Article Courtesy of The Palm Beach Post
By Tony Doris
Published September 12, 2017
PALM BEACH SHORES — The Buccaneer has raised its Jolly
Roger and fired a renewed legal salvo at neighboring Sailfish Marina
Resort’s plan to expand a dock within cannon range of the condo’s slips.
In July and August, the Buccaneer Condominium filed a lawsuit in circuit
court and a petition for an administrative hearing with the Florida
Department of Environmental Protection, alleging that Sailfish Marina’s
proposed dock expansion would infringe on the Buccaneer’s water rights and
dock expansion rights and make it unsafe for boats to get in and out of the
Along with the legal actions, in the past two weeks the
Buccaneer launched a publicity drive, with newspaper and TV
ads, a billboard and a Facebook page called
“TellSailfishMarinaNo” and is collecting collecting
signatures for a petition drive urging the state not to
permit the dock project.
At the heart of the dispute is whether Sailfish’s expanded
northernmost dock would leave too little room for Buccaneer
boats to navigate.
The Buccaneer, a 144-unit condominium at 142 Lake Drive, has
a 70-foot, 18-slip dock that dates to 1958. The property is
just north of SailFish, at 98 Lake Drive, where there has
been a dock since at least the late 1940s. Sailfish, owned
by Great American Life Insurance Co., has three docks, with
The proposed expansion would narrow the space between
Sailfish’s northernmost dock and the south side of
Buccaneer’s dock by 21 feet, from 93.5 feet to 72 feet,
according to Richard Bright, manager and dockmaster for the
Buccaneer Condominium Association.
Palm Beach Shores’ Buccaneer Marina paid for this
billboard at PGA Boulevard and U.S. 1 to protest Sailfish Marina’s
dock expansion plan.
It’s not just a matter of safety and inconvenience for condo owners who
might use the nine slips on the south side of the Buccaneer dock. It’s also
a matter of doubloons, for both sides.
The Buccaneer runs its dock as a marina, renting slips to visitors and using
vacant slips to sell gas to boats coming in or out of the busy Lake Worth
Inlet and popular Peanut Island. The bigger the boats the slips can handle,
the higher the dock fees and the more gas they buy.
“We’ve had over the years on the south side anywhere from 58- to 65-footers
in there and the slips that are permitted in our arrangement with the
Department of Environmental Protection are 70-foot slips,” Bright said
Wednesday. Narrowing the width by 21 feet makes it unsafe for boats that
size to use the slips, especially with the swift currents near the inlet and
the wind, he said.
The expanded dock would allow SailFish Marina, on the other hand, to fit
more big boats than it does now. They’re getting rid of 32 smaller slips and
adding 12 large ones, he said. Swapping out regular-guy spaces for
millionaires’ boats, Buccaneer contends, violates a 2006 deal by which the
county paid Sailfish $15 million to preserve public access to that section
“Small boat slips — out! Locals kicked out!” the Buccaneer’s billboard at
PGA Boulevard and U.S. 1 reads.
This is the second skirmish between the marinas. Last year Sailfish pulled
its plans after Buccaneer sought a state hearing to fight them. It filed a
revised plan this year, though not revised enough to suit Buccaneer, which
has returned to court.
Sailfish director of operations Bryan Cheney said last year that in the
interest of being good neighbors, his marina altered its original plans and
moved the proposed dock a little farther south to address the Buccaneer’s
complaints. Sailfish has demand for larger boats but always will have slips
for the public “to pull up and dine at any time,” he told The Palm Beach
Post in June 2016. “We see it (the expanded dock) as a benefit for the
county and the town of Palm Beach Shores and the boating community.”
In an emailed response Friday to a request for comment, Sailfish officials
did not address the closeness of the docks but did say the plans were in the
“Sailfish Marina is currently improving the safety and public access to the
docks, by replacing the fixed docks with floating docks,” the release said.
“Sailfish Marina has committed by action to maintain a public waterfront
with dining, specialty shopping and local charter boat activities. Sailfish
Marina continuously works to maintain and upgrade the facilities,
reinvesting in complete restoration of the seawalls, docks, lighting and our
restaurant… $1 million to $4 million annually. These improvements are an
investment in the community, consistent with the 2006 Palm Beach County $15