Wednesday, January 3, 2018

A Tale of Two Marinas

If you are a liveaboard (or near-liveaboard, as we are now), then your marina is your neighborhood.  When we moved Eolian from Shilshole Bay Marina in Ballard (Seattle) to Cap Sante Marina in Anacortes, we changed neighborhoods.

We love having Eolian at Cap Sante Marina in Anacortes!  There are no locked gates at the marina, nor are they needed.  The docks are new, and the space for mooring Eolian is eight feet wider(!) than our space on G-Dock at Shilshole.  There is WiFi in the marina, and it is free.  Just about anything you might want is within easy walking distance of the dock (restaurants, pubs, West Marine, grocery, pharmacy, NAPA, etc, and even driver's license bureau).  And it is a hop skip and jump from the San Juan Islands.

But.

But I miss the community at Shilshole.  At Shilshole, 300 slips are (arbitrarily...) designated by management as liveaboard slips.  Of course, this creates an artificial shortage, with a wait list, additional fees, etc.  But it also means that somewhere between 300-500 people live in the neighborhood, creating an ever-changing community of like-minded souls.  Tho we have made friends at Cap Sante (Hi Ed & Lisa!  Hi Parker & Carol!  Hi Jonathan & Sarah!), the atmosphere is very different.  Instead of liveaboards, many (most?) of the boats on our dock have "boat managers", who make sure that there are fresh flowers on the saloon table when the owners arrive - not at all like the liveaboard/DIY group at Shilshole.

A picture is worth a thousand words...  Here's a comparison of the night views of the two marinas this Christmas season:

Shilshole Bay marina

Cap Sante marina
Now, in fairness, I must note that there is one boat whose lights didn't show up in the Cap Sante picture because they were obscured by another boat.  Here it is:


So why is it that one marina has a vibrant liveaboard community and the other does not?  Part of it is simply numbers - Shilshole is a much larger marina, with approximately 1500 slips, and as I mentioned earlier, 300 liveaboard slips.

Part of it is due to the actions of one very special individual at Shilshole, Angela Brosius, whose dynamic personality has helped to create and foster a community there.

Part of it is location.  Shilshole is located in a very high rent housing area - I am certain that living aboard is an economical alternative to the high rents ashore for some (but by no means all) of Shilshole's residents.

Neither marina encourages liveaboards.  Few marinas do.  I do not know all the reasons for this position, but I suppose one might be that it is very difficult for a marina to encourage responsible liveaboards while discouraging the hoarders with near-derelict boats that barely float.  For more on this subject, I refer you to an article which recently appeared in the Victoria, BC Times Colonist.

Maybe we need an Angela here...



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9 comments:

Andy Cross said...

Great post. Every marina needs an Angela!

Patrick said...

Does the wifi at Cap Sante work consistently and reliably? What are the up/down bandwidths? (if you don't mind testing or already have - it's easy to do with SpeedTest.net). If it's good that would be a big perk (but most marina wifis aren't good, even if you're lucky enough to have a wifi antenna booster.

Robert Salnick said...

Hi Patrick -
I am not at the marina at the moment, so I can’t do a speed test for you. But here’s what I can tell you:
1. The WiFi equipment is apparently 802.11a based - only the chip in my old laptop does that. I can’t get a connection with my external antenna/booster because it doesn’t do “a”.
2. The system ibs Microsoft based, so be prepared for fairly frequent outages
3. Speed is OK, but you’re not going to do streaming video during the day or evening, when many others are using the system.
3. There is a paid service which is supposed to be better. I have not used it.

Patrick said...

Thx, good to know. If it can't do streaming video it's not useful to me (phone hotspots can handle all the low bandwidth needs).

I agree the level of community at Shilshole is hard to find anywhere else!

Angela said...

I miss you guys so much! Thank you so much! I am flattered and humbled. We think the same thing of having you and Jane as neighbors, the ones we aspire to be as much like and live life as much the way you two do. Hopefully we’ll see you out cruising this summer!!

Aiona said...

I recently parked our boat at Cap Sante. Granted Since I work in Skagit County, Shilshole wasn't a viable option for me, but so far I really like my neighbors. Wow, it sure must be nice to have a boat manager. Never knew such a thing existed. But I don't like cut flowers anyway. ;)

Aiona said...

I wasn't at dock this past Xmas, but I'll make a point to deck RasCal out next December. My dock neighbor still has his Xmas lights on, and it's March.

Aiona said...

I read the article about Brentwood Bay. I would argue that a marina's less likely to have derelict boats if you have a healthy liveaboard community. There's something to be said for keeping up with the Joneses. I also feel really uncomfortable leaving mine. Especially when we had that 60mph wind storm in January. If I lived aboard I could fix things as soon as it happens. Not so for my neighbor, whom I've not seen since we moved in, and whose lazyjacks are shredded from not being secured.

Robert Salnick said...

Alona -

I agree that a healthy liveaboard community can help to hold the standards up, but I have also
had personal experience with some boats at Shilshole where this did not work. In one particular instance, an old wooden power boat, two steps from forest mulch with poorly constructed plywood patches applied over places that had literally rotted thru, arrived on our dock as a liveaboard and stayed for years. After the boat partially sank at her slip and the marina had to put a pollution boom around it, they finally evicted it.

The marinas have to be even-handed and would probably be at risk of lawsuits if they simply did not allow boats which were not up to some arbitrary appearance standard. So they construct standards and requirements that would seem to make good sense:

o Boats must have current licenses
o Boats must be in navigable condition. Edge cases may be required to prove this
o No accumulation of "stuff" on the dock or finger pier - an attempt to control the hoarders.
o Proof of sanitary services is required (pumpout receipts)
o Proof of insurance, naming the marina as a correspondent is required
But there will always be a boat that skirts the edges of all the requirements. You know this, they know this, and the marina knows this. Some marinas simply refuse to deal with the issue, and others charge so much for a "liveaboard fee" that it is impractical for any but the rich (one such marina is in Seattle...).

In the end, I agree with you - a robust *organized* liveaboard community is the best answer.

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