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Old 28-01-2019, 15:45   #1
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Newbs in Virginia

My wife and I have never sailed before, so know that we are completely new to this. With that being said, we are extremely interested in the idea of living on a sailboat while we learn to sail. Our ultimate goal is to be able to blue water cruise for extended trips.

We both currently work in Virginia and would love any recommendations on liveaboard marinas in the Washington D.C. area. Also, what are your experiences from living aboard a boat year-round in climates that get cold in the winter, such as Virginia can?

We are currently trying to find ways to get out on sailboats as much as possible before making the big leap, and would take a year to learn our boat out in the Chesapeake Bay before setting our sights to the ocean. Any advice from those of you who have already done this would be GREAT. Thank you!
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Old 29-01-2019, 05:20   #2
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Re: Newbs in Virginia

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, brettrae.
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Old 29-01-2019, 06:54   #3
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Re: Newbs in Virginia

Welcome aboard!

We're not from the area and not sure what you consider to be "in the Washington D.C. area" but Herrington Harbour Marina Resorts is an excellent marina in Deale, MD about 45 minutes from DC. Spent a winter here and loved it! Great facilities and awesome staff!

We're originally from New York / New Jersey, so the winters in MD are mild to us by comparison. The couple of snowfalls we had were gone in a day or so... borrowed a bubbler from a friend to keep the water around the boat from freezing and used a couple of electric heaters to keep the boat toasty warm - 70ish

Hope this helps and good luck!

BTW, I'd suggest planning a bit longer on the learning to sail part. We spent about 3yrs. First day sails to learn the basics, then weekends to get accustomed to being away from the marina, then a couple of weeks, then a month long trip and finally a 1 year trip to really see what it's like to cruise full time.
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Old 29-01-2019, 07:31   #4
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Re: Newbs in Virginia

Thanks for the warm welcome! Funny that you mention Herrington Harbour...I had actually just been in contact with them after hearing many great things about that particular marina. I just need to figure out if the commute will be manageable for us.

I was hoping some electric heaters would be feasible...did you leave them on when you weren't on the boat? Not sure about how safe that is or not. We have 2 cats that we are planning on bringing aboard with us, so we're trying to figure out the best way to keep the cabin comfortable, even when we aren't there. This would include the summers too...are fans good enough to keep it from becoming too hot?

Thanks again for the advice...it's immensely helpful!
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Old 29-01-2019, 08:49   #5
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Re: Newbs in Virginia

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Originally Posted by brettrae View Post
...I was hoping some electric heaters would be feasible...did you leave them on when you weren't on the boat? Not sure about how safe that is or not. We have 2 cats that we are planning on bringing aboard with us, so we're trying to figure out the best way to keep the cabin comfortable, even when we aren't there. This would include the summers too...are fans good enough to keep it from becoming too hot?

Thanks again for the advice...it's immensely helpful!
The first question is a tough one to answer.

For starters, we're always on the boat, so it's a non-issue.
That said, I don't think there is anything inherently unsafe about it as long as you use some common sense. Towards that end, we didn't go with inexpensive electric heaters; we have 2 Caframo Heaters that are excellent! Their form factor is such that they obviously can't tip over and we don't keep anything even remotely flammable anywhere near them. We keep one under the companionway stairs and the second just outside our cabin under normal conditions and move it inside if the temperature drops below 20. BTW, we do have 2 independent 15amp circuits for them.

As an aside, we also have a Mr. Heater F274830 MH18BRV Big Buddy Grey Indoor-Safe Portable RV Propane Heater in case we lose power.

One of the folks we met here, both work and have a dog - they use a Webasto diesel heater and leave it running 24/7.

Now, with all that said, we don't have cats and as you know, anything can happen!

As far as summer goes, it depends... we've gotten by with just fans, but you'll certainly feel it a few days during the summer if/when it gets HOT! We're normally cruising north well before that happens, but the year we were getting the boat ready, we purchased one of these portable AC units and vented it through a hatch. Worked well enough; only dropped the temperature inside by about 10 degrees, but really took care of the humidity and made it relatively comfortable. Of course, we had access to the awesome customer lounge during the hottest days!

Anyway, good luck and don't hesitate to ask if you have further questions!
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Old 29-01-2019, 09:12   #6
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Re: Newbs in Virginia

Newbs,
A really good map of the area, and links to the marinas is here:

https://www.waterwayguide.com/explor...12&mode=marina

For heating in the winter, we found a 1500 watt electric heater was all we needed. Lived aboard out 31 foot sailboat in Toronto for 4 years.

With the cats, you must make the boat and heater foolproof! Cats can knock stuff like towels and books into the heater. We had two near disasters with ours.
One, after propping the v-berth cushion near the heater, I stepped off the boat, causing the cushion to fall against the heater, and was smoldering when I returned a few minutes later!
Two, our 6 month old son crawled too close to it, and could not back away from the heat, because he could only crawl FORWARD at that stage in his development. A little red faced for a while, but no burns!
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Old 29-01-2019, 09:34   #7
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Re: Newbs in Virginia

Quote:
Originally Posted by SVRocinante View Post
The first question is a tough one to answer.

For starters, we're always on the boat, so it's a non-issue.
That said, I don't think there is anything inherently unsafe about it as long as you use some common sense. Towards that end, we didn't go with inexpensive electric heaters; we have 2 Caframo Heaters that are excellent! Their form factor is such that they obviously can't tip over and we don't keep anything even remotely flammable anywhere near them. We keep one under the companionway stairs and the second just outside our cabin under normal conditions and move it inside if the temperature drops below 20. BTW, we do have 2 independent 15amp circuits for them.

As an aside, we also have a Mr. Heater F274830 MH18BRV Big Buddy Grey Indoor-Safe Portable RV Propane Heater in case we lose power.

One of the folks we met here, both work and have a dog - they use a Webasto diesel heater and leave it running 24/7.

Now, with all that said, we don't have cats and as you know, anything can happen!

As far as summer goes, it depends... we've gotten by with just fans, but you'll certainly feel it a few days during the summer if/when it gets HOT! We're normally cruising north well before that happens, but the year we were getting the boat ready, we purchased one of these portable AC units and vented it through a hatch. Worked well enough; only dropped the temperature inside by about 10 degrees, but really took care of the humidity and made it relatively comfortable. Of course, we had access to the awesome customer lounge during the hottest days!

Anyway, good luck and don't hesitate to ask if you have further questions!
Thanks for the advice...it makes me feel like it is at least possible! Some of the boats we looked at had built-in diesel heaters, so that may be the way to go. And that's a great idea about the window unit AC...I just didn't want the boat to get the "hot car" syndrome for our furry friends while we were away during the day.
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Old 29-01-2019, 09:35   #8
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Re: Newbs in Virginia

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Originally Posted by Kim Gregory View Post
Newbs,
A really good map of the area, and links to the marinas is here:

https://www.waterwayguide.com/explor...12&mode=marina

For heating in the winter, we found a 1500 watt electric heater was all we needed. Lived aboard out 31 foot sailboat in Toronto for 4 years.

With the cats, you must make the boat and heater foolproof! Cats can knock stuff like towels and books into the heater. We had two near disasters with ours.
One, after propping the v-berth cushion near the heater, I stepped off the boat, causing the cushion to fall against the heater, and was smoldering when I returned a few minutes later!
Two, our 6 month old son crawled too close to it, and could not back away from the heat, because he could only crawl FORWARD at that stage in his development. A little red faced for a while, but no burns!
Did you all leave the electric heater running even when away from the boat? And that's a great website...thanks for the resource!
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Old 29-01-2019, 09:43   #9
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Re: Newbs in Virginia

A great way to learn to sail in the area is the Sailing Club of Washington. https://scow.org/


If you went that route for your first season (and you should), you could probably live aboard at the Gangplank Warf Marina in DC (it's changed hands recently and I'm not sure what the liveaboard policy is). They used to have boats to rent - living on someone else's is not a bad way to see if you actually like it before you buy your own.


I can also vouch for Harrington Harbor in Deale. It's an outstanding facility.


Final word of advice: Marinas in the area have differing policies about the heating of boats in the wintertime. Be absolutely sure you understand the policy of a chosen marina (an unattended electric heater can get you thrown out of some at first violation). Good luck to you and your wife!
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Old 29-01-2019, 10:01   #10
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Re: Newbs in Virginia

Quote:
Did you all leave the electric heater running even when away from the boat? And that's a great website...thanks for the resource!
Yes, left the electric heater running all the time, we both worked during the day. We turned it down to the 750 watt setting while away, as it didn't take long to warm up when we got back.

Never needed air conditioning in Toronto, and it was October when we were in Washington. Can you just rig an awning to keep the heat off the boat in the summer in Washington?
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Old 29-01-2019, 10:46   #11
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Re: Newbs in Virginia

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Never needed air conditioning in Toronto, and it was October when we were in Washington. Can you just rig an awning to keep the heat off the boat in the summer in Washington?
I have read about some folks who did this...I will look more into it!
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