Hook, Line, and Handcuffs

Fishing at the Boca Raton Beach Club will guarantee you a big haul and a visit from the police

Lori Croy, public information officer for the Boca Raton Police Department, says officers in that town consider the issue of public access to private beaches in a similar light as the issue of public access to easements between adjoining back yards on private property. "Those easements are for utilities. You wouldn't let somebody just wander onto them," she says. Similarly only those with a reason for being on a private beach should have access to the easement there.

But beaches, according to a legal view that dates back to English common law, are seen as a natural resource of the commonwealth, according to Jackson.

McAllister thinks that anyone who tries to restrict access to a beach by building fences and gates is violating at least the spirit of that common law, if not the letter. "One of these days I'm going to get me an LCV-P [a military landing craft for vehicles and personnel] and load it up with underprivileged kids. Then I'm going to head into that beach club with my horn blowing and black smoke pouring out and slam, the gate'll go down and those kids'll run out, and I'll shout, 'Okay, now behave yourselves and don't go above the water line,' and I'll be back with 30 more."

Cuciak, Corry, Tavarez, Walker, and company don't need a landing craft. They've got their own methods. When the mullet are running and the snook are biting, a carefully placed hole in a chainlink fence leads them straight to the beach they feel is theirs by right.

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