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Anchor out or pay for transient slip?

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Aug 23, 2009
Hunter 30 Middle River MD
I sail the Chesapeake on a vintage Hunter 30, we do have air conditioning after a fashion, and occasionally use it. As everyone says normally the summers on the Chesapeake are light winds and high heat and humidity, but even in the worst of summers there are nights were anchoring out are a delight.

There are many places you won't see or enjoy unless you are on the hook some of the time. I can tell a story about generators. We had a small Honda like generator we brought along in the early days, most of the time I would be in an isolated cove and no one near and I would run it to make hot water or use our microwave. One night, however we were on the hook in Rock Creek with about ten other boaters. I cranked her up and we ran it for about two hours. When I shut it down, every other boater on the creek came out and applauded. It hadn't occur to me that even sitting on an anti-vibration pad with its exhaust on the surface that my hull did a good job of transmitting it to the water and the water to everyone else. Most folks are good sports and if you run it a short while to accomplish something will be fairly forgiving but the amount of good will is inversely proportionate to the time it runs.
Aug 5, 2013
Hunter 36 Deale
Get a cruising guide

We close on our boat next week (August 8) and plan to sail all over the Chesapeake Bay in the coming year. We have chartered a 40 Beneteau and owned a Hunter 30', but neither had a generator and only the charter had air conditioning or heat. This boat has both and I realized I now have the choice between a transient slip or anchoring out. If we are going cruising for a week we could save $600-700 in slip fees. Our Panda genset is in a quiet box and doesn't make much noise though I suspect that those who anchor near us would dislike any noise other than their own. There is also the weather and boat traffic to consider, diesel fuel costs, and wear and tear to consider. How would you decide? Any thoughts?
There is lots of advise here. We have been cruising the Bay exclusively for the past 10 years. Summers can be hot and summer storms are quick. Watch the sky and radar of you've got it. Reserve the marina for the hottest and most humid waves of weather. They are expensive and will drain your wallet. Also know to pump your waste tank is at least $5 and a water fill is extra.

This year has been uniquely wonderful. Make sure you have scoops. The cruising guide is great for those anchorages you won't want to miss. A dinghy is a must. We don't have a generator and don't miss it. Only once so far in 10 yrs. was it unbearable. Watch the humidity. A nettle pool is another item you may want to consider. I made ours. I saw someone spoke of the Sassafras- beware of the mosquitoes. They are ridiculous there. Wait until after it is much cooler.

Enjoy. Tons to see and do. What a treasure.
Nov 11, 2008
Oday 34 Noank, CT
Long Island Sound

We cruise Long Island Sound and have only slipped once for the rondayvous. (Although being liveaboards we are in a slip during the week) We love anchoring and know quite a few off the charts spots. A wind-scoop can turn a 2 knot breeze into a comfy draft inside. Once we cut the lines for good we expect to spend at least 99% of the time on the hook.

One word of advice.... Know your bottom and your ground tackle.
Oct 6, 2008
Hunter, Island Packet, Catalina, San Juan 26,38,22,23 Kettle Falls, Washington
Bernmeister, We lived aboard our 38 Island Packet for 2 1/2 years on the Gulf Coast, both Florida coasts, Keys and Bahama's and very rarely took a slip. We invested in hatch scoops and canvas covers for the boom and staysail boom and we had 4 dorade's plus hatches with bug screens. When lying on the anchor the boat points into the wind and all those air catchers direct enough air to keep the boat cool.
If needed 12 volt fans can be placed in needed locations for spot cooling.
All this required very little electrical power.
We had 275 watts of solar panals and a Air-X wind gererator and very rairly needed to run the engine to charge the batteries. We did have a 16k BTU air conditioner that could be used at the dock and while at a slip it was needed but never when hanging on the hook.
Enjoy your adventure.
Jun 7, 2012
Hunter 456 Port Canaveral
Anchoring out

Our plan of 10 out and 2 in has worked well for us while we were in the Bahamas. If you want more replays why don't you ask the type of anchor everyone prefers:).
Sep 6, 2007
Catalina 320 Gulfport, Fl
Anchor out except in the summer

Fall, Winter and Spring here in Florida the temperature with the winds are a blessing for anchoring out. I have done 2 Summer cruises where after a night or two of sweltering...That AC at the dock for a good nights sleep is a relief. Just to charge the batteries on a cool boat every third night does the trick for me.


Jun 15, 2004
Islander/Wayfairer 30 sail number 25 Perryville,Md.
I have never had anyone anchor near me on the upper Chesapeake. I would call anything within a hundred yards close. two hundred is about as close as I can remember. Most of the upper bay marinas will allow you to tie up at the pump out for a short stay. Time to walk to the closest grocery store.
May 24, 2007
Beneteau 352 Milwaukee, WI
Play it by ear while learning about your new boat . . .

A lot of great stories. The OP indicated he previously owned a 30 footer and I would assume he has day-sailed the Chesy for some time. I got the impression the OP is still tied to the land and may be able to get way for about a week at a time. I also get the impression that he is concerned about the maintenance and operational cost that might come with running his onboard genset.

So . . . anybody with first hand experience with running your onboard genset to power the refer and (I assume) the A/C unit while on the hook?

On the west side of Lake Michigan, we tend to use marinas because there just isn't any place to drop the hook. Cost runs from a low of $1 a foot in northern IL to $2 a foot in Door County (WI). The east side of the Lake has quite a few opportunity to sit on the hook.

We are still tied to the land and manage to get a week here and two weeks there. We don't have A/C (really don't need it) and manage to keep cool with the aid of sun shades to keep the sun off the deck and chute-scoops to ensure there is good air movement below. The refer runs from spring launch until winter haul.

bernmeister - If you cruise to a schedule (defined time limit and have to back to the J.O.B. after one week) then you will likely find out the 80% of your time will likely be spent motoring & charging the batteries. If you do get to sail more than motor, then use a marina when it best supports your current trip. In my opinion, weather & ship traffic should drive your nightly decisions more than the cost of fuel for the Panda genset and any maintenance that might come from using it.

It has been my experience that more maintenance issues will occur from non-use of a engine than might happen from using the genset.

Enjoy the new boat!
Aug 24, 2011
MacGregor Mac 26X Central Arkansas
When I retired, I took a year to do the "southern loop" on a small houseboat. My retirement budget was about $40 a day and that's what many marinas charged for a one night tie up. For the first few months, I anchored out almost every night. However, a rough night in the Gulf anchored near Dauphine Island almost sunk my boat. After that and surviving two hurricanes aboard, I had a completely different attitude about marinas:
They offer critical services for crusiers like ice and pump out. I was never charged to fill my water tanks. Many offer courtesy cars at no charge to reprovision at Chinamart, visit nearby attractions, obtain. That's where many of the restaurants are and marinas are filled with interesting people who love boating. Their captivating stories filled about 1/3 of the book I wrote after the trip.

Still, for all the reasons above, I love to anchor out for the evening.
Jul 21, 2013
Searching for 1st sailing boat 27-28, 34-36 Channel Islands, Marina Del Rey
What is anchoring & mooring? What is the differnce?
Feb 26, 2004
Catalina 34 224 Maple Bay, BC, Canada
Mooring is just like anchoring, only someone else has place the "thing" that attaches your boat to the bottom.

All depends on who's gear you want to to trust. :)

Lots of great ideas here.

Could it be that anchor outs have great internet access, or are you skipppers just back home by Mondays? :)
Nov 26, 2008
Endeavour 42 Cruisin
A mooring field usually is laid out to maximize space, especially in deeper water where an anchor rode might need to be 150' and create a large swing circle.
A well set mooring might be required in places with bad holding.

A poorly maintained mooring just might fail at the worst time.
A mooring can run from free to $80/night.

A mooring field might include launch service and some shore facilities like showers & lounge but it may not include any extras.


Sep 21, 2005
other 12 wet water
Anchoring you get all dirty and muddy. Mooring you just cast off and sail away
Nov 18, 2010
Catalina 310 Hingham, MA
Anchoring you get all dirty and muddy. Mooring you just cast off and sail away
I don't know about that one. In my area the mooring lines are usually sitting in the water and get pretty nasty. There has been a number of times that we have to wash the bow off after picking up a mooring.

And with our bow spit/anchor roller, the muddy part of the anchor never touches the boat.
May 29, 2011
Hunter H 240 rehoboth beach , De
chesapeake cruising

The bay has a lot to offer for the cruiser.I take it,you just bought a H49.Thats expensive staying in slips.If you have a generator,lucky you,you can just anchor out and save some serious money.
We recently bought a H356 and keep it at Crisfield,Md [somers cove marina].Tangier Island is a nice destination with some nice anchoring spots on the chesapeake side.You can spend weeks exploring the chessie.
Good luck with that beautiful boat.
Nov 16, 2007
Hunter 49 kent island, md
your new Hunter 49

Congratulations on your new boat. We have had ours since 2008. We love it and love anchoring out. The Panda generator is extremely quiet and discharges under water. We don`t leave it on at night but only to cool the cabin if it is extremely hot and humid.

As far as anchoring goes, someone mentioned how dirty it can be. We initially had a wash down pump installed and the deck never gets dirty because of the overhang of the anchor(s). We rarely go to marinas unless we are on the boat for an extended period, and then just to give it a good cleaning.

We have a Rocna anchor which I wouldn`t do without. To us that is number one for comfortable anchoring.
Aug 24, 2011
MacGregor Mac 26X Central Arkansas
Anchoring out isn't free if you run your generator for hours for interior heat or air conditioning. My last built in boat generator used from 1/2 to 3 1/2 gallons of gas per hour depending on the load. Air conditioning was somewhere near the middle on fuel use, heat on the higher end. My last portable Honda EU2000 units did much better on fuel.

If you figure the cost in terms of generator service life and gas prices (depending on whether use is intermitent or continuous) the cost of a $15 - $40 slip for the night might be a bargain.
Nov 18, 2010
Catalina 310 Hingham, MA
Anchoring out isn't free if you run your generator for hours for interior heat or air conditioning. My last built in boat generator used from 1/2 to 3 1/2 gallons of gas per hour depending on the load. Air conditioning was somewhere near the middle on fuel use, heat on the higher end. My last portable Honda EU2000 units did much better on fuel.

If you figure the cost in terms of generator service life and gas prices (depending on whether use is intermitent or continuous) the cost of a $15 - $40 slip for the night might be a bargain.
Where are you finding a slip for $15-40? That's less than the cost of a mooring around here.

Also, your math assumes running a gen all night. We don't even have ac and I would install a diesel heater if I requires heat for a significant portion of my season.

Anchoring is always going to be cheaper.
Mar 3, 2003
Hunter 356 Grand Rivers
I run my generator all the time while we are out because we like the same temperature in our cabin all the time. It is very quiet, doesn't bother anyone while we are on anchor because the exhaust is below the water and the Northern Lights 5KW runs at 1800 rpm with it's three cylinders and full custom enclosure is around 75 db in the cockpit, lower inside and barely can hear 10 feet from the boat. We have never had a CO alarm go off and have two for redundancy.

My fuel burn is .25 gallons per hour running heat/AC on our 356 which is 6 gallons in 24 hours on the hook. At $4.00 diesel, it is $24/day, or about $1.00 per hour. In 2600 hours, I have only changed oil, impellers and one belt.

Most slips run $1.00 - $2.00 per foot, which is $36 to $72 per day for us, so on the hook is cheaper if replacement cost is not calculated. With replacement cost, it is probably closer to $50 per day, so very competitive with a slip if you run out the genset engine to 10,000 hours. If you don't replace the generator, and most won't run out a Northern Lights, it is less to stay out. With a generator you have a choice. If it is hot and humid you can turn it on and be very comfortable, without it you are at the mercy of the weather if on the hook, or you can take a slip if you want a restaurant and more "retail therapy" as my wife calls it!

Personally, my wife would not even think about a long cruise without the generator and the amenities we have and I have grown use to them also. We don't like camping out, we like our luxuries like heat and cooling and satellite TV. We also though, can turn it all off, so we have the freedom to go either way. Just another point of view for you to consider.

We use our boat on average 75 days a year so our utilization is way above average. We think it is because of the amenities we have that make sailing on our boat very comfortable that adds to our utilization.

We aren't critical of those that rough it - whatever makes you happy, go for it!
Dec 19, 2006
Hunter 36 Punta Gorda
Anchor Out

We do a lot more anchoring out than most I am sure and having the Panda Gen makes everything so much better and I am sure if not for the Gen my wife would rather not go boating and would most likely want to be at a slip rather than anchoring out and if we did not have AC and hot shower here in Florida.:eek:
I also have solar panels so we can use our smart phone and computer and TV and microwave and coffee maker and ref and a portable Engel freezer too all we want,our panda is very quiet and I have never had a complaint about the Gen running in a anchorage.
My friends are always saying how lucky I am that my wife is out boating with me so much,it's because of all the bells and whistles on our boat and I am always thinking of what to add so we can enjoy our sailboat.
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