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Old 23-10-2013, 06:27   #1
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Looking for Advice on Chesapeake Bay Area Liveaboard Recommendations

We are a Florida based couple seeking liveaboard marina recommendations and cold weather advice from experienced folks in the region. We have a 53ft Gulfstar M53 (60ft mast/5ft draft) we are planning to call our home for up to two years within rapid transit commuting distance from the DC area.

1. Can anyone recommend some reputable/full-service marina options we should consider given we would like to be close enough to the bay to sail regularly (weekends) but close enough to public transit (rail) to reach work in the DC, Alexandria area without having to spend more time on the bus/train than at work or on the boat?

2. Can anyone offer advice on what preparations are "essential" to weather a Chesapeake Bay area winter? (ie...ice build up on decks, surface water temps below 45 deg [heat pumps don't do so well]...etc). We have 3 x Heat-pumps with electric emergency heat strips and will install a forced air diesel unit before we make the trip up the east coast. The boat is fiberglass with full keel.

Looking forward to hearing from those with experience.

Thanks

TMT2
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Old 23-10-2013, 15:59   #2
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Re: Looking for Advice on Chesapeake Bay Area Liveaboard Recommendations

Hi folks,

Your boat will fit lots of places. Many marinas in and around Annapolis don't allow liveaboards.

Places to look at include Port Annapolis, Annapolis Landing Marina, Eastport Yacht Center, and Herrington Harbour North.

Public transit is going to be a bigger issue, especially rail. The nearest rail to Annapolis is the New Carrolton Metro. Bus service is awkward. You might explore Baltimore where there is light rail to DC. Baltimore Marine Center allows liveaboards. The water is pretty awful. Great restaurants though.

With respect to weather, your plan for a diesel heater is a good one. Most diesel heaters don't do well for liveaboards. I use an oil-filled radiator to keep the boat above freezing and turn the diesel heater on when I'm aboard. You really want the heater to run full out for an hour or two each day. I've had much better luck with Espar than Webasto. YMMV.
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Old 23-10-2013, 16:09   #3
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Re: Looking for Advice on Chesapeake Bay Area Liveaboard Recommendations

There's a commuter bus from Annapolis to the nearest Metro and also directly into DC. Actually wifey did that for a couple years, not difficult at all.. but that was also influenced by where she worked in downtown DC.

There's a commuter train from Baltimore downtown. Baltimore is way up the Patapsco River, so a quick day sail on The Bay isn't so quick.

Those are the only locations I can think of within the immediate vicinity of both commuter stations and water/marinas at the same time.

Boatloads of marinas in Baltimore's Inner Harbor. Many marinas in Annapolis, Auspicious got those. Some pretty expensive, but very nice places. Some smaller marinas around Annapolis, too, with fewer (aka "no") amenities, not as pricey.

I may work for the same folks you do... feel free to PM...

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Old 23-10-2013, 20:16   #4
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Re: Looking for Advice on Chesapeake Bay Area Liveaboard Recommendations

Probably too far for you but....we are in Delaware City Marina. Bus to Wilmington, amtrak to DC (pretty expensive) Metro to Alexandria. Slightly cheaper would be Amtrak to New Carrollton then Metro.

Marina is good, three live aboards, plus us weekends. Not quite so convenient to the bay for sailing.

Why not use Active Captain to look for possible locations, narrow the field?
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Old 23-10-2013, 21:15   #5
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Repeating much if what has been said - close to Metro on the Bay is a null set. I'm living on Kent Island on land but at Castle Harbor Marina. I drive 35 minutes to New Carrolton and Metro to Rosslyn or Pentagon. Total commute time ~1 hour 40 minutes including parking and getting to the office - most days. Nice marina, beautiful area off the Chester close to Kent Narrows and the Bay, great for weekend trips north to Rock Hall or across to Annapolis or down to St Michael's. The commute is worth it to me but....it's not easy.
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Old 24-10-2013, 06:10   #6
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Re: Looking for Advice on Chesapeake Bay Area Liveaboard Recommendations

Thanks to all for the inputs. Local - first hand knowledge of liveaboard accommodations are valuable and I have gotten some direct invites (on PM) from some experienced folks as well). I have done a good bit of research in the Capn and on Cruiser's Net. Hardest parameter is the "commute" linkage. I do not know where I will work yet - I have some choice latitude in selecting offers but holding off until I get a look at some viable marina options to calculate the commute pain. We will live on the boat - we have three other homes around the country - don't need any other real-estate expenses. I am certainly not made of money but am quite comfortable with no debt. Marina services are important (as back up) and I don't mind paying for the "good stuff"...but the boat is "loaded" to include washer/dryer. Most important are pump-out (at the boat preferred), water and 50 AMP service. Second is the commuting equation (Thanks hpeer but a little too far) and third is access to sailing in water commensurate with a 53 footer.

Auspicious - good insights on Espar - thanks...any observations on dealing with deck ice?
Chris - I am an Army COL retiring in APR 14 - currently serving in Tampa - seeking some "contract" work in my functional area (FA59) for 24 months in DC/VA/MD area.
Jpsgirl96 - I am willing to "go the distance" on a commute if conditions are right but I hate metro traffic so less interested in driving myself very far.

Steve
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Old 24-10-2013, 08:23   #7
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Re: Looking for Advice on Chesapeake Bay Area Liveaboard Recommendations

Commuting regularly from the bay to downtown DC isn't easy. Alexandria will be even more difficult.

In the past, there was a commuter bus from Solomon's Island to DC. Not sure if still operational. I think that there was also some transportation from Herrington Harbor (Deale, MD) to DC at one time. Maybe find a car pool?

Several marinas right on the doorstep of DC, such as:

The Gangplank Marina | Washington, D.C.

as well as a number of Potomac River marinas further downstream, though most are somewhat remote for public transportation.

The new National Harbor Marina,

National Harbor Marina

may be worth investigating. I haven't been there, primarily because I am still pissed off that they destroyed one of the nicer anchorages
convenient to both DC and Alexandria. Certainly not cheap.


Alexandria doesn't, to the best of my recollection, have any live-aboard marinas.

If I was in your position, I might look for a cheap car to buy or rent for the time you are in the area.

As for the weather, some marinas have bubblers to prevent ice damage to hull. Most do not. It all depends really on whether you get a mild or severe winter. Weather has been too variable as of late to predict with any certainty. It can be pretty chilly going to the showers at 6:00am in bad weather

I should add, that in the past I have even sailed on Christmas day, so there are some wonderful sunny, but cool, sailing days all season in the winter.
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Old 24-10-2013, 08:45   #8
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Re: Looking for Advice on Chesapeake Bay Area Liveaboard Recommendations

Commuting in DC isn't fast at all. When people hear that my commute was an hour and a half each way every day they gasp! Thats normal for DC commutes.

Here is another option... if you still wanted to own a car you can drive from Herrington Harbor North to the branch ave metro stop. Its about a 30 minute drive... then another 30 minutes on the metro to downtown.
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Old 24-10-2013, 11:10   #9
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Re: Looking for Advice on Chesapeake Bay Area Liveaboard Recommendations

Thanks Zboss - I previously made a request on the Harrington Harbor site and got no answer. I will try again. I fully accept that commuting/traffic in the metro area is tough and I am willing to deal with 1 to 1.5 hrs of transit each way if the marina is a place that I can be happy in when I get "home" to the boat.
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Old 24-10-2013, 20:01   #10
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Re: Looking for Advice on Chesapeake Bay Area Liveaboard Recommendations

Commute: The commute will be entirely dependent on time of day. I used to commute from Annapolis to Alexandria and made it in 45 minutes. US 50 to south loop on the beltway. No, I wasn't driving the speed limit. (Also had a commute Annapolis to Georgetown...must be done via car, and to Union Station...drive to New Carrollton and then MARC train right in, easy peasy). There is also a lot of information about the commuting options in earlier threads on living aboard on the Chesapeake and one inquiring about the Magothy River area.

I met both Auspicious and Chris here but now know them in "real life." Both smart, experienced captains with good advice. I'm sure WingnWing would've added her tips here if they weren't busy heading south, but she has good input in those other threads if you're able to find them.

Winter aboard: I use an oil-filled radiator (shore-power dependent) for heat. I don't winterize any systems so I keep a close eye on the temps inside and in the engine room. Condensation is the big problem as it leads to lots of mold. Tea tree oil has been my best solution. I'll try to run fans constantly this winter to keep air circulating. Hyper-vent under the mattress is a must! Buy it at a hardware store for a better price. I have Reflectix (silver bubble-wrap insulation) in all my ports and lining most storage lockers. Last winter we had a few times with a few inches of snow on the decks. I keep a shaker of ice melt in the cockpit and a stash of it ashore so I can get down the finger pier in the event of ice/snow. Bigger, fancier marinas shovel the snow for you. Although the pump out boat is currently not running, the Harbormaster's office told me that they will be doing limited service (i.e., just Saturdays I think) throughout the winter. Pump out and access to winter water vary greatly from one marina to the next. Hope that helps.
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Old 24-10-2013, 20:28   #11
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If you aren't fitting out your boat, I recommend Herrington Harbour South over North. South has deeper water, a straight shot into the Bay, and more amenities/activites. HHN is definitely better for fitting out/yard work. For commuting, you can take the 904 bus from the Bristol park and ride, or 902 bus from Dunkirk if you need to get some shopping in after work. Or you can take the green line metro (branch ave or suitland stops), or the blue line (Largo). My wife prefers the bus, I take the blue line due to constraints with the bus schedule. The green line is actually fastest of the options, but more crowded. If you are just living aboard for the winter and not worried about sailing, consider Gangplank. I have also "heard" that National Harbour Marina quietly takes some liveaboards.
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Old 25-10-2013, 05:47   #12
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Re: Looking for Advice on Chesapeake Bay Area Liveaboard Recommendations

Thanks RunningRabbit - I am deep into the historical thread-search on this topic (What a great forum!). Appreciate the useful comments on "condensation." We deal with humidity here in FL but a chilly hull and a warm interior is a different story all-together. I will look into the Hyper-vent suggestion...I assume that circulation is the key under mattresses and cushions...especially if water/fuel tanks are close by or a bunk rests on the hull. On our Gulfstar, water and fuel are amidships under the main salon floor. Good point on reliable water and pump-out...those two services portend finite resources and beg consideration of a well-equipped marina.

After plowing through all of the icons on Active Cpn and cruiser's net...there are very few marinas that openly announce they welcome liveaboards. Tantellon is one of those that advertises for it. Wondering if anyone has any first hand experience with Tantellon? I pinged National Harbor and got a "no thanks - not accepting more livaboards."

Geopowers - No, we are not fitting out the boat - she is ready. I have a request for info into Herrington (second time). Would you know a good email that might get answered?...I plan to call them today. I have gotten a lot of suggestions for Gangplank but it appears to be common knowledge that they are full and have different development plans (not advertising for new customers). National Harbor told me no. Appreciate the rapid transit notes - very useful!

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Old 25-10-2013, 06:45   #13
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Re: Looking for Advice on Chesapeake Bay Area Liveaboard Recommendations

Here are the two threads I mentioned, in case you hadn't come across them.

http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/...rea-70187.html

Marina liveaboard advice needed, Magothy river.

One word sums up Tantallon: Deliverance. I was going to rent a boat there, out on the T-head with a lovely view down Swan Creek and across the Potomac. I was going to stay a weekend to see how I liked it. I didn't even stay one night. It is a floating trailer park, with nothing in walking distance, and no public transit access. It has long been the case that one could only get into Gangplank by purchasing a dilapidated vessel that was grandfathered in. Unless you can get a slip at Quantico, living aboard in the DC area means being in Annapolis or Baltimore and commuting in. At least 25% of the Annapolis population makes that daily commute, so it is doable.

I am also on a Gulfstar with water and fuel tanks below the cabin sole. That made me feel comfortable that between the water below the hull and the heated cabin above, the tanks would not freeze. There were at most 10 days last winter where ice formed on the water in my marina (which is pretty shallow). When it did, I ran down the piers and turned on the ice-eaters to break it up.

I am in a very small (13-slip) marina. No pump out. Dock water until it gets too cold, then run a long hose from the bathhouse. "Bathhouse" is the owner's storage shed on one side and then a room with exhaust fan, heat, sink, toilet, shower. Nothing fancy, but costs about 1/2 or 1/3 what I'd pay at Port A or ALM. There are smaller marinas out there, but they are often found by word of mouth once you are here and having a pint at Davis' Pub. Your easiest, full service options are Port A or ALM. If it were me, I would go in only for the winter (not an annual contract) so you have a little time to get the lay of the land and see if a slip you like better shakes out.

I slept with a small heating pad under my back last night, but other liveaboards have suggested that a heated mattress pad is a godsend. It was 36 outside when I just took the dog out. Brrrr...
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Old 25-10-2013, 15:51   #14
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Re: Looking for Advice on Chesapeake Bay Area Liveaboard Recommendations

Quote:
Originally Posted by TMT2 View Post
Chris - I am an Army COL retiring in APR 14 - currently serving in Tampa - seeking some "contract" work in my functional area (FA59) for 24 months in DC/VA/MD area.


Yep, Steve, got it.

I've heard the Capital Yacht Club in downtown DC may have some liveaboard potential... You might check that, just in case.... but also consider that's WAY up the Potomac, so if you'd prefer to head out on the Bay at a moment's notice... ain't gonna happen from downtown DC.

FWIW, we MUCH prefer Herrington North over Herrington South. Former quieter with enough pool fun and spacious grounds (cook-outs, etc.) to make it worthwhile, latter too damn loud (for our taste), lousy service and mediocre food in the restaurant, etc. OTOH, Deale (HHN) is a sleepy town, whereas HHS is also closer the life in North Beach and Chesapeake Beach... so if you party hardy, might be your cuppa...

With the exception of the drive/Metro from Deale (Herrington North)... still looks like Annapolis or Baltimore. Some few marinas do have in-slip winter-time pump-out (ActiveCaptain should note that).

I've not tried the commute from Bal'mer (local dialect) but have heard it's easy to "downtown DC" (i.e., in general). I know it's the same from Annapolis via commuter bus or via Metro (or via combinatation). But it really does depend on where your real terminus destination is... Pentagon being much different from facilities on the west side of DC or in between Bal'mer and DC.

It might end up being easiest to do a two-stage transition; get here, get yourself located somewhere useful, work out where you'll be working... and then move (if necessary) to the best place to get there from here. (so to speak) It's not out of the question to drive to some places; as others have said, depends on time of day more than anything else. Could maybe do that for a bit while you're working it all out...

-Chris
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Old 26-10-2013, 02:22   #15
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Re: Looking for Advice on Chesapeake Bay Area Liveaboard Recommendations

Quote:
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Auspicious - good insights on Espar - thanks...any observations on dealing with deck ice?
First and foremost - never be too proud to crawl. *grin*

Keeping up is the biggest deal. A lot depends on your schedule. There is often frost - slippery - on the docks early in the morning for several weeks. If your schedule is flexible and you can leave late it isn't an issue. On early, slippery mornings I carefully crawl off the boat and sit on the finger to pull ice grips over my shoes before carefully walking down the dock.

On rainy days I watch the temperature carefully. It only takes a few minutes to run a broom down the dock to keep build-up under control. Watch your deck and cockpit drains. Usually keeping the boat warm enough for you keeps them clear but a leaf can be a problem.

If it actually snows (not frequent in the DC area) it is worth sweeping the deck and docks every hour or so. Set your alarm and get up. You won't be sorry.

Tools for keeping the deck clear depend on your boat. If you have teak decks a plastic dust pan works fine if you keep up. You can use more significant tools on fiberglass decks right up to metal ice scrapers. Again, the biggest deal is keeping up. Most years in the DC area it's only a few nights a year.

Remember rule 1 - when in doubt crawl.

Oh - if things look slippery leave your laptop and other electronics either on the boat or in your car. Remember it takes a while for hard drives to come up to temperature and work right if you leave them in the car over night.

SealLine is your friend for a "briefcase."
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