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 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...



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 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!

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