Tuesday, February 02, 2010
I muse, "I know it's here. I saw it." Once. A few days ago. Somewhere.
Here is how I explain being "on the hard" to folks who are not familiar with boating. Take your house. Put it on stilts 5 to 15 feet off the ground in the middle of an auto repair shop. Make sure the shop also does body work from 8AM to 5PM which involves a great deal of sanding and spraying of highly toxic substances. Put the repair shop downwind of an open air sewage treatment facility. Disconnect the electricity and the water and make it clear to the entire family that yellow, brown and everything else must mellow until you put the house back in the water or live monsters emerge from the stew to strangle you in the night, whichever comes first. Now while your house is on stilts without water in the midst of the loudest, dirtiest place on earth, set yourself a list of tasks which require concentrated, highly physical labor for 16 hours a day. Finally, locate the only possible place to shower, piss, and wash dishes at least 200 yards away with two temperatures, cold and frigid.
We have tried two different methods to live and work on the hard. Our first attempts involved paying as little as possible to the yard. We paid for a "round trip", e.g. pull us out of the water and put us back in, and we also paid a daily rate for sitting on the hard. While there, we did all the painting, sanding and engine work ourselves. This was possibly the least expensive way to do this, but it was astonishingly hard on the family. I don't think Dean and I have ever worked so hard in our entire lives. We were pulling out flood lights at night and working round the clock. I remember the alarm going off at 3AM once so that we could go down and put another coat of paint on the sail drives at the interval recommended on the can.
Here in Mexico, however, many of the yards do not let you do your own work. Instead, you arrange a preset price for them to round trip plus do all the sanding, painting, and other hard manual labor needed. The advantage to a pre-negotiated price is that you know precisely what you are getting and how much it is going to cost. It's also a huge relief not having to do the sanding and painting ourselves. However, unless the yard has a line of boats waiting to have work done is roughly a mile long, they have little incentive to get you off the hard quickly. It doesn't really cost them to have you sitting there, and if a bigger, sexier, more profligate boat comes along, your work gets bumped to the bottom of the work sheet.
We have been on the hard in Marina Singular Fidepaz de La Paz for eight hellish days now. The dirt on my feet has ground in so deep and so permanently that even shaving my heel with a razor has failed to reveal pretty clean skin. The deck is black with yard dirt despite drop cloths and paper barriers. The sinks are crusty, it's not a good idea to look at the dishes too closely before using them, and I know something died in the refrigerator but there is absolutely nothing I can do about it.
The key is a potentially expensive casualty of emptying out the lockers in the salon, though. DrC gets his Big Voice, "Who Was the Last Person to Take a Shower?"
I sniff my armpits experimentally. Okay definitely, "Not me."