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Old 07-12-2019, 12:55   #1
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pirate living aboard year-round in the northeast USA

We've been living aboard our boat for about two years in Northern California and are now moving (sailing) to the Northeast USA. We'd like to continue living aboard despite the cold winters etc. We aren't sure where exactly we're heading--Portland Maine, Boston, Providence, New York, and even D.C. are all on the table. We'll make a decision based on job offers and where it looks like we'll have a good quality of life.

I've read that Constitution Marina in Boston is the best / only year round live-aboard spot in that city. True? False? Any other suggestions re: good year-round live-aboard marinas in the northeast?

Thank you!
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Old 07-12-2019, 13:13   #2
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Re: living aboard year-round in the northeast USA

I can't help you directly.

I have two offspring and grandchildren living in Boston, and I went to school on the Chesapeake. I knew a couple who lived aboard all year at D.C. Even at the latitude of the Chesapeake, you'll need to have a well insulated boat with a very good heat source if you want more than camping conditions. That Atlantic Nor'easter wind used to come in the window of my dorm room and go out the door.

Boston? Think snow high enough that they need 7 foot flags on the fire hydrants so they can find them, and the family dog runs free because the 7 ft fences between yards just are not there. Sub-zero F. for days on end. If you're young, maybe it's OK for you, but you might consider finding the job while in temporary on shore accommodations, or starting live-aboard in the late spring, and then considering life in your boat across the winter.

I'm not aware of a poster on the forum who lives aboard in the NE, but Gord May may have wisdom in this area, and he's definitely NE.
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Old 07-12-2019, 13:14   #3
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Re: living aboard year-round in the northeast USA

Oh, and Propersalt. Welcome to the forum, and please share this coming adventure with us old people with Florida predilections.
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Old 07-12-2019, 22:47   #4
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Re: living aboard year-round in the northeast USA

I donít live aboard in the winter but I do keep my boat in the water at docks where there are several live aboards in Belfast, Maine. Thereís no potable water available at the docks after Nov 1 so the live aboards shower and use the marinas bathrooms and laundry facilities. They carry water to the boat for cooking. I have a tent like cover on my boat so after each snowstorm I walk around the deck inside the cover and knock the snow that hasnít blown off into the water. On my 47í boat that takes about 5 minutes. Live aboards in Maine usually have a few small electric heaters running all the time and put 100W lightbulbs in areas where pumps or valves are located. I also have a Webasto heater that I would use if I lived aboard. You do get some greenhouse effect from the tent cover so itís not as cold as you might think inside the cover or shrink wrap and it prevents much wind from blowing in through small openings around the companionway.

I did live aboard in Annapolis one winter and found it to be quite comfortable, and I didnít even have a cover for that boat so had snow in the cockpit a few times. Condensation from the moisture in your breath is an issue but to prevent condensation and dripping from hatches you can make ďstorm windowsĒ out of clear plastic (even Saran Wrap or any clear plastic sheeting) taped or bungeed to the trim around the inside of your hatches to create a dead air space barrier between the warm moist air in your living space and the cold hatch itself.

I donít keep my boat heated but I do keep a few 100W lightbulbs on in pump areas and my battery charger running and am plugged in all winter. Iím not sure whether the live aboards who use electric heat are charged an additional fee for electricity or not. I frequently go to the boat and on sunny days itís warm enough to work inside and after 30 minutes of running the Webasto heater just a sweatshirt is enough so Iím comfortable working on boat projects aboard. Even though Iím not a live aboard, those who do live on my dock keep an eye on my boat for me as they do for each other. Except for having to walk up the dock (about 200í from my boat) for bathroom facilities, you can live pretty comfortably, and Iím talking about Belfast Maine, in Penobscot Bay. Further south, even easier. I think the keys are to make sure you have a boat cover or get it shrink wrapped so you donít have snow and wind sweeping your decks and then talk to other local live aboards about how they winterize systems and cope with the challenges. Very doable. Good luck!
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Old 08-12-2019, 10:29   #5
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Re: living aboard year-round in the northeast USA

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Portland Maine, Boston, Providence, New York, and even D.C. are all on the table.
DC/Ches. Bay will be hugely more comfortable during winter than the other locations.
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Old 08-12-2019, 10:45   #6
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Re: living aboard year-round in the northeast USA

Connecticut might be a better spot. And very accessible to NYC. Constitution is one, but I think south of Boston maybe Quincy might have a few. Boston Harbor Shipyard - has winter livaboard. $600 a month plus electric I believe. There are more you just have to search the east coast on google.
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Old 08-12-2019, 11:32   #7
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Re: living aboard year-round in the northeast USA

Boston just got 2.5 ft of snow in the storm last week. On the coast of CT we received about 1/8 inch. Not always the case come winter but typically boston gets measureably more snow than we. Canít help with marinas that permit liveaboards but a number of Bruce & Johnson marinas in the state that you could check with, altho a bit pricey. Not certain about the Rhode Island area and live aboard marinas, but Providence is an hour from Boston and 3 hrs from NYC...good luck in your search and make sure to wear many layers come winter.
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Old 08-12-2019, 11:46   #8
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Re: living aboard year-round in the northeast USA

For a few years while working part time we would live one week in Philly and the alt week on the boat in DELAWARE City. That’s more or less near the head of the Chesapeake but gets ice from the DELAWARE.

I would think almost anyplace in the Chesapeake would be fairly doable provided the marine is set up for winter live aboards. Summit Marina on the C&D canal comes to mind but you absolutely need a car there. No local amenities except a restaurant.

I have known people who have lived aboard in Toronto, hardy souls.
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Old 08-12-2019, 12:05   #9
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Re: living aboard year-round in the northeast USA

I lived aboard at a slip near Annapolis last year, and this year I'm in slip in Greenport, NY. I have not covered the boat, but have rigged awnings for shade and general precipitation protection. I keep sailing pretty much year round so dont like to fully cover, though the further north you go the worse the weather.

The liveaboard slip availability is highly individualized. I'm ok where I am but that is only because of where I work. Most places either actively discourage it or use it as an excuse to charge extra. The closer to urban areas you get the more prevalent this attitude.

Access to water also varies. In Annapolis I had a few hundred feet of hose that only froze for a week or so at a time. Seemed like it would always thaw out when I needed to top off the tanks. Here in greenport I have access to an inside spigot, and I have the hose on a roll inside. When I need water I roll it out and back. A bit of work but only ads a few minutes to the topping up process. But I'm at a private dock with access to a year round residence. Marina access is totally different.

I also have a small electric heater I use when I leave for long periods, and use incandescent lights on equipment. My water heater remains plugged in and warm, and I have a solid fuel stove that I burn mostly wood and coal in. The stove I find indispensable, not only for heat but also for the drying of the interior. My cabin is dry and warm even on cold rainy days with the inevitable drips and wet foulies around. The ambiance of an actual fire, and its utility, far outweigh for me the work and attention to safety required.
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Old 08-12-2019, 12:23   #10
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Re: living aboard year-round in the northeast USA

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Originally Posted by JDOradio View Post
Most places either actively discourage it or use it as an excuse to charge extra.
Here's an endless thread on the "ethics" of liveaboard surcharge fees
http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/...in-219964.html
So go there to comment on that aspect.

But yes, more common and maybe higher in the northeast, and obviously where the demand is higher.

Never heard of it being more than a couple hundred a month though.
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Old 08-12-2019, 12:52   #11
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Re: living aboard year-round in the northeast USA

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I have known people who have lived aboard in Toronto, hardy souls.
It's actually quite comfortable
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Old 08-12-2019, 15:03   #12
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Re: living aboard year-round in the northeast USA

We did 7 years full time (2 adults/1 elementary school child) off the Chesapeake/Patapsco near Baltimore. Prior to that had our same vessel in Boston hbr (1 adult) 4 days/3 nights for 1-1/2 years. Temps went to the teens usually sometimes off the Chesapeake, but usually 20-30's during winter overnight. Lots of No-snow however some years saw 2-4 storms of +20". Boston was a bit colder but doable snow because they were [supposed] to be more prepared for it. People in either city cannot be depended upon to drive safely. If you're healthy and don't mind shoveling your boat and the docks to get to the bath house & your transportation, no problem. If you physically cannot shovel 30" of snow in 5-6" efforts overnite, stay in a warmer setting or don't go to work that week. When you inquire at Marinas indicate you will be starting a new job and will have your vessel transported from the west coast to their marina ($$$) mention that, to assume a new job, you will want to live in your own boat and will need a slip. This lets the Marine personnel you have $$$ and want to spend it in their facility and want to go to your new employment setting daily. If they say "we're full or don't have ppl living on boats", ask for a recommendation nearby). Please mention the kind of vessel and would like a slip as close to the bath house during the fall-spring period. Also, ask if they drop the water lines into the water for the winter so hookups are still possible with water access thru the winter. These drop down into the water and you haul the hose up to refill your tanks, then close it & drop the hose again. If you don't have a vehicle you're bringing, make sure you get an all-wheel/4-wheel drive one. Heating your boat - we had webasto diesel heater which circulated antifreeze solution in hoses throughout the boat attaching to multiple fan-assisted heat exchangers. I believe these drew about 3 amps/hour to heat. We also used a oil-filled electric radiator for chilly days not using the diesel heat. If yours is a sailboat, strongly recommend a dodger/bimini/cockpit enclosure as this gives you another room outside. There's lots more prepping for condensation, but this is a start. Go for it. These will be the best winters you've ever spent.
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Old 08-12-2019, 15:57   #13
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Re: living aboard year-round in the northeast USA

I live on Narragansett By in RI, although I don't live aboard. There are several marinas around me that I know of that do allow liveaboards. Prime Marina in East Greenwich and Cove Haven Marina (a Safe Harbor marina) in Barrington are two.
there are several candidates in Wickford as well.
If you are planning to work in Boston, there are trains that run from Wickford and Providence.
Good luck and bundle up!
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Old 08-12-2019, 16:19   #14
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Re: living aboard year-round in the northeast USA

Lived aboard at the Newport Harbor Hotel Marina for several winters in NEwport, RI. There's a small community of folks still doing that. Summer prices drive everyone out to moorings, but it's more comfortable there anyway, with good dinghy dock and free parking nearby.
The key to winter at the dock is a good shrink-wrap canopy (make it spacious) and dry heat. I used a wood stove, and when everyone's electric-heated boat was a jungle of dripping condensation, we were bone-dry. There's good showers and laundry at the marina, and people look out for each others' boats and lines when there's a blow. Some commuted as far as Providence, though there's a liveaboard marina at Fox Point (right in Prov), if you care to drop the mast to get through the Hurricane barrier, or there's the E. Providence yacht club, if you can handle slightly dilapidated docks.
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Old 08-12-2019, 17:09   #15
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living aboard year-round in the northeast USA

Charlestown Marina in Boston has a significant liveaboard community now.
New owners in the past few years. Totally rebuilt.
Shoreside is sparse but there is a whole city there.
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