Complaints while Anchoring or Mooring our Houseboat

by Carl

Complaints from Anchoring Houseboat near Island and Bays

Complaints from Anchoring Houseboat near Island and Bays

We get complaints while mooring or anchoring our houseboat. Is there a rule of thumb or specific law regarding where to anchor a houseboat? There is a large area on Okaloosa Island where I would like to keep my houseboat but get complaints wherever I go.

I need to know if I have any rights as to where I can anchor my houseboat.

Reply - Answer
Carl, that's an interesting question, since I'm not aware of any laws or restrictions regarding anchoring your houseboat. There is a difference between short-term and long-term anchoring though.

We have traveled to different areas and have never really been bothered, however we have been places where we could tell that the waterfront property owners weren't overly excited that we had anchored near their properties.

If I were you I would have a quick chat with your local Power Squadron, Coast Guard, or local Authorities to see what they have to say about it.

Lastly, hopefully some of our other readers will post comments on some of their specific experiences from their areas.

IAN - from

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Who owns the land beneath the lake ?
by: Winnetka IL Boater

Before we all had cars, trucks and highways ~~ We used horses and traveled by boats. The Great Lakes was a "super-highway" and American Maritime Laws where drafted after we broke away from the Kings rules.

Anti-Anchoring ordinances from local towns on land have no jurisdiction and are invalid on Federal Navigational waters, like the Great Lakes.

All the land beneath the water is owned by Our Federal Government and is for the enjoyment for all its Citizens, Public Lands so to speak.

Warm places like Florida, CA and Hawaii all battle against anchored boats and have lost in court. If the land owners really did own the land under the water there would be huge fences set-up with orange Keep Out signs all over America.

Mooring Laws in BC / Living on a houseboat on Kootenay Lake
by: Oracle Explorer

Just wondering if anyone knows the laws for mooring a huseboat in random locations in BC. I live on a houseboat on Kootenay Lake. I have heard that there is nothing anyone can do to stop this, but I'm not sure if this is correct?

I have also heard that the Coast Guard does have some sort of authority, just not sure what the laws are. Help would be great.


How Long to Anchor in front of Properties?
by: Gary

I am planning a 1400 mile houseboat trip, and I was thinking about houseboat anchoring. I wonder where, or how long we can stay anchored, or anchor house boats in front of waterfront properties in the USA?

Do you have any information on anchoring out at night. As I understand it you can drop the hook anywhere in the USA, except where it is marked, in the shipping lanes, and not tied to a navigation buoy or marker.

Is there a time limit as to how long you can stay in one spot?

I have a small houseboat and have traveled on Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, the rivers south to Mobile, as well as the Florida ICW and rivers.

I have spent many nights anchoring out on my houseboat and never had a problem, but have some friends who have lake front properties say I can`t just stay in front of someones home.

Any information on how long, or where I can anchor a houseboat, would be greatly appreciated. Gary.

by: Beached

One place that comes to mind where at least one waterfront owner got irate was Boot Key Harbor Fl. I believe he had some pull with the local Law Enforcement types as well because he got his way in a crowded anchorage.

I wonder whether the people that weren't happy with your presence was for other reason then you having a houseboat.

I can think of several here:

Your boat is a mess and it smells up the place.
You have noisy adults, kids or pets aboard.
You anchor too close to other boats.
You run a generator at all hours and it belches disgusting fumes.
You do maintenance on your boat ie. Running sanders, saws, planers or scraping paint. Even painting in a anchorage isn't going over well.

You dump "stuff"overboard.

You have a history of dragging anchorand word got around.
You run around undressed( although in some parts, that would be the norm) :-))

Myself having anchored in Washinton State, British Columbia, all Gulf States, as well as the East Coast State, New York Canal systems, Lake Ontario, and the Trent Severn.

I do not recall ever hearing complaints about houseboats being at anchor ( I was not on a houseboat so I should have heard the "bitchin")

What is scary to me is the lack of boating know how with rental units. Lets face it, there is nothing as unmanouverable as some of the single engine houseboats with a clueless person on the helm in a crosswind, and then a Mississippi barge adrift. In those situations my wife and I were prepared to fend off or run for our lives in case of a barge.

So, unless any of the above applies to you, be bold, next time you hear some folks muttering, row up to the complainer and ask.

Houseboat Anchoring - anchorage laws
by: Fred

When it comes to the laws regarding anchoring and mooring, you may find the following PDF on Anchoring Rights of interest.

This legal opinion PDF seems to state that if you are not a floating structure or live-aboard vessel and you are outside any legally establishid mooring field... then local governments cannot establish or enforce regulations about anchoring. So do as you please.

However, I am still researching the subject for my own reasons and am not sure how state and federal rules/regs/laws/etc. may apply.

In any case, the boating public is best represented and served when we try to live in peace and harmony with our surroundings (landlubbers included)

For what its worth...

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