PDA

View Full Version : It's letter to the editor time.



Mark Van
10-05-2004, 01:12 AM
Fort Myers Beach, where I have been anchored out in for the last few years, is planning on installing a mooring field. I am not happy, since I can't find any insurance company that will give me liability insurance for a reasonable rate. One of the local papers did an article on the aftermath of Hurricane Frances in Stuart, which has a mooring field like the one we are getting. I composed a letter to the editor, I would like feedback before sending it. Any oppinions?

Dear Editor,

The article about the hurricane damage to the Moorings in Stuart was very informative. I would like to add some more information that was left out of the article. Ft Myers Beach is planning on installing a mooring field identical to the one in Stuart. Boaters will be required to sign a "Hold Harmless" contract, which basically states that you cannot hold the city responsible for any damage resulting from mooring failure. Boaters will also have to show proof of liability insurance, which will eliminate a lot of liveaboards and transients from using the moorings. Quite a few insurance policies will not cover damages if the policy holder signs a "Hold Harmless" agreement. Since the city can't be held liable for damages, they have no incentive to maintain the moorings. The moorings in Stuart probably failed due to lack of maintenance. It would be interesting to find out how many property owners in Stuart who had property damaged by boats actually get compensated by the boat owners insurance companies, since that was (supposedly) the reason for requiring liability insurance.

The main difference here is the harbormaster and shoreside facilities. In Stuart, the shoreside facilities are owned by the city, and the harbormaster works for the city. Here, the shoreside facilities are privately owned by the harbormaster, which I think is a major conflict of interest. Since he gets a flat fee from the city no matter how many moorings are actually rented, it is in his best interest to have as few moorings rented as possible. Salty Sams has only two showers, and a very small dinghy dock, facilities that are not adequate for 70 boats. The dinghy dock will also be an inconvenient location, at least a one mile walk to the city limits. I can't see how this harbor plan will be attractive to transient boaters. In a letter I wrote a few moths ago, I predicted a lot of empty moorings. I see no reason to change that prediction.

In the article about Stuart, the harbormaster was quoted as saying about the mooring field "it is a success, it did it's job." If the mooring field's job was to destroy boats, he was correct. If the Ft Myers Beach harbor plan is just to get rid of the boats in the back bay, it will probably be successful. Will it be worth $200,000 a year?

Mark Van Abbema,
a Back Bay Resident, for now.

Billy Bones
10-05-2004, 09:13 AM
First, it seems like you have two points to make: one about insurance and its result and one about the conflict of interest. Separate and sharpen each. IMHO the COI is sexier and might be better off in the lead.

Second,


Since the city can't be held liable for damages, they have no incentive to maintain the moorings. The moorings in Stuart probably failed due to lack of maintenance. It would be interesting to find out how many property owners in Stuart who had property damaged by boats actually get compensated by the boat owners insurance companies, since that was (supposedly) the reason for requiring liability insurance.Since this is the crux of your argument you might do a bit of research on your own to flesh it out a bit. That would lend weight to your conclusion...


In the article about Stuart, the harbormaster was quoted as saying about the mooring field "it is a success, it did it's job." If the mooring field's job was to destroy boats, he was correct.As with any writing but particularly with letter to the editor, it is best to load your bases, then hit a grand slam.

Nice letter, good luck.

WindHawk
10-05-2004, 09:23 AM
Hey, free editing! A good first cut, and some good advice. Gotta' love this place.

Mark Van
10-05-2004, 09:55 AM
I spent quite a bit of time trying to find some information about the Stuart Hurricane aftermath, the only info I got was the article that our local paper used. I know that the stuart moorings were not maintained, but I have no proof. I know that some insrance policies won't cover "hold harmless" damage, but I don't know the percentage. I also added one more paragraph just before the last one.

"There was an anchorage "advisory board", consisting of a few of the back bay residents, supposedly to give recommendation to the town council about the anchorage. The advisory board was either totally ignored, or the town did the opposite of what was recommended. Perhaps the town used the advisory board to find out how to get rid of as many boats as possible."

I started the letter with the Stuart mooring field, because that was what the article was about. I just had to add a few more rants. I don't care at this point if the harbormaster hates me, since I can't rent a mooring anyway due to lack of insurance.

boatlover
10-05-2004, 01:14 PM
Originally posted by Mark Van:
Fort Myers Beach, where I have been anchored out in for the last few years, is planning on installing a mooring field. (snip) ....

Boaters will be required to sign a "Hold Harmless" contract, which basically states that you cannot hold the city responsible for any damage resulting from mooring failure. Boaters will also have to show proof of liability insurance, which will eliminate a lot of liveaboards and transients from using the moorings. Quite a few insurance policies will not cover damages if the policy holder signs a "Hold Harmless" agreement. Why am I thinking "CATCH 22" ?

Regards,

Ed R

Hwyl
10-05-2004, 06:16 PM
Mark---I think you should mention something about who you are. Often to the beaurocrats: Liveaboards = hippy freeloaders. I know that you tend to be modest, but I think I'd add a paragraph like. I live aboard my self built boat which was the featured boat in Wooden Boat #. My boat gets compliments wherever she goes. (Maybe add your website here). I hold down a full time job in the "End of the Universe" restaurant and am a nationally recognized yacht designer. I frequent local stores and businesses. I like to leave a very small footprint and am not a drain on the city of ---.

Mark Van
10-05-2004, 07:00 PM
Sounds like a good idea, but I may piss off the local harbormaster, and it would be nice if he wasn't sure which boat was mine. I may do that in a future letter, or perhaps an article about the liveaboard lifestyle. I know the editors of the paper. It's a weekly alternative papar, but it is very popular. It's mainly human interest and entertainment, but they do get into local politics also.

Hwyl
10-05-2004, 07:06 PM
You should apply for the harbormaster's job.

Hughman
10-05-2004, 11:46 PM
Originally posted by Hwyl:
You should apply for the harbormaster's job.Careful, you might get what you ask for! Harbormaster positions can be a major headache.

Concordia..41
10-06-2004, 07:00 AM
If you haven't already, get the last 2-3 issues of Southwinds magazine. They had a feature piece and follow up information on several Florida municipalities and their efforts to establish mooring fields and/or regulate anchorages.

The articles may be archived on-line, I'm not sure. There was also good information in their letters to editor section following the feature piece.

Southwinds Sailing (http://www.southwindssailing.com/)

- Margo

tidmarsh
10-06-2004, 01:30 PM
Originally posted by Mark Van:
Boaters will be required to sign a "Hold Harmless" contract, which basically states that you cannot hold the city responsible for any damage resulting from mooring failure.You probably don't need to go in to detail about this distinction in your letter, but you should be aware that "Hold Harmless" means much more than not holding the city responsible for your own damages. Hold harmless means that if the city is liable for damages to a third party as a result of the mooring failure, you have to pay for the damages to the third party.

In other words, if the city fails to maintain the mooring, it fails, and your boat sinks someone else's yacht, you could have to pay for both repairing or replacing your boat and damages to the yacht.

That's a whole lot more liability than just not collecting from the city for your own injury.

Mark Van
10-06-2004, 01:49 PM
About the harbormasters job. It was supposedly put up for bid. There was one very small add in the paper one time. The owner of Salty Sams was the only bidder, according to the city. I think the city backed themselves into a corner, because Salty Sams was the only place that offered shoreside services, and without that, no moorings. I think the whole deal was worked out ahead of time, no harbormaster job, no facilities.

That is interesting info about "hold harmless" aggreements, I suspected that was the case. To me, insurance is the key issue here, since it is prohibitively expensive for me to get it.

I haven't been able to get any information about the aftermath of the hurricane in Stuart, other than the one article. If it turns out that a lot of the insurance companies didn't cover boats damaged there, it may help out.

[ 10-06-2004, 01:52 PM: Message edited by: Mark Van ]

Hwyl
10-09-2004, 04:36 PM
Changing the subject but highly relevant. Are you listening to the new episodes of Hitchhikers guide.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/hitchhikers/newseries.shtml