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Aannsha’s Blog #27 – Ups and downs of being on the hard

Our boat on the hard

When your boat needs its bottom cleaned, or other work below the waterline, it gets hauled out with a giant sling and put on top of metal stilts, where it sits ‘on the hard’ quite securely, while the work is being done.

Our yacht was hauled out early Monday evening, and it was with baited breath that we watched her being lifted and transported to her resting spot for the next five days. I know the guys who do this probably lift about 10 boats in and out of the water each day, but it’s still an amazing feat and odd to watch a sea going vessel hoisted out of the water, like a giant fish being taken out of its natural environment.

Making do, and doing without

Because we would be living on the boat, extra features were added for our stay, including a tall ladder and electricity, for while our solar panels were championing the electrical situation during the day, we weren’t sure how much power we’d use at night, using fridge, lights, laptops and two ring electric hob. As it turned out we probably could have survived without using shore power, as a recent test of our solar power/battery storage was necessary when we got back to the marina and discovered we had a faulty electrical extension lead to shore power. The solar panel instruments continued to read “INF” – ‘Infinity’, basically meaning our evening power consumption was negligible compared to the storage. Anyway, on the hard, we accepted the offer of connection to shore power and so a long extension lead was sent 5 metres up the ladder to the boat’s electricity inlet.

As we would have no water connection, we also required an alternative to the sink tap (faucet) for washing dishes. That was a bucket. Fortunately there was a tap a few paces from the boat, so gathering water wasn’t an issue. Hauling it up and down a very steep ladder was though. There was also the issue of disposing of the waste water after doing the dishes.

A Crusoe moment

As I was officially the knot girl on the sailing courses in Gibraltar, Barry deferred to my superior knotting dexterity with regards to securing the ladder to the boat. I was quite happy about that. I like to know that something so potentially precarious is secure and I trust my knots. So with an old line, I set about attaching the ladder. I tied a bowline to one end and attached it with a lark’s head knot over the portside cleat, then I threaded it around the transom, wound it around one of the stainless steel arch legs, around one of ladder’s uprights, then the closest rung, then the other upright, around another stainless steel arch leg (via the handle in the swim platform so the rope was flat where we would step on and off the ladder) and eventually made a very secure o-x-o around the cleat on the starboard side. I tugged at the ladder. It didn’t budge. That ladder wasn’t going anywhere.

Then I set up a little hoist system for lifting heavy items up and down – like a bucket of water. Using another line, I tied off one end to the stainless steel arch leg. Then it was just a case of tying the loose end to the bucket handle and it could be hauled up or down easily.

After that, I found myself speculating about other Robinson Crusoe adaptations, but remembered we were only going to be on the hard for a few days, and my time was better spent doing other things. Like getting some water.

Ticking lots of boxes

While we were out of the water, we did get a lot of work done:

  • New seacocks – these do need to be opened and closed easily.You don’t want open seacocks when you’re sailing as they are below the water line and … well … I’ll let you work it out from there!

  • New cast iron rudder quadrant (important as the rudder won’t work without it. If it had completely rusted and fallen through, we would have taken on water and sunk, and couldn’t have steered back to shore as there would have been nowhere to attach the emergency tiller!

  • Keel - Had its flaky paint removed

  • Small hole in the bottom of rudder was repaired with fibreglass

  • Propeller was cleaned and re-greased and treated with anti-fouling

  • As some of the recently replaced sacrificial anodes were showing signs of wear they were replaced. Apparently if the anode doesn’t make full contact with the metal it’s attached to, that is what can happen.

  • All of the bottom was cleaned, prepped and anti-fouled

Other jobs were completed while we were out of the water and Barry does an excellent job detailing these in his blog #29.

It was a shitty problem

New seacocks

One more word about the seacocks though – in particular - the one servicing the waste tank (that holds toilet waste if you’re in a marina until you can either have it pumped out or you empty it out at sea). For some reason, this seacock didn’t open and Jose couldn’t understand why. Until Fernando – who gets all the great jobs - dug around and discovered the issue. I would like to say here that the waste tank was empty; it hadn’t been used since the previous owner had been on the boat. However, Fernando very sensibly approached the seacock from the outside wearing a full face guard, and good thing too as the empty tank wasn’t quite empty.

After a bit of digging around you’ll never guess what he discovered was causing the blockage.

The spray nozzle from a water hose.

Someone had obviously stuck a hose in the outlet to clean out the waste tank, but when they’d removed the hose, the nozzle had got stuck inside. They hadn’t bothered to remove it, but had just closed the seacock. The nozzle had firmly lodged inside and jammed the mechanism. Once Fernando discovered this, he was able to remove the nozzle, but the whole seacock had to be replaced.

I’m so glad that was discovered and rectified before we set sail. I hate to think what would have happened if we’d used the waste tank, and then hadn’t been able to empty it …

Boat yard life

Living on the hard in a boat yard for a few nights was quite an experience. There was the Crusoe feeling each time I shimmied up the ladder feeling like I was climbing up into a tree house. There was the opportunity to water the nearby sailing club landscaping bushes with our waste kitchen water. Getting to “Hola” and nodding terms with the boat yard crew who were working on people’s yachts while I walked to and from the shower block. And learning what it is like to run down our food stocks.

An exercise in doing without

We weren’t without electricity. And water was on tap. All we needed was on the boat, 5 metres up in the air on stilts. However, there was one thing that was dwindling daily, and that was food.

Depending on which road you take, Puerto Marina de las Salinas is between 7Km and 9.5Km from Dos Mares (the shopping centre). Walking to and from the shops just isn’t an option. So where normally we may pop to the local shop to get salad, fruit, and vegies or bread if they ran out, that wasn’t an option for us.

We don’t have a full time hire car, but rent one for a week or two when we absolutely need it. Hiring a car without the added comprehensive insurance means it is relatively cheap, but we are on a finite budget at the moment and so every Euro saved – given the massive outgoings on the boat herself – is a Euro worth saving. For that reason, taxi rides are also not an option, and there’s no public transport servicing the marina.

So Baz and I decided that we would just see how long food supplies would actually last on the boat, using the fridge/’freezer’ and dry storage areas. We figured it would be a good exercise in replicating a week or two away from a marina – as will be the case when we leave here, because we’ll be sailing and mainly living at anchor or on mooring buoys, away from the shore and shops. We reckon it will help us to hone in on what we actually need to prep with, and which fresh food items last the longest.

Our cool fridge/’freezer’

Our fridge/freezer is a giant cubical storage area set in the kitchen bench top measuring 65cm (front to back) x 90cm (wide) x 63cm (deep), with two heavy hinged openings in the top. It has a shelf moulded into the back of the fridge that is wide enough (20cm front to back) to take a couple of baskets, and the right side where the freezing plate is attached around three sides is the best position for frozen items. We’ve put a cold bag in the bottom left of the fridge away from the freezing element and on top of a storage box, and this keeps vegetables and lemons remarkably fresh for a long time. Out of the bag, or too low down in the fridge - everything is susceptible to freezing, as we have to keep the temperature below a certain level to ensure the frozen items (chicken breasts, bacon, ham, mince, pizzas, bread, oven chips) stay frozen.

What we’ve learned is that (obviously?) salad vegetables and soft fruits need eating first. Tomatoes if bought slightly green will last a long time, and other vegetables and fruits last well in the fridge. Other fridge items are now in closed containers, which maintain a cold but not frozen temperature within. Things like milk, cheese, ham, mayonnaise, tapas fish (boquerones) are stored in these containers. Frozen vegetables don’t hold up as well as we thought but surprisingly chicken breast stays frozen hard.

Good storage vegetables in our fridge include carrots, cabbage, cauliflower, radishes and broccoli. Potatoes, onions and garlic last well in cupboard storage.

Other stored foods in the pantry (under the lounge seating) include tinned fish, tinned legumes, rice, pastas, muesli, UHT milk and tinned fruit. We have had access to fresh bread from the local Spanish restaurant at the marina, but when we do go sailing, we’ll stock up on sliced whole grain bread which I think will stay palatable longer than freezing baguettes.

How long did we last?

We managed to eat very well for about three weeks before we hired a car again. The last few meals we had before shopping included:

  • Pulpo (octopus) and Beberechos (cockles) that had been tinned in oil and garlic.I mixed those with chopped carrots and onions, and added more crushed garlic, some vinegar and salt and pepper.We had that with fresh bread.

  • Homemade hummus with fresh bread and carrot sticks.

  • Tuna and pasta salad in homemade vinaigrette with chopped radishes.

  • Pizza (store bought frozen with ham and cheese) to which we added bacon bits, a jar of sliced roasted capsicum and the last of the mushrooms (that were very dry and wrinkly!)

  • Pasta with a tomato based sauce including garlic, onions, chorizo, lentils and broccoli.

  • Rice with the last frozen chicken breast, potatoes, tinned chopped tomatoes and vindaloo curry paste.

All in all, I think we did very well and don’t have any worries about our ability to survive on our food stocks, especially now we will tweak them to include a lot more tinned fish, legumes and also vegetables other than corn, to have access to a better variety of vegies once the fresh and frozen greens have been eaten.

So there you have it, another week has flown by and we have learned a lot of new things in the process.

Until our next blogs, may you have an awesome week yourself, with fabulous food for thought – and stomach!

Homemade tapas - Yum!

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