The Loud Family?

Kandu at Ventura West Marina
Kandu at Ventura West Marina

Many types live aboard their boats, of varying sailing ability and experience. An odd thing about boat owners: live-aboards or otherwise, most infrequently, and some never, take their boats out for a sail or a motor.  Rare is the sailor who leaves the dock monthly.  This includes Kandu.  We went nearly 2 years without leaving the dock.  Too few untie their dock lines. Live-aboards with extensive cruising are rare in a marina because they are typically sailing the blue yonder, or they’ve moved land-bound.  Far more boats capable of cruising the world sit tied to a dock than sail the seas.   As live-aboards in a marina, households (or perhaps more appropriately, “boat holds”) live nearly side-by-side, closer than mobile homes in a mobile home park.  With many live-aboards being retirees, marinas in some measure take on the feel of an adult community.  As such, we appreciate that many prefer children be “seen and not heard.”  Non-liveaboards still working, having worked all week, like to spend a weekend sleeping in on their boats, bathed in seaside sounds while gently rocking.  They don’t want to awake to kids playing near, and certainly not on, their boats.  For this reason, some marina’s don’t allow live-aboards with children or large pets.  Kids wake up early, either for school or for play.  Fortunately, Ventura West Marina (VWM), where we’ve lived for nearly a year, allows both.

To offer a little more privacy, VWM staggers non-live-aboard boats between live-aboards.   When in September we gave our required 30-day notice of departure based on our intention to leave with the Baja Ha-ha Cruiser’s Rally in late October, we gave up access to the live-aboard slip we’d occupied until then.  In an effort to help us find a temporary home, the marina management asked and received permission to place us in-between two live-aboard boats.

Something of which some sailors may not be fully aware.  A crew in final preparation for a multi-year long-distance voyage, as compared against a typical marina-bound boat, is significantly more active.  From morning and into the evening, we are in and out of our boat, bringing on equipment, testing it, modifying it, and testing it again–add to the mix two active boys–et voila, ruckus aplenty. As compared to a more mature, perhaps sedentary neighbor, we are considerably more animated and thus relatively “loud.”

After only two weeks of this temporary arrangement, marina management informed us that one boat left the marina because of our higher noise generation and the boys’ handling of their boats, with even more boat owners threatening to give notice.   “Noisy children” was the main reason given for the complaints.  Ironically, none of them spoke to us directly about their issues, chosing instead to have others speak for them.  Now, we’re not up too late.  We’re in bed by 9:30 p.m. and up around 6:30 a.m. (I’ve been waking up around 4:30 and working on the computer).  To abate the exodus, management moved us to another location, a slip with only one adjacent live-aboard, someone younger than me.  When asked by other live-aboards why it was that we were moving so much, we’d tell them, “‘Cause we’ve been told we’re too loud.”  They laugh and say we’re not.  Some say they’re louder than us.  But none of these people live directly adjacent to us or others for that matter.  We hoped that management’s plan would work.  After the first weekend, two days spent working with the boys, doing such things as filling water tanks, sorting sandpaper by grade, and showing them how to repair a polyethylene kayak (welding a narrow plastic rod to close small holes), hacksawing bolts of a Secchi disk (a device to measure phyto-plankton density), management notified us that they had received yet another noise complaint; this time from our new and only neighbor.  Previously it took two weeks to have someone complain.  This time it curiously only took two days.  Although only feet away from each others “doors,” and having seen our new neighbor several times enter and exit his boat, he like the others, preferred to make his concerns known to “the office.”

Although for some über sailors it may be easy to prepare a twenty-eight year-old, 42-foot sailboat for a five-year circumnavigation with one’s family; and during the final two weeks of preparation have no one walk in and out of the boat, or talk or use tools, . . . for me, with or without a teenager and a pre-teen as crew, it is not.  Understanding the unusual nature of our circumstances, we appreciate how the more typical, less-active of our live-aboard neighbors could be easily annoyed by our higher than normal activity.  We are saddened that our neighbors find it difficult to appreciate our circumstances, that they feel uneasy discussing their concerns with us, electing instead to approach us through management.  Management says we must leave their marina by November 30, the Sunday following Thanksgiving.  Fortunately the Ventura Yacht Club is ready to receive us then, and another marina in Marina Del Rey after that.  Some adventures start with a whimper, others with a shout.  I suppose ours is starting with the preverbial door hitting us on the way out.  It’s all good, for Leslie and I are making terrific progress, while Trent and Bryce find great ways to enjoy their time in pictoresque Ventura.

Post Script:

Several days before the required Nov. 30 departure, Ventura West Marina management offered and we accepted to stay in a newly vacated live-aboard slip, through the date of our choosing–Dec. 20th.  On this, our national day of Thanksgiving, we are grateful for their thoughtfulness and the convenience it provides our family and effort.

Trent, Sunday evening, enjoying a little twilight bodyboarding after working on Kandu. Bryce catching waves in the distance.
Trent, Sunday evening, enjoying a little twilight bodyboarding after working on Kandu. Bryce catching waves in the distance.

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