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Alright, I'm new to the metro Washington DC area, and I'm hoping to transition into a liveaboard lifestyle. One question one of my sons asked has got me thinking and wondering whether an alternative to marina liveaboard living is possible.

What I am wondering is:
What is to stop someone from buying a liveaboard worthy boat, anchoring down the Potomac river a little ways out of the way, and using a smaller motorboat as a personal water taxi to a convenient marina?

My thoughts...

Pros:
1) The maria fee would be significantly less because one would only need to pay a non-liveaboard slip fee for the smaller boat/personal water taxi. The Main boat would pull into the marina once in a while to pump out, etc.
2) Your experience in cruising living would grow quickly since you would rely on your own gear on a daily basis
3) Experience true "off grid" living since you wouldn't have the benefits of shore power, landline, etc.
4) Solidarity / security since the only people to reach you would be other boaters
5) Mobility, you can move your liveaboard boat around for a different view, but still maintain the benefits of a marina
6) No waiting for a waitlist at marina's for liveaboard slips. Only a recreational slip is needed.

Cons:
1) Solidarity - not many neighbors to make conversation with
2) Legality (Although, who would stop you from doing this? I'm not certain there's anything explicitly against doing this)
3) Reliance on your own head facilities, no dockside facilities for showers, bathroom, laundry, etc.
4) You have two boats to maintain / insure

Thanks everyone for your insights, I really appreciate it!
 

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Alright, I'm new to the metro Washington DC area, and I'm hoping to transition into a liveaboard lifestyle. One question one of my sons asked has got me thinking and wondering whether an alternative to marina liveaboard living is possible.

What I am wondering is:
What is to stop someone from buying a liveaboard worthy boat, anchoring down the Potomac river a little ways out of the way, and using a smaller motorboat as a personal water taxi to a convenient marina?

My thoughts...

Pros:
1) The maria fee would be significantly less because one would only need to pay a non-liveaboard slip fee for the smaller boat/personal water taxi. The Main boat would pull into the marina once in a while to pump out, etc.
2) Your experience in cruising living would grow quickly since you would rely on your own gear on a daily basis
3) Experience true "off grid" living since you wouldn't have the benefits of shore power, landline, etc.
4) Solidarity / security since the only people to reach you would be other boaters
5) Mobility, you can move your liveaboard boat around for a different view, but still maintain the benefits of a marina
6) No waiting for a waitlist at marina's for liveaboard slips. Only a recreational slip is needed.

Cons:
1) Solidarity - not many neighbors to make conversation with
2) Legality (Although, who would stop you from doing this? I'm not certain there's anything explicitly against doing this)
3) Reliance on your own head facilities, no dockside facilities for showers, bathroom, laundry, etc.
4) You have two boats to maintain / insure

Thanks everyone for your insights, I really appreciate it!
The main issue would be security. A boat tied up in a slip or tied to a properly installed mooring is going to be far safer, especially in heavy weather than a boat anchored out usually will be. Also, if you're working while living aboard, do you really trust your anchor day after day in a river environment to hold your home safe?

Also, your boat would be far easier to steal or break into, since it isn't going to have the safety of the marina's security and the other boaters around it more likely than not.

Also, in the DC area, there probably aren't too many places you could anchor out for extended periods of time without raising the attention of local LEOs.

Being in a slip, means that you can use the marina's shore-based facilities, and that often that means the difference between looking presentable for work or like something the cat dragged in.

Also, your insurance company may have issues with this, and getting insurance to do it may be more difficult.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Sailing Dog, thank you for your reply. I really appreciate it!

You bring up many excellent points, most of which I did not think of. I suppose there are ways of working around many of those situations and points you presented, but I am convinced that the proper at proven lifestyle is indeed one that involves living aboard at a proper marina.
 

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Your best bet for this sort of lifestyle would be to live on a mooring at a marina. You could just take your dingy to the marina which should be covered by the mooring fee and you'd also have access to nearby water, laundry, waste pump out, car parking, wifi internet, etc.
 

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Living aboard on a mooring would reduce your costs, but would require your boat be setup so that it can handle the electrical demands and would require you to pump out the holding tank regularly.
 

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although Lauderboy has a great idea,

I know there are no marinas commuting distance to DC that offer that service. Even fewer for liveaboards. And fewer yet that have pump out at the slip like FL marinas often do...

Even being in the rivers for more than a prescribed period of time is going to draw the attention of DHS...too risky for them to not bother you.

Good luck, annapolis is about as close as you will get for these types of services, and then they are $$$ and often have bridges to get under.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
All of the feedback has been very insightful and valuable, I really appreciate it!

I like the idea of living on a mooring at a marina, it seems to fit what my son was proposing. True, the electrical demands of the boat would be greater than if we were "plugged in" at the marina, but I've also dreamed of off-grid / self sustained living.

Today's lack of liveaboard slips and mooring-living options leads me to wonder if it would be difficult to obtain the proper permissions to setup a private mooring "downstream" and out of the way. Does anyone know if there are many hoops to be jumped through to obtain permission to setup a private mooring on such a river as the Potomac?
 

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given the potomac is a legendary risk to the powers that be, post 9/11...it would take an awful lot of work to do anything within commuting distance of the city.

The river is still the major path in and out of the city for flights..
the river is still crossed by many bridges
Many historic/business/important/critical buildings are but a stones throw from the river.
Much of the train/metro parallels the river

If you look closely while traveling the city, you will see all kinds of sensors, cameras, LEO, weapons cached, and military air flights on a regular basis. This is not the DC of old..

Good luck, but I think those in charge will let you know they don't want the risk...

YMMV, feel free to call DHS
 

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You might try Hartge's in Deale, MD - you can lease a mooring for the summer, plenty of opportunities to work on your off-the-grid systems. In winter they move you to a slip - you really can't dinghy ashore when the creek is frozen ;) City of Annapolis has the same mooring-in-summer, slip-in-at winter deal at City Dock but I believe there's a waiting list. Both locations have commuter busses to downtown DC. You have to prove you've pumped your holding tank every (week? two weeks?) in Annapolis if you're anchored out, but they make it easy with a boat that comes to you for $5.

There's a 2 week limit on anchoring in the Potomac; I don't know how stringently its enforced. Good luck whatever you decide; we've been living aboard for 8 years, 7 of them in the Annapolis area, and loving the life.
 

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I'd point out that the Potomac comes under MARYLAND law, as MARYLAND, by some weird legislation from a long, long time ago, owns the POTOMAC riparian rights.
 

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Dog

it is actually the other way around...Maryland owns the blooming river up to the MLW mark on the VA side....and they were the idiots that wanted to declare it and the bay ALL NDZ..

So yes, we VA boaters get a bit puffy when the idiots in MD start making rules about the bay and the Potomac...
 

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There's a 2 week limit on anchoring in the Potomac; I don't know how stringently its enforced. Good luck whatever you decide; we've been living aboard for 8 years, 7 of them in the Annapolis area, and loving the life.
Eryka - Can you point to an official statement to that effect? I boated out of the Occoquan from 2001 - 2004 without any issues including some long (but not two weeks) time anchored out.

Oh - and +1 on who "owns" the Potomac. No question that it is Maryland. I think the ADC charts show the change in jurisdiction as you come out of the VA tributaries into the river.
 

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Thanks for the correction kd/sv.

Don't have any potomac charts here with me...
 

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Eryka - Can you point to an official statement to that effect? I boated out of the Occoquan from 2001 - 2004 without any issues including some long (but not two weeks) time anchored out.

Oh - and +1 on who "owns" the Potomac. No question that it is Maryland. I think the ADC charts show the change in jurisdiction as you come out of the VA tributaries into the river.
I haven't seen any "official statement," but I believe the DC Harbor Police do impose a two-week limit, although enforcement seems iffy. I don't believe the restriction applies outside of the DC jurisdiction - we also anchor out a lot near the Occoquan.

Where were you on teh Occoquan? We are currently keeping our boat at FYC, although we will probably be moving to the bay in the next couple years (just hate to give up the very short ride from DC to the marina).

For the original post on this thread - have you considered that the river can and does freeze, so being anchored out long term with no bubbler system is probably not the greatest idea, not to mention the inability to get to shore in a small boat when the water is frozen.
 

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@ SVCarolena, I wasn't aware that the Potomac froze over. I figured there would be some ice along the edges, and perhaps some chunks floating downstream which would present a hazard to a boat at anchor, but I guess I thought the Potomac had enough current and volume for it to freeze.

Then again...I suppose a long enough freeze and it certainly would/could freeze over. We are quite new to the area, and I feel like a sponge soaking up all the info everyone is providing!
 

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@ SVCarolena, I wasn't aware that the Potomac froze over. I figured there would be some ice along the edges, and perhaps some chunks floating downstream which would present a hazard to a boat at anchor, but I guess I thought the Potomac had enough current and volume for it to freeze.

Then again...I suppose a long enough freeze and it certainly would/could freeze over. We are quite new to the area, and I feel like a sponge soaking up all the info everyone is providing!
@happypappy, can and does freeze in a tough winter like the last one, which is why the places I mentioned move liveaboards to slips in the winter.

@auspicious, sorry I don't have the bandwidth to search for a reference for the two-week limit and don't remember where I read/heard it, will look when I'm back to the land of unlimited internet in a couple of weeks if no one else comes to the rescue before then.
 

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@ SVCarolena, I wasn't aware that the Potomac froze over. I figured there would be some ice along the edges, and perhaps some chunks floating downstream which would present a hazard to a boat at anchor, but I guess I thought the Potomac had enough current and volume for it to freeze.

Then again...I suppose a long enough freeze and it certainly would/could freeze over. We are quite new to the area, and I feel like a sponge soaking up all the info everyone is providing!
It isn't consistent from year to year. As mentioned, this last winter was very cold with tons of snow and things did freeze up for a bit. Other winters you may get only a bit of ice along the edges. Keep in mind that near DC there isn't a lot of current and the water is basically fresh. Current picks up the further south you go, as does the salinity.
 

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Happy

the worst thing about the potomac, up river from the new bridge, is the sewage treatment plant...depending on which way the wind is blowing and how much overflow is just flowing past...can be pretty blunt....

on the restrictions...they are in place, including security zones, some announced in notice to mariners, some are understood...nothing around the new bridge, national airport, the annacostia station (park police helicopters, White House Comms, Fed helicopter, and path to/from Andrews for the Pres are all there plus a bunch of 3 letter initial ones), or any of the bulk piers for the power plants is a "security zone" per se. But some arm of the local LEOs or Feds will let you know pronto...some are not even announced - you find out first hand..

all the best in what you decide.
 

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Where were you on teh Occoquan? We are currently keeping our boat at FYC, although we will probably be moving to the bay in the next couple years (just hate to give up the very short ride from DC to the marina).
I was at Hoffmasters for about three years. Absolutely great place but you have to fit under the fixed bridges. I still stay in touch with the owners and staff but when I finally get back to visit I'll have a long dinghy ride up the river.

@eryka: I understand the limits of skinny pipes and flaky connections. I would have searched myself if I could. I will say I have never heard of a two week limit, although that may be in Washington Channel. I'll poke around also when I get a chance.
 

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@kd3pc - good point about the sewage treatment plant! We drove by there not long ago and decided that wherever we end up, marina or not, we needed to have quite a space between us and the plant. Phew!!!

@ All - I've done some outside research and it confirms most of the feedback here. There are limits, zones, and virtually every other variety of restriction on the Potomac anywhere near the DC area. To be honest, it was the possibility of the whole river freezing over that was the deal breaker for me. If I can't get out to cruise, then it's not the place for me!

We are going to direct our attention to the Chesapeake Bay (around and south of Annapolis) instead of the Potomac. Plenty of access to the ocean, plenty of marinas with liveaboard slips (..I hope!), and it doesn't freeze over...uh...right?
 
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