What draws people to live aboard a boat docked at the local marina? The live aboard lifestyle participants tend to come from two directions. One is they own an boat and money is tight making parking the boat at a live aboard marina the least expensive way to exist. The other side of the coin is the boater who loves the lifestyle and enjoys the ability to leave on a cruise whenever they feel like it and enjoy the camaraderie of similar boaters living at the marina. One lifestyle is similar to trailer park living and the marinas that cater to these types will reflect that and the other is more like year-round resort living.
There are a host of factors to consider for the boater looking for a live aboard marina. First up is facilities: Most marinas have laundry and showers, but the live aboard prospect should check out the convenience from the slips, cleanliness and availability. How much power is available at the slips? Most marinas have only 30 to 50 amps available, which is probably not sufficient for the live aboard resident who needs power for refrigeration and heating. Car parking is another consideration. How safe or unsecured is the parking lot and what is the local area like? Some marinas will offer just the basics, while others may include access to marine fuel, a swimming pool, clubhouse, restaurant and store. One big turnoff can be boat repairs and painting going on near the boat slips in a marina where you are living.
To select a live aboard marina it is a must to go visit the marina. First, check on the marina policies towards live aboards and the applicable regulations. Then go talk to the boaters who are actually living at the marina. They will tell you about the marina management, the local conditions and the low-down on their neighbors.
It is common for marinas known for exceptional live aboard facilities and policies to have a ong waiting list slips. Sometimes, marinas may have boaters living aboard short term, even if the marina has a policy against it. You will not read about these folks in the boating forums because they do not want to lose their secret priviledges! It appears there is underground communication between boaters living aboard, who pass tips back and forth within the community. I have found anecdotal stories of boaters who, once they were settled in their first marina, were able to find out about other marinas with even better atmosphere and ancillary services. If you are committed to the onboard living lifestyle it appears the secret maybe just getting started, then being willing to move around as you learn the ropes, and find the ideal spot for your vessel and personal intersts & temperment.
Finding a live aboard marina that is a good fit for you can begin by searching the internet, and making some phone calls. But, before you make any final decisions, you really should get out and visit marinas, either by car or, even better, by boat. It is often a “what you see is what you get lifestyle”, and the best news is: if you don’t like where you are today, simply shove off and try out another spot!
- National Marina Day 2011
- Skip’s Dockside Marina in Greenwood Lake, NY
- Cabrillo Marina, Los Angeles
- Sunset Marina, Ocean City, MD
- Town Creek Marina in Beautiful Beaufort, NC