Thursday, November 24, 2011

Bayswater -- Our New Home

Bayswater Marina
This is a file from the Wikimedia Commons.
Bayswater Marina is located across the Waitemata Harbour from Auckland proper. For those familiar with the great bays of the western United States, this is equivalent to living in Sausilito, Berkeley or West Seattle. The view of the city skyline to the south is stunning, the air is crisp and clean, the bay is full ferries, small fishermen, and yachts at nearly all times of day.

The marina itself is a big half circle dredged into the surrounding tidal low. It is stuck out on the end of the thumb of the Bayswater peninsula. There is no protection from prevailing wind and very little from large wakes generated by passing ferries. This would prove problematic in a more aggressively nasty climate, but in Auckland it is reasonably comfortable. The marina hosts 7 docks and nearly 1200 boats ranging in size from the enormous fishing trawler Tom to a swarm of small power boats.

Our marina hosts quite a few liveaboards, including at least two other families with children. Most of us are on docks F and G as these docks support larger craft with attached water and power. They tell us we are extremely fortunate to have a liveaboard slip in Bayswater. Unlike Seattle and San Francisco where increasing NIMBY legal pressure is restricting liveaboards, the problem here at Bayswater is simply one of infrastructure. The shore facilities – laundry, showers, and toilets – can only support so many liveaboards. The staff here feels that we are more than a little over capacity, so they are strictly restricting new boats and families and in fact have a very long waiting list. We’re allowed only because I put our name on the list over a year ago.

However tight we might have slid under the deadline, the folks here have made us feel incredibly welcome. While we are only beginning the process of getting to know our fellow liveaboards, our relationships with the office staff, dock crew, and harbour master are already strong and positive. The whole lot of them are incredibly helpful, friendly, and supportive. Problems disappear when I walk in the office and start chatting with Ed or Magdelena or Kezia. I really like these people.

Which is good, because without a happy dock crew, I fear Don Quixote would not be an easy boat to slide into this marina. For one thing, we don’t fit. We never quite fit, but here we really don’t fit. First, they put us in an 18 meter catamaran slip way out at the end of the dock. Fantastically private and with enough wind to keep us going 24/7 with all the lights on, the computers plugged in and both fridges chugging away, it just wouldn’t suit for the long haul. For one thing, the 10 minute walk from deck to shore is fine in the mild spring and summer weather, but I fear it would have been a heinous slog in winter sleet. More importantly, they were charging us an 18 m price for that slip. We’re an 11 m boat. We were almost paying double for the privilege of privacy and a freezing walk.

So they kindly moved us all the way from the outermost slip to the innermost slip. This is what happens to catamarans. We get the outside or the inside. Now we are practically under the dock ramp. This puts us directly under everyone’s eye, including all the dock crew. Good and bad, right? If we have to stretch, bend, or even break a few dock rules, we’re going to get caught instantly. For example, technically we are not supposed to dry our clothes on the boat. But, we want to hang the towels for an hour or to dry after we use them. On F74, no one would see. On F3, well it’s rather obvious, isn’t it. We look like Po' White Boat Trash. Luckily, the staff is all Kiwi attitude all the time. At least with drying, it’s hard to imagine why the “no dry” rule was ever set up in the first place. This is a country where drier ownership is considerably less than really big, fancy BBQ ownership. But the best bit on this inner slip is the very short walk, and did I mention ½ the cost? Dogz knows that if DQ breaks free or starts to smoke, the entire marina will be on her in a second to help.

The only real problem is that we are wedged in so tight into this slip that we literally can not get in and out on our own. We also shouldn’t – potentially even can’t – get out on a low tide. I feel like a dumpy lady trying to fit into a bridesmaid’s outfit two sizes two small. Maybe once I slide my fat ass into the satin, I’ll look super good… or maybe I’ll just look like mutton masquerading as lamb. To make matters more absurd, the slip next to us has been converted from two slim slips into one monster wide for the beauteous, brand new, blindingly clean, 14 meter catamaran P’zazz. She’s the bride, and she is dazzling.

If you’re thinking of spending a few days or a week here, the facilities are pretty good for mariners. Nice lounge, ferry to Auckland on the same dock as your boat, strong (though moderately pricey) broadband wifi to your boat, super well kept shower ($1/5 min) and laundry ($4/load wash, $4/20 min dry), 24/7 security and gated parking. The downside is that there are absolutely no services within walking distance to Bayswater. We’re at the end of a suburban desert. You can ferry into town or you can take a bus, but there is no walking to get groceries. I can drive you around, if you’d like, but not for too much longer. I really need to get a job.

Speaking of jobs, Jaime immediately found gainful employment with the marina. She is working every day scrubbing decks and docks, cleaning the parking lot, and doing other man-about-the-marina labour. Her boss and co-workers appear quite happy with her work, and she is delighted to finally earn enough pocket money to keep herself in the electronic and clothing style to which she would like to become accustomed. It’s all good.


Heather on Meerkat said...

Wow - it's such a city... Just didn't picture that. Sounds like a "marina life" is nice!

Anonymous said...

I remember having a marina job back when I was 14. I loved scrubbing the big fishing yachts with tall tuna towers. Woops, there went my brush, guess I'll just jump in to get it!

Patent Solicitor said...

Congratulations to Jaime! It certainly looks like this would be a wonderful place to work every day!