Is Where Report by Mark Einstein Photos by Suzanne Einstein
iving aboard a boat is an undeniably interesting and adventurous alternative to conventional life. For some of us, a 12-month boating season represents the ultimate fulfillment of the elusive nautical dream. For others, it is just the way things worked out—a matter of economics, convenience, or some other unique situation that has put an end to life ashore. Whatever the motivation, just as with real estate, the three most important considerations seem to be: “location, location, and location.” This winter, while many year-round Chesapeake cruisers basked in balmy southern breezes, Suzanne and I ventured north from Rock Hall, MD to wait out the winter in the “City of Brotherly Love.” Philadelphia’s Pier 3 and Pier 5 Marinas are located on the Delaware River right in the heart of “Old City.” The docks are nestled between two historic shipping piers, now modernized into luxurious condominiums and attached to La Veranda Ristorante, one of the city’s finest waterfront dining spots. To most, the setting would appear to be more of an upscale urban destination than a place to spend the winter aboard a 38 April 2008 PropTalk
boat. However, after the seasonal slip holders and marina transients have gone elsewhere, Philadelphia’s waterfront remains “home sweet home” to a tightly knit community of year-round boaters. Walking the docks and meeting our neighbors, we find there is much to do spending the winter aboard a boat in Philadelphia. Bob and Barbara Kahny live aboard their 1983 Chris-Craft 381, Sea Lark. The couple kept Sea Lark as a summer home on the North East River until three years ago when they decided to give it a go full time. They attribute their decision to a passion for Philadelphia and a desire to downsize. “It was the only thing that made sense,” Bob admits as he invites us aboard for a drink. “Life is so much more affordable when you don’t have to pay for a house. We love it. It’s the best of all possible worlds,” he adds. Barbara enthusiastically agrees that she too “loves the life,” and although the transition presented a few challenges at first, she assures us the negatives have been far outweighed by the benefits of a privileged location.
Relaxing comfortably in Sea Lark’s fully enclosed upper-deck salon, we begin to understand what Barbara means by “benefits.” Although the outside temperature is well below freezing, a propane heater warms the air inside to a cozy 70 degrees. The lights illuminating the Benjamin Franklin Bridge reach across the river like dazzling emeralds connecting the magnificent Philadelphia skyline with that of Camden, NJ. Bob directs our attention to the perimeter of luxury condominiums surrounding the marina on three sides. “It costs a fortune to live up there,” he exclaims. “And they don’t have nearly the view we’ve got here!” “We’ve got it all right here,” Barbara continues with a contented smile. Within cruising reach of the Chesapeake Bay, Philadelphia is a world-class cultural metropolis. Rich in American Colonial history, yet as ethnically diverse as any East Coast urban center, the city represents the perfect middle ground between Baltimore and New York City. Boaters will find dozens of bars, restaurants, markets, and cultural attractions right in Old City. Historic www.proptalk.com