When I first moved onto the boat with Herby, the thing that struck me as most exciting (besides living with him) was the vibrant boating community that surrounded us in the marina. In general, people who live on boats are very nice. We all look out for each other in a number of ways and are more than just neighbors. We’re friends. Herby and I like to joke that there are four types of people that live on a boat: divorced men who didn’t get the house, retired couples living out their life-long dreams, those who actually work on boats for a living, and crazy young people with wide eyes for adventure. We joke, but it’s actually quite true. Herby’s the crazy one and I’m just the one who fell in love with him.
Living on a boat creates an instant bond between live-aboards in a marina. We all have similar challenges and passions. When any of us goes away for a while, the whole community looks after their boat, whether that means pumping out their dingy or keeping an eye on the water line. We all know each other by name and make an effort to stop and talk if we pass one another on the pier. It’s a quirky bunch of people who have decided to live this way, but quirky is fun!
I’m the youngest in the Marina, but I don’t feel out of place with my neighbors at all. Paula, who lives across from us, insists that Herby and I call her “mom” and our friend Tammy cuts our hair while her husband Bill works on welding projects in Baltimore. We frequently have dinner with a couple down the pier from us and game nights with a firefighter couple that is close to us in age. One of the dock masters created a “sunset lounge” on the pier in front of his boat with a few comfy porch chairs and a cooler where a few people join him most evenings to watch the sunset and have a beer or two. Every year there is a crab feast that includes everyone in the marina who wants to join in the fun. And so, we all make excuses to spend time together and chat.
Now, this is not to say that we absolutely adore every person who lives in the Marina. There are those who have built up certain undesirable reputations, but we all generally steer clear of them. It is a special quality of boat life, however, to have such accessible friends all around you. Everyone knows that if they need help with something mechanical or personal, all they have to do is knock on our hull at any time of day or night when we are home. We have been able to help our neighbors out of their slip or even assist during a midnight emergency after someone fell in the water. We know that any one of our friends would do the same for us.
This community is close and welcoming in a way that made me feel like I belonged here from the start. They were quick to offer up helpful advice to me for making the sudden transition from land to water. Many people think that living in a boat is a lonesome existence, but in reality, it connects you to an entire community of caring people that I have come to know and love.