MARCO ISLAND — Boaters unfamiliar with Marco waters will have a new navigation tool to complement compass, chart and depth finder.
The city's Waterways Advisory Committee approved a revision to its Boating Safety brochure on Thursday. The pamphlet offers boaters a guide to bridge locations and clearances, cites basic waterway regulations, and encourages boaters to keep local waterways clean.
For those who fish, the brochure identifies reef locations by navigational coordinates. For new boaters, it offers information on local "safe boating" courses. Pump-out stations and towing companies are listed by business name and phone number.
The brochure itemizes six basic U.S. Coast Guard equipment requirements and explains prohibited behaviors that could result in costly penalties. Fines include illegal discharge of untreated sewage, exceeding "no wake" speeds, and being impaired by drugs or alcohol while operating a vessel. Copies of the brochure will be available in the near future at local boat rental sites and city offices.
Although not part of the printed items, the committee discussed the penalty for causing physical damage to private property with a vessel. A collision at Villa de Marco West precipitated the conversation.
Committee member Jim Timmerman said he was contacted by condominium personnel looking for guidance on protecting an on-site dock that had been struck twice by vessels. During the second incident, the dock was hit so hard it sustained structural damage. The recreational boater who ran into it fled the scene, but someone at the condominium was able to view identification markings.
Don Dilks, the committee's chairman, said physical damage that exceeds $500 is a Federal offense and should be reported to the U.S. Coast Guard.
The condominium is located at the point where the Marco River meets the entrance to Collier Bay. In 2012, emergency dredging of the pass changed currents and the velocity of water entering and leaving the pass. It also created an eddy and a hole big enough to hold a Volkswagen, said Tim Pinter, Marco Island's public works director.
Vertical erosion control sheets were placed near the base of the condominium's seawall to protect it, but dock maintenance and repair is the property's responsibility, Pinter said. The dock is used for fishing and is not used for boat docking.
The committee discussed steps the condominium might take to alleviate the problem including signage on the dock or pilings placed in the waterway directly in front of the dock as a stopgap.
"There's not a lot the city can do," Pinter said. "Potential damage to the dock is one of the reasons we got the emergency dredging approved."
He advised the board to have the owners meet with Bryan Milk, community affairs director, to discuss possible ways to mitigate the problem. Since the dock is part of a commercial property, replacing it would require new code standards including ADA requirements.
During the meeting, Timmerman recapped progress on updating an ordinance to use vacant lots for seawall replacement. City council approved on first reading regulations for using lots and penalties for violating city code. Second reading is scheduled for council's Jan. 22 meeting.
Timmerman agreed the city was moving in a positive direction with the ordinance but felt two more ordinances needed attention: one deals with barges and cranes and a second concerns technical specifications for seawalls.