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How We Hopscotch Our Car Between Marinas (For Realz…)

Long time followers know to brace themselves on April 1st around here – you just simply don’t trust ANYTHING my sweetie posts that day.

Hopefully you got a kick out of his dream version of how we move our MINI Cooper between ports.

However, many of you are probably left wondering just how actually move our car between marinas – like, for realz.

So, here goes – it’s really not as complicated as you might think.

First, a quick video documenting our last hopscotch from Sanford to Jacksonville:

Why We Move Our Car

When we first started cruising, we thought we’d be exploring the Great Loop over 2-3 years.

Which would mean a combination of lots of cruising miles and a few longer stays along the way. We didn’t really consider that our MINI Cooper, that we’ve towed behind our bus since 2011, would play a role in our boating adventures.

Our Mini has been all over the country with us as our dinghy behind the bus.

We thought we’d sell the MINI or store it with the bus – and then just use local options while cruising.

Everything from Lyft/Uber, public transit, riding our bikes, borrowing marina courtesy cars, renting cars or utilizing ‘harbor hosts’ (kind locals who enjoy helping cruisers out) for local exploring and provisioning.

It’s the logical and common thing for cruisers and Loopers. And it works out quite well.

But we settled into a slower pace than we intended.

Marinas are frequently right smack downtown in walking distance to awesome. And monthly marina rates are pretty darn affordable – while nightly/weekly rates are ridiculous.

We’re LOVING the slownomadic pace of life these days, it’s just what we needed.

It’s been pretty typical that we’ll cruise a couple weeks, then find the next cool marina for a month or two (or four).

Moving the car along with us really has proven to be pretty simple and convenient… so, Y-Not?

We do enjoy having our own wheels when we want them. We can provision and run errands, explore our new town and go visit friends – without having to worry about Lyft costs & waits, public transit schedules or depriving others of a courtesy car.

So much so that we’re intending to upsize the MINI to a Class-B van conversion so we also have a small RV with us and for use as a comfy shuttle craft back to the bus. (Yes, intentions are still there.. likely sometime this summer?)

Boat Miles < Car Miles

Boat life is a different pace of life.

Until you’ve experienced it, it may not click that cruising is a different pace of life all around.

A typical driving day in our boat or RV is about 2-3 hours. While some days we may dedicate to making more miles and push that to 5-6 hours – we prefer a much more balanced day where we have time to advance some miles, leave time for a back up plan, get some work hours in and enjoy the day too.

The difference is, by boat we’re typically cruising at a speed of 7-8 knots. For our landlubber friends, that’s roughly 8-9 miles per hour. Which means a boat driving day only gets us about 15-30 miles.

By RV, we’re usually moving at 55-60 miles per hour, meaning a driving day can be 100-150 miles.

When in cruising mode, we may take a couple weeks or more between extended stops, and we don’t cruise every day. So, we might travel only a 100-150 miles between our extended stays.

And by car, that’s just a quick 2-3 hour trip. Especially since roads tend to sometimes be a bit more direct than twisty windy waterways.

Compared to more typical Loopers, we’re super duper slow (#sloopers)- many are on a 1-3 year plan which keeps you pretty hyper mobile. Using the math above, the 6000 Great Loop miles is about equivalent to 42,000 RV miles in terms of active driving hours.

Other cruisers may do long passages to move around seasonally, and then stick around a while in one spot. There’s really no normal.

For us, it’s not about the miles, but the smiles. And heck, keeping sane.

Hopscotching Vehicles

We didn’t realize this when preparing for a cruising lifestyle, but it’s not at all uncommon for cruisers to slowly meander between marinas and hopscotch their cars.

Marinas that allow you to live on your boat usually provide ample parking.

And they pretty much know that most cruisers can’t load their car onto their boats. They’re happy to allow you to park your car in advance of your arrival or after your departure. And if not, it’s not too difficult to find a place you can park your car nearby.

So, all you have to do is figure out how to move your car. And since we don’t cruise that many miles, it’s really not that big of a chore.

Here’s some of the typical options:

  • Meeting friends Kathie & Ron (and my mom) for lunch in West Palm Beach to hand off the MINI.

    Hitching a Ride – The cruising community is awesome, and we all understand the challenges well. We were blown away the first time we relocated to a new marina all on our own. We took a week to move from Burnt Store Marina in Punta Gorda and arrived to Legacy Harbour in Ft. Meyers. Our new neighbors helped catch our lines and within minutes new friends were made. We mentioned we were about to call a Lyft to go back to get our car, but our new friends insisted on driving us the 12 miles. This has repeated itself a few times, and we’ve paid it forward a few times ourselves.

  • Borrowing a Car – Fellow cruisers are also quick to offer the keys to their cars to fellow boaters. I guess once you see your new dock mate successfully dock, you kinda figure they can drive. We’re always happy to loan our car to fellow cruisers too.
  • How we actually got our Mini Cooper from Sanford to Jacksonville – our dear friends Eckhard and Sabine road-tripped up to visit us, and then took me back with them to get the car.

    Friends – Through this blog, we have an amazing community – and one of the benefits is we tend to have friends almost everywhere we go. It’s a super fun way to get to know people by accepting their generous offer to give us a lift back to our last port to get our car. That’s how we got our car this last repositioning, friends we made in Sanford offered to meet us in Jacksonville and take us back. It was great to get bonus time with friends. For our upcoming legs, we have a friend with a private plane who has offered relocation assistance by air. Yup, we’re spoiled – and if you might be able to help along the way, give us a holler.

  • Mom – My mom is centrally located in Florida – and we purposely purchased a boat with room to have her visit and cruise with us. A big reason we’ve not yet left Florida is just how awesome it is to share this experience with her so casually. And, we often can combine mom-time with handling the logistics of the car. She usually can also manage storing our car at her place when we are more actively cruising.
  • Public Transit – In south Florida we actually had access to Tri-Rail – which helped us reposition the car up the coast (and more friends helped the rest of the way). And up along the east coast we have access to Amtrak, and there’s buses as well. There’s also renting a car and Lyft/Uber.
  • Self Driving Cars – And yes Chris, there may come a day when you can just tap on an app and have your car meet up with you. Perhaps it can also earn some cash being a Lyft while waiting to be summoned?

 

So, there ya have it. It’s surprised us how easy it’s been to keep a vehicle in our fleet. Life on the water doesn’t have to mean no wheels.

Real Time Update

From our ‘Mobile Internet Fundamentals’ presentation at RVillage Rally.

Yup, we’re now back in Jacksonville – where we positioned ourselves for an easy drive (by MINI) over to Live Oak for the RVillage Rally 2.0 at the end of March.

It was a fabulous event and we enjoyed meeting so many people and connecting with dear friends. And we also filmed several of our segments for the upcoming The RVers PBS TV show with producer Anthony Nalli.

But big events take it out of us, plus we caught some ‘conference crud’ that we’re just now shaking. We’ll be in Jacksonville catching up and hopefully getting the solar panel installation done before moving on. And we are so woefully behind on content we want to share with you – like our time in Sanford and the cruise back down the river.

By end of month, we might actually take Y-Not out of Florida for the first time since owning her! Woo-hoo.

 

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9 Comments - Still Plenty of Room for Yours!

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  1. Thanks for the update, After spending the winter roaming around Florida we are heading north next week in our RV, into Georgia and NW SC. Will pass right through Jacksonville. Keep us updated – love to hear what you are up to.

  2. OMG! I completely forgot that Chris writes these April fools fantasies. I absolutely bought it. I have a friend who bought a Tesla so it was in my head that it could be done. I even told your story to friends of mine when the subject somehow came up. I even told them about the part where you can’t back it up so it got stuck. Now I’ve gotta remember who all was in the room when I told your story so I can admit I have been fooled. Dang, Chris!

  3. “For us, it’s not about the miles, but the smiles. And heck, keeping sane.” ~Technomadia

    Love your quote. Will keep this in mind as it’s the pace of life we try to do each day. 🙂

    And, yes, we always look forward to Chris’s April 1st blog post. One year, you could compile them and publish an eBook for faithful fans.

  4. I always enjoy your April Fools stories. I still think the blimp could work. Thanks for all you do!

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