as an unofficial anchorage for decades, but the city now appears ready to move forward with an established mooring field at the site.

An anchorage, by the way, is a place for boats to, well, anchor. A mooring field is controlled by someone, regulated, managed, and generally requires fees to be collected from its users - the boats that are there.

The city has had a slew of problems with the current anchorage in the past. A lot of the boats were pretty much waterborne homeless shelters. Dinghies littered the bayfront, trash was strewn everywhere. Since many of the boats were poorly anchored, any kind of a blow would see boats break their moorings and careen through the fleet, breaking up other boats.

After one storm a few years ago, something like a dozen boats of all sizes were cast ashore at Selby and, since the majority of the boaters didn't have the money to get them hauled off, became a long-standing eyesore for patrons at the gardens.

So the city started to think about establishing a mooring field that they could control. Anchorages would be established and assigned to people. Mooring lines would be checked by a harbormaster and repaired or replaced as needed. A set of criteria for pumping out heads would be set, onshore facilities like restrooms, showers and laundry would be created, and - the part the city liked - rent would be charged to those who wanted to live on the water there.

A sticking point arose when the city fumbled in its first round of talks with the state. Seems that the city thought it had to negotiate a bay-bottom lease with the state, just like a marina or other for-profit waterfront operation. Nearby Marina Jack went that lease route to the tune of something like $100,000 a year.

Yikes! city folks said, and dropped the whole plan.

The city found out, thanks in large part to the Sarasota Sailing Squadron and my buddy Stan Zimmerman, that there are not-for-profit provisions in submerged land leasing that could allow the city's mooring field to get state approval for something like $1 a year.

The squadron established its own mooring field a couple years ago, with rent, facilities and all that good stuff and nipped any potential problems with undesirables at the same time. Most of the work was done by squadron members.

So, following the squadron's lead, the city has been moving forward again with the field. The request for proposals asks for engineers or planners to submit their plans to the city for the site and also calls for the winning applicant to get the necessary state permits. The city apparently isn't going into the mooring field business for itself, but will farm out the management of it — and, I would expect, reap the financial benefits from boaters there.

As near as I can remember, it was 13 years ago when I went on a road trip with a bunch of Sarasota city and county officials to look at the mooring field in Vero Beach. It was, and is, a beautiful place with a little restaurant, a day room for crew and captains to chat, bike rentals to get to town for supplies, and all the amenities.

The Vero people had had the operation running for about a decade at that point, and the spot was something of a destination as much as a stay-over point for cruising boaters.

Since that long-ago trip, and based in part on the squadron's success, mooring fields are starting to spring up all over the place. Clearwater is working on one, Venice is moving forward, and even Bradenton Beach appears to be picking up the pace to manage its burgeoning anchorage just south of its city pier in Anna Maria Sound.

With more and more marinas stepping back from the boat business in favor of the financially lucrative condominium market, anchorages could well become the last refuge for many boaters. Let's hope that the mooring field market can keep up the pace for a place to keep a big boat.

Manatee story
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has a program that features a "manatee of the quarter," giving out information on a selected, and well-documented, sea cow. The October-December 2003 manatee picked is one in our own backyard — Jair. Here's FWC's story on him.

"Jair is a manatee that has been photographed primarily during the summer months. This manatee is a perfect example of how photo-identification of an individual can help us to learn about an animal's movements and site fidelity. During the summer months, Jair is a ‘regular' at the Palma Sola Yacht Club basin located in Manatee County. Jair was first documented in this offshoot of Palma Sola Bay in the summer of 1995. Every year since, Jair has turned up in the basin at some point during the summer, usually between April and October.

"It is Jair's unique combination of scars that allow researchers to identify it. A large line runs down the top half of its body, followed by a diagonal line on the left and right trunk, and finally a large blotch just above the tail fluke. Due to this distinct scar pattern, even photographs showing only portions of this animal can be matched to photographs taken in previous years. At Palma Sola, Jair, who is at least 8 years old, tends to roll and cavort with other manatees quite a bit. Thus, this manatee is a difficult subject to photograph at times! Despite Jair's strong site fidelity to the Palma Sola Yacht Club basin, the motivations influencing the animal's use of this area, in terms of time of year and habitat function, remain unknown. Researchers look forward to continuing to unravel the mysteries of manatees like Jair."

Jair has probably gone to his winter haunts near a power plant by now, but it might be worth a trip to the marina next summer to see the frisky guy.

'Oriskany' get the nod for Panhandle placement by state officials
If state officials have their say, a new, huge artificial reef will be created in the Gulf of Mexico off Pensacola, perhaps as early as the middle of next year.

The U.S.S. Oriskany is an 888-foot-long decommissioned aircraft carrier. Federal officials have offered the ship up for sinking to create an offshore reef, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission last week chose a deep-water site off Escambia County as its prime location. If approved by the feds, it will be sunk about 23 miles south of Pensacola Pass.

The Panhandle site was the FWC pick, beating out an application by Dade/Broward/Palm Beach counties. Texas, South Carolina and Mississippi have indicated they also plan to apply for the "Oriskany."

Bradenton Beach's Jim Kissick recalled that his flight group flew out of the "Orinskany" when it was first commissioned.

Can you hear me (scratch) now?
If you ever thought that law enforcement was onerous here, then don't even think of going to Spain.

A driver was pulled over last week outside of Madrid by highway patrol troopers, who thought he was on a cell phone, apparently illegal while driving there.

He pointed out that his last call was the night before, and said he was just scratching his ear. The cops huddled, then gave him a $70 ticket for "holding his ear with his right hand in a permanent fashion."

Unfortunately for the troopers, he was an attorney and decided to fight the ticket.

In a 10-page appeal to the courts, the guy pointed out that Spanish law is still on the subject of scratching and driving. According to an Associated Press report, the guy wrote that, "to presume that this unconscious act cannot be performed would lead us to the absurd situation of having to wait to stop the vehicle in a place that doesn't not pose a danger for other occupants of the road in order to scratch, by which time I probably would have crashed before finding an adequate place to stop, or the itch would have gone away, reducing the pleasure I get from scratching."

Sound like he's filing for pain and suffering in the appeal, doesn't it?

Sandscript factoid
The 40th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy is Nov. 22.

The St. Petersburg Times ran a selection of quotations by JFK, and this one caught my eye in a speech he gave in 1962 at an America's Cup dinner in Newport, R.I. As you may remember, Kennedy was an avid sailor.

"I really don't know why it is that all of us are so committed to the sea, except I think it is because in addition to the fact that the sea changes and the light changes, and ships change, it is because we all come from he sea. And it is an interesting biological fact that all of us have, in our veins, the exact same percentage of salt in our blood that exists in the ocean and, therefore, we have sale — in our blood, in our sweat, in our tears.

"We are tied to the ocean.

"And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or watch it, we are going back from whence we came."

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