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How to pleasure boat from NoVA

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Old 08-23-2018, 08:14 PM
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Default How to pleasure boat from NoVA

I'm hoping this forum can share experience to help inform my decisions about becoming a boater.
The situation: My wife and I have enjoyed some boat rentals and friends boats on Lake Anna and the Magothy River. We are confident that we want a boat for escapes from the NoVA life - tubing, swimming, anchoring on a beach to swim and play and relax. Day only, no overnights, looking at bowrider / dual console boats. Fishing will be limited to the occasional Zebco cast with the kids.
In short, I want my Saturday to look the family pictures in a glossy Robalo or Sea Ray catalog - nevermind there isn't any white sand around here.

What I'd like to learn:

Is the pleasure boating I described realistic in this area?

Where do I want to keep this boat in order to do these things? I live in eastern Loudoun county, so Lake Anna is 2 hrs, but the Occoquan is 45 minutes. Aquia Harbor is probably 1.5hrs minimum on a summer Saturday

Are there sandy spots to anchor at around here?

Are there spots where swimming is a bad idea?

What are the typical costs of keeping the boat (27') out of the water either on a lift or on a rack? I visited PW Marina, and they said it was $150/ft/year - sound reasonable?

I appreciate anyone's take on this kind of pleasure boating out of Northern Virginia. I'll probably make a separate post about boat choice and what I think I'm going to need.
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Old 08-24-2018, 05:31 AM
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Dockage and storage are a little tough around here to find and you will pay. Most will be about what your quoted depending on if it is dry stack, wet slip, or trailer storage.

Based on on your location I would guess itís easiest and will make it more enjoyable to have a dry stack where you can have them put the boat in the water for you since with traffic on the weekends that drive may take you over an hour.

The occoquan has the most options for dry stack and wet slip if there is availability. If you want to keep it on a trailer you should reach out to Pohick Bay Regional Park as they offer storage with a launch pass which is substantially cheaper. But youíll have to deal with the hassle of launching and time

water quality depends on who you talk to but I would guess itís no worse than any lake where you have farm runoff. This year has been the worse overall for the river due to weather.

There is a lot of shoreline as well as coves and creeks some well known and others locally known where you can beach, anchor off, and some sandy areas. A handful of places to boat to and have food and drinks on the water.

You have about 40 miles from occoquan to 301 bridge (classifies change to brackish water) and then another 45 miles to the bay. Going the other way you have I guess 10-15 miles to DC.

I persoanlly like like the area to boat. Good amount of places to explore, fish, and see. Traffic in the summer over the weekends can make it a bad experience though. We travel from Tysons to Woodbridge and it can be a nightmare.

There are a few Potomac River groups on Facebook as well as forums for fishing and cruising
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Old 08-24-2018, 05:44 AM
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Hey delta, there are a few pleasure boating options in and near NoVa. My wife and I live near Purcellville and have a 17í center console. We regularly take it out on the Potomac, launching from either Columbia Island Marina or Gravelly Point. I have seen people boarding, skiing, tubing, and paddle boarding around DC but not sure if Iíd try that myself, that water has me a little sketched out. There is also the Big Slackwater section on the upper Potomac about an hour from us, that is perfect for skiing, family stuff, etc. My favorite place to go is the Chesapeake Bay (I love fishing). Truxton Park in Annapolis, Sandy Point State Park, Chesapeake Beach, and Kent Narrows are all ramps within an hour and a half driving time from us. Probably a little less time for you. From the bay you can go up different rivers and creeks, which are much calmer than the open waters of the bay. There are a few sandy beaches to anchor up near the bay bridge, but most are in the middle/southern bay. As far as boat storage, we just keep it in the garage at the house. That way itís ready to go no matter where we want to head out to. If you have a back yard you can get a quality cover and the bot can live back there. Hope this helps, hope to see you out on the water!

Just saw you have a 27í boat, I guess you wonít be trailering too much.
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Old 08-24-2018, 08:41 AM
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Originally Posted by mikeeb18 View Post
Dockage and storage are a little tough around here to find and you will pay. Most will be about what your quoted depending on if it is dry stack, wet slip, or trailer storage.

Based on on your location I would guess itís easiest and will make it more enjoyable to have a dry stack where you can have them put the boat in the water for you since with traffic on the weekends that drive may take you over an hour.

The occoquan has the most options for dry stack and wet slip if there is availability. If you want to keep it on a trailer you should reach out to Pohick Bay Regional Park as they offer storage with a launch pass which is substantially cheaper. But youíll have to deal with the hassle of launching and time

water quality depends on who you talk to but I would guess itís no worse than any lake where you have farm runoff. This year has been the worse overall for the river due to weather.

There is a lot of shoreline as well as coves and creeks some well known and others locally known where you can beach, anchor off, and some sandy areas. A handful of places to boat to and have food and drinks on the water.

You have about 40 miles from occoquan to 301 bridge (classifies change to brackish water) and then another 45 miles to the bay. Going the other way you have I guess 10-15 miles to DC.

I persoanlly like like the area to boat. Good amount of places to explore, fish, and see. Traffic in the summer over the weekends can make it a bad experience though. We travel from Tysons to Woodbridge and it can be a nightmare.

There are a few Potomac River groups on Facebook as well as forums for fishing and cruising
Mikeeb - Thanks for your input. I'm thinking I'm going to dry stack (lift kept is a secondary option). Not sure I want to deal with bottom paint, storm prep, and the other negatives that come with keeping a boat in the water. With 3 little kids, I imagine I'm much more likely to use the boat if it's a phone call away and I'm not launching it off a trailer, then pulling it out for cleaning, etc. But economics can get in the way - this is a depreciating asset and if it's going to cost as much as a mortgage.... might as well think more about a vacation home.

Occoquan seems like the most convenient and offers more options vs. keeping the boat on Lake Anna. Do you have a recommended marina?
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Old 08-24-2018, 08:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Tin_Can_Striper_Swiper View Post
Hey delta, there are a few pleasure boating options in and near NoVa. My wife and I live near Purcellville and have a 17í center console. We regularly take it out on the Potomac, launching from either Columbia Island Marina or Gravelly Point. I have seen people boarding, skiing, tubing, and paddle boarding around DC but not sure if Iíd try that myself, that water has me a little sketched out. There is also the Big Slackwater section on the upper Potomac about an hour from us, that is perfect for skiing, family stuff, etc. My favorite place to go is the Chesapeake Bay (I love fishing). Truxton Park in Annapolis, Sandy Point State Park, Chesapeake Beach, and Kent Narrows are all ramps within an hour and a half driving time from us. Probably a little less time for you. From the bay you can go up different rivers and creeks, which are much calmer than the open waters of the bay. There are a few sandy beaches to anchor up near the bay bridge, but most are in the middle/southern bay. As far as boat storage, we just keep it in the garage at the house. That way itís ready to go no matter where we want to head out to. If you have a back yard you can get a quality cover and the bot can live back there. Hope this helps, hope to see you out on the water!

Just saw you have a 27í boat, I guess you wonít be trailering too much.
Tin_Can - I used to live in Purcellville - across from PH College. Bay bridge is exactly 92 miles from my old house. Great area.

We haven't bought a boat yet - I'm trying to figure out how all of this works, what it's going to cost, and how not to make costly mistakes. 27' is my guess because we want to be able to have another family join us on the boat, and that seems like the minimum comfortable size for 4 adults and 5 or 6 kids hanging out. I don't plan on getting a trailer - I'm thinking if I want to move it I'll use a service. Given the size of my backyard, I'd be stretched to fit a row boat.

I had never heard of the slackwater, thanks for sharing. Looks nice.
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Old 08-24-2018, 09:58 AM
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Not sure if Prince William Marina or Hoffmaster offer dry stack but I know a few people who are happy with Time N Tyde down the street. Also keeps you from having to ride a long no wake zone.

The Potomac can get pretty choppy between wind, current, and wakes from 50ft sea rays plowing around. I think for kids and others 25í and up is where you would want to be.

Other option is keeping it on the Bay somewhere as the drive might be a tad longer but will give you much more options.
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Old 08-25-2018, 12:32 AM
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I live in Leesburg. I have a 22' boat I keep on a trailer. When we go in the Potomac we usually launch from Pohick Bay Regional Park. It costs about $9 each time. I think they have an annual pass you can buy. From Leesbrug to Pohick Bay Park it is right around 50 miles each way. If you keep your boat on a trailer the Regional Parks have storage lots for boats and RVs (Pohick Bay, Algokian, Bull Run, that I know about). However, last time I checked the waiting list for a permanent space in the lot at Pohick Bay was a couple of year's long (they do have winter storage that it first come/first served October til April).

At Pohick bay you leave your tow vehicle overnight. I found it to be safe, but the gate to the marina is locked at dark so you can't get out if you don't get back to the ramp in time (if you're not staying out).

We have used Gravelly Point, but the hassle of getting there from the north, lack of parking on busy days, lack of convenient gas stations nearby, and the fact that the park closes about 10 pm, means we don't use it anymore.

Big Slackwater is above Dam 4 on the Potomac, not far from Sharpsburg, MD. There is about a 10 mile stretch that is suitable for boats before it gets too shallow and rocky. The river is not all that wide in that area but it is still nice. There are a couple of campgrounds up the river aways from the dam.

We also launch into the Bay. Often Sandy Point Park by the bridge. There are other places too. We also have been at Lake Anna and the James River by Norfolk. There are also lakes in western MD and WV that are nice.

From Pohick Bay to Georgetown via the river is about 22 miles.

The Potomac can get a bit choppy with the wind and the tide. It can also get a bit choppy where the Potomac and Anacostia rivers join. In some places below DC the river is quite wide and shallow which helps form the chop.

In the area around Occaquan there are a number of storage lots that cater to boaters off Highway 1. Some have wash racks and the like for cleaning your boat. If it is on a trailer this might be a good option. You can launch a Pohick Bay or Leesylvania State Park (which is south of Occaquan).

Personally, I really like having my boat on a trailer. It lets us go to a LOT more places than if we didn't. Going out from the same marina to the same stretch of water all the time would get pretty boring IMO.
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Old 08-25-2018, 05:44 AM
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Explore Potomac options

lake anna gets super crowded and small really fast.
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Old 08-25-2018, 06:32 AM
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I would recommend Tyme and Tide (tyme n tyde marina: Home) as well. Not as pricey as Prince William and easier access to river. I have 2 girls and we would go boating every weekend possible. The Potomac has everything and more that you would want. Raft-ups and volleyball in Mattawoman, Tim's rivershore crab houses in Dumfries and Stafford, Georgetown waterfront, Old Town Alexandria waterfront, and the National Harbor. Planes landing just over your head at Gravelly Point, Fireworks everywhere from the water in July, and yes, sandy beaches. Not too far south is Aquia landing, Fairview beach, and Colonial beach. And collecting sharks teeth! Just a 20 minute ride will get you to Wades bay. We would walk hours on the sandy shore a collect jars full of sharks teeth.
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Old 08-25-2018, 06:50 AM
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I grew up pleasure boating on the Potomac, water skiing, tubing etc, having lived in Fairfax County.

Pohick Bay Park is a great place to start. Easy access to the rest of the river.

You'll just have to call around for the tyl
pe of you want and associated costs - Google is your friend.

Alternatively you can also look into boat rental club on the Potomac eg Care Free Boat Club or the like.
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Old 08-25-2018, 11:27 PM
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If your boat is "garaged" in Prince William County, you don't have to pay PP tax on it.
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Old 08-26-2018, 07:11 PM
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Originally Posted by [email protected] View Post
If your boat is "garaged" in Prince William County, you don't have to pay PP tax on it.
Good to know. Assuming that means kept there - slip, parking space, or rack? Thanks!
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Old 08-26-2018, 07:13 PM
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Originally Posted by rocksandblues View Post
Explore Potomac options

lake anna gets super crowded and small really fast.
Rocks - yeah, we are leaning heavily to Potomac based on stuff to do and distance from home.
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Old 08-26-2018, 07:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Fish'nFool View Post
I grew up pleasure boating on the Potomac, water skiing, tubing etc, having lived in Fairfax County.

Pohick Bay Park is a great place to start. Easy access to the rest of the river.

You'll just have to call around for the tyl
pe of you want and associated costs - Google is your friend.

Alternatively you can also look into boat rental club on the Potomac eg Care Free Boat Club or the like.
Does anyone have any experience with Care Free Boat Club or other clubs? I've read the threads and can't tell if anyone A) actually loves it and B) feels like they got their money's worth
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Old 08-26-2018, 08:03 PM
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All -
I appreciate the help, keep it coming. I'm going to consolidate info that I've uncovered here so when the next guy comes along, it will be in one spot:

Here is a website listing place to keep / launch the boat on the potomac:
riverexplorerDOTcom/boat_ramp_map.php4

My preference is for dry storage. Most of the following places have wet slips. I marked the best version of what they offered (rack, lift, covered, etc).

Potomac -
Belle Haven Marina - unk / unk
Mount Vernon Yacht club - wet slips - $42/ft/yr
Mansion House Yacht Club - trailer storage / ramp - under $1k/yr

Occoquan -
Tyme n Tyde - boatel - $3800 - $4200 for my hypothetical 27'
Prince William Marina - boatel - $150-$170/yr/foot
Hoffmasters - covered wet slip & dry storage- $300-ish / month for 27' - $100/month trailer
Occoquan Harbor Marina - some lift slips $unk
Fairfax Yacht Club - some covered - condominium slips, $25-50k asking purchase price
Occoquan Regional Park - store on trailer & launch - $1200/yr
Captain John Beach Marina - slip / dry storage - see website

Neabasco Creek
Hampton's Landing Marina - unk - $unk
EZ Cruz - lift slips - $3200/yr
The Pilot House - lift slips - $unk

Pohick Bay
Store on trailer, $1200 / yr

Military / DoD
Quantico - $unk
Fort Belvoir - $unk

Aquia (didn't price, too far from me)
Willow Landing Marina
Hope Springs Marina
Aquia Harbor Marina
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Old 08-27-2018, 05:42 AM
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Hope springs is a great marina. Know a couple members of ownership and couple friends keep boats there in slips and one in the rack.

The Potomac is a great river for boating- very large with diverse options for restaurants, fishing, play, cruising. For YOU, start by figuring out how far you want to travel to your boat/marina each time.
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Old 08-27-2018, 09:20 AM
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Also look up Captain John Beach Marina. Itís next to Fairfax and can store on trailer or in slip. They have covered storage too. Have there own ramp and fuel. I have been thinking about it whenever a spot opens up
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Old 08-27-2018, 02:17 PM
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Lots of great options and recommendations here. I'll second Tim's Rivershore. A great place to hang-out, and the people watching on a nice Sat afternoon is second to none. :-) Tim always has bands on the weekends, and Waterstock (a 3-day party on the water is coming up this weekend). It will be a show.....

You didn't mention military or DoD civilian, but there are a couple of great options there as well. I keep my boat at the Ft Belvior marina (they have both wet slips & dry storage), and there's the Bolling Air Force Base (now called Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling I believe) marina in DC.

Didn't see anything here about this, but we've been taking the boat up to DC for Nationals' games the past two years. The Yards Marina is a stone's throw from the stadium and they charge you $30 and you can tie-up 4 hours before the game, and stay as long as you want after the game. On non-game days they have a $10 dock & dine as well. A lot of good food options around there these days -- The Salt Line, All Purpose, the District Winery, Osteria Morini, et al.

And up the Washington Channel, and right around the corner is the District Wharf. Although the Cantina Marina has been torn down (rumor has it that it eventually re-open in a different location), it's a pretty happening place as well WRT food & music.

Options up and down the river for sure!
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Old 08-27-2018, 07:49 PM
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Originally Posted by mikeeb18 View Post
Also look up Captain John Beach Marina. Itís next to Fairfax and can store on trailer or in slip. They have covered storage too. Have there own ramp and fuel. I have been thinking about it whenever a spot opens up
Thanks, added it to the list. The website says they have some availability.
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Old 08-27-2018, 08:16 PM
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Did some google maps searching and backed out locations to names. Added them to the list.
Also added the military options.

Keep it coming, especially any small spots that were you can keep a boat on trailer and then launch at their ramp. Bonus points for wash racks and other essentials.
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