Marinas seem to come in three flavors, in my experience: First are just plain working marinas. They're ugly stacks of boats and lifts, and they work on boats for a living. No one lives there. They are places where vessels are warehoused and repaired. This is where you take your boat to pull the engine, to replace the mast, to reseal the outdrive boot. They have the equipment to do heavy stuff like this. Then you pay them a lot of money and leave.
Second seems to be what we term the "Plastic Penis People" because that's what all the boats look like. Massive fibreglass phallic symbols with MASSIVE engines. Their owners come down every third weekend from the city and roar at high speed around the bay, largely ignoring the bay itself. These places are slick and often beautiful, but they're all about showing off your wealth. Livaboards typically aren't welcome as having your $750,000 Bay Ripper Turbo 6000 parked next to a sailboat with kids clothes drying on the lifelines may make you seem less important.
Then there are marinas for people who just love boats. They tend to have a good deal of aesthetics, but the aesthetics tend toward spaces for the people who use the marina: tables and walks and chairs and lounge areas. Middle River Landing, mercifully, is one of those, and we count ourselves lucky to have landed here.
Boat people are a diverse, friendly. and helpful lot. At a functioning marina there's is a lot of socializing, a lot of sharing food and drink and stories, and there's always someone willing to lend you a hand when docking or dragging stuff aboard.
Healthy marinas, too, tend to have a lot of wildlife about. Where we are, ospreys patrol the water constantly. There are ducks and geese fishing around the pilings.
And occasionally being abominally cute sleeping on the floats.
The opportunities for birdwatching, fish watching, and people watching are just plain endless.
Being on the water, you tend to adjust your cycles to that of the light. I find myself getting up far earlier than I'm usually want to, and turning in earlier, once the dining and socializing dies down. One reason is certainly that light is not always so easy to come by aboard a boat.
But it sure can be pretty.
In picking a marina, wander around a bit and talk to the folks that have their boats there. If you can see yourself having a barbecue with these guys, if they're funny and easy to talk to, then you may have found where you want to be.
Check out our other blogs on water living, Onboard Cooking (which has a lot of new stuff) and Life, Art, Water, you'll be glad you did.