Part 3 – Picking the Marina

Now that you have made the decision to move aboard, gotten rid of all those things that are unnecessary, chosen your boat, the time has come to pick a marina.

Most marinas in our neck of the woods, the west coast, have a certain number of “live aboard” slips available.  Normally these slips will cost around $100 more than a normal slip.  The prices range from around $9 a foot to around $15 a foot for your boat.  Some marinas have laundry facilities and perhaps a store and a restaurant, and others are more basic.  It all depends on what your needs are.  In our case we wanted a marina where we could work on our sailboat unabated.  It also fit into our plans that we wanted to be able to spend as much money as possible each month on upgrading our boat as opposed to spending our money on marina fees.  This is because we have plans to sail off into the south Pacific an on extended voyage.  Others will have different needs.

Also to be considered is that your live aboard boat will probably have to pass an inspection before you will qualify for a live aboard slip.  You may have to upgrade your toilet and holding tank if there are problems found.  Keep that in mind when you are budgeting.  Consider it the cost of ownership, much in the sense of owning a home.  Only owning and living aboard is MUCH less expensive, and there are many other benefits, as you know.

Before you settle on a marina you might also want to walk the docks and talk to the people there.  Get a sense of how friendly the marina patrons are.  Of the three marinas we have have boats in, we have seen all sides of how boat people can be.  We’ve been in a more affluent marina where you could not work on your boat and some of the people were more than a bit snobbish, but others were just a joy.  We’ve been in marinas where the manager was so difficult and rude that we actually moved out.  And now we have had the best of both.  We now have our sailboat slipped in a marina that I refer to as “rustic” and some of the people are really basic, but everyone is really nice.  There are also professionals that have dropped off the grid and prefer a lower key life.  We enjoy sitting in the picnic area in the evenings and waiting for the small crowd of people to gather and have fun.  We can work on our boat as we need, and there are some really great “old salts” around to give their advice on everything from fishing to rigging your boat.  We’ve met several captains, one of which we recently crewed with to the island, and some other really nice people that we are happy to call our friends.  People are really important in a tight-knit community like a marina.

Bottom line is that you cannot do enough research.  After all, you are moving your “home” into a neighborhood and you want to be in a neighborhood that suits you.  You can move your home, but it’s always better to remember the old saying, “measure twice, cut once”.  Do your homework first, and save yourself a hassle later.

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