By Karen Anderson, Gangplank Slipholders Association

Undeniable signs of spring are all around the marina.  Winter water is turned off for the year.  Recreational boaters we haven’t seen since Thanksgiving are out in force, getting their boats ready for the season. And it’s not just blooming across the Washington Channel and around the Tidal Basin, but here at Gangplank, too, as our little pink houseboats get all lit up for the SW Waterfront Fireworks Festival on April 7.

A lot of us can’t resist a chance to deck our docks and boats in seasonal finery.  Once confined to the Christmas season, for years now the boats that call the Channel home have embraced cherry blossom season too. We have already got lights, and lanterns and bridges.  I suspect parasols and pagodas are on the way.  It gets more than a little competitive down here, with prizes and bragging rights on the line.

It also brings out the cooperative, community feel that makes living at the marina different from the twenty plus places I have lived before buying a boat and moving here last summer.  At Christmas my dockmates shared tips on laser controls and passed around extra lights, zip ties and lumber.  With the National Cherry Blossom Festival just days away, workshop space under winter shrink wrap is being shared with neighbors with a little less elbow room and smaller tool chests.  Advice and a pair of helping hands are usually just a slip away.

Marina management gets into the act, too.  They are lighting up office space and dock gates, building some ferocious floating fish and helping plan a pretty spectacular day on the waterfront on April 7.  With the National Cherry Blossom Festival, the Washington Waterfront Association, the Port of Washington Yacht Club and the Gangplank Slipholders Association they will be helping put on the Southwest Waterfront Fireworks Festival that should bring thousands of visitors to our sometimes sleepy quadrant of the city.

We don’t mind sharing.  In fact we can be downright exhibitionist after a long winter on a small boat.  So come on down to the waterfront and drink in the lights.  Wave to us on the gangplank.  Ask us about life on the water.  And enjoy the chance to experience the largest live-aboard community on the East Coast.

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