There goes the neighborhood

We’re settling in at Marina Pez Vela and looking forward to getting the work started. It’s been so long since we’ve been at a marina for any extended time it feels very strange to us. We stayed one night tied to a ferry dock in Puerto Rico last January to visit Jack’s sister Deb, and we spent a little over a week at the marina in Panama preparing to transit the canal, but in both cases we weren’t plugged in to shore power or water and couldn’t wait to get back out to anchor.

When Jack and I were planning our cruising life we couldn’t imagine how difficult it must be to live at anchor. What a pain to have to schlepp water or dinghy ashore to go anywhere! After nearly two and a half years of living at anchor we can’t imagine any other way and find marina life odd. Here’s why:

First of all, there’s the obvious one, expense. Many marinas cost as much as staying at a hotel, but there’s no daily maid service, no breakfast buffet with omelets on demand.

Second, a boat that’s tied up to a dock moves funny. Every little change in wind direction or tide tugs at the docklines and jerks the boat in odd and sometimes uncomfortable ways. It’s unpredictable and sometimes when I’m below walking across the cabin I lose my footing or lurch to one side, almost as much as at sea. A boat at anchor swings gently with the tide, and generally lies head into the breeze.

Most of all, we don’t have the privacy we have at anchor. Even in a crowded anchorage, boats are far enough away that you don’t feel the need to lower your voice, or keep the radio turned down, or be concerned that someone can look into your windows at night. Every anchorage is like living in the country and your neighbors are across the meadow, a dinghy ride away. A marina is like a trailer park, with the boats just feet apart. Luckily in this marina there are few occupied boats, and we don’t have a boat right next to us on one side so we have a little breathing room.

Still, we’re grateful to be here because it means we’re making progress and because the anchorage outside is completely unprotected from the Pacific swell. And because we’re meeting people we wouldn’t normally run into out in the anchorage, and that’s always a plus.


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