Houseboat owner told to dock vessel - Video

August 2010 News

ON THE INDIAN RIVER, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - The first thing you notice about Jim Walsh's 1,300 square-foot home is the waterfront view, but Captain Jim Walsh says the two-story houseboat is more boat, than house.

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"It has a bow; therefore, it has a stern, port and starboard," says the captain. "It's not a structure. It doesn't belong on the land."

But that's not the way the Florida Department of Environmental Protection sees it. The state EPA says this boathouse is more like a residence, and for that reason, his friend Katy D. can't rent out her dock on Indian River Drive to her boat captain friend.

"I think it's wrong! It's wrong!" says Katy D. "I have riparian rights," she says, referring to use the water frontage.

Captain Walsh paid his friend $300 a month to park his boathouse at the private dock for the last four months, but that arrangement ended when the state EPA threatened to fine Katy D. and put a lien on a property she was trying to sell. According to state law, captain Walsh's houseboat can not be moored on "sovereign submerged land."

Walsh felt defeated. "I looked up the word 'sovereign.' It means the highest power no greater authority. Where are you going to go with that? So, I moved the boat."

Now, the boat is in the middle of the Indian River just north of SR 528, and can be seen by most of the million-dollar homes on the road here.

But out in the middle of the Indian River is where rougher waters are tearing loose the bow. The angry boat captain flies a Confederate flag in frustration. He's also scrambling to find a dock to park his boat, before storms put his waterfront views, underwater.

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