The Conundrum of “Margaritaville” Continues By Jim Kalvin For over thirty years, Jimmy Buffett has been singing the praises of life afloat – most specifically in the Florida Keys or the islands of the Caribbean. All across America, he has been inspiring people to go south, get a boat, and live the Jimmy Buffett life-style. His writings and music are rife with references to certain bars, islands, restaurants, bays, and inlets that have been immortalized, and have become destinations for millions of visitors over time. Along with the locations, a healthy dose of alcohol and marijuana is added in order to provide the mind-altering perception that one is able to come to Paradise with Mr. Buffett. But what is one really going to find when one reaches the City Limits of Margaritaville? First off, you won’t be able to find a dock to put your boat. If your boat is on a trailer, you will have to get up pretty early to find a parking place at the ramp – if you can find a ramp that you are able to use. And marina space? Forget it! Marinas in Florida are disappearing as fast as redevelopment permits can be obtained, and we are not getting any new facilities anytime soon. Secondly, if you are able to put your boat into the water, you are likely going to be faced with massive “no entry” areas, extended “slow speed” zones, or Marine Protected Areas (no fishing, anchoring, diving, or other uses allowed). One would be inclined to ask why it should be so hard to come down to enjoy that which Mr. Buffett promotes. And the irony is that it is Mr. Buffett himself that has led the charge to curtail pleasure boating throughout the State of Florida through his financial support and direct involvement with Save the Manatee Club. A good idea at the time of inception, the “Club” now pays its directors much more than it spends on conservation efforts. Current marina owners have been sued, and potential builders of new facilities face impossible mountains of regulatory red tape due to the legal maneuverings, and heavy-handed tactics of these “for-hire” non-profit environmentalists. And, Buffett’s name is wielded like a weapon in legislative committees and agency staff meetings. So, Mr. Buffett, who is probably personally responsible for more boaters coming to Florida than any other single cause, is the one who makes it possible for SMC to wage their war against those that call themselves “Parrot-Heads.” While he could have been using his considerable influence over the years helping with boater education, safety initiatives, and real resource protection measures, Mr. Buffett has, instead, chosen to fight quietly against all aquatic resource users. By making targets of his fans, he has done the manatees, the State of Florida, and the entire aquatic resource a severe injustice. Come down to “Margaritaville”? To do what? Stand on the bridge, and look at where you might have been able to go boating years ago? Buffett is using your money to fight your ability to enjoy the very things that he has sung and written about. But don’t worry – he will always be able to enjoy the Oceans. His sea-plane, and his motor yacht will take him far away from the waters of Florida that he is helping to close down – one waterway at a time.