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Anke and I live aboard WAYWARD, and wrote about it's design and construction at

Access to the net comes and goes, so I'll be writing in fits and spurts.Please feel free to browse the archives, leave comments where you will and write... I'll respond as I can.

Fair winds!

Dave and Anke
triloboats swirly gmail daughter com

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The LAW: Is we IN or Is we OUT?

The now Outlawed liveaboard community of Eagle Harbor
where we got our start

Sitting still,
Doing nothing,
The Law grows by itself.
-- Apologies to Taoist Poetry

They civilize left,
They civilize right.
'Til nothing is left,
'Til nothing is right!
They civilize freedom 'til nothing is free...
-- From Paint Your Wagon, The First Thing Ya Know

The LAW: Is we IN or Is we OUT?
(Caution: Rant Alert)

One of the disturbing trends visibly unfolding over the span of my lifetime is loss the Commons.

It's a general loss, but at the moment, I'm thinking of lost freedom of the seas. That, and the conversion of Citizens into Outlaws; not by any sudden turn to crime, but overtaken by the rising tide of Law.

To go swimming - skinny or clad - at one's own risk. To imbibe while safely at rest. To mix it up in one's own bedroom with whichever adult consents to play. To let go of one's own life at a time of one's own choosing.

All of these and others - to some extent or another, from place to place - lie outside the Law. Prohibitions have long been in place, and yet stand, despite some encouraging softening of the Law or its enforcement.

Freedom to come and go - or abide - as one pleases. To sit on a side-walk or linger in conversations among friends or drop one's hook outside a marked channel.

These are freedoms drowning in that steadily rising tide.


I first got into sailing toward the end of the early revival in blue-water cruising.

Quasi-Hippie cruisers set forth in funky, home-built boats to rediscover the world. Moitessier, Jones, Pardeys, Hills and many others blazed a trail. But on their heels came the droves of 'turn-key' boats with their crews of well-heeled, extra-curricular tourists.

We on the low road get caught in a squeeze play.

Rising regulation of anchorages - anchoring, moorage and entry fees, permits, registrations, and outright prohibitions -  has been squeezing us from shoreside. From the water, our factory outfitted, proper-yachtie neighbors pay these fees without flinching, then add their voices in condemnation.

Consider the word, derelict. Here's a list of meanings in order acquired:
  • Abandoned
  • In poor condition due to neglect or abuse
  • Shamefully negligent in not having done what one should have done
  • A person without a home, job, or property
Is it me, or is there 'mission creep' in play?

This word once usefully distinguished abandoned, hazard-to-navigation watercraft from those in hand. Haul 'em away, auction or crush 'em, and good riddance.

The next level drops the notion of use... 'poor condition' is now a matter of judgement. Um... well, authorized and trained inspectors condemn structures on the basis of fair, sound, objective evaluations, right? If you happen to be living in hazard, we're saving you from yourself.

Shameful? Should? Now we're getting personal! The Puritans are on the warpath. And they have no qualms about codifying such BS into law that applies to us all, regardless of Constitutional principle.

A person without...??? Wait a minute... weren't we disposing of derelicts a few rounds back???

So what (or who) is a derelict? Anyone who offends the 'community norms'. And these have such a fine track record of  liberty and justice for all.

Might as well say undesirable and get it over with (What? They did??).


Arguments Against Derelicts

 "If everyone were doing it, then..." aka "If we let you, then we'd have to let everyone!"

Probably the most common 'argument' put forward. It's a flat assertion of opinion masked as 'logic'.

First, it's ridiculous to think that many, much less everyone, might be tempted into doing 'it'.

The liveaboard life isn't exactly most folks cup o' tea. There's a lot of work involved. Space is small, both physically and socially. Boats rock and take on water from time to time. Anchors drag.

Second, the 'whatever' at the end of those ellipses is usually just as fantastic.

The harbor/harbors/world would be wall-to-wall boats. The water would turn to sludge. The fish will be caught and eaten by - Lawd forbid - derelicts!

So, let's remove that 'd'... the Law forbids.

"You're parasites are living for free on the backs of the rest of us!" aka "You're part of Entitlement Culture!"

Umm. Not exactly.

In most of the communities where fees are charged, boats at anchor are the only ones paying for zero services... doesn't cost the community a dime. Our use of shoreside infrastructure is charged separately. Our pockets are robbed with 'liveaboard fees' to cover dockside services bought and paid for.

Our expenditures ashore enrich your local economy, and incur local sales taxes... this of course makes us taxpayers within your community. Meanwhile, we often contract for jobs ashore, to earn the money we're spending. Volunteer in community organizations or projects.

Meanwhile, a liveaboard presence provides services without charge. We hop to, to pump or secure a vessel in trouble (most often one of yours). We rescue you and your frightened children when you dump your canoes.

No, we pay our way as we go, trading an honest hour for an honest wage.

It is you, I would say, who are not entitled to profit from those for whom you've done nothing, for use of an  anchorage which predates your community.

"Well, you're squatters, then, squatting on Public Land!"

These 'lands' (sea floor) were considered open to Public Access, and guaranteed under maritime Law, until they were appropriated by state and local governments for 'regulation and revenue'. Heavy on the revenue. Stands until challenged in court, however.

Without changing the Law of precedence - which remains US Maritime Law - to assert that anchoring in Public Waters constitutes squatting and that liveaboards are therefore squatters... well... that's called libel (I have nothing against squatters, or even being one, but its intent is libel when so used).

'Course, it takes a legal team to defend oneself against that, and them in the big houses got 'em.

"Liveaboards pollute our pristine waters!"

This is a good one.

Liveaboards are subject to the same discharge Laws that regulate all vessels. They are generally obeyed, and where not, are subject to enforcement.

Meanwhile, those 'pristine waters'? One harbor was only beginning to recover from pollution from the Creosote factory that had enriched the town for a near century... other towns have similar polluters who are currently not only permitted, but wooed, encouraged and embraced.

How is it that the Environmental Impact Statement for mines, clearcuts, factories, quarries, roads, docks and so on consistently state 'no significant environmental impact', while liveaboards constitute an environmental crisis?

Road and sewer run-off, sewage discharge from 'treatment plants' (ever visit one?); the pump-out of oily bilges from recreational craft (whose numbers dwarf us); that mega-yacht soaping off its topsides (more 'grey-water discharge' per yacht than the whole liveaboard fleet could potentially emit in a year); ditto any fishing fleet present. And airborne emissions? Don't get me started.

All these slide by without comment. "But last week I saw that bum scrape his plate overboard!"

I agree that liveaboards participate in pollution to a degree. But given our generally low-consumption lifestyle, I find it hard to buy that our homes are worse polluters - even per capita - than those with much larger, highly complex and over furnished homes plus their bevy of high-polluting tools and toys.

Comparing tiny liveaboard communities head to head with sprawling shoreside communities, what are we to conclude?

"Bunch'a eyesores!" or "The derelicts in our viewshed detract from property values."

I respect my neighbor's right to their own aesthetics.

When they wish to replace a beautiful stretch of shoreline with an ugly box, chosen from a catalog and built by the lowest bidder, litter their lawns with plastic furniture... I don't complain. If it's bad enough, I'll move on.

So I really don't think we should be passing Law to outlaw - or at least harass - a high-priced dive.


Okay. You get the picture.

These folks aren't particularly monstrous. They tend to oppose government regulation, Big Brother, infringement of personal and communal freedoms. They just don't connect the dots across the water.

Point is, the Law is on the move. Sitting quietly at anchor, we are perfectly legal one day, owing cash money to grubbers the next, and quite possibly hustled along by threat of force the day after.

It's kind of pathetic.

We toe the line. We comply with the Law, both its letter and - more than many - its spirit. We're respectful of person and property. We consume little and contribute much. Like any other community, all this in-the-main.

Yet, one day, we find ourselves 'derelict'... Outlaw...

...and it's time to move along, over that shrinking horizon.

PS. I've used 'us' and 'them' language throughout. However, some of our liveaboard friends -as in any other community - have been poor neighbors. At the same time many among the shoreside communities have stood up for liveaboards at some cost to themselves. To you, I offer my heartfelt thanks!

PSS. The long-running trend to criminalize abortion is part of this rising tide. Roughly one million women per year are in danger of being convicted of  murderer, and all who assist them in any way of murder or accessory to murder. Chances are excellent that each and every one of us is guilty, or loves someone who is. There's no moving along from this one.


  1. We anchored our 37 foot motor sharpie on a Panama City (Florida) flat once, reveling in its 15" draft, and a lady collared us on one of our wading in trips ashore to ask us "Excuse me.... how long are you going to anchor here? We paid a lot of money in our condo for a good water view, y'know....". Granted our funky plywood vessel resembled a sleek kling-on battlecruiser but damn: we sure liked it anyway. Her face fell when I told her Florida law allowed us to anchor up to 6 months in one spot then we could move a few boat lengths away and anchor another 6 months (at that time Panama City had no anchoring out time restrictions). Given her tacky delivery I wasn't even diplomatic about it. It was already far worse in southern Florida though so I guess we were lucky. That was about 10 years ago. Yesterday we met a cruising couple who are bus touring inland here in southern Mexico and keeping their boat short term in Puerto Madero, Chiapas (pac coast on the Guat border). They are on their way back to the sea of Cortez since they like that area best of all the caribbean and central american spots they have cruised. Apparently Mexico has a 10 year time limit on your cruising permit. Your body only gets 6 months but you can leave the boat and fly out and back to get another 6 month tourist visa. And less than a hundred bucks gets you this permit. With very little hassles about anchoring out. So, just one example but as the developed world and its increasingly snarling bureaucracy squeezes the cruising liveaboard community there are bailout spots still.

    1. Hi Robert,

      It amazes me how many folks don't realize that the view - used to sell them a property - doesn't come with the property!

      Yet, when they DO realize that, they are among the most dangerous. They are often those most active in rewriting NIMBY law (Not In My Back Yard aka I got mine, Jack), which is the excuse used to clear out 'undesirables'.

      And that view covers a LOT of water! 8(

      Dave Z

  2. Guess the only place left is open ocean: tie together a few floating containers in international waters and declare independence...

    1. Hi Efraim,

      There are a few groups pursuing just that... Sea Gypsies, WaterTribe, and Seasteaders, among others.

      There are still a lot of extensive coastwise cracks in the system, too. Cascadia, S Chile, the 'Nesias, Maritime Provinces... laws are congealing, but enforcement is spotty.

      Now's the time to pick one and learn it's ways, I'd say.

      Dave Z

      PS. Check out the adventures of George Dibbern!

  3. This past year we sailed about 2200 nm around the down east loop - lake ontario, st. lawrence river, canadian maritimes, maine, long island sound, hudson river. We had an eye opening .......anchorages in many places closed or so full of mooring balls there was no room to anchor, other harbours full of docks and as well for us in the USA, there was the looming arm of homeland security.

    As canadians(other foreign boaters as well) we are required to report to HS by telephone everytime we move. Rules vary from state to state
    regarding reporting but on the upper hudson/erie canal we were told we
    must report a move from anchorage to anchorage that was all of 12 miles. As well while travelling north on the hudson near yonkers we were boarded while under sail by the athorities for a check of id, vessel paperwork and safety equipment.

    1. Hi Diama,

      Welcome to the free-est county on Earth. 8|

      Seriously, I apologize. Such treatment not only offends my sense of Liberty on many fronts, but those of hospitality, reason and even a patriotism.

      As for the crowded everything, I believe that's the global consequence of way to many humans on board. Like an over-loaded skiff, only trouble (including the 'police state' kind) can follow.

      Best wishes!

      Dave Z

  4. I have been looking for marinas that accommodate live-aboard moorages in the Vancouver BC area, and have found that they are becoming very difficult to find. One marina owner said that ten years ago it was no problem, but now the port authority would revoke his licence if he allowed liveaboards.The only ones that allow live-aboards are actually on the rivers leading into the harbour, and they have multi-year waiting lists. Technically you can still anchor out, but the preferred harassment technique is to have the harbour patrol come and inspect your boat, and cite every little infraction they can find and give a limited time to fix.

    1. Hi Dennis,

      Yup. A tough situation. Many liveaboards I know go through various contortions to establish NON-liveaboard credentials. "No, Sir, I don't live aboard. I'm working on my ??? at the moment. But II appreciate your concern."

      If you can, I'd consider avoiding urban concentrations. BC has a LOT of beautiful backwaters far from port authority, and, I hear, a thriving, waterbourne counter-culture.

      I'll email you some place names I've heard of for starters.

      Good luck!

      Dave Z

  5. Thing is a lot of the too many humans, too many problems can be solved but the people at the top wish to maximize every bit of tribute from us they can. They want us to pay them tribute. Steady streams of money to them just to survive. All could have plenty to eat. It might not solve all problems but it wouldn’t hurt. All because they’re so obsessed with controlling everyone and everything. Lust and greed. Here’s a few notes on what we could be doing.

    Using natural feedback cycles, if CO2’s a problem at all, CO2 can be sequestered. Remember CO2 is fertilizer for plants. A guy fertilized the oceans and got record breaking tuna in the fisheries in Alaska. The US government should be fertilizing the oceans as a common good.

    One half of all land is in desert or poor condition for normal crops but we can grow plants there that use seawater to grow in. Making food and fuel.

    We can harness the temperature difference in the tropical sea with a vortex power plant. After one plant is built it can be used to create floating islands with the power plants electricity. The electricity can be used to make concrete (actually Carbocrete) to make more vortex islands. It’s a exponential function. Getting bigger and bigger faster and faster so that theoretically you could make enough islands with greater than first world power consumption and living standards for every person on the planet in fifteen years.

    You really should read this by James Bowery it’s terribly interesting and shows the power of exponential function processes and what they can do.

    Did you read the above link? Don’t miss it it’s a good one.

    Elon Musk is rapidly pushing space launches into the super affordable. He’s going to try a second time to land a lower stage of his two stage rocket on a barge. His fuel cost for each launch is only about $200,000. If he could reuse his rockets you see the cost coming rapidly down. In space is a vast unbelievable amount of resources. One little piddly asteroid is worth trillions and would supply the whole planet with metals at low cost for a while.

    So actually there’s easily definable ways to get ourselves out of this mess but it doesn’t help because people will never do this stuff so we will all die because the psychopaths want control over everyone. Any energy breakthroughs they’ll squash because it gives them less power. The single biggest problem humans face are the psychopaths and their lust for power over others. Defeat the psychopaths and the other problems we have can be overcome. I haven’t even talked about Molten Salt Reactors, the many people working on fusion and the LENR fusion that people have duplicated running off of water and nickel powder.

    1. Hi Sam,

      As you say, fascinating possibilities. But to me, very scary/alarming, too.

      Exponential growth is always a phase within any finite system, before crashing into limits. And those limits are little understood, not to mention exponentially growing impacts radiating out through complex and chaotic, interlocked ecosystems.

      In a sense, exponential economic growth since the advent of agriculture (accelerating since the Industrial Revolution) constitutes the nexus of issues which threaten both ourselves and our world. As we approach the Limits at a run, we enter the zone of desperate measures for desperate times.

      To initiate 'remedial' new technologies - given how well we've NOT done with those we at least somewhat understand - leaves me wary and skeptical. Not sure that another magnitude of order of anything is the best prescription! I foresee volatility, at best, and new crash scenarios, at worst, from (at least) geoengineering scale projects.

      Oddly, that Atmospheric Vortex Engine has a personal history. I came up with that idea in college (1980s), but didn't manage to get any traction for it. Guess I should'a stuck with it! 8)

      Dave Z

    2. "...As you say, fascinating possibilities. But to me, very scary/alarming, too.

      Exponential growth is always a phase within any finite system, before crashing into limits. And those limits are little understood, not to mention exponentially growing impacts radiating out through complex and chaotic, interlocked ecosystems..."

      I agree. Kinda. I'm just looking at working with what we have. I do admit it could make things worse but it seems as wealth becomes higher population increases seem to go down.

      Amazing you came up with the Vortex Engine also. Tough to get something that big funded so you probably did the right thing by not spending your life on it. On the other hand that's how progress works is by some one being stubborn enough to work on something like this that may never come to fruition in their lifetime.

    3. Hi Sam,

      That idea came to me while hitchhiking. I camped on a ridge near a huge, empty, blacktop parking lot in Nevada. A fresh breeze blew toward it, and I could see birds flying in from every direction to ride the thermal updraft it was generating.

      Hurricanes had been in the news, and - as they say - the rest failed to become history.

      And you're right, it was a narrow squeak for me. If I'd found some serious interest, I never would have reached the water in my present, enlightened state of povery! 8)

      Dave Z

  6. You can't do that! Why, you ask? 'Cause you're free, dum-dum!

  7. I used to think elonmusk's human skin-suit was slightly less than convincing. That may still be so in my view, but his increasingly human pettiness suggests that the programming is slipping.

    Hence the UAP visits, as a warning. ;P