March 23, 2006 – The Department of Planning and Natural Resources made a sweep of Johnson Bay, St. John, Thursday to tell boaters anchored there that they had to leave.
"When they reached us, they told us we had to move today," Tristam MacDonald said.
He said he told DPNR officials it would not be possible since the captain, who is his father, Morgan, was not aboard. MacDonald said he was then told to move as soon as possible.
MacDonald said the officers told him the boaters would have to move to Coral Harbor, which is a legal mooring area.
However, MacDonald said it was not possible for his family boat, Ushuaia, to moor in Coral Harbor because the harbor is too tight to sail out.
"We don't have an engine," he said.
However, MacDonald said his family applied for a mooring but never heard anything from DPNR about it.
DPNR's efforts to get rid of the Johnson Bay boaters started several years ago. Planning Commissioner Dean C. Plaskett said many left, but many had returned.
"We're trying to discourage people from coming back in," he said.
Plaskett said boaters have a 30-day grace period before the department starts enforcing the $50 per day penalty.
He said that Johnson Bay is not a legal mooring or long-term anchoring area. He said only short-term anchoring is allowed in Johnson Bay.
At an Oct. 25, 2004 meeting at the Donkey Diner in Coral Bay, Plaskett told the Johnson Bay boaters via speaker phone that they could sit tight for the time being.
He said at the phone meeting that he would have an ad hoc boater's committee up and running by the end of that week to help develop a plan on where to relocate the Johnson Bay boaters.
One Johnson Bay boater, who did not want to be identified, said that DPNR called one informal ad hoc committee meeting several months after the Oct. 25, 2004 meeting, but that was the last time anyone heard from DPNR.
MacDonald said that since no one has heard from Planning in more than a year, they assumed no action would be taken to get them out.
Boaters have said repeatedly that they had nowhere to go since Coral Harbor is already overcrowded.
According to a 2004 study by the Coral Bay Association for Marine Planning, about a half-dozen people live aboard in Johnson Bay, a small arm in Coral Harbor. The total number of boats stood at 44 boats. The study also showed 122 boats are moored in Coral Harbor's main anchorage. Of that number, between a dozen and 20 are home to live-aboard families.
At the Oct. 25 meeting,Plaskett said the boaters had to move for ecological reasons.
MacDonald said the boaters plan to meet at 5 p.m. Saturday at the Donkey Diner in Coral Bay to discuss what action they will take to preserve their ability to anchor in Johnson Bay.
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