30 March 2018

Flashback Friday | Marina Life


Flashback Friday takes place on the last Friday of the month. The idea is to give a little more love to a blog post you've published before that maybe didn't get enough attention, or is something you think is still relevant or even a something that you really love and want to share again.

Many thanks to Michael d’Agostino for starting Flashback Friday and inspiring me to go back and revisit some of our earlier blog posts.


This is a flashback to one of the e times we stayed at a marina in New Zealand. We normally prefer to anchor, but marinas were relatively inexpensive in New Zealand so we would stay at them occasionally to take care of life and boat chores. When we were at marinas we would run around like crazy trying to get everything done in order to get the biggest bang for our buck. After all, if we just wanted to sit around and relax, we could do that an anchorage.

{This post was originally published in February 2014. You can find the original post here.} 


We’ve actually been spending far more time in marinas then we intended to due in part to the weather and in part to some commitments in Auckland. Fortunately, marinas are relatively inexpensive in New Zealand; otherwise this wouldn’t be sustainable on our cruising budget. For our 26’ boat we pay around NZ$22-25 a night for a fingered berth. From what Scott tells me, marinas in Europe are far more expensive and he’s paid around €100 a night for berths there.

But because we’re cheap and would much prefer to be out there on the water, we try to minimize how much time we do spend in marinas and maximize the number of boat and life chores we can get done when we’re there. You would think it would be relaxing to be in a marina, but a day at a marina for us is often chock-a-block. Here is what a typical stay might look like for us. 

Arrival Day 

10:00 am – 11:30 am 

Arrive at marina and find the office to check-in. Typically, the berth they have assigned you is the furthest one away from the office so you have a bit of a walk to get there. Spend some time filling out paperwork and proving you have third party insurance. Find out where the shower block, laundry facilities and nearest grocery store are. These are three of the most important life chores you need to accomplish – make yourself smell good, make your clothes smell good and re-provision. And because everything at a marina revolves around gold coins (NZ$1 and $2 coins), trade a twenty dollar bill for a bag of coins. Otherwise, you and your clothes aren’t going to get clean. 

11:30 am – 12:00 pm 

Return to your boat and collapse because you’re exhausted from not having slept in days in near-gale force conditions. Try to convince each other that taking a shower really would make you feel better. 

12:00 pm – 1:30 pm 

Hit the shower block. Wait outside the shower because it is occupied. Debate whether to walk what seems like five miles to the other shower block but decide to stay and pray that they person in the shower will come out soon. Finally they do. Except it isn’t one person, it is two. Perhaps they only had one NZ$2 coin and had to share the shower? Either that or they’re newlyweds. Personally, I want all of the five minutes of hot water that my NZ$2 coin is going to give me without sharing it with Scott. But then again, we’ve been married for over 20 years.

Take a shower wearing your flip-flops because athlete’s foot sounds like a real drag. Try to shave your legs in the bad lighting and then give up. Convince yourself that the hair kind of disguises the bruises on your legs you have gotten from banging around the boat when it gets all tippy. Oops, the alarm has gone off and you only have one minute of hot water left! Do one last rinse and then towel off. 

1:30 pm – 2:30 pm 

Go through your current food stores to try to figure out what you need at the grocery store. It seems simple but it isn’t because your food is spread out in several hidey holes throughout the boat, some in very hard to reach places. Give up and just decide to buy a lot of cans of tomatoes and bags of pasta. You can’t really go wrong with spaghetti. 

2:30 pm – 4:00 pm 

Walk to the grocery store. Do your shopping. Have them bag your groceries in plastic bags even though you know you already have reusable grocery bags in your backpack. But you need more plastic bags. When you live on a boat you love plastic bags. And you can never have too many plastic bags. (Or paper towels.) Once you’re done shopping, restow all of the groceries into your backpacks and reusable grocery bags. Lug them all back to the boat because you don’t have a car. Your feet are your car. Tell Scott how strong he is from time to time as he is carrying the really heavy items on his back. 

4:00 pm – 5:00 pm 

Unload the groceries and stow in the various hidey-holes. Try to do some sort of inventory of what you have so that putting the shopping list together next time will be easier. Watch Scott shake his head because the inventory system hasn’t worked the last three times you’ve tried it. 

5:00 pm – 7:00 pm 

Make spaghetti for dinner. Eat dinner. Do the dishes using a decadent amount of fresh water. One of the best parts of being in a marina – all the fresh water you could possibly want. No need to wash the dishes in salt water today. It doesn’t get better than this! Oh yes, when you’re a cruiser, it is the little things that really make all the difference. 

7:00 pm – 9:00 pm 

Do the laundry and set up a “charging station” in the laundry room. When you don’t have an electrical set-up on your boat, every visit to a marina is an opportunity to charge the mobile phones, the portable DVD player and the computers. So when we hit the laundry room, we plug in an extension cord/pigtail and plug all of our gadgets in to charge. When you have a day in a marina, you have to multi-task – laundry and charging go hand in hand. 

9:00 pm – 10:30 pm 

Get back to the boat and decided to flaunt the marina rules which say you can’t hang laundry up to dry on your boat because their dryer doesn’t work. They call it a dryer, but it is really just a machine that eats up your NZ$2 coin, spins your clothes around for an hour and returns them to you wet.
Watch part of an episode of Battlestar Galactica on the newly charged portable DVD player before realizing there is no way you can stay awake through the entire episode. 

Departure Day 

6:30 am – 7:00 am 

Wake up but pretend to be asleep so that the other person will make the coffee. Continue the contest of wills until someone breaks and gets up and puts the kettle on. It is usually Scott. 

7:00 am – 9:00 am 

Make breakfast and get the boat in order. Complain to each other about the marina rules that make you vacate your slip by 9:00 am. No hotel would make you get out that early. But then again, this isn’t a hotel. If it was, we would have room service and someone would have brought the coffee and breakfast to us.

Top up with fresh water into every possible container you can think of – the normal jerry cans and water bladder, some old plastic soda pop bottles, the solar shower and a container for sun tea. You never know when you’re going to see fresh water again, so if you’re a cruiser, get it when you can.
Untie the dock lines and sail off to the next port of call.

Have you ever pretended to be asleep so that your partner will get up and make the coffee? 

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  1. Marina life is pretty awesome. But, it's also always nice to get away from the marina and out into the wild.
    We don't bother with grocery lists or inventory any more.
    We just go and buy what looks good, especially if it's chocolate.
    Matt makes me coffee every day. It's the best :-)

  2. Yep, been there and done that. Boating is still lots of fun though.

    I always get up first and usually have the coffee done and ready for hubby when he gets up. It's the way we roll.

    Have a fabulous day and weekend. ♥

    1. Aww...I bet he really appreciates that you have his coffee ready for him.

  3. Replies
    1. It certainly is. Gotta to maximize your time there.

  4. Sweetie and i each take care of our own coffee, and i agree that is a great way to multi-task.

  5. Hey! You're not "cheap." You're "frugal." It's all in how ya word it. :)

    Thanks for the glimpse into your routine while in the marina. Very interesting. I'm an early riser, so I can't get away with the pretending to be asleep stuff. He knows better.

    Have you ever posted about what prompted you and your hubby to live the boating life? I mean, we know some folks who opted for an RV life so they could do a lot of traveling, but that was after they'd retired. You guys are still young...

    Have a super weekend.

    1. Thanks for calling us "young" :-)

      We did do posts about opting for a cruising lifestyle. I'll dig up some of them for future Flashback Fridays.

  6. The marina has to be Westhaven. We lived there for 6 months (their liveaboard limit at the time) and I know exactly what you're saying. It may have been the largest marina we've every stayed at, but it wasn't the nicest (great neighbourhood, though -- loved Ponsonby and there was a really good dog park nearby). I don't know what it is (political chaos?), but I've been missing life in New Zealand a lot lately and reading this brought back some really nice memories!

    1. You nailed it :-) It's a huge marina. Love how central it is in Auckland and that you can walk everywhere from there..

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