Houseboat Living - the new laws, rules, and regulations on boating in Florida

by Russell
(North Fort Myers, Florida)

Houseboat Living - the view on anchor in Boot Key Harbor

Houseboat Living - the view on anchor in Boot Key Harbor

The laws, rules, and regulations concerning boating or houseboat living in Florida are about to change. Okay, a new regulation has just passed or will be instated on October 1st, 2009. It makes some changes in the law and the way it is enforced.

First, anchoring, it is no longer an issue of how long you can stay at any anchor-able area anywhere in Florida. No town or city can tell you that you have to move in 24, 48 or 72 hours anyplace within the state.

You can drop anchor in any Florida waters where it is legal to anchor and no one can tell you that you have to move. This includes anchor-able areas of any harbor, outside any navigable channel, outside of any mooring field or off any waterway.

You can NOT anchor in any marked mooring area, and however, no one can tell you that you have overstayed your welcome and that if you don't move they will ticket or impound your boat.

There is a downloadable copy of this new set of regulations on boatus.com and click on Anchoring. You should carry a copy of this new bill if you travel like I do.


Now, the bad news, it seems that in their infinite wisdom they have also declared that if your houseboat is navigable, if it has engines and steering, you are NOT a live aboard.

I believe this is to allow them to board us without having to get a search warrant. Invasion of your home is protected under the sixth amendment of the bill of rights.

We are supposed to have the right to be secure of unreasonable search and seizure of our houses, persons, papers and effects and the authorities have to show probable cause to even get a warrant to search our homes. In the case of a car, it is not legal for the police to search it without probable cause or without having a warrant.

I, as well as many other "Live Aboards" have sold our houses and bought a boat as our home. I see no mention that our Home, cannot be a boat. If you live in a cave, a camper, a shack in the woods and it is your home it is protected under the Bill of Rights and the Constitution of the United States of America.

Why are we considered less than legal citizens? Illegals coming into the country have more rights than we do as American Citizens.

I have a freezer on my Homeboat, and if I have lobster tails in it, I am subject to arrest and the impounding of my boat. If you catch lobsters and take them home to put in your freezer you have lobster for Christmas dinner. I have to get out of jail if they're found, even if they are in a store wrapper.



If I have my guns aboard I am at risk of losing them if boarded. In spite of the 4th amendment declaring that my right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. 


Okay, what do we do about having our homes put back under the protection of the Constitution and Bill of Rights? Do we have to go out and deliberately break the law to challenge it in the Supreme Court?

My boat IS my home. I cannot afford to take a boarding to the Supreme Court. What about a class action with several "Homeboat Owners"?

I have no idea of what the answer is. 
I can appreciate the stepped up security but if we have to give up freedoms to protect ourselves then the terrorists have won.


Russell, Florida.



Reply - Answer
Well Russell, I want to personally thank you for sharing this very important information on anchoring, mooring, or living on a boat. I can appreciate and agree with your thinking, as I can see how some boating laws and regulations are not the best for everyone involved.

Like you said, your houseboat is your home, and not just a pleasure craft so to speak, and your HomeBoat should have the same protection under the Bill of Rights and the Constitution of the United States of America.

I can see that this new regulation has made some good forward progress, yet has gone backwards in other areas. I hope that you will keep us posted with any future changes.

Lastly, hopefully some of our readers will share and post comments about their experiences with the rules, laws, and regulations concerning houseboat living and anchoring. Feel free to use the "Click here to post comments." link found near the bottom of this page.


Thanks again for sharing, IAN - from www.all-about-houseboats.com

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Comments for Houseboat Living - the new laws, rules, and regulations on boating in Florida

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Mr. Trueman
by: Anonymous

Understandably you are jaded, and I have no doubt that your head and ass are sore from the immoral sodomy that has been perpetrated upon you.

But Mr.Trueman you are now playing the role of a Martyr, but only if you choose to do so. Pissing and moaning after you have been wronged without the willingness to take charge of your situation will get you nowhere.

The first problem with your situation is that they were not stopped before they got a foothold on you. Now that they have wronged you and caused you damages, My question is: "What are you going to do about it?"

You can do your research yourself on how to go after these scumbags in Federal court, or you can hire a worthless lawyer, Or you can wallow in the whole mess.

You failed to stop them at the get go, Period end of story. Now you have to deal with the scumbags in a different way. You have an excellent Federal court case worth a hell of a lot of money.

The question is: Are you going to do something about it before the statute of limitations runs out?....Or are you going to lick your wounds and garner sympathy on a Houseboat while letting it consume your every day life??

Sorry to be blunt, but I hear these stories every day and I get tons of Email from People all over the country barraging me with their questions about Cops, Code Enforcement, the tax assessor etc…you name it!

The one thing I find common with every one of them is that they have no problem bitching about their situation and asking me what they should do.

But then they do NOTHING about it! Most of these people through lack of common sense and ignorance of their rights create their own problems and they love the drama. If they were to solve their problem they wouldnt have anything to talk about.

I guess what it all boils down to is this, Man up and stop being intimidated by these evil thieves and take control of the situation. Or Shut up and stay bent over.

There are those that are more comfortable with playing the defeatist role.

If you think your defeated before you even fight, They win!! Thats what they bank on.

God Bless.

personal experience
by: Capt SC Trueman

Interesting perspective, but from what was done to me by this wonderful system we have allowed to live and flourish with complete and total immunity as a cancer that will not be contained or relinquish its power or control.

You are discussing fencing using linguistical Nuance against a gorilla welding a 6 foot tree limb. The cop that arrested me was a nice guy who was simply "under orders from above" and those ABOVE are backed up by a system all the way to Washington, that no longer worries about any individuals rights save possibly select Corporations.

The woman that did me in could not provide any broken law nor any legal authority for her actions and after all was laid out before her all showing her errors both legal and moral responded with " Its because I said so and I don't care"

Under the then prosecuting State Attorney General, now Governor of New York you really think that they would bend to such as me? Then while on appeal to the federal court at some power luncheon nobody said "look one of my people got a little carried away with her self importance, make it go away, we'll deal with it in house" You really think anyone would raise a hand and say "gee that's just not right!" I'll just flush my 200k yr job down the pipes.

Its understandable to insist and feel that we have protected rights. who wants to finally admit that he is just Cannon Fodder, disposable by an unfeeling relentless out of control machine.

But here's my battle tested advise. you are a Jew in Nazi Germany, DON'T LET THE SPOTLIGHT FALL ON YOU, you'll fall alone


if you wish to condemn my view at least read my case.

When hammered enough should one be criticized for being jaded?

Continuation: Part #2
by: davy Jones

To be a Captain of a Vessel, You must possess a
"Captains License" Possessing that "License" means that you are Commercial,and that would give them jurisdiction over you.

Oh and BTW... After you have asserted your rights as a traveler,that is not consenting to any of their commercial commerce code....
SHUT THE FK UP. Never pass up an opportunity to Shut Up!
I cant think of a more perfect application of the old saying.."Loose Lips Sink Ships"
They are not your buddies, so save all the Yuk Yuk and Buddy Buddy Chit Chat for your next BBQ.

Chatting these people up and kissing their asses is not going to change a thing, So dont grovel and lower yourself. You are a Man, act like a Man. Don't let them see weakness. This is how bullies operate, they pray on the weak.

I hope I have shed some light on this matter. Most of us in the position to live aboard are of the age and financial means where we feel we are too old to start fighting the Status Quo,,,
A very grave mindset.
And FYI, The word Live aboard implies VESSEL.

Presumptions of Law...Color of Law, its what they use to violate your rights as a human being and free man.
And whatever you do dont tie up to THEIR VESSEL,,, Its just like a Cop getting you to open your door at your house. Just keep your "BOAT" moving and tell them that you can hear them just fine, and if they cant hear you then tell them you would be glad to use your Hailer or bull horn.(which I highly recommend you have on your property.

Notice I said property...Not Aboard, or aboard your Vessel. We are so accustomed to using these words in our daily language that it becomes second nature and to their benefit.

Have a good, bolted down safe on your boat.
They DO NOT have right to access!

PREPARE TO BE BOARDED...Ohhhh So intimidating isnt it? They are telling you to prepare for it, So you automatically think they have the right.
And if you prepare(Make a Way)for them, then guess what....You just gave them permission to come on your Private Property.
The key to stopping these Pirates in their tracks is to STOP THEM IN THEIR TRACKS!!
Once they get a hold on you its that much tougher to back peddle.
Like I said, Do Your Homework!!Look up the definitions for the words in Their code.

They are bound to Violate your rights at some point, but by handling yourself correctly and not letting them establish jurisdiction over you, This will enable you to file a Criminal Complaint against them that they can not get out of. In addition you can sue them in Federal Court. Its way easier than you think, and its worth HUGE money.
Most people think Federal Court wont protect you from State and Maritime Rights Violators of your rights because they are all in the same network.
You could never be so incorrect to assume that.

The best defense is...Dont attract these Pirates attention. Have your safety gear in order and in plain sight. I personally display my life vests/rings and fire extinguishers in plain view..No reason to come on my property! As far as my toilet Y valve?? Kiss my A**. I dont have any sanitary though hull fittings. and Where I crap is my business.

Happy Traveling on your Private Conveyance.
And remember...Just because you are a Sovereign and not under Pirate jurisdiction doesnt mean you can act like a jerk drawing attention to yourself and go mowing through Manatee zones, No Wake Zones like a fool. Adhering to any other common sense rule that benefits us all is a plus.

Do not respond to the following words when dealing with Water Pirates and remove them from your vocabulary:
Captain, Operator, Driver, aboard, live Aboard, Vessel.

There are more, but if you just keep your mouth shut then that will cover them all.
If you have not committed a crime or there is not probable cause to believe you have committed a crime then they have no cause or actionable offense that will allow them to harass you.

After that point, and you have asked them am I free to go on my way and they are still detaining you(which BTW is False arrest)Because at the point you are not free to go, You Are Under Custodial Arrest PERIOD!

You do don't have to be in cuffs to be under arrest. Right there gentlemen...You have a Federal Lawsuit. The key is to let them hang themselve. Don't get involved in doing their dance and getting into a pissing match. You'll lose every time.
Once you understand how it all works,and you don't fear these evil minions. Then it becomes so crystal clear that a child can understand it.

Please be serious about being Free. I dont have time to waste on people that are just dreaming of protecting their freedom.

Go forth armed only with knowledge,for knowledge is the supreme power of Gods children.
You have harmed No Man..So be on your way to enjoy Gods Blessings my weary travelers.

However... if you have harmed another man or violated his sanctity....Then off to the Hoosegow with ya Ye Scallywag. Respect Gods Law and the Law of the Common People. Anything else is nothing more than Corporate Pirate rubbish to be burned at the trash heap.

Davy Jones

Part #1
by: Davy Jones

I am very surprised that nobody has touched on this issue.
Maritime law is Commercial law...PERIOD!!
The commercial code/laws only apply if you are operating in a commercial capacity as opposed to a functioning private human being.

First off...by registering your boat in any form or fashion gives them jurisdiction over that property. You do not own that boat...the State/Your Legal Fiction owns it,and you are just using it. To better understand what I just said please research Legal Fictions.

In a nut shell,When you were born your State pledged you through your Birth certificate..There is a bond issued in your name,and that number on your Birth certificate is your account number.
Dont believe me??? Go check it out before you say Im nuts lol.

My point to this is....You are now a Corporate Fiction. This is better known as your Strawman.
Your Strawman name is in all CAPS, This is your corporate entity. If you look on anything you have with your name on it,everything from you bills,credit cards,bank statements, and low and behold…Your Title…Your Driver License.

Guess what?? Thats not you, Its your fiction.
There is a reason for all of this!!
(Stick with me I promise it will make sense)

They have, Unbeknownst to you, Entered you into a contract. This is how they do everything they do to you..And Get Away With It.
You dont have clear ownership of your property,
You have a Certificate of Title in your ALL CAPS Strawman Name. If it was yours,it would say just Title. ( For more info on why they pledge your birth certificate...Go Look It Up)You went from a Bible birth record, To a certificate of
LIVE BIRTH. You dont even own yourself.
If your name is on anything, and its in ALL CAPS..
IT AINT YOURS!!!

They cant do this crap to a natural man, The man thats name is spelled with upper and lower case letters John of the family Doe...
Not JOHN DOE the corporate Strawman.
When a drivers license and registration is implemented for use of public motorways it gives the cops jurisdiction over you.
"You Entered Into A Contract With Them"
If you are a traveler, and not "For Hire" or operating in a commercial capacity and making money,Then you are not LAWFULLY required to possess a drivers license.
You are not a DRIVER....You are a Traveler. The word driver derived from the Stage coach days when a "DRIVER" of a coach was engaged in commerce.

This is why countless supreme court decisions have been handed down in favor of the "TRAVELER".
Do your homework. A courtroom fly's the Maritime Gold Fringe flag...The reason??? ITS COMMERCIAL!
Maritime law. Unless it is pertaining to crimes on the high seas,or a crime of harm against another human being it is noting more than a Commercial Code.

Im sure there are several of you out there have experienced this scenario:
You get pulled over in your Private Conveyance that floats on water...The first thing they inject in the conversation is,,"Are you the Captain of this vessel?"

And being the Hot Shot Helm master that we all consider ourselves to be...We say YES!! Aint she a beauty!!
Two very important words came into play here:
CAPTAIN and VESSEL. Bingo,,,They just established, and You just gave them jurisdiction over you.
Captain is Commercial...and Vessel is Commercial. A Vessel is a Thing that holds something as in Holding Commercial goods.

Your answer should have been:
NO Sir!! I am a TRAVELER! And this conveyance is Private property and is not for hire,and not under commercial contract.
I reserve all of my human and constitutionally protected rights.. and "I DO NOT CONSENT AND I WAIVE ALL BENEFIT" Waiving Benefit simply means that you dont want a FKN thing they have to offer.
Now..They will try and intimidate and coerce you in order to engage you in any form of conversation that will prompt you to say ANY WORD that will give them jurisdiction over you.

Words in commercial law and code DO NOT mean what you think they mean as we use them in our normal conversation.
These Minions dont know the law....All they know is what the Pirate money machine tells them, Along with the trickery and deception tactics that they are taught in order to gain jurisdiction and your consent.

I suggest that all of you read and retain copies of the commercial code as they DO or DO NOT apply to you..
"Maritime Law" UCC Which stands for Uniform Commercial Code...READ READ READ!
Also you must read and understand all of USC United States Code TITLE 18.and how it pertains to your rights.
If you dont exercise your rights...You Lose Them!
The Water Pirates are not going to tell you what your rights are...Its up to you to know and defend them.

In common law you are innocent until proven guilty.
In Maritime/Commercial law you are guilty until you prove your innocence. If you argue any of their facts of a case You Will Lose Every Time!!
You have to stop them before they even get started.

Maritime law is Contract law.. Therefor, If you do not contract with them then their laws do not apply to you.

I would like to suggest to all of those who choose to exercise your God Granted right to travel freely,unmolested and in the pursuit of your happiness by the conveyance of your choosing to try the following....

After you have been pulled over and you have said those ever important words:

NO Sir!! I am a TRAVELER! And this Private property and is not for hire,and not under commercial contract. it is PRIVATE CONVEYANCE.
And I reserve all of my human and constitutionally protected rights.. "I DO NOT CONSENT AND I WAIVE ALL BENEFIT"
(I dont need a Damn thing you are offering)

To be Continued:

Capt SCTrueman here?
by: Capt SCTrueman

Not sure as to this comment from anonymous, then says Capt Steve Trueman here? So just to clarify,
I Capt Steve Trueman am not the author.

As far as my long, expensive, hard to fathom case update for any followers: The 2nd district court
of northern ny, threw my case out, stating i have no case whatsoever, and that all my accusations, have no merit. Then US Appeals court, has agreed with this discussion.

Quick recap: I was accused of trespassing on private property , while aboard my vessels, while holding a valid permit to be there. The next day, canals on its own authority, seized control and boarded my vessels,(my home of 30 years) then denied me access to them under threat of jail.

Took my computers, papers, clothing, hearaids, tools of my trade, museum collections, books,etc etc for 10 single spaced typed pages. Both vessels et al. After tearing it all apart, it all boils down to, with no accusations of any crime whatsoever, no proper procedures of any kind followed..that i have nothing, "Because she said so"

Both vessels have been completely reduced to scape and everything I owned now gone.

The State has of coarse unlimited time and moneys, all which comes from us! Not one dime out of any of their pockets. While I've incurred legal frees way in access of 200.K and am so in debt that i'll never get clear. Both vessels were sold for scrape value. And I'm literally on the street without even a car.

I'm afraid that the constitution has been made into toilet paper by the powerful and am glad i'm of an age that hopefully i'll be dead before this "Grand experiment", falls. If you still believe your safe, God Bless
If you don't, well God Bless too, cause there's not a lot you can do.

I applaud Bill Windsor of Lawless America, but i am ashamed to say I give up.

Steven C Trueman

The Constitution
by: Anonymous

Captain Steven C Trueman here, I believe you are looking in the wrong place. Yes case law has some to do with the situation. But, case law is not the rule.

The rule is where do they claim their authority from.Bet it is Constitution federal or state. They can can prove in court that either paper gave or gives them any authority to do anything on the common-law side.

That is why that always claim Act's/statutory law. That's a claim, is the reason the Act does not apply to you or yours.

Anyone can claim anything, but, can you prove it. There is no way in God's green earth can they prove your liability to any Consitution state or fed.

I can prove it, can you, bet you can now that you know what to ASK? the questions?

KNOW THE LAW OF BAILMENT = COMMON-LAW that is the only case law you need to study...

Houseboat Laws - use your rights, or lose the right
by: Wam

Years ago my wife at the time, her brother, and their father were cruising north @3 miles off Florida's west coast in a 1983 Grand Banks motor yacht doing about 8 knots.

Out of nowhere a Coast Guard boat came up to us with guns drawn on us and were told no one was to move. They boarded us and searched the boat without asking permission. There was no reason given or implied. Scared the HELL out of us.

When they were done (after finding nothing and not asking for any documentation) they left and headed off to harass some other innocent boater. We were stunned and quite shaken.

I'm here to tell you people- "USE YOUR RIGHTS OR LOOSE YOUR RIGHTS) !!

Boating Laws - unsure as to housebarge vs houseboat
by: rUSSELL

I'm not really sure of the regulations on the housebarge. To me a raft with a house built on it seems to be defeating the purpose of living aboard.

I like to go places and see things. Pushing some huge barge is not condusive to travel. There are lots of them so I would suggest contacting someone who owns one for information. A barge on anchor is scary.

The mooring would have to be massive to hold in a storm. What about hurricanes or severe storms that require heading into a sheltered area? pushing a douse with a dink to a safe area would be silly. You would need something with very high horsepower and possibly even two pushers.

When we were at Fero Blanco Marina in the Keys and hurricane Wilma hit it sunk six of the 10 housebarges in the protected area of the marina. These things were big. The remaining 4 were severly damaged with roofing and siding torn off. I'd be happy to send pictures of the damaged housebarges.

Not one other boat sunk in the marina. There was a lot of damage but the housebarges were the only sinkings in the marina. About 40 boats of all types out on anchor were sunk, drifted into the mangroves and just broke loose. The remaining housebarges were all scrapped.

Just something to consider, Russell

Houseboat Laws in Florida - FL. laws and Capt truemann
by: Ray

Russell, Have read with great interest all of your coments in here regarding the CG and locals about taking your boat or any part there of upon the whim of some power hungry water cop who lacks one ounce of common sense.

Apparently Richard has no idea what he is talking about at any given time when it comes to boats and "live aboards". Too bad. He has his world, we have ours.

I have been a live aboard before and next spring and going whole hog again. I fear I may have to avoid FL (tampa-st. pete) like the plague as I don't wish my boat nor my weapons to be taken away from me for some minor infraction that I am not aware of. Please keep us advised on any updates here. I wont be heading that way until next fall.

As for the Tug Boat owner, those bums could have just as easily moved him to another location. They told him he could tie up where he was so I wonder what the big deal is about his living aboard. A vessel of that size and age needs constant security which apparently this city was unable to provide.

Thanks for your many intelligent comments, Ray

Housebarge or houseboat vessel
by: Steve

With all the discussions I am unclear as to which route affords the most freedom from taxes or control. Is it a housebarge without steering and motor, or a houseboat (navigable vessel) ?

I want to move onto the water, maybe the St. Johns in Fla, with some sort of shuttle craft to get me to town and/or move my barge if need be. Whats your opinion? Many thanks, Steve

Re: Houseboat Friendly Marinas?
by: Kate

Thank you so much for the information Russell. I will start checking out the marinas in the area. I greatly appreciate your taking the time to respond. Best wishes for a healthy and happy New Year, Kate

Houseboat Friendly Marina
by: Russell

I am at Prosperity Pointe Marina in North Fort Myers and it is very houseboat friendly. Rates are a bit high but fair for the area and everything is included in the slip rent total. They add the liveaboard fee and electric to the total.

The marina is nice with floating docks, bath house and fenced storage along with gated docks. There are several other large houseboat friendly marinas in the area and along the coast. A trip to the area to look at marinas you are considering is the best way to find what you like personally.

There are several houseboats of all sizes here. A shallow entrance keeps the clanging of sailboat halyards to a minimum although there are a few in here. About 8 or 9. I hope this helps.

Houseboat Friendly Marinas?
by: Kate

Hi Russell, I am seriously considering purchasing and living on a houseboat within the next year. Sadly, I am not retired nor will I be for quite some time.

Here is my question: do you know of any houseboat friendly marinas in Central Florida, where I can park my houseboat for an indefinite period of time?

I would prefer not to have to change marinas on a regular basis. I would prefer to stay on a yearly basis - that doesn't mean I wouldn't take my boat off on weekend trips - I would just prefer to have one central location.

Thank you so much for keeping us informed about the latest laws and regulations on boating in Florida.

Best wishes, Kate

I Salute you Captain Trueman
by: Russell

I just looked up an article by Don Sutherland and I am in awe of your accomplishments and efforts in restoring and creating your floating museum. I found it at;

http://marinelink.com/story/any+one+want+to+restore+a+tugboat%3f-14135.html

and I hope I got the link right. It is an awesome story. Thanks Again for all your efforts and God Speed in getting this back on the straight and narrow. Only those of us who have restored old wooden boats know how you have committed yourself so unselfishly to your quest.

Maybe some help with Maritime Law
by: Russell

There is a maritime lawyer that has a website. I don't know if he can be of help but I'm sure he knows more about maritime law than we do.

Admiralty Law is complex but the police think that they have jurisdiction where they actually have none but they use their weight and threat of jail to intimidate us.

I had a cop come and confiscate a boat that I had recovered from the bottom of a channel and towed it to a marina. A cop came by with some local fisherman and said that if I didn't give the guy his boat back that he would handcuff me and put me in jail.

The boat had no numbers, no motor and no equipment of any kind. It was sunk and abandoned until I raised it. I backed off at the urging of my wife and some friends that were there when I threatened to throw the cop overboard.

He put his hand on his gun and threatened me with jail or worse if I did not release the boat. This was a blatent abuse of his authority under marine law. He had no jurisdiction over a vessel in the water that was recovered under salvage laws.

At the very least I should have been compensated for going out and raising the boat and towing it back to the dock.

The website is called maritimelaw.com and I believe he is in Ohio. There is another serious admiralty law firm in Miami. I'll try to get their information tomorrow.

Sorry you have had so much trouble from the police but maybe these maritime lawyers can help. Good Luck! Keep up the good work of saving history for the children and future mariners.

Another perspective to the houseboat living laws.
by: Capt SC Trueman

For the past 20+ years (after retiring) I retired to save restore and allow folks to touch see and hear a historic last of her kind 1930's 100ft tug named the "K WHITTELSEY".

Displeased with the way folks use taxpayer cash.. in the millions... to fund some harebrained vessel salvage that fails and no one is responsible for where all that cash went. I got a museum charter and even (completely with my own moneys) raised and restored an actual vintage covered barge.

These vessels are documented and both navigable and have seen over 10,000 school children across our decks, for FREE. My dime. The Tug is my home as this kind of operation requires 24 hour attention: It is and has been my home.

In 2007 I brought my self sustaining museum to an extremely receptive Town on the Erie Canal under paid permits to the state for the honor to use a dock that had sat idle for years, and well out of channel.

In November 2008 I was told by the director of canals that while they would renew my permits, they would not tolerate my living aboard. My stand was that they didn?t have the right to do that.

In January 2009, I was boarded by the state police and arrested and jailed for trespassing on private property (actually it's public property)? without any warrants, with no due process, jailed and have had everything I own confiscated by NY State Canal corp.

I now have a restraining order that won't allow me to even get a winter coat from my HOME. I am now a year later out on the street, my tools and equipment all gone while I meekly am trying to fight in federal court.

I?ve spent months researching maritime law and site case after case that plainly state they can?t do this, this is piracy on the highest order, but few care. Links can be found to articles etc, by googling trueman tugboat erie canal

I have been stripped of everything and 20 years expense and efforts? and am being ground to dust under way of excessive abuse of power. This stuff isn't paranoia, this is total breakdown of this illusion of freedoms and justice we all seem to think still exist.

Captain Steven C Trueman
845 340 0506


Reply - Answer
Captain Steven C Trueman, I have to say that this is a truly a sad story, and hope that your "freedoms and justice" are restored.

I wish I could comment on the case, however my understanding of all the different avenues of maritime law are very limited. Hopefully one of our readers or visitors in the legal field will read your case and be willing to help out.

Again, thanks for sharing your experience with us all here, and hope that the next year brings you much happiness and piece of mind.

IAN from www.all-about-houseboats.com

Coast Guard & Boat Boardings
by: Russell

You are right about boardings. There is usually a reason. In all my years on boats the Coast Guard has always been fair. Personally, I have never been boarded but what I am speaking of is giving someone the permission to board me without asking or having probable cause. I have been stopped and asked where I was coming from and going to, have been asked for registration and permission to check sewage valves.

I always have the Coast Guard Courtesy sticker and it is up to date. This shows we have submitted the boat to a Coast Guard inspection on our own and are within all Coast Guard regulations. That is sufficient. 99% of the time the Coast Guardsmen see the sticker and just tell us to "Have a good and safe time out on the water".

I bear no ill will towards them or the police. I will however, allow any officials to inspect us as long as they show me the same respect that we afford them.

Anchorage law for houseboats
by: roger

The anchorage law for Florida is in my opinion the best. I've been intimidated by local officals before but the results were usually OK. When Russell starts talking about being boarded and searched, there is almost always a reason to board the boat.

I've been approached by law enforcement before, usually the subject is Y valves (for sanitation discharge), and when they ask to board which they have always have done, I don't object because that's part of having a boat.

I do explain that there are weapons on board and are loaded, and than I explain that there is no Y valve onboard because the boat has composting system with no over board piping.

I've never been boarded which sometimes dissapoints me, because I like to show off how the boat works. I almost always get lot questions which is OK, as I do believe that if you have no means of navigation (engine or steering) than you should be taxed by the local authorities as a domicile (land based home).

Roger, somewhere in Florida.

Paranoia? It's not paranoia when a new law takes away rights.
by: Russell

Where do you get your mis-information? Do you just make it up as you go along? Maybe you think you know what you're talking about but you are sadly mis-informed. You find our losing rights as funny? We're not talking about your comedic ability. It's not as good as you think it is.

I pay both home ownership and houseboat ownership. I can tell you what all the charges and fees are and it is a lot more expensive to own and operate a houseboat than a house. You land lubbers think that just because a law or fee does not effect you that it is a good law.

I've seen boats and houseboats with all sorts of engines from 5HP up to thousands of horsepower. A way may be needed to get a housebarge to the pumpout station. Again, you have no idea of what you are saying about classifications and regulations.

Not paying land taxes is a benefit of houseboat living because we do not have land under our boats. We pay all the other fees you don't pay. You get out of paying marine taxes, maintenance and upkeep of America's waterways and taxes and fees from the Fish and Game people.

Being aware of new legislation and it's effect on us as boaters is not tinfoil hat paranoia. I have been a boat owner since getting my first boat in 1957. My Dad had boats that I grew up with long before that.

Have you ever been invaded at your house? Has anyone ever just walked in and gone through your wife's underware drawer? Why is the same food in your freezer not allowed in mine? Yes, my home is a vessel. It makes no differance. It's my home, registered boat, car, camper or whatever.

Don't presume to tell us to keep our nose clean. When I am doing nothing wrong and some land lubber gives my rights away it bothers me. It should also bother you if you have the brains to see past your prejudice and mis-information.

This is NOT about what I nor anyone else may do. It's about what the police & Coast Guard may do just because they want to. How about if a cop pulls you over in your car and cuffs you and searches your car and confiscates anything he deems contraband? What then? Your rights to privacy and protection under the law are now non-existant.

We need to do nothing to attract the attention of the marine police or Coast Guard. Just being there when they have the right to board and search us without probable cause is wrong. That's not paranoia, that's common sense.

At least to those of us who understand how the law is applied by those who have the power. Yep, I'm a B-O-A-T and dang glad I'm not a land lubber. Land Lubbers Scare me!

Paranoid much?
by: Richard

Seriously Russell, get over your paranoia.

Houseboaters in many states have skirted paying property taxes, school levies, and many other fees for years now. It was once considered the primary advantage of being a liveaboard, which was a lower overall expense/taxation base because you were considered a boat, and therefore able to roam.

Some marina's even had these ridiculous "boats" with a Johnson 9.9 on the back just to NOT be classified as a "home", but as a "boat"...so forgive me if I find it incredulously funny that now people want their boat classified as a home - again for some assumed protection/advantage over the other classification.

My point is simple. If you obey the laws of the jurisdiction you are currently in, and with regards to the vessel (and yes Russell, your home is a VESSEL) you are in, whether they board you or not, you will be fine. Remember, if there is sufficient evidence of a crime underway, even the police onshore can break down your door and enter. If you don't believe me, go ahead and commit a crime with a cop outside your window. Even on land, your home is not entirely your kingdom. It is not a Consulate, nor is it an Embassy.

If you KNOW that the sea life you possess in your freezer is illegal in the area you are in, whose fault is that anyway???? What about those firearms??? What about that banned substance or animal hide???? That fault would be yours Russell. Yours and yours alone. Ignorance of the law is never ever an excuse, and that is enshrined in the law both on and off shore.

Seriously Russell, to attract the effort and resources necessary to be boarded means that you 99.99999999999999999999999% of the time have given the requisite authorities cause to expend the time, manpower, and effort to chase 'lil ol' you down. If you want to digress into tin foil hat conspiracy theories, feel free. I do not fear my government, but then, I have nothing to hide.

Keep your nose clean, and you will have no issues. Funny how I and many others can boat for years and not run into a single, solitary issue...and this is in multiple INTERNATIONAL jurisdictions flying the stars and stripes off the stern...

Face it Russell, you're a boat in the eyes of the law. Just because you chose to live on it, that means nothing in its classification. You...are...a...B-O-A-T.

Agreed!
by: Russell

Sorry if I sounded like we had protection in foreign waters. I realize that our rights stop at all foreign borders and territorial waters. Thanks for pointing that out.

As for the rights of all Americans, they do normally stop at our border. The protection I was refering to was in case of piracy or being boarded upon the high seas and not in another countries borders.

Fascinating
by: Mark, South Australia

Russell's comments about protection by the Navy et al when leaving US waters only applies on the high seas and does not apply in the territorial waters of a foreign State.

Sailors, like any other visitor to a foreign country, are under the jurisdiction of that State while they are in its territory.

Citizenship?
by: Russell

Your "homes in the sky" is so ridiculous that it doesn't deserve a response. It also has nothing to do with this.

What good does it do to be boarded and have your boat confiscated because of some lobster, grouper, snook or any other gamefish or shellfish? Even when you win the legal arguments and go through all the costs of court, lawyers, transportation and replacement of everything in your freezer, refrigerator you still lose.

Being boarded without probable cause is still an invasion of your privacy and a violation of your constitutional rights.

My firearms are mine and are legal. Yet, if some official says they are impounding my boat, jailing me and my crew and passengers because he can't get verification until Monday, what am I supposed to do?

He had no right to just walk aboard my boat and demand a search because he wanted to. Without probable cause there is no reason for anyone to board my houseboat.

If my papers are in order and the boat looks legal then I am supposed to be turned loose, not boarded on the hunch of some kid with a uniform.

As for "getting in tune with the regulations around our lifestyle choice". I am aware of them and comply with every single one. Regulations for registration and operation of a watercraft.

Lighting, paperwork, sanitation devices, fuel carrying, life jackets, storage responsibilities, discharge rules and vessel identification procedures and are all adhered to without question.

We even have to adhere to strict wake control and obey chanel markers. My house that I own on land is a rental mobile home. I would not allow the police inside without my permission or without having probable cause. If I felt they were respectable in their request for entry I would allow them in.

I do not, however like them just walking in because they want to. They do not have that right. Nor do you have the right to give my rights away because you don't agree with my lifestyle.

Yes, my house floats, so what? Yours doesn't, should the cops have the right to walk in and search it just because they want to? How about some soldier? Should they be able to walk in and look through your personal effects without probable cause or a search warrant?

Think it over, if they get away with this you could be next.

Our Rights ARE changing.
by: Russell

"Live Aboards" skirt nothing. We pay all the taxes, fees and constantly spend thousands of dollars to keep our homes within the letter of the law. We spend tens of thousands of dollars every year on issues and equipment you have no idea of.

As for flying a foreign flag, this shows you are arguing another issue you have no knowledge of. Most large vessels, including mine, are doccumented vessels under the United States of America registration system and also require additional State registration and validation. I am under NO other flag jurisdiction nor are any other America registered vessels.

When we leave the bounderies of the United States of America we are American Citizens aboard American flagged vessels and as such we are to be protected by the American Military, Coast Guard and Political safeguards.

When we return we are required to go through Customs at the first place we make landfall. Going through Customs assures the American authorities that we are in compliance with all laws and regulations. This is supposed to be sufficient for re-entry into my country.


I travel from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Big deal! My boat, like your car, camper, "mobile home" or any other posession, including your airplane, is a private posession. Passing legislation that any cop or soldier can at any time walk into your home or any other posession and confiscate anything they deem contraband would not set well with you. I submit to search and inspection of my vessel for various reasons at my discretion.

If I have been out of the country I expect to be questioned and "Inspected" at border crossings, U.S. Customs and foreign Customs areas. I agree to that. What I am saying is that I have rights guranteed under the Constitution and Bill of Rights that are being taken away under the cry of "Homeland Security".

I spoke with the FWC in the Keys and was told that if they wanted to confiscate my boat for having lobster or other sealife in my freezer that they could do it. Don't sit there and say lobster in a store wrapper is a non-issue when you do not understand the law the way it is applied to us.

You act like you don't even have a large boat, much less a houseboat. Traveling across international borders is no problem. I am in their country as a representive of the United States of America and we conduct ourselves as such.

This is not and has never been "no mans land". This law is not forcing a decision, it is taking the decision away and replacing free choice with dictated requirements.

If my papers and registration are in order no noe has the right to invade my privacy nor enter into my home and confiscate anything without proper warrents and legal proceedure. That is acording to the Constitution of the United States of America.

You want to give up your freedoms that all the patriots throughout the centries have fought and died for then you go ahead. Just don't be so free to give mine away.

To add ...
by: Richard

I know I sound harsh, but the KEY difference between the cave, RV, and other forms of housing the author mentions is that they are on LAND. You are on WATER, and you inherit the centuries of tradition, customs, and regulations.

If we could live on homes in the sky, you'd get into the FAA and the NTSB's backyard...and as a pilot, trust me...that is a red tape nightmare at the best of time.

You don't have to go to the supreme court to get your home classified as such. You made a conscious choice to be a live aboard. It is your home. You just need to get in tune with the regulations around your lifestyle choice.

I'm sorry, but you are tickling boat land...as soon as you put the red and greens on your bow and a shining star on your stern...you're a boat...liveaboard or no...

It has been a long time coming, but I am not surprised.
by: Richard

This is a touchy subject. "Live Aboards" have skirted regulations for a long long time, playing dangerously close to both a full fledged home, and a navigable vessel capable of flying a foreign flag and therefore under its jurisdiction.

What this law states is that it is time for live aboards to make a choice. Claim that you are a house and a resident of said county/city and then pay the applicable taxes, levies, and fees - OR - be classified as a navigable craft capable of going from jurisdiction to jurisdiction...but being able to be boarded and searched by the coast guard. In reality, if you are nomadic, you ARE a navigable craft.

It seems that the law in Florida is forcing the decision. It has been a long time coming as legislators and owners alike have been in this no mans land for some time.

As for your "rights" as a citizen, those do not change. This is not a discussion about citizenship. Any crime/accusation on a US citizen, especially if searched and seized by the US Coast Guard, will have all the rights and privileges of that citizenship afforded to him or her. However, you, as a nomadic craft, are subject to maritime law of the US when in US waters, and international maritime law should your houseboat go outside the boundaries.

Let's not get over emotional and start the hyperbolic what if's. If you are boarded, as a navigable craft, in US waters, and have whatever, wherever in your possession, YOU WILL BE GOVERNED BY US MARITIME LAW. It is incumbent on YOU as the registered owner of that craft to completely understand what that means.

You will find that your store bought lobster is of no issue, and your guns, if appropriately registered and not illegal, will be fine. If you cross an international boundary (Canada and Mexico as well as the other neighboring sovereign states count), you'd better brush up on what you can import or posses s in each area.

In short, know the law that applies to you and stick by it.


Houseboat Living vs RV Toy-hauler
by: capybill

After reading all the comentary regarding the boardings I am becoming hesitant to attempt to trade my RV Toy-hauler for a houseboat!

I lived aboard a 48 foot sailboat for several (ten) years in Tarpon Springs and in Osprey Florida and in all that time I had no trouble period. Have you anymore wisdom to add to this?

Thank you, Capybill Morgan

Permits Seem the Issue
by: Mark, South Australia

I doubt Captain Trueman has any chance of winning. It appears that he was told that the canals are classed as "public lands" and that permanent live-aboards are not permitted.

From his posting, it looks like he chose to ignore this and has reaped the consequences.

It seems to the me that the outcome is the same as one would expect if someone put a log cabin in a public park and attempted to live there because they felt they should be a special case.

All sovereign nations regulate their coastal and inland waters, so his case would be VERY unlikely to succeed even if it want to court.

In the unlikely event that due process wasn't followed in his arrest, he may have recourse in law.

However, the fact there are also injunctions flowing from this case makes it unlikely that due process wasn't followed.


just one question
by: Capt SC Trueman

I asked for informed comments and indicated that you look up my case, had you done so you would have seen that I filed felony charges against multiple state actors in the Federal courts and followed up in federal court of appeals, spending every last dime against this inequitable system.

I've lost all, I've paid my dues I've walked the walk, my message is to pass on my story to help folks see that your persevered security in the verb-age of law may be flawed.

And while were all man'ing up

I find your fear of the spotlight disheartening.

Mr Anonymous

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