When living on a sailboat full-time, especially in the Caribbean where the hot sun beats down endlessly and marine life is plentiful and prolific, you need to break down every now and then and do some major maintenance work. It's not cheap, it's never fun, but it's a necessary evil that boat owners must go through in order to ensure that their little floating home remains in ship-shape order.
It was our time to bite the bullet and get our boat bottom painted. I've learned, since living on a sailboat, that it's necessary to apply "anti-fouling" paint to a boat's bottom, from waterline on down, in order to repel barnacles, slimy grassy seaweed-looking stuff, and a variety of other crustaceans and marine life that look for any opportunity to attach themselves to the bottom of your boat, especially if your anti-fouling bottom paint has seen better days. Our bottom paint had probably seen its "better days" a couple of years ago! Our hull was under attack, we were paying a fortune to have barnacles and slimy grassy sludge scraped off our bottom every few weeks, and instead of being fast and sleek in the water while sailing, our boat bottom stowaways were significantly slowing us down.
Now, as one might guess, getting your boat bottom painted means that you actually have to haul your boat out of the water. While Jeffrey has done this many times in the past, and is always more than a little nervous going through the process (like, what if they drop it?), this was my first-time going through the haul out process and I was more excited and curious than apprehensive.
The "haul out" was scheduled for 10:00AM on July 13th. Unfortunately for me, this happened to be the day after my 50th birthday, so instead of partying like a 20-year-old with all appropriate over-indulgences, my birthday celebrations were good albeit somewhat subdued in order for us to be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed instead of seriously hung-over come haul out morning.
We were organized and ready to be lifted well before our scheduled time. The boatyard, however, wasn't quite as organized. 10:00AM came and went, as did 11:00AM. Finally, at around 11:30AM, we got the call to bring the boat into the haul out slip.
Hauling your boat out of the water is somewhat akin to having a machine rip your house out of the ground, basement and all, suspending it in mid-air by two flimsy looking straps, moving it hundreds of meters by those same flimsy straps, and then finally propping it up on equally flimsy looking metal supports at its new temporary home on land. This might not be so bad if the preparation and lifting wasn't being done by local guys who probably just smoked a couple of doobies before getting behind the wheel of the travel-lift! That being said, "Roxie" (our boat) was hauled out professionally and problem free, and she was now "on the hard" as it's called, and ready for work to commence.
Now, with regard to repair work, here are some other things I've learned while living on a sailboat:
(1) there is no such thing as "one" simple repair job, somehow it always mysteriously and inevitably evolves into a multitude of tasks before that one job is finished,
(2) repair jobs are never easy,
(3) repair jobs are never cheap, and
(4) repair jobs usually require searching for parts through every boat chandlery, hardware, plumbing and electrical store on the island before finally admitting defeat and having to order the parts online from another country and then having to wait weeks for them to arrive.
Such was the case with Roxie. Once out of the water it became apparent that, in addition to bottom painting, a few other jobs would have to be added to the repair list, and we were soon seeing the repair price tag spinning upward like the numbers on a gas station pump-jack. I almost feel like we cheated the system a bit though by not having to wait extensively for repair parts this time, but even still, her 5 day haul-out turned into 24 days on the hard in the boatyard.
There's definitely something strange about seeing your boat out of water. Even though all boats are, in fact, built and born on land, to me they just seem out-of-place and forlorn when not in the water. So we were very happy when painting and repairs were finished and Roxie was ready to be returned to the water again.....if it just weren't for the fact that those same doobie-smoking workers had to lift her up from her flimsy looking supports, and carry her by flimsy looking straps back to the haul-out/relaunch slip where she was, successfully once again, returned to the water.
And now that she has a shiny and smooth new bottom, she sails like she was born to do....effortlessly and fast as can be!