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Old 25-11-2015, 18:47   #1
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Marinas Requiring Standards for Liveaboard Vessels

Although I have never experienced such a policy on the US East Coast, I have read posts here on the Cruisers Forum referring to a length requirement (such as 35') on the US West Coast at some marinas. I've also heard of limitations set for the age of boats allowed at some West Coast marinas.

I recognize that there are land-based home owners associations or community ordinances that subject people to similar restrictions, - size of a house, paint colors, the height of grass in the lawn, the parking of RV's, but I'm disturbed to see that boats would be allowed of a certain size as long as no one's living aboard. ...or even more disturbing to hear of age restrictions. There are numerous opulent, beautiful vintage boats docked or underway in my cruising range. I can't imagine them not approved in a marina.

I known many, and myself included at earlier times, who have lived well on sound and neatly kept boats under 35' and I'm now aboard a well kept 43 year old boat.

What's the verdict for those that are familiar with these restrictions? Are they a common policy? Are the policies selectively enforced? Can a live-aboard on a well kept 30' boat rent a slip most anywhere in California as they can on the East Coast? Are these restrictions spreading?
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Old 25-11-2015, 19:49   #2
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Re: Marinas Requiring Standards fo Liveaboard Vessels

I live in Europe.... so I cannot say something about US coasts. Maybe you like to know little bit about how it goes here as you will see, that there is no common standard. And generally we can say: the conditions are difficult, everywhere.

In "good old Europe" we have very extreme conditions for people living on board. E.g. Amsterdam can be seen as the "European capital" of living on a boat... it is part there of "normal life". Very beautifully...


But: You only can lay with a boat in the channels of Amsterdam or elsewhere in NL if you own the water property. The prizes are huge, easily you have to buy 150,000 Euros to get such a place... only then you can lay legally with a boat there.
Because Netherlands is under sea level by climate change and global warming the whole country is threatened. Many land based owners fear to be drowned in next 50-100 years. So living on a boat becomes more and more attractive. The prizes go up steadily over last years.

You can get used boats for 100,000 in perfect condition for living on, very typically so called Barges or Tjalks in the size of 20-30 meters length. Here some sales offers and pictures... Barges for sale, used barges, luxemotors, tjalks, free photo ads - Apollo Duck

The boat in Netherlands can be seen as the smaller part of investment. The bigger money is the property. - The idea behind is clear: Dutch government want avoid, that there are many "illegal boaters" hanging around in the capital and water channels of Netherlands. Without the property police has the option to stop this living immediatelly.

In U.K. the situation is very, very differently... we can say contradictory to the situation in Netherlands. The boaters may stay only up to two weeks in one place... then they have to move on.
Why this philosophy ? - Because government fears that if a boat lays long time in one place, the surrounding becomes very messie kind. So the boaters in U.k. are always on the move... which can become very stressfully as the infrastructure of the English channels (e.g. Toilets, fresh water, mobile phone net etc. ...) isnt stable. So this way of living isnt very attractive to many and the community of British living on a boat folks have to fight steadily for their rights


In Germany "living on a boat" is not allowed regularly. One needs a land based registration. It is a very stupid thinking in my understanding but so it is... German mentality never had been that of a real seafarer nation, e.g. we know it from Dutch people. There is a very low understanding and tolerance for this kind of living style. Its still labeled with the image of "hippies" of the 70ths.
Only some very few German federal states and communities have decided on their own to create a legal frame where it is allowed to live on the boat. E.g. in Hanseatic City Hamburg... but its not the "living on a boat" philosophy behind.
It is the image of "Floating homes", e.g. as we know from Florida... swimming houses on pontoons. And it is seen as a "luxury life style". The floating homes are huge expensive, double the prize as we know builders from Netherlands.


I only know one community in North of Germany on the coast of North Sea where the local city government designed a new law couple of years ago which allows to live regularly on a boat. The length and type can be very different, from "light fire boat", former police patrol coast guard boat to old fisher trawlers or motor boats... all is possible. The single condition: the owner must have an insurance which covers every kind of damage which can happen in the harbour. E.g. a fire is burning down the boat, or the boat is sinking in the harbour and it needs a very costly salvaging, e.g. because of water pollution etc. ...

Only some few insurances in Europe offer services for liveaboard vessels. Rarely to get. If so one just need to answer some few questions, e.g. age of boat, size of boat (inclusive sail area) and sea area. E.g. an insurance has a different prize if a boat is in Mediterranian sea alone over whole year or is cruising around the globe crossing oceans. Different risks... roughly for a middle size liveaboard vessel the yearly amount is something between 900-1200 Euros insurance covering a damage size of 5 or 10 million.

In my understanding one should look for a place to stay for "living on board" where he is welcome as boat owner. I think, it is important to think about alternatives. Eg. as I like to emigrate to Canada (East Coast, Nova Scotia) I have learnt that its no problem at all. Everywhere I can lay with a boat on a mooring. Thats fantastic. I have a thread about the legal aspects of NS here:
Legal aspects of living aboard in Nova Scotia (Canada)

Life is too short to fight against antipathies.... we need to look around to have well wishers and people with an understanding for our needs and ideas of life style, isnt ?
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Old 25-11-2015, 19:52   #3
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Re: Marinas Requiring Standards fo Liveaboard Vessels

My marina, Dana Point, has a 34 foot min length for liveaboards. Very hard to get. Also more $$$.
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Old 25-11-2015, 20:23   #4
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Re: Marinas Requiring Standards fo Liveaboard Vessels

Thanks for the info Skip_JayR. That aside, me thinks that most of the "rules" & new laws in CA (and elsewhere), are funnels designed to route $, nefariously, into someone's pocket.
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Old 25-11-2015, 20:33   #5
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Re: Marinas Requiring Standards fo Liveaboard Vessels

I'm also in Dana Point, boat must be in a 35' slip, 6 year waitlist and $637/month, additional fee of 40% of slip fee $254.80/month and availability is "limited". However, enforcement only seems to be when there's a problem. I know of one nice young couple that have been "sneak aboards" for over 15 years in a 25 ft slip and 27' boat. His boat was something from the 70's that he completely rebuilt, even changing to a freestanding wood mast and a junk rig. I'm aware of several single men living aboard 27 to 40 foot boats "unofficially" without difficulties. If your dockmates know you'll keep an eye on their boat no one will bother you. There have been a few thieves and other lowlifes who've been evicted after causing problems.
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Old 25-11-2015, 20:33   #6
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Re: Marinas Requiring Standards fo Liveaboard Vessels

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Originally Posted by Hudson Force View Post

What's the verdict for those that are familiar with these restrictions? Are they a common policy? Are the policies selectively enforced? Can a live-aboard on a well kept 30' boat rent a slip most anywhere in California as they can on the East Coast? Are these restrictions spreading?
My marina is min. 36 feet. In The SF Bay area, the BCDC limits liveaboards to 10% and it's a long, nasty story of landlubbers thinking that boats are "bay fill!!!" We've discussed this here a number of times, so search BCDC if you'd like to read more about the details. 30 footers - not likely around here in the main Bay, maybe up in The Delta. Spreading? No, been that way for three decades.
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Old 25-11-2015, 21:50   #7
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Re: Marinas Requiring Standards fo Liveaboard Vessels

Lived aboard for many years in San Diego and while there wasn't a length restriction, there were no wooden hulls allowed in the marina. We had a wooden hulled DeFever that was berthed before the restriction came into force so we were grandfathered in but other vessels that tried to get liveaboard moorage after us were turned down. I recall the live aboard percentage allowed was 10% I think but there were routinely more than that at times. Marina management were happy to have liveaboards around because they were a positive influence on security. Phil
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Old 25-11-2015, 21:59   #8
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Re: Marinas Requiring Standards fo Liveaboard Vessels

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Lived aboard for many years in San Diego and while there wasn't a length restriction, there were no wooden hulls allowed in the marina. We had a wooden hulled DeFever that was berthed before the restriction came into force so we were grandfathered in but other vessels that tried to get liveaboard moorage after us were turned down. I recall the live aboard percentage allowed was 10% I think but there were routinely more than that at times. Marina management were happy to have liveaboards around because they were a positive influence on security. Phil
I have never been able to get anyone to point to the actual legislation either way, but while many marinas phrase it in such a way that it sounds like they can't have more than 10% liveaboards, I have been told that the law put into effect when housing was an even more serious issue in San Diego was actually that they must allow AT LEAST 10%.
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Old 25-11-2015, 22:19   #9
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Re: Marinas Requiring Standards fo Liveaboard Vessels

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Thanks for the info Skip_JayR. That aside, me thinks that most of the "rules" & new laws in CA (and elsewhere), are funnels designed to route $, nefariously, into someone's pocket.
yep... I think it has two aspects as I observed it on my own:
  • adapt the different people as much as possible to the average standard of "normals". governments and politics no where in this world like it to have lots of "free thinkers" and rebels. The living on a boat style shows one clearly: Forget all this hunting behind consumption. You can be happy with little space, all well organized, but you have a healthy way.
I just watched a video of a couple who decided to buy a "motor vessel" (yeah, I know, we sailors dont likt that too much)... and I must say: the parents with the little daughter have thought everything very well through. One important aspect the wife argumented: "we keep away from the negative energies (of bad neighbours) as the water is in steady flow".

  • (even driven by kind of jealousity) as it seems to be something "cool" living on the water some folks like to push this life style into the corner of "luxury" to pull money out of it and keep it as something exclusively for the privileged ones: the prizes of properities increase, the prizes of "floating homes" increase. Its a kind of "new stigmatistation", so e.g. a wealthy lawyer or dentist want afford a 2nd swimming home beside his land based life to demonstrate: look at me, I am a cool guy as I love this "free spirit wild life style".
I say this from proofen mouth. I had a plan and concept for a "water village"... even I had a website about this concept to find some buddies to realize this concept. - For Living with a community on the water... different floating houses building a "floating village" with every kind of infrastructure for these families, similarly we know from "village life style".
One day I got a letter by lawyer who pulled me front court; this lawyer represented one of the "floating home builders". It was one of these luxury models in the prize range of 400-500,000 Euro.

The reason behind this court trial ? The initiators of a "living on the water project" wanted keep control over all water channels (in a city of 1.8 million inhabitants). They pretened that I hurt "copyright" using some images on the project website. Just a fake insultation !

By deeper going researches I discovered that the guys behind the lawyer planned at least 1,000 units of water places... dealing behind closed doors the deal with local politics to get exclusively permission for management of all the water properties of the whole city.
Now imagine the huge sales volume: 1,000 x 400,000 Euros = 400 million volume for the flloating home builders plus the annually "rental costs" of the water properties, e.g. paying 300-400 Euro every month = minimum 3.4-5 million annually cash flow. Lets say such a project runs over 10 years it is a "cash cow".

When I presented to the judge of court by written documents, that the official studies and certifications for the water areas in this region have been realized by the boat builders themselfs being ordered as consulters by the local politics guess what happened: the lawyers quickly have withdraw their accusation and disappeared, because they feared a big scandal I discovered this huge corruption.

Really mad all this ! But so are humans... we cannot change human psyche ! Too many never will understand what it means to live on the water... spoilt personalities mainly in mind to hunt for money.

That remembers me the movie "Easy Rider".
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Easy_Rider

That movie was produced 1969 in midth the times of "flower power movent" (following the spirit: "sex, drugs and rock'n roll") and in times of the anti war/peace movement against US government and Vietnam war.

We all know what happened at the end of this story... with the two guys on their bikes.


The normal average people dont like it to see folks who live the style absent the normative standards. "Born to be wild" says it all, its the main song song in this movie with Dennis Hopper, Peter Fonda and Jack Nickolson.


Nothing has changed till today. Power people and people with economically / financially interests like to control the masses.

But there is hope. Nowadays with digitalisation and modern electronics a living a board folks can be nearby 100% self sufficient. - Solar energy, Wind energy, powerfully batteries... water makers... WiFi Internet connection on long distance range (up to 5 miles front coast) getting weather reports on board and have email communication... all this technology makes sailors very independently.

Just here and there little bit laying front mooring anchor to store food and do some repairs.

There is no need of big dependency from marina infrastructure anymore so long one decides for a job he can work on board of his own boat.
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Old 25-11-2015, 22:36   #10
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Re: Marinas Requiring Standards fo Liveaboard Vessels

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I have never been able to get anyone to point to the actual legislation either way, but while many marinas phrase it in such a way that it sounds like they can't have more than 10% liveaboards, I have been told that the law put into effect when housing was an even more serious issue in San Diego was actually that they must allow AT LEAST 10%.
The 10 percent limit is a state code, but it actually only applies to the San Francisco bay and surrounding areas. It's state code 66650 also called the McAteer-Petris Act CA Codes (gov:66650-66661)

Almost all marinas in central Califonia have a minimum length for liveaboard. Some are 30', but more are 35' and I've heard of one that was 40' (I think). Other requirements deal with pump- outs and having to leave the dock at least once every 6 months. Enforcement varies, but seems to get stricter each year. Generally if your boat is clean and tidy there is little problems. If the harbor master likes you, your fine. If not, your out.
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Old 25-11-2015, 22:46   #11
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Re: Marinas Requiring Standards fo Liveaboard Vessels

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But: You only can lay with a boat in the channels of Amsterdam or elsewhere in NL if you own the water property.
>|<
Many land based owners fear to be drowned in next 50-100 years. So living on a boat becomes more and more attractive.
You're not from the Netherlands?

You're confusing several rules here; what you wrote does not apply to sail- and motorboats or 'pleasure crafts' but "woonboten" (house boats) - which are 'floating houses' that can't sail, they need to be towed into place - and/or "varende woonschepen", the large barges etc. you mentioned.

As far as I know, with the exception of the doomsday preppers, very few people worry about drowning. And for the preppers, I think zombies are much higher on the list then drowning

But ... this is all very off-topic, since the OP is in the US and probably isn't planning on buying a houseboat in Amsterdam

I am reading this thread with interest tho! Who knew my boat would be deemed "too small" in some US marina's! Poor Lizzy Belle

Greetings from Rotterdam, where I can live aboard my 29' sailboat in a marina with .. educated guess here ... 35% liveaboards (more during the winter season)
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Old 26-11-2015, 00:09   #12
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Re: Marinas Requiring Standards fo Liveaboard Vessels

We have a formal system that I think mandates 30' and no more than 10% of the marina can be lived boards. Practice however is a completely different issue.

So long as your boat is well kept and you don't try and turn your dock into a living room almost anything is allowed. I know a guy who has been living on a Columbia 26 for 10 years without an issue. But his stuff is always neat, the boat is clean, and he never causes a problem. The guys who tried it right next to him were tossed in a matter of weeks after they set up recliners and a tv on their finger pier.
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Old 26-11-2015, 03:51   #13
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Re: Marinas Requiring Standards fo Liveaboard Vessels

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ou're confusing several rules here; what you wrote does not apply to sail- and motorboats or 'pleasure crafts' but "woonboten" (house boats) - which are 'floating houses' that can't sail, they need to be towed into place - and/or "varende woonschepen", the large barges etc. you mentioned.
I related to the term "Liaveaboard vessel", generally. Its not just "sailing vessel" (SV) or Motor ships (MV). Some of the Dutch "live aboard vehicles" can be seen as "traditional sailing vessels".

As I know (as I have thought to move to Netherlands for living all year on a boat) it seems to require an ownership of a water place. Anywhere one must registrate, right ? - How I can registrate in Enkhuizen, Lemmer, Lelystadt or in Rotterdam as inhabitant with physically address in passport if not owning a water ground ?
Would be great just to registrate a living boat under Dutch flag, e.g. home port is Makkum, but I can moore anywhere in Netherlands laying all year on the peer outside of Makkum... :-) Is this possible ?
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Old 26-11-2015, 03:53   #14
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Re: Marinas Requiring Standards fo Liveaboard Vessels

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Greetings from Rotterdam, where I can live aboard my 29' sailboat in a marina with .. educated guess here ... 35% liveaboards (more during the winter season)
you happy one...
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Old 26-11-2015, 04:38   #15
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Re: Marinas Requiring Standards fo Liveaboard Vessels

I suspect there is also a marketing aspect involved.

Marinas are buisnesses. If you can afford a 5yr old 35' boat, you probably have the money to keep it up. The guy who buys a 40yr old 25' boat for $1000 to live on...is probably scaring off other much more valuable customers.

As far as a really nicely maintained older boat, there is a simple solution. The management looks the other way. I haven't experienced this with marinas but if you go south in an RV, most of the snowbird parks have a 10yr limit but what really happens is they look out the window as you are pulling in. If it looks nice, they "forget" to ask you the age. If it looks like it's ready to fall apart, they ask the age and the say they are sorry but there is an age limit.
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