We are two months into a hefty list of very necessary projects and I can feel my sea legs atrophying. It’s not the time spent on land that is causing the problem, it is living on the hard.
I have always liked that turn of phrase, “living on the hard.” It sums things up nicely. Nothing about living on a boat out of water is easy. It is completely and utterly unnatural.
Firstly, there is the whole fish out of water feeling with the boat being propped up, whether it is in a hole, on stands or in a cradle. No matter how secure it is, it still moves. And in the high winds that have been the standard here in the Philippines this season it down right shimmies and shakes…but mostly only at 0300, of course.
Then there is the whole getting on and off the vessel. Most yards have thought this obstacle out a bit, not so much here. There are one set of half decent stairs around, and no we don’t have use of them. We have a bit of old scaffolding with a ladder tied to one side on an angle. This jungle gym approach makes it slightly easier to lift heavy loads on board but is also a bit difficult to climb when your hands are full. Catch 22. I prefer to go up and down backwards, like a child learning to maneuver a flight of stairs, especially at night.
Not that we are out after dark much, but since we are on living on the hard we have no toilet on board. Marine toilets flush with salt water and our intake is high and dry. So, we enjoy the 500M stroll through the yard to visit the shared facilities, which lately have been experiencing regular water shortages. But, at least there is a toilet seat, which is not standard in the Philippines, a country seemingly caught between east and west when it comes to bathroom practices; western toilet but eastern bucket wash and flush, no paper or seat required.
Perhaps the most difficult part about living on the hard is exactly why we are here in the first place; to do work on the boat. Unless you can rent a place to live ashore (which we can’t), you end up living smack bang in the middle of a construction zone.
When doing reno’s on your house you can move all the nice stuff out of the room before you get into the dirty work. Most likely you can close the door and shut out the dust, and usually you can sleep in a completely separate part of the house.
On small boat like Kate to work on one area of the vessel you have move everything to the other side of the cabin, a meer 6 feet away. While doing so you probably blocked some small cabinet that holds a vital tool which you end up needing half way through a not-going-to-plan simple task. Which means you must move everything to get the tool…then move it all back again. At the end of the day you can’t leave your project and tools in situ, ready to resume tomorrow where you left off. You have to put everything away, back in it’s little compartment, or else you’ll be tripping over it, or sleeping with it. It is a constant cycle of upheaval and restore, unpacking everything then put it all away again.
If you paint or varnish the whole cabin stinks, no matter how many hatches you have open. If you sand the dirt and dust doesn’t just end up in the cabin it ends up in your bed, and on your dishes and clean laundry. And even if you are not doing the dirty work chances are someone in the yard is, and if you end up downwind their mess ends up all over your deck. (I am SO glad the only steel boat in the yard is far, far away from us.)
And in between all this the daily business of life continues – rain or shine, clean or dirty meals must be cooked. Whether you have a countertop or not.