Living 15' off the ground, up a wobbly ladder and out of the water is always a trying experience at best. This is certainly not the first time I've mentioned (complained about??) it. It's part of the cruising experience if you're out for more than a year or two. It's a necessary part of annual maintenance for us and this time we have some additional repairs/maintenance to tackle ... a new shaft seal, cutlass bearing and replacement of the engine through-hull. David will outline the repair/maintenance issues in an upcoming Blue Views. Me? I'm just here to whinge.
Probably the absolute worst thing for me when living on the hard is the pee bucket. We can't use the head at all, of course. During the day, it's a pain because every time you have to go it's a trip down the ladder, a walk to the toilet block and then back again. This takes careful planning and there's many a time that we cut conversation short with friends because nature is calling … and calling loudly. During the middle of the night, however, we resort to the bucket … easier for guys than girls, for sure and certainly much better than walking around the boatyard in the middle of the night. The first trip down the ladder in the morning includes the bucket which needs to be emptied and washed. You've been spared the pee bucket pics.
Then, of course, there's the gray water … water used for washing, dishes, etc. We've been trying to minimize cooking on the boat to minimize dishwashing and clean-up. Salads or one-pot recipes are the meals of choice whenever possible and though it's not very green, we've resorted to using paper plates. David inserted a hose in the galley sink thru-hull to catch the gray water. It many times has bits of food in it no matter how careful I am. Bits of food attracts bugs and Lord knows, we don't want critters aboard. We empty the gray water bucket frequently … away from the boat.
Speaking of bugs, there are many here, but so far (knock on wood), we've seen none aboard. We've been particularly careful at the internet building where we've seen lots of teeny, tiny sugar ants. They have a tendency to crawl on and into your laptop or your backpack or whatever you have with you and then you're stuck with them. They're hard to get rid of once they've taken up residence.
Being this high, we can feel the boat wobble a bit when the wind kicks up. Mostly the wind brings more dust and dirt. After the initial cockpit cleaning (which required a bulldozer), I find it necessary to wipe down the cockpit almost daily. In addition to the dirt, we seem to attract charcoal cinders from the local fires and bird droppings. It doesn't rain often, but when it does … mud pies on deck!
The boat is all closed up at the moment because of the A/C. There is a constant white noise that drowns out usual boatyard noises as well as morning birdsong. It's cool inside, but stuffy. Boat smells of diesel and a little mildew meld with errant bilge odors and cooking smells. You get used to it after a few minutes inside, but it's an affront to your nostrils when you first head down below. Wish I could post a “smell” link for you.
Usually when we plan to be on the hard for more than a week, we rent an apartment or at least a room. In Uruguay, we rented a casita for US$100/month which included bicycles in the deal. In Ecuador, it was a “suite” in an unfinished house close to the marina. There were feral ducks in the empty swimming pool and roosters in my kitchen … a tale unto itself for another time... but it worked out fine for us. This time, however, the cost of living off the boat is exorbitant and though we'll be here for over a month, there are no other reasonable options beyond living on the hard.
We're not alone. Misery loves company and we've got lots of company. The boatyard was full when we left. Now, since it's prime cruising season (before hurricane season starts) and since there have been increased costs in Trinidad, 12.5% VAT on all services plus more stringent import rules for parts and supplies, many boats have left. There are still lots of cruisers roaming around though, most working on their boats by day and, if they're not too tired, socializing a bit in the evening. One day blends into another. Weekends are nothing special. The goal is to complete our tasks and splash as soon as possible.
When we've had enough of boat work in the evenings, we head down to the wharf and look at the boats moored in the harbor, reminding us of why we're working so hard and what we're working towards. This, too, shall pass