Choosing to live aboard a boat is one way to maximize the enjoyment of owning it. One way to test your afﬁnity for this lifestyle for a short time is to take a boating staycation. A staycation is an inexpensive way to take time off, as you remain in or near your hometown and treat it as a tourist spot. A unique twist to the staycation is treating your boat as the destination of choice; the ultimate home away from home. Choosing to sleep in your vessel at night, rather than in a hotel, is likely to increase comfort and possibly cost savings. Staycation-savvy boaters will minimize travel expenses, including the costs of plane or train tickets, although they might still need to pay for transportation between local destinations. As state and city governments beneﬁt from vacations taken at home, members of your family will, too, as you enjoy more uninterrupted time together than usual.
As boating brings your family together, it enhances your vacation and your life. Like more traditional vacations, a boating staycation offers opportunities for a family to enjoy leisure activities. These can include viewing movies, attending festivals, or visiting locations such as parks, museums, concert halls or sporting events. Local “tourist” pursuits can also include attending improvisational performances at comedy clubs, indoor or outdoor concerts, plays, boat cruises, viewing ﬁreworks, visiting museums, or simply exploring the architecture around town. Boaters on staycations might also choose to explore water activities, such as tubing, water skiing or white water rafting. A vacation on-board can offer the perfect opportunity to explore the city in your own backyard.
Gregory Harrison, dock master for Hampton Public Piers in Hampton, Va., notes one of the positives of a boating staycation: “It’s an experience you’ll remember for life.”
John Sima, owner of Sima Marine in Eastlake, Ohio, has lived aboard with his family for the past three summers. “It’s like a vacation all summer long. Everybody really enjoys it,” Sima says.
Marinas often house yacht clubs, restaurants and boater lounges with televisions and coffee bars, with nearby swimming pools, beaches, and areas for picnics and for strolling. Some of them also host events, such as Milwaukee’s Irish, Polish, Italian-American and Indian festivals. Live-aboards beneﬁt from their housing situations by being close to all of this activity.
To learn about local attractions, contact an area’s convention, visitors’ or tourism center, its parks and recreation bureau, search online, or review publications ofﬂine.
For help selecting a marina, one option is to contact the company Marinalife. Visit them online at marinalife.com, or call them toll-free at (800) RENT-A-SLIP. This business serves tens of thousands of individuals by providing them with access to its database, which includes 8,600 major marinas in the United States, the Bahamas, the Caribbean, Central America and Canada. “It’s the largest database of marinas,” says Kerry Bayline, vice president of Marinalife. Complete a questionnaire with the amenities that you would prefer for your trip, such as family- or pet-friendly spaces, or having access to a swimming pool, and the company will navigate through its extensive list of options to select locations that would work for boat owners. Marinalife will book stays from one night to one season long.