THE EDITOR’S DESK
I first moved aboard a sailboat in the winter of 2006. My mom and dad had sold their last boat a few years earlier to get my sister and I through college. Dad hated it – he had ample opportunity to sail on other people’s boats, and we chartered on the Chesapeake as a family every summer, but like Jody Reynolds remarks in this month’s ‘Motor Cruising’ feature, there’s just nothing like the feeling of having your own.
In December of that year, Mom and Dad started boat shopping again. It didn’t take much to persuade him that if he bought the boat and paid for the loan, I could live aboard and pay for the dockage, which despite the expensive slips in Annapolis was still cheaper than apartment rent.
It’s completely legal to liveaboard in Annapolis, and there is a dearth of people doing so, and on all types of craft. Houseboats, sailboats, motorboats, old yachts, you name it. But oddly, there weren’t many marinas that were liveaboard friendly. Many of them flat-out denied you the right, while others expected what in my mind was an obscenely large surcharge to pay for the extra water and electricity a liveaboard would ostensibly use over a weekend warrior.
I finally found a place up Spa Creek called Sarles Boatyard, the ‘oldest working boatyard in Annapolis,’ and it was ideal. Not too many slips, no liveaboard fee and the only working marine railway in town. My neighbor, also a liveaboard, had a gorgeous classic Elco right at the end of the main pier, very similar to the one Jody Reynold’s cruised up and down the ICW – in fact, she was good friends with Lee, and cruised with him often. He sadly passed away a short while ago – I hope the new owner of his old boat cares for it as well as he did.
This month, Kathy Enzerink examines a new law in Georgia that finally makes it legal to liveaboard in state waters…with restrictions. It was once illegal? In Annapolis, we take it for granted.
The issue, according to lawmakers, focuses on the environmental impact of pumping sewage overboard. I’m totally onboard with protecting the environment, but it seems like nowadays there ought be a solution that solves both issues.
In Annapolis, the Harbormaster operated a mobile pump-out boat that actually came to Sarles once per week and pumped out Sojourner while I was living aboard. The marina itself didn’t have the facilities, but it didn’t matter. I didn’t even have to move the boat. The Harbormaster’s office had my credit card on file, the pump-out boat captain had me on a weekly schedule, and I got a monthly bill for the services, which, at $5 per pump-out, was more than reasonably priced (and encouraged people to do so). It seems to work in Annapolis. Let’s hope Georgia can arrive at a similar solution.
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