Note: after writing this post I realized I had read the dock fees as boatyard fees, and the live absurd fee has not, in fact, increased. There is merely a three percent environmental fee being added to our bills. Oops.
Boatyard fees are up and I’ve basically announced it to everyone in the yard who may not have seen the email yet. The email concluded with an offer to contact them if we have any concerns, but my only concern is that I can no longer afford this yard as a small boat sailor. Even my friend who works for the yard seemed surprised.
“Again?” He said.
I damn near gave my neighbor a heart attack as I heard him open his hatch and I spun around from scraping caulk like the girl in The Exorcist to exclaim, “HEY, yard fees just went up.”
“I haven’t heard that.”
“Yep,” I went on. “Fifteen dollars a foot plus the live aboard fee. Maybe you’ll be grandfathered in though since you do so much work diving here.”
“Doubt it,” he said.
“I dunno. The owner calls you Matty. You’re on nickname basis.”
What does this mean exactly for someone ahard on a mere 26-foot-sailboat?
Well, I was originally paying $390 per month. I was living in a house and doing a work exchange for rent so this wasn’t much money at all! Once all of my grinding was done, and the oppressively hot Florida summer had passed, I started sleeping aboard my boat and the fee went up to $469 per foot with the “live aboard” fee. With the new yard rates, my base fee will be $490, plus the live aboard fee (which is now more of a live absurd fee) for a total of $569 per month.
In the grand scheme of things this is still less money than someone would pay for rent, but nearly $600 in boatyard fees for a boat as small as mine is steep. If you’re on a small sailboat, you’re likely on a small budget. Rising fees make boatyards like this inaccessible to the humble sailboats. What’s unfortunate is that this is the best, safest boatyard in town and was one of the last remaining affordable boatyards that is still safe to live and store your boat in.
But nothing like a little pressure to light a fire under your ass. I’ve already started scraping faster. I have a designated launch date that I don’t really have a choice but to meet, because it’s the last of the money I have designated for yard fees. Once I launch I still have work to do outfitting and repairing, and need to start earning more money so I can set to sea.
For now I’m just focused on the work I need to do to get out of the yard. No point in wasting time trying to make more money for increased boatyard fees, because then I’m going to lose days working on the boat, which means I need more days in the boatyard, which means I need more money. I’m trying to avoid the spiral of becoming an indentured servant to myself and use my time as efficiently as possible in lieu of this news. I probably should have been doing this all along.
Unfortunately this boatyard is becoming a place that a hobo sailor girl such as myself can no longer afford. As the years go on, fees will only continue to rise. Luckily, I’m in the home stretch of my projects on the hard.