by Nancy E. Spraker
A fee-based U.S. Customs office in Stuart, Florida, should be operational next year at an area airport. The privately funded office will eliminate the need to check in at Fort Pierce or West Palm Beach for local mariners traveling to and from The Bahamas.
Through December 2014, two-hour advance notice is required for the bridge opening at the Main Street Bridge on the St. John’s River in Jacksonville, Florida, from 6AM until 6:59PM. A four-hour notice is required between 7PM and 5:59AM. Use VHF-FM channel 9 or call (904) 891-2191 to alert the bridge tender. Clearance is less than charted due to painters’ scaffolding and could be between 28 and 38 feet.
Derelict vessels are a lingering problem for marinas and cruisers along the southern ICW. Not only are they eyesores, but they become navigational hazards when sunk. In March, a marina manager sold a rusting 150-grosston tugboat to an unsuspecting homeless man for a pittance to eliminate his salvage responsibilities. Tug Tilly created a real danger to boats when it sank near Key West’s main shipping channel in March. One result was a $500,000 salvage bill for removal. The Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission was in a quandary as to who to bill. Working with the Coast Guard, a “Captain of the Port” order restricting unseaworthy vessels’ movements could avert future predicaments, but local governments hesitate to enforce the order. See video of the sinking tug at bit.ly/1eNGMbz