Rare life at Mana Marina
Today we introduce Boat People, Janie Walker’s column about Mana Marina and the people who live there.
The tips of masts that you see in the entrance to Porirua Harbour belong to a village of boat people – some salty old dogs, some ‘‘rich’’ folk who visit only at Christmas, but also ordinary people who call Mana Marina home.
My partner, Dean, and I have lived on our 46-foot sailing boat at the marina for a year.
We exchanged internal garage access in a house for a mad dash along the pier in a southerly. The downsizing was agonising ( 25 pairs of shoes down to eight!).
We’re not rich – it was cheaper than buying a house – and I don’t drink rum.
There are 305 boats at Mana Marina. The live-aboard limit is 20. We’re a mixed bunch: a nurse, some retirees, a beneficiary, newspaper manager, stone mason, fisheries officer, wedding photographer and writer (that’s me), and sailing instructor and boat handyman (that’s Dean), to name a few.
We’ve opted for a different life for a variety of reasons.
Monthly expenses are cheaper than living in a house.
It costs $540 a month for a 14- metre berth, plus $ 230 a month live-aboard fee (for two, including electricity). That’s it – no rates, no other amenities costs.
The live- aboard fee includes showers, a laundry block ($4 for a wash and dry) and a library.
There’s a downside: last week we ran out of gas, mid-scrambled eggs (no cup of tea!) and the toilet block was out of order.
Sometimes that’s fun and a bit like camping, but I was sleep- deprived from a windy night and in no mood for cuteness.
Dean sleeps through anything less a hurricane – I still wake up clutching the duvet in fear.
In the recent storm, I selfevacuated to a nearby motel. Dean called it abandoning ship.
The community here is gently connected. We’re not in each other’s faces, but are here for each other in times of need.
During the storm Dean and others went around the marina tightening ropes and sails ( spreading gossip about who hadn’t tied their lines right).
We’ve shared someone else’s catch of gurnard or tarakihi more than once.
News can spread like a galeforce southerly, not because we’re nosy, but because at sea you always watch out for your crew.
It doesn’t work out for some, though. Last week a guy from D pier took a trip and had to be rescued off Cape Palliser. He lost everything – photos, documents, clothes – all his material life.
The boat was found a few days later, upside down with a cray pot caught around the propeller. He’s lost his home and his uncommon life and has decided to head for the hills.
We have Mana Island and the extraordinary beauty of the Marlborough Sounds as our backyard.
Home, for now, is Mana Marina, but it could be anywhere in the world without having to pack a bag.
I’m still pinching myself, but more about that later.
Heave ho: A rare group of people live at Mana Marina, Janie Walker’s watery home.