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When is an anchorage not an anchorage?

Discussion in 'General Yachting Discussion' started by linnetwoods, Dec 5, 2005.

  1. linnetwoods

    linnetwoods New Member

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    My husband and I have been anchored in Torrevieja harbour since we were towed in, in late September, with most of our sails wrecked, both engines down and various minor damages incurred when we broached in a 70 knot breeze that caught us out on the way from Mallorca to the Spanish mainland (apparently it was a typhoon that nobody saw coming) and we are neighbours with about seven other yachts also at anchor.

    There is an anchor on the chart at the spot in which we lie and a marina over to one side of us with a new marina being built nearby. On the other side there is a salt conveyor that fills ships with the product of some salt flats just out of view.

    We are in the process of sourcing two engines to replace the defunct ones and have ordered a new suit of sails of which one has, thus far been delivered, the inner staysail.

    Tonight, the Guardia Civil (coastal and rural police) arrived in their old motor launch and served a 'denuncia' on us, and all our neighbours, for 'illegal anchoring' saying that we were breaking the law by being anchored within the port. Apart from the fact that we cannot afford to be in a marina, we hate the idea of being in a serried rank of yachts - one might as well live in an apartment!

    It seems that we are expectd to leave, to go who knows where, without suitable sails and without engines, with a smashed windlass and in winter. We are, presumably, expected to cancel the order for the rest of the sails since it would be impractical to try and organise the delivery and fittings from any great distance.

    The officers were very pleasant and the one in charge told us that they were carrying out the orders of the harbourmaster, one Oscar Villar Serrano.

    Does anyone know whether the harbourmaster is within his rights to declare it illegal to be at anchor in a spot on the chart where an anchor is clearly marked? We are really quite frantic with worry and it was whilst searching Google for some clue as to the laws regarding anchoring that I discovered this forum which is, incidentally, wonderful.

    I feel very privileged to be invited to join such interesting company and I do hope someone will be able to shed some light on our rights and obligations in this matter - we cannot afford to contract the services of a legal advisor - we are still trying to recover from having been mistaken for drug smugglers by the police in the Azores, who ripped our beautiful boat apart in November 2000 and never compensated us for the enormous amount of damage done.

    Sorry to be a whingeing newbie - I'm not usually so miserable - but this has really shaken us up and I cannot sleep for worrying (it is 03:00 here) so I thought I should try and do something practical like ask for advice.

    Please don't worry if you cannot offer any advice but I would certainly appreciate it if you were able to.

    Many thanks,

    Linnet Woods
    Staysail Schooner Leopard Normand III
  2. Norseman

    Norseman Senior Member

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    Hmm, not sure.

    A little anchor on the chart usually means a designated anchorage, but local restictions may have a time limit.

    Can't see how they can chase you away when you can document damaged engines and sails...(Well, I guess you could hire a tow boat to tug you into the marina)

    Perhaps some legal eagles on the board can assist with explaining your rights, or lack of.?

    Good luck.
  3. linnetwoods

    linnetwoods New Member

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    Thank you! We don't want to be towed into the marina though, apart from which I doubt they have room for us. We are not in anyone's way, we are not causing anyone any trouble. I just don't understand why this is happening just as the weather is at its worst. Surely we should have been informed while the weather might have permitted a safe search for some other place to go?
    At this time of year it can be quite dangerous to sail, even with a full complement of sails and engines. Some of these boats are quite small and one even has two infants aboard!
  4. YachtForums

    YachtForums Publisher/Admin

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    Linnet,

    We have two members that specialize in maritime council onboard YF. Hopefully one of them will see your post and provide some guidance. At the very least, I'm certain some of our members or captains will have experience in your port and may be able to suggest a solution.

    No matter what laws are in place, there should be allowances for special situations. This is really shameful! I know time is not on your side, but if you give this a day or two, some answers might be forthcoming.
  5. YES!

    YES! Senior Member

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    Linnet -

    It is a sad day when we have to accept that anchorages in the Med have a price.

    About 2 years ago Spain passed a law that the local port authority had the right to charge for use of the anchorages adjacent to their harbors.

    In Marbella, they charge as much to anchor off the coast as it ios for a berth in the harbor, even when there is not a berth available in the harbor.

    When confronted with this situation, even though we were a fully operational 210 foot motor yacht; I went in to the harbor master and negotiated a 50% dockage fee reduction since we received no services from the port - we were only using their "anchorage."

    I beleive they are using this manuever as leverage to keep homesteaders out of the beautiful anchorages along the coast. Some "boat people" in less than desireable craft take up residence full time, take their dinghys into the marinas and expect to pay nothing. That can be distracting if uncontrolled.

    I hope this helps you understand their positon and perhaps you can plead your case of "the seaman's right to safe harbor" with the local banditos.

    Good luck!
  6. linnetwoods

    linnetwoods New Member

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    We would not have minded if someone had asked us to pay harbour fees - if they had been too steep we could have moved away in September while the weather was still tolerable. It seems extraordinary to send the Guardia Civil with a 'denuncia' as a first step!

    As for keeping homesteaders out of the beautiful anchorages along the coast - this is something that concerns us too - we have met many of those homesteaders who are second and third generation boat people and are being hounded out of anchorages both beautiful and otherwise everywhere in the world.

    Are we to become so shallow that we consider it acceptable to be intolerant of anything and anyone that is not glamorous and gleaming? Torrevieja is far from beautiful, it is winter so there is no danger of overcrowding and we were in the process of spending a small fortune locally. I doubt the average yacht owner in the marina is helping the local economy half as much as we were!

    Our yacht was head-turningly beautiful before the Portuguese police attacked it with crowbars in 2000, causing untold and unneccessary damage after we had spent a peaceful month paying marina fees and spending our money in the locality, without disturbing anyone or behaving in an untoward way at any time. We barely received an apology, let alone compensation and have spent the past five years trying to put her back together, including having to have the entire cockpit removed and rebuilt, for example.

    Now we are being treated like the homesteaders whose complaints we had hardly heeded. Where would the authorities like live-aboards to go?

    If you decide to retire to your yacht and spend the rest of your life aboard, it will be a sorry thing if you find that your choices are between living in the floating equivalent of a car park or having to stay out at sea!
  7. YES!

    YES! Senior Member

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    Sorry, Dear -

    I am but the messenger sharing my experience.

    I agree with your premises, but don't think the Portugese are the only ones who tear up a boat and walkaway. Try the USCG of the good ole' US of A!

    Good luck on your yacht repairs and don't let this mar the joy of the sea. Get fixed and head to Croatia!
  8. linnetwoods

    linnetwoods New Member

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    Thank you! It is very difficult to effect yacht repairs when one is unable to stay put anywhere for long! It is a public holiday here today but tomorrow I will go and see the harbourmaster and ask if he would like to explain to the local sailmaker why we may be obliged to cancel our order, likewise the local engineers etc.

    If we all become complacent about policemen knocking on our hulls at midnight and quoting spurious law at us, it won't be long before fascism is back in town with a vengeance!

    I do not believe that their being Portuguese was relevant, it was their being Europeans and behaving thus that shook me. If the USCG are permitted to wreck the boat of an innocent family and walk away then something is deeply wrong with the USA as well.

    I was last in Croatia (it was Yugoslavia then) in 1966 and had a wonderful time sailing there but will not be heading there again in the near future, I fear, as we have agreed to accompany another schooner being sailed by novices to the Caribbean next winter and Croatia is in the wrong direction!

    From here we will probably get a tow down to the Mar Menor and anchor there while we complete repairs. The other boats at anchor here are probably all going to do likewise as it is the nearest safe haven where there isn't some fascist lunatic in charge.

    What we are NOT going to do is let ourselves be bullied without making our views known to the authorities and the sailing community. It is fortunate that my husband and Spain's current monarch have met on several occasions because I will be asking the harbourmaster what he feels his king, a keen sailor, may think of his actions when apprised of them. I hope it gives him a moment of discomfort to match ours last night.

    I can find no mention of it having become 'illegal' to anchor here - the neighbour offered payment and was told that one cannot pay to anchor here, so it is not being suggested that we are 'stealing' what we should be paying for. The harbourmaster has simply decided that his word is law and he can ignore the anchor on the chart if he wants to. Well I don't think he has that right and I think it is our duty to all sailors to challenge his decision until we see that there is some basis in law for it.
  9. Arniev

    Arniev Senior Member

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    Linnet,
    Unfortunately, I am unable to offer any legal advise.
    I pray that the harbourmaster or some other kind soul will listen to you and accommodate you in this time of need.
    Good luck and take care!
    Arnie
  10. linnetwoods

    linnetwoods New Member

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    Thank you!
  11. Spicoli

    Spicoli New Member

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    You say that they served you with papers say it was illegal to anchor there. Is it really illegal? Can you confirm the actual stipulations of the law? Those stipulations should give you the definiton of "anchored", as well as the limitations on any designated time limits. It may just be a matter of getting towed in to top off with fuel (get a receipt ;) ), then anchoring back where you came from.
    Laws are laws, and you're expected to abide by them. What is the law? Were the local police just trying to spook you into moving, at the wishes of the harbourmaster? If that's the case, he's either a genuine @sshole, or he may be getting complaints from the locals/marina regulars, and he's just trying to keep his customers happy. If that's the case, (and you have the right to be there) you could possibly ask him if there's anything else you can do to help them out from between that rock and that hard place.
    Somewhere, somehow, there's a law on the books. Use it to you advantage if you can (you can quote it as they don't have the right to mess with you), or abide by it. Either way, you'll stay out of trouble, which is the ultimate goal anyway.
  12. linnetwoods

    linnetwoods New Member

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    Thank you for giving the matter so much thought - we appreciate it.

    The police seemed slghtly embarrassed and I can find no indication anywhere of there being such a thing as illegal anchoring in this port. The harbourmaster was described to us a few months ago with a rapid circular motion of the finger next to the temple by his own staff, so he probably invents whatever law he likes the sound of...
    I somehow doubt he is getting complaints against any of us, let alone all. We have been spending welcome money with local businesses and everyone we meet seems happy to see our schooner out at anchor, as far as I can tell.

    I haven't been able to establish what the law is regarding this particular anchorage but I figure I will ask the harbourmaster to quote the precise law he is invoking and see what he says...

    I don't think he is likely to be particularly helpful, from all accounts, although I will ask him how he is going to explain the cancelled business to local traders if he forces us out, and we will probably have to go in order to avoid his thinking up any more methods of harrassing us but I will make darned sure that he sees his name all over the Internet in unflattering terms if it does turn out that he invented that law and got the police to play along with it.

    Rumour has it that he is related to a local ex-mayor currently awaiting trial for corruption... Perhaps creative management techniques are a family speciality...

    We have been offered help with moving the boat down to the Mar Menor and it sounds very pleasant down there. What the local traders will make of losing our custom, upon which they have, presumably been counting, just before Christmas, I don't know, but we will make it very clear just who has caused the problem and I hope they make their thoughts clear to him - winter is a very lean time for our sailmakers, so they told us before we even ordered the first sail - and losing an order for a suit of sails will hit them hard.
  13. AMG

    AMG YF Moderator

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    Hi, sorry to hear about all your troubles. If you have not yet met this Harbourmaster, I wouldn´t challenge him. As your situation is probably different from the other boats anchored out there, I should explain exactly what has happened and what is going to happen. Refer to the artisans you are using so he can get a confirmation. If you still get the impression a small gift would help, talk to the sailmaker to arrange it.

    If you think there is a language barrier, get the sailmaker to come with you even at your first meeting to avoid unnecessary misunderstandings. Remember, the Harbourmaster will need an excuse to his guys and the Police after what has happened, and with the sailmaker present they will probably find it.

    It is (unfortunately) always better to play the game. By opposing him you might not only be forced to leave but the chance is he will call your next port and the harrasment continues...
  14. K1W1

    K1W1 Senior Member

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    Hi,

    I have read this thread with interest.

    I feel sorry that you are dealing with this situation when your boat is obviously in need of repairs etc but feel that as you seem to have it in for Eurpoeans that I have to enlighten you as to just how destructive the USCG can be and are at times with recourse for damages almost impossible to pursue in Federal Court.

    Stan Antrims comments about the USCG are accurate to put it mildly.

    I worked for a man who had a Magnum Powerboat in the Caribbean. This yacht was being returned to Miami for some repairs when it was boarded by the USCG whilst crossing the Mona Passage, the two crew were made to sit on the foredeck (not easy in a seaway) while the boat was searched. Cushions were cut open floors pulled up mattresses slit from end to end. Unable to find anything the USCG took the boat to Mayaguez and brought in the big tools. Holes were cut with hole saws through the engine bearers and many frames throughout the boat. Fabrics were pulled off wall and ceiling panels.The liferafts were opened and unpacked.A diver was used to inspect the underwater section of the boat.

    Throughout the whole process the two guys onboard were treated like criminals and when nothing was found the USCG Team just left. So much damage was done to the boat that it ended up being towed to San Juan and returned to Miami on a barge.

    Recourse was never forthcoming and the Owner abandoned his legal challenge for damages when it became obvious that the Federal Governments pockets were way deeper than his and it was going to cost more to pursue it than it ended up costing to repair the boat.
  15. linnetwoods

    linnetwoods New Member

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    Thank you, AMG, for your reply. You make some interesting points.
    We did, in fact, meet the harbourmaster when we stopped in on our way to Mallorca at the beginning of summer. He came out to the boat (and three others at anchor) with two members of the maritime police and asked all manner of questions about equipment that we are not required to have, not being a Spanish-registered vessel, and was quite insulting, to the obvious embarrassment of the officers. He did not mention any illegality in anchoring at the time...
    Very sound advice indeed and we had already planned to do just that. Unfortunately, there is every possibility he will simply refuse to see us (this tends to be his pattern as far as we can gather) so we may have to use the telephone.
    Sorry, but I absolutely refuse to endorse any corruption amongst authorities in Europe. If they wanted to carry on behaving like third world communities they should not have applied to join the European Community. If they want payment with a receipt for it, we will pay but not otherwise.
    Again, very sound advice, if it were not for the fact that my Spanish is (literally) fluent and that, as I mentioned, we may not be granted an audience...
    To a degree, we are in agreement there, but only in as far as I don't mind grovelling about a bit and paying deference to the scrambled egg on the front of his hat if it keeps him happy.

    I figured I would ask him to help me by quoting me the exact law we had broken so that I could get legal help with the denuncia because I thought that the police might have been mistaken (as though I thought he might be unaware of their actions). That would let him off the hook if he wants off it, and he could offer to deal with the matter for us...

    Anyway, thank you again for your kindness in giving the matter your attention.
  16. linnetwoods

    linnetwoods New Member

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    Thank you, K1W1 for your comments.
    I do hope that I didn't give the impression that my disdain is limited to Europeans! As far as I am concerned, any country that wishes to be considered 'civilized', has a constitution and established procedures and allows its officers to break the laws and rules is equally worthy of contempt, and that includes the USA if it allows the USCG to behave in that manner.

    If the officers who wrecked our yacht had been half-naked natives of some far-flung island I would have been very upset but I would have been able to understand how their values might be so different from those of my fellow Europeans that they could not see what was wrong with violating someone's home and leaving it in ruins without provocation of any kind.

    My heart bleeds for your ex-employer. We are also forced to accept that we simply cannot expect justice. They took crowbars to the teak and did more damage than any horde of vandals could ever have hoped to do. The boat was on the way back to Europe after a major refit and it was asumed that the new teak had been laid down to conceal something. You cannot win - go scruffy, go tidy - if the authorities decide to wreck your life on a whim, they are free so to do.

    What is truly sad is that we have all learned to accept this brutality from those whom our taxes have supported and continue to support. If anyone did to their mothers, sisters, sweethearts or daughters what those people did to me, or did to any male member of their intimate circle what they did to my husband, they would be outraged. What a shame they are so dehumanized as to consider it acceptable to do such things and their victims cannot expect any justice.

    Perhaps that is why this current situation is upsetting my husband so - he still hasn't fully recovered from the post-traumatic stress brought on by the events of November 2000 and I sometimes wonder if he ever will.
  17. YES!

    YES! Senior Member

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    While I respect your ethical stand, from years of personal experience I can guarantee you that the reality in Euro waters is the boats that offer the most generous gratuities and gists of appreciation receive the best moorings, the best service, the least boardings and quickest clearances....period.

    It is a fact of life and you either consider it a cost of a hassle-free experieince or you fight like hell and get nothing but frustraton and rejection.

    Good luck!
  18. linnetwoods

    linnetwoods New Member

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    Well, I have been sailing for a great many years and, with the exception of the episode in the Azores in 2000 and this current nonsense, I have never had a problem with officialdom anywhere in the world. I expect to make gifts to those who need them, in countries where officials simply are not paid enough to be calm and even-tempered, but not in the so called civilized world.

    Sorry, but what you advocate is simply helping to widen the gap betwen the haves and the have-lesses and ensure that those who are less wealthy than yourself have an increasingly worse time with authorities, whom those who think and act as you do are training to expect gifts and generous gratuities before they will do the job they are already being paid handsomely to do!

    Prices were pushed up in the Caribbean by US visitors tipping so generously and exclaiming "Man" That's so cheap!" at everything they saw until the locals decided they were clearly underpricing everything. Eventually, the waiters in bars learned to expect big tips wheher they served well or not and to look at anything less than a large gratuity and say "Is that all?" in a loud and disgruntled tone of voice.

    If I have to struggle a little to resolve situations it won't kill me - I am not so idle that I would throw my principles out of the window for the sake of a quiet life and more time in which to contemplate my apathy...

    Please don't take what I am saying as a personal remark - it is not intended to be - but the goverments of the world are already behaving like anarchists, doing as they please regardless of the wishes of the electorates that put them where they are and apathy is the surfboard they are riding on...
  19. YachtForums

    YachtForums Publisher/Admin

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    I just read an article in a crew magazine relating to this issue....

    ITALY RESTRICTS ANCHORING:

    Italian Authorities have imposed and marine police officers are enforcing a new ban on anchoring within 200 meters off any part of the Italian coastline. Already causing widespread concern within the Italian boating community, the law was introduced in a bid to protect environmentally sensitive areas from larger motor yachts, which for the purposes of this regulation, are all boats greater than 7 meters. The rule effectively puts huge areas of prime anchorage spots out of bounds to all but the smallest of day boats and will cause havoc among the Sardinia set if the rules are enforced next season.

    According to the article, there had been no reports of the new rules being enforced, but the majority of complaints are coming from boats anchoring in the rocky inlets and tranquil bays of the Ligurian coast. Previously, the authorities prohibited fishing vessels from working within 200 meters of the coast and it is the same law that now is being applied to anchoring yachts.

    ...FWIW.
  20. linnetwoods

    linnetwoods New Member

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    The Spanish have been enforcing that Europe-wide ban for a long time now, it is not new at all. We have always respected the rules and used only spots designated as anchorages by beng marked on the official charts (in this case, inside a fairly filthy harbour) and that is why we MUST defend our right to do so - having squeezed us out of quiet inlets many years ago, now they want to leave us with no place at all to go.

    We cannot win here in the long term, the entire harbour is to be turned into floating parking spaces, but we may be able to draw attenion to the fact that the people of the sea are simply being kicked aside to make way for the toys of the wealthy and, just as the gypsies are beginning to insist on their right to live as they wish and winning, I'm afraid those of us who live at sea must also make our voices heard before the anchor signs are erased from the charts of the world, which wouldn't be good for the many part-time sailors who like to make passages in their free time either.

    Those who can afford mega-yachts can also afford to spare a thought for the people whose territory they are appropriating - they forget that it was not all that long ago that very few people had private yachts and there was always a free or inexpensive berth for liveaboards to winter in, almost anywhere in the world, in return for keeping an eye on things and helping out as needed.

    Today, the majority of yachts do not really belong to their registered 'owners'; they are more properly the property of the banks who extend all the credit that is fuelling this proliferation of vessels that spend most of their time unoccupied and filling spaces still needed by the people of the sea.

    We may not have quite the mega-yacht that would earn us the respect of those who judge a person's worth by his possessions but at least our classic 22m yacht is entirely our own and is used 365 days of the year, plus we have no debts that we cannot meet within a short time and have always made our living honestly and honourably.

    If anchorages are to be scrubbed from the charts to make way for ever-larger mega-yacht marinas then new anchorages need to be designated in less 'desireable' areas, but this is not happening. People like us will not get listened to by those who make the rules while those who are causing all our problems are greasing powerful palms to ensure that they get what they want, no matter who they have to trample upon to get it.

    Yes, I know that is 'progress' but it is progress in a direction that will ultimately leave society impoverished in terms of characters and diversity. For some reason, wherever we go, with the notable exception of this place, or at least this harbourmaster, people tend to want to 'adopt' us. Perhaps it is because we are different and lead a different life, and people become bored with mingling with others just like themselves. We have been inundated with kindness since the police visited and the recurring refrain is "Oh, I do hope you won't have to leave! We say "Tell it to the authorities!" but they won't, of course...

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