We took time this past week to visit the final contenders for marinas. Come spring, we will get a call that Goblin is going into the water. When the call comes we need to be ready to drop everything and move her to her summer home. Our summer home. Our new home, eek!
Since the plan is to live aboard in Massachusetts for the next year or so, we wanted to be sure that we found a marina that would be comfortable for the long haul. We’ve loved sailing out of the Marblehead/Salem area but it’s super quiet over the winter and you can’t easily walk to anywhere. Two kids in a small boat with nowhere easy to get out to doesn’t sound like fun. We also talked about finding a marina on the Cape but unless we can travel back through time three years or so and get our name on a waiting list, there’s just no availability. We talked and compared and tried to clarify our needs.
We need a marina that is welcoming to liveaboards, especially liveaboards with kids. It needs to have many liveaboards in the winter since community is important. It has to be close enough to walk to entertainment, especially playgrounds and libraries, none of us want to feel trapped, especially in the winter. Also, it needs to be in a safe enough neighborhood to let us walk around. Wherever we choose, our slip needs to be reasonably accessible so won’t be terrible to bring Goblin in and out. After all, we do plan on sailing her, not just parking her at a marina.
I emailed back and forth with a variety of marinas, finding out rates, services, and availability. Our narrowed down list brought us to two marinas, Boston Harbor Shipyard in East Boston and Constitution Marina in Boston Harbor.
BHS is located in part of a boatyard with lots of industry. Surprisingly enough, the overall feel was great, very friendly. There’s a group of artists who use the whole complex as a gallery for large art installations. There were murals on the walls and the ground, sculptures all over, even a giant fish on a roof. The whole area is located in a dead end with a security checkpoint at the entrance. A short walk down the street would take us to a big park with a clean, sprawling playground and a splash pad. There’s lots of free parking for us and for guests. The open slips aren’t the most convenient for bringing Goblin in and out though. I’d have to get really good at steering, fast. The facilities were underwhelming, a woman’s room and a men’s room, each with two curtained shower stalls. No way to close a door between my shower and the rest of the building makes me uncomfortable, especially when I also consider wrangling two kids through showers as well. Also unfortunate, to get to BHS you have to drive through a less than appealing chunk of East Boston itself. Not a neighborhood that I would want to wander through and explore. Beyond that, remember how Boston is laid out following cow paths? I’ve never seen that old tale as true as it was around here. Even Alex, who I’d swear has no fear of Boston traffic, was unnerved. The prices here were very reasonable though and it had such a good feel to it.
Second stop for the day was Constitution Marina in Boston Harbor. If you ask anyone about living aboard in the Boston area, they will immediately mention Constitution Marina. Unfortunately, the marina knows this as well and charges accordingly. Still, we wanted to take a look around. Parking is almost non-existent. We would have one parking pass issued and that’s it. Visitors would need to either take the T or pay for parking which would be such an inconvenience. We want to keep in contact with friends and family but this would mean we’ll be visiting friends more than they would visit us. The marina facilities were beautiful. Four large private bathrooms with showers. Modern laundry. The neighborhood is city busy but clean with large sidewalks, lots of crosswalks and lights so we’d be able to get around easily. There’s a park just around the corner and both a library and a Y a mile away. The marina also has a pool though there is some question about if they would let Kinsley swim. I know that most 2 year olds aren’t potty trained yet, but a four year old age cut off seems excessive to me. Downsides would be a long, long walk along the dock to get to Goblin and the cost. Constitution is also much noisier than BHS. I was surprised, there was noticeable airport noise at Constitution but not at BHS even though BHS is much closer to the airport itself. The noise at Constitution was fairly constant background noise, not changeable or too loud so I think we would get used to it.
We sat down for lunch to talk over our options, making lists of pros and cons.
- lots of parking
- friendly vibe
- close to a playground
- short dock walk, quicker to get the kids to land so they can run
- better rates
- extended neighborhood
- driving through East Boston
- no pump-out boat in the winter
- no kid liveaboards
- easy walking neighborhood
- close to library, pool, museums
- large community of liveaboards, including some kids
- bathrooms and laundry
- long dock walk
If it were just Alex and I we would move to BHS without a second thought. The atmosphere was fun, the people were so friendly, and the lower cost was definitely appealing. With kids though, different story. The shared bathrooms with only a shower curtain, not a door, would get old fast when trying to shower two kids. Also, I’m not sure how willing I would be to hop in the car and take us places, the driving was that bad. No pump out boat in the winter would mean moving Goblin often or trying to convince the kids to walk to the marina facilities every time they needed to go. Constitution would mean committing to the higher price tag and a fancier environment. I’m still nervous about how long a walk along the dock it will be from Goblin to the gate.
We talked and talked, knowing we needed to make a final decision. We didn’t want to keep waiting only to find out that our spot had been filled by someone else. Late that afternoon we made the call.
We now have a slip at Constitution Marina. Time to start mapping the neighborhood and scouting fun kid outings. Just over a mile to the science museum? A boat to the aquarium? Lots of bakeries in walking distance? Sounds like I could get used to this. Come visit us?
- Joy Weiss