Life on the Hard

Dominic confessed early on in our relationship that if he had complete control over his living situation, he would live in a garage. He went on to describe a large cement room, filled with precisely organized tools, a refrigerator stocked with meat, and an assortment of fine Italian cars (by way of contrast, we were apartment hunting at the time, and I was eliminating any options without a claw-foot bath tub and marble countertops).

The Baja Naval boatyard isn't a garage exactly, but it's far closer to one than I ever thought I would call home. We had the boat hauled out of the water a week ago, a process that is both exciting and terrorizing to watch. The crew at Baja Naval put us at ease with their professionalism and attention to detail. There were about five men working the boat crane in total, and the leader of the crew had studied our boat plans previously to make sure he had the harnesses attached correctly. Then, as the were situating the boat within the crane, the crane driver hopped out of his seat, jumped in a small dinghy on the other side of the marina, rowed himself over to Helios, and made sure that all of the harnesses were tied together and didn't slip off the full keel. Initially confused by the sudden row boating, we appreciated the effort as Helios was safe and sound for the duration of the experience.

It took about 90 minutes until Helios was balanced securely on stilts, albeit looking a bit awkward as a sailboat out of water. Life on the hard has been normal in many ways and bizarre in others. It's still our same home on the inside, we cook and live as we have for the past 18 months. Draining water is complicated because, instead of flowing into the ocean, our sinks drain to the concrete below. So we do dishes and brush our teeth into buckets, and use the grey water to either flush the toilet (into the holding tank), or water the plants around the marina. Thankfully, there are excellent bathroom facilities with plenty of showers hot water and high water pressure.

Dominic is, without a doubt, entirely in his element. He wakes up in the morning, makes coffee, and looks wide-eyed around the boat yard to see what boats are being pulled out and what machines are in use for the day ("what if we had a boat garage, Corinne, and a crane for our boat!"). He then spends the day guiding the crew through whatever projects they are working on, making executive design choices, assisting and tidying the removal of gear, and wrapping up smaller installation projects that he hasn't yet completed.

If you're interested in the details, here's what our project list looks like these days:

·      mounting secondary winches in the cockpit

·      applying two additional coats of varnish

·      reinstallation of the windlass

·      replacing cockpit lifelines with stainless steel tubing

·      remounting the life raft to the transom

·      mounting the sonar transducers and knot meter

·      cleaning and repainting the bottom of the boat

·      installing our dingy davits and a new outboard motor mount

I'm happy to report that the crew continues to be great to work with, and we are on target to finish our projects next week (fingers crossed!). Hugo is in constant communication with us about our overall project timeline, Guillermo is often on the boat at 6:45 am taking measurements for the winch backing plates, Antonio has folded himself into the lazaretto, Raul is drilling holes in the bilge, and everyone covers their shoes in surgical slippers before getting on and off the boat. The crew members are all convivial, if not outright gregarious, and they all seem to take pleasure in working on boats and with each other. So much so that it isn't unusual for a rousing game of lunch-time volley ball to ensue, or to see men heading out with their fishing poles toward the dock.

As for me, I partook in one game of volley ball and was quickly reminded of the horrors of high school PE. These guys are good! I am not, and the concrete is more slippery than it looks, which I learned before having touched the ball. I have my own small set of projects, crafting covers for the new winches and bags for the jib sheets, painting chafe guard on the main halyard, and prepping for the enormous Costco run we're going to make before we jump the puddle. I'm decidedly less enthralled by the sounds of power drills than Dominic (and what I would give for that claw-foot bathtub...), but I'm trying to approach this time as a yoga-reading-writing retreat, as opposed to an exercise in making myself small and staying out of the way. Also, a boat that was pulled out this morning that has another girl living onboard; I'm very excited about the prospect of making new friends!