Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Hard Times

Butt First
Butt First
Originally uploaded by toastfloats.
"Where's the key to the showers?" asks DrC after yet another day on the hard. The family looks around helplessly. There are tools, plates, dirty clothes, rags, cleaning supplies, painting supplies, wood scraps, and chandler receipts scattered on every surface. The key is a silver needle in a nautical haystack.

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.

Mera Painting the Sail Drives
Mera Painting the Sail Drives
Originally uploaded by toastfloats.
To compound our misery, DrC's work ethic is a combination of Capn Bligh, a road crew prison guard, and the holier than thou self-righteous rectitude of a virgin, non-smoking member of the Sierra Club. I don't think he's stop moving since we were pulled from the water. When we started to run out of tasks that were on our haul out list, he insisted we tackle other enjoyable projects such as replacing the tramp, servicing the outboard, and scraping the barnacles off the dinghy bottom. The bad news is that our hands our sore, our clothing destroyed, and we're exhausted. The good news is that the 479 tasks in the PrepForSale project are down to a mere 253, most of which involve cleaning things right before we get off the boat.

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."


Singing Land Cruiser said...

My dear Toast, It seems that you all need a date with a hot tub. Who said " Money can't buy Happyness" anyway? We pray you get off the hard soon a back to that "normal Life" you lead!?! Let Christi & I know when you and yours go bye San Diego. We run a RV resort in Ramona and we would love to put you up in 1 of our Park Models for a stay. Be Safe, M&C

Anonymous said...

I hate to point this out, but I sure hope you didn't paint your saildrives with copper-based bottom paint. Because your saildrives are aluminum, the copper in bottom paint will cause corrosion.