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People living on boats have to leave Pahokee Marina

Boats are docked at the Pahokee Marina on July 15, 2021.jpg
Posted at 3:21 PM, Jul 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-15 18:44:27-04

PAHOKEE, Fla. — For years, several boat owners have dropped anchor at the Pahokee Marina and have been living on board their vessels.

But now, the city is telling some of them that they need to leave.

The Pahokee Marina is still closed to the public. Pumps are running around the clock to circulate the water, more than two months after thick, toxic blue-green algae sat stagnate, covering boat slips and the docks.

The water quality is improving, but now a new problem has surfaced.

"This has been home for the last 13 years," said Bob Cartlidge. "This marina has a history of boaters living aboard."

Cartlidge wakes up each morning, thankful to be living on the water.

"There's fish that live under your boat, alligators swim by, you have the osprey that give you music in the morning," Cartlidge said.

But the Florida Department of Environmental Protection said after the algae invaded the marina, it recently learned 11 liveaboards have been moored at the marina for more than six months in a 12-month period, which violates the marina's lease requirements with the state.

"So it doesn't mean that their boats have to go anywhere, it's just they can't live past a six-month period," said Rodney Lucas, Pahokee's interim city manager.

Lucas sent a letter to Cartlidge and the 10 other boat owners this week, saying that come the end of August, they can no longer live on board their boat at the marina.

The interim city manager said he's also looking at other options. But after 13 years, this is a problem Cartlidge never thought he'd have to worry about.

"It would end my life here pretty much. I don't quite know. It's a conundrum I have to deal with daily," Cartlidge said.

The city said if the owners are still living on their boats past Aug. 31, it will have the boat removed from the marina and it could impose a fine.