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I'm looking for input on where the best places are to live/sail. Where one might have great sailing as well as a community of like minded people and others in which to serve/volunteer. I "retired" in my late 40's from a life at high altitude to help both parents in turn to "step to the other-side" and am coming back to my first love "sailing".

I moved to Lopez, one of the San Juan Islands thinking I'd meet other sailors. Lopez is an Island of extreme organic gardeners which is a bonus as the produce is fabulous, but there are a few sailors here that share my passion. Any suggestions?

Tags: harbors, live, passion, sailing

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How about Port Townsend ? or Bellingham ? I'm on East Coast myself, but have sailed out of those ports.
I like N and S Carolina, for the weather, and not as humid as Fla
We've been up and down the east coast and have been to some places that might fit the bill but in my opinion Oriental, NC just blows them away.
A big thought about this is work, are you dealing with people who will be working to live on their boats or who will be living on their boats on a fixed income or what remains in a cruising kitty.
I think I may need to sail to a few of the larger ports this summer and do a little recon. It's difficult to get a feel for a place from the outside or as a tourist. I must say the Pacific Northwest is wonderful, especially the San Juan Islands as they are in a rain shadow. We have cactus on Lopez! And you can sail year round.
I would say there are a few requirements it would have to fufil, my most important is if Im living on the water I want it to be somewhere warm where I can swim and relax. Right off the bat this knocks out all of the US for at least some portion of the year. It also needs to be somewhere where I could leave my boat going ashore and not worry about it. I would also need somehwere either inexpensive or a way to make money without having to work all the time. If you have to work all the time that leaves no time for sailing.

Based on this I will either be looking for somewhere out of the way, the kind of place where everybody knows everybody on the island. Or a larger island where there are enough cruisers and I can get a job most likely dealing with tourists.

From here I will probably go to the VI, which is where I can make money then once I have enough cash head to the Pacific.
We are moored in South Texas, at Bahia Marina in Ingleside on the Bay, just off of Corpus Christi Bay and just up the ship channel from the Gulf of Mexico. Sailing is year around, but best in the winter, when the weather is cooler and the winds are stronger. Bahia has a number of liveaboards and everyone is just part of one big sailing family - almost all the boats are serious bluewater boats and most have ventured far and away over the years. Take a look at http://www.bahiamarinaoftexas.com/
Kate,
Personally, I think you're in the best place possible. I grew up sailing in the San Juans, and it's still as good as anywhere I've sailed. I suppose there might be a few more sailors over in Friday Harbor, but having sailed into Fisherman's Bay and spent time on Lopez, it seems to be a great place to live, and pretty tough to beat. And from there, the places you can sail to in a few hours is amazing. Good for you, living in such a wonderful part of the country.
Kate,

If you want to liveaboard 12 months a year, & have the ability to either put the boat up for hurricane season or deal with the possibility of a Category 5 storm, then you should consider the VI. The weather is fabulous, there are "like minded" sailors, lots of needy organizations who would welcome volunteeers (either animals, elderly, children : we have them all), and it is US. nearby are the other beautiful islands where you need your passport, so if you feel like you have to get out of town, you can leave the country easily in a couple of hours!
No matter where you live, there's a cool interactive map of local Marinas. So hopefully you can always find a good place to launch! If you know of Marina owners, they can add theirs too.
We sailed to the Pacific Northwest from Hawaii in 2007 and have been cruising here since then.

Port Townsend: Blue collar town but changing. Many opportunities in the marine trades but plenty of healthy competition. All the good stuff easy walking distance from the boatyard and Boat Haven or Point Hudson. Best boatyard facilities, riggers and shipwrights, best beer (Port Townsend Brewing Co.), active sailing community. Rich cultural life, wooden boat festival, jazz festival, blues festival etc., good casual restaurants (Blue Moose and Portside Deli in the boatyard, CJ's, best fish and chips and old fashioned milkshakes ever across from West Marine, Siren's burgers and beer in town and the Landfall at Point Hudson for breakfast) We stayed there five months. Point Hudson is the better marina but they do not have permanent slips. The Boat Haven's marina staff were, ah, Mamma's rule invoked (Nothing good to say).

Friday Harbor: Best marina staff we have ever encountered, bar none. Friendliest town we have visited so far. Everything within walking distance of the port. San Juan Community Theater is a real treat. Active boating community. Seafood market on the dock. Decent but but not remarkable restaurants - Downriggers, hit or miss service, freshly redone Haley's Bait Shop best burgers and beer, funky local hangout Herb's Tavern a good alternative, Rocky Bay Cafe always a line for breakfast and lunch and for good reason, Jimmy's in the bowling alley next to West Marine always a good second choice for breakfast lunch or dinner or just a beer - really cheesy pizza. VERY busy during the Summer. VERY quiet during Winter. Theme park prices all year. Not much in the way of jobs. We took the boat to Anacortes for groceries.

Ballard (Seattle) Shilshole Bay Marina: BIG new marina, very nice, pretty good staff. Seattle is a big city so not surprisingly it is not as friendly as San Juan Island but there is a very active sailing community, regular racing and many cruisers. Very good facilities and several chandleries. As a live-aboard we find it not as convenient as Port Townsend or Friday Harbor as it is too far to walk to the market but "Historic Ballard" has a lot to offer and it is much more affordable than Friday Harbor. Jobs available too. Sunday street fair style farmer's market on Ballard Ave. MANY very interesting restaurants and bars within long walk or easy bicycle range (Great town for biking BTW). Favorite watering holes - The Sloop, Mikes Chili Parlor, Lockspot. Best Breakfast - Vera's Cafe, Lockspot. Still looking for decent fish and chips. We have been here 4 months.

Hawaii: Surprisingly anti-boating state and local government. Crap facilities throughout the islands compared to the Pacific Northwest except for Ko Olina marina in West Oahu, far from the city. Not very friendly except in tourist areas where you are paying for it. High crime in certain areas. State-run Ala Wai Boat Harbor in Honolulu is unsecured and petty theft and boat boardings are common. High homeless population in nearby Ala Moana park contributes to the problem. Excellent sailing conditions year round if you can find a decent place to keep your boat. From Ala Wai, anything you might want is within easy walking distance. Excellent restaurants and watering holes. Harbor Pub on the edge of the Ala Wai Boat Harbor has the coldest beer and the best pizza in town, also decent breakfast and reasonable prices. Compared to Friday Harbor, Honolulu prices are pretty good. Plenty of jobs but the pay is less across the board and housing and grocery costs are high. I lived on Oahu for thirty years and lived aboard my boat there for nineteen of those.
wow.. thanks for the great rundown. I spent a lot of time on Big Island and Maui and found the same situaltion re anti boating policies which was a big surprise... where did you keep you boat ?

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