After choosing a boat, choosing where to live is the second most important decision a liveaboard will make. If you’re looking at marinas, remember, not all marinas are created equally. Some marinas don’t allow full time liveaboards. You want to choose a marina that supports your lifestyle.
Every marina has its own culture, often dictated by location and slip fees. Some marinas cater to sailboats and others to powerboats. Some marinas are quiet, others are social. Some marinas attract upscale yachties on Beneteau sailboats and others harbour fugitives on floating trailers. If you’re not sure about a marina, walk the docks and talk to long time residents. They will be only too happy to dish the dirt about management and other liveaboards. It’s great to be surrounded by like-minded liveaboards who form a supportive and fun community. Added security is a bonus of a strong community because your dock neighbours will likely keep an eye on your boat for you. And everything else that’s going on…
You can tell a lot about a marina by its management. Check out the marina’s rules and regulations. If it seems like overkill, you can bet the management will be uptight and restrictive. All marinas have rules, but some are more bendy than others. Make sure you can live within the rules of a marina or you might find yourself with nowhere to live. Management is the key to creating a good atmosphere. If the place looks run down and poorly maintained, look elsewhere for somewhere to live. Ask who owns the marina. Inquire about how the marina handles problem boaters like drunks and speeders. Check if boaters are allowed to undertake major repairs at the dock, blowing fibreglass dust all over your boat. What are the prevailing winds? Can boats rent a slip without proof of insurance? Fire is always a hazard at marinas and you don’t want to be docked next to someone uninsured.
Many marinas offer boaters more than just a place to park. It all depends if you want a great escape or big screen TVs at the marina bar. Do you prefer to wash your clothes in a bucket or in a washing machine? You want to check out what services are provided by the marina. Some marinas have basic amenities like toilets, showers, water and power whereas others offer dock boxes, recycling, a swimming pool, library, laundromat, car parking, restaurant, grocery store and bar. Overall cleanliness is a good sign of how well the marina is maintained. Also ask yourself if you need to be close to entertainment, groceries and work. Is the marina able to haul out and launch your boat on site? And since basically live outside on a boat, are you well protected from the elements? You might want to get away from it all, but you also need a place to escape if the weather is bad.