The Life Aquatic: The Residents of The Municipal Marina

The Life Aquatic: The Residents of The Municipal Marina

The morning air is sticky with the scents of sidewalk hot dogs, sea salt and blooming orchids. On either side of the Municipal Marina entrance are slow rocking sail boats, some caked in barnacles and others with fresh paint. The Marina isn't short on character. The community created by the residents reveals the simple, nostalgic thrill of living and thriving by the composition of your own grit. On the docks you can find students, writers, artists, doctors, pilots and prostate examiners.

The first resident I meet is Norris Comer, former writer/editor for iLovetheBurg. Norris has been living in the community for almost a year. He got his Catalina 25 back in 2012 and made it his home in January of 2013.  There's a hole in the cockpit, a bathroom transitioned into a closet after the toilet itself nearly sank the boat, a faucet you hand pump and a run down engine.  Norris outlines these blemishes with a sense of vigor. The cabin utilizes every inch of space with drawers and compartments that make its modest capacity mammoth.  He's taken her through all the precipices and torrents St. Pete's weather can offer and her steadfast posture is remarkable by any measure.

Norris proceeds to take me on a tour of the community, remaining patient with my maladjusted sea legs. First I'm introduced to his neighbor Leaura and her dog Molly. Leaura moved here with her boyfriend Joe back in August. Joe's been sailing as long as he's been breathing but for Leaura this was a new adventure. I caught her in the midst of laundry day which requires a particular amount of ingenuity in such a tight space.  In the cockpit of her Catalina lay drenched rugs made of taught line intricately woven into the shape of lifesavers her and Joe have been weaving. 

A few boats down on west dock resides Christie, a SPC student majoring in education. She lives on the boat with her sister, 2 cats and 3 birds. Christie is also in the midst of cleanup but offers me her time. She's been living on boats since she was 12 and it seems the simplicity and comfort of boat life was infectious. "It's cheap, close to campus and never leaves you feeling cooped up" she says as her cat loops around her. When asked about living with several animals in small place she responded, "I grew up with animals. I'm not sure I'd know how live without the menagerie." At the community porch where the gun-metal smoker and tiki bar rest, is a handpainted mural Christie began before winter break. The odd bucolic brush strokes invite the eye and mind to take part in the open-air, wobbling lifestyle of those drawn to sailing. 

Our final stop was with Brendan, he grew up sailing with his Grandfather who passed away when he was only 13.  Brendan speaks to me while putting a third coat of lacquer on his boat.  He was new to the minutia of sailing when he bought his boat at a police auction for 800 bucks. "Pay 800 even for the boat and about 60 hours of labor in change," says Brendan with a grin. He was looking for a place close to school in a city that he loved.  He grew up in Orlando but was always fond of the 'Burg and jumped at the opportunity to move down here. "I've been learning skills here and there. I've taken her out once but I've been out with people in the community too." 

At the Municipal Marina there is a currency of kindness that permeates from the sails, tarp, dirt, and rust of the boats. Before I left the pastoral water world Norris introduced me to Carl, the unofficial mayor and philosopher of the Marina. He didn't have much time to exchange words but he did leave me with a hand-written manifesto that encapsulates the aura of this neighborhood. "Truly know that your well-being is desired by many…Thank you for being another unique individual. Know yer' loved, CWD."

Article by Andrew Harlan, Writer/Editor for

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