TREASURE ISLAND — Boaters wanting to anchor close enough to wade onto the shore at Sunset Beach lost one battle last week, but won — at least temporarily — another.
Despite warnings from one resident that the deeper water is frequented by stingrays and sharks, a unanimous City Commission eliminated a boat anchoring area just north of Caddy's On the Beach restaurant and bar but added a new one at the Sunset Chateau condominium complex south of Weckesser Park.
"Even 200 feet is too excessive for some people," said resident Michael Stern.
Boats at Caddy's must now remain 300 feet offshore. Commissioners urged anyone who is unable to swim that distance to either remain on their boats or wear life vests.
The new boat anchoring area at the Sunset Chateau was rejected by commissioners just weeks ago, amid complaints that boats create a safety hazard by spilling over into protected swim zones.
Last month, police Chief Tim Casey recommended the shape of the overcrowded boat anchor zone near Caddy's be changed to elongate the area where boats would be permitted.
A similar trapezoid-shaped boat anchoring area was suggested at the Sunset Chateau, but was not even considered when the commission declined to discuss the proposal.
Commissioner Carol Coward said Tuesday she realized after that meeting the commission had been unfair to the condominium owners by not listening to their request.
The condominium residents said they wanted to be able to bring their boats closer to shore so that they and their guests could wade to the beach.
"The 300-foot mark is really dangerous. It is 18 feet of water at high tide," said Sunset Chateau resident Ron Barcena.
"Getting kids to swim with life jackets is a pie in the sky dream," he told the commission.
At the urging of Commissioner Phil Collins, the commission accepted Barcena's suggestion that boats be allowed to anchor within 175 feet of the shore at his condominium, which owns about 200 feet of beach frontage.
The commission stressed that if the boat anchoring zone proves to be a problem, as it did near Caddy's, the commission would reinstate the 300-foot wide swim zone at the condominium.