The anchorage war on Miami Beach’s Sunset Lake has escalated. Nineteen Laser Picos have appeared behind the $5.3 million waterfront mansion of Fredrik Karlton, who has been waging a battle with cruisers who anchor off his home.
Karlton, a real estate investor and former city council candidate, has trained bright spotlights on anchor-outs at night, blasted them with reggae music and called police to shoo the “interlopers” away. Now the question is how cruisers will respond to his latest gambit.
The 11.5-foot rotomolded sailboats are anchored, but none has a mast or rudder — just a white solar light rigged where the mast would be stepped. They form a kind of blockade to discourage cruisers from dropping the hook off Karlton’s backyard, says Wally Moran. The 57-year-old charter captain, sailing instructor and cruising guide editor spoke to Soundings by cell phone from his 34-foot Dufour, Gypsy Wind, which was anchored on Sunset Lake for several days in March.
“He has basically created a channel that runs along the outside of the lake and made it impossible to navigate in the middle,” says Moran, who believes the Picos are a navigational hazard, not to mention an eyesore. “It’s illegal, it’s offensive, and it’s wrong,” says Moran.
Boaters do have the right to anchor in Sunset Lake, Moran says. It’s a right of navigation under Florida law. The police agree. The city agrees. Until now, Karlton hasn’t agreed, arguing that waterfront homeowners have a right to peace and privacy. “If I park my van outside your home on the public swale, you’re going to call the police and have me removed,” he told Soundings in an interview for an earlier story. Karlton says he ought to have the same recourse for dealing with anchor-outs, but police say he doesn’t. He did not return phone calls or an e-mail to talk about this latest development in the saga.
Moran, who has been challenging Karlton’s efforts to keep boats from anchoring, says he managed to maneuver his Dufour between the dinghies and anchor, though precariously, inside the Picos. Determined to uphold cruisers’ anchorage rights against what he sees as “bullying,” Moran planned to go to a March 21 Miami Beach City Council meeting and complain about the dinghies at a citizen speak-out session. “The city of Miami Beach supports people anchoring here because it’s legal,” he says. “I’m going to go before the council and tell people what’s going on.”
Moran says there’s one upside to the blockade. “The irony is that by putting all these boats out here he’s made it clear that it is legal to anchor here,” he says.
This article originally appeared in the May 2012 issue.