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!