Looking Forward to a Quiet Marina

For many, the marina is a getaway

For many sailboat owners, the marina is a fantastic weekend getaway. Free from the trappings of work and chores around the house, spending time aboard is a well-deserved break. The marina offers a chance to forget about land life and enjoy sundowners with the dock neighbors. It has a built-in social life when everyone feels like they’re on a mini-vacation, so it’s easy to be friendly. The shared experience of boat ownership brings a closeness to dock neighbors that many don’t have with their neighbors on land. 

quiet marina
The author prepares for a quieter time at her marina.

My husband and I are part-time liveaboards, dividing our time between our sailboat on the Chesapeake and our business near Washington, DC. As business owners, there’s no such thing as work/life balance. Instead, our business is our lifestyle, not our job. Like many people who’ve permanently transitioned to working from home, I can do laundry during my workday. I get groceries delivered between clients. However, unlike working from home for a boss, I spend as much time on personal projects and interests as I’d like. My workday begins when I wake up. It doesn’t end until I check my email and the next day’s schedule while I’m getting ready for bed. It’s not working; it’s a passion that makes up my life. 

Our time at the marina is far from a vacation

Our time spent at the marina is far from a vacation. In fact, our sailboat serves as an extension of the office. My husband and I often choose to spend time aboard separately, using the boat as a quiet workplace free from distractions. I can usually get more work done aboard. Without clients and employees asking for my attention, my time is my own.  

During the summer months when the marina is busiest, quiet time is challenging to come by. Visit any marina in season. You’ll find people chatting on the dock and the occasional boat with many dock neighbors in the cockpit enjoying appetizers and cocktails. I wave to my neighbors as I pass these gatherings on my way to and from my floating workspace. 

I’m a proponent of taking breaks when I’ve been sitting for a few hours. My marina has a nice walking trail bordering the water that offers a respite from my laptop. Walking alone on the path is a way to enjoy nature. It not only clears my head, but the walk also makes room for other ideas that pop up. In season, this might be the only time I see my neighbors. 

As the temperatures drop, many boat owners plan their final sailing adventures. They winterize, clean out the galley, schedule their winter haul-out or wrapping, and take home all the pool towels to wash and store for the next season. Those heading south are nearly done with their final provisioning, and they’re counting down the days until they can cut the lines for another season. 

We’ll be wrapping our boat soon. This year’s wrap will be the most expensive yet. Prices have increased everywhere. The marine industry is no exception. Our wrap this year will be a couple hundred dollars more than last year and many hundreds more than when we first began wrapping years ago. We use our boat year-round, so we don’t winterize. Instead, our heater keeps the boat in the 50s when we’re not aboard. Our dehumidifier, sized for far more square footage than our sailboat, drains into the shower and keeps our cabin dry. 

boat wrapped at marina
Winter boat wrap at the marina.

Marina life during cooler temperatures

Many of the boats on my dock are closed for the season. Not mine. My husband and I love this time of year the most. Things have slowed down at the marina. Lots of slips are empty, and the yacht yard is full. My walks to take a break from my laptop change from enjoying nature to walking the rows of empty boats on the hard. If you’ve ever been drawn to abandoned places, the feeling of the yacht yard in the winter is similar. 

Boat owners are cozy at home during the quiet colder months, making plans for the next sailing season. Winters aboard might never come to mind for those who associate their sailboats with summer adventures on the water and sundowners in the cockpit. For us, we’re enjoying the solitude. 

Chilly temperatures and even the threat of an incoming nor’easter don’t signify the end of our season. Instead, cooler temperatures are a demarcation line. The parking lot is nearly empty. The marina is almost quiet. Soon, the only noises on the dock will be our diesel heater, the clicking of our fingers on the keyboard, and the squawking calls from the great blue heron who stalks the shallows near our dock for its dinner. 

by TJ Butler

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