September 16 , 2001
Gaeta, Italy

September 3 , 2001
Stromboli: The Lighthouse Of The Mediterranean

August 26 , 2001
Cefalu: Another Medieval Jewel

August 23 , 2001
Sicily: Land of Lovely Desserts

August 15 , 2001
En Route to North Africa

August 10 , 2001

August 8, 2001
Supermarkets and Amphora

August 6 , 2001
Sailing South in Sardinia

August 2 , 2001
La Vie en Corsica

July 30, 2001
Jonathan Joins Us

July 27, 2001
One Sea, Seven Colors

July 24, 2001
Say What?

July 23, 2001
"Va Bene"

July 21, 2001
Venturing Into Italy

July 20, 2001
And The Mistral Blew

July 18, 2001
The Spell Of Menorca

July 12, 2001
Culture And Concerts

July 7, 2001
Cha Chas

July 6, 2001
Red Dust

July 4, 2001
Rare Birds

July 3, 2001
Clear Empty Water

June 27 , 2001
Quick Friends

June 22 , 2001

June 13, 2001
Eastern Hemisphere

June 6, 2001
A Weekend in Cartegena

May 30 , 2001
A Time Or A Place

May 29 , 2001
Several Lovely Sails

May 21 , 2001
Free At Last

May 25, 2001
On The Hard

May 18, 2001
A Boat Again

May 14, 2001
Time Warp to Morocco

May 03, 2001
Still On Stilts in Malaga

On The Hard -

 May 25, 2001 

"Living on the hard", that is living on a boat while it is out of the water, is a strange phrase and an unnatural act for a sailboat. A sailboat out of the water is just wrong. When precariously balanced on sticks out of the water in a boatyard the complex creation that is a sailboat is unable to do what it is designed to do.

We have just spent a week living on the hard in a small varedero (shipyard) on the Costa del Sol in Spain. Thanks to our solar panel we were able to use our lights and we were able to make meals with the functioning propane but, the electric fridge had to be converted back to an ice-box. We maintained some food for breakfast and lunch. By dinner, we were ready to eat out.

Our goal was getting the boat back together for a season of Mediterranean cruising after having left her high and dry for six months while we were stateside. Last September, we had removed everything we could from the topside and now had to get the inches of sahara dust and grime that coated everything outside in order to put back everything that was now stored below. Until this could be accomplished I would be sharing my 35 ft home with the radar, the liferaft, the dinghy, the outboard engine, all the sails, and more.

We hosed and we scrubbed, we rubbed and we hosed some more. It was a two step forward, one backward, proposition for as the sahara dust was removed the shipyard dust settled on DOVKA. All around us paint and acid were being sprayed on other boats, usually upwind of us, without any protection, making us paranoid as we tried to clean and protect our pride and joy. But we slowly made progress and got through the necessary chores of greasing the feathering prop, renewing the zincs, touching up the bottom paint, and polishing the topsides.

Security was good in the yard, almost too good! The only access into the yard was through the office, and all facilities were outside the gate including bathrooms and showers. It opened at 9:30, closed from 2:00 to 4:00 for the Spanish lunch and closed again at 8. During off hours our access was controlled by the watchman who would unlock the gate for us while his German Shepherd puppy/watchdog nipped at our heels. We usually stopped work about 8 or 9 pm to clean up and then go to dinner. On returning from dinner around midnight, we would have to get the watchman's attention to unlock the gate for us. The puppy would usually notice us first and alert the friendly night watchman, Enrigue to our arrival. One night however, the bell was not working, and the pup was not in sight. A few minutes of knocking brought no one to the gate, and we had a moment of panic while we wondered if the guard had gone back to his home leaving us unable to access ours! We called for reinforcements, enlisting the assistance of several patrons from the bar next door. The combined yelling and honking of motorcycle horns eventually woke the dog and all was well.

It was a well run and tidy yard and every night after the watchman locked us in (and presumably intruders out) he proceeded to clean up the yard. In part this consisted of conscientiously replacing the wooden keel blocks we had dragged from their neat pile and stacked under our transom to enable us to reach our boarding ladder. This was our only way up or down from the boat as there were no ladders available anywhere in the yard. Early mornings were spent trying to get the attention of anyone who could get our blocks back so that we could get down off the boat and wend our way to the bathrooms and showers!

Finally we were ready and two most competent and careful travel-lift operators wrapped DOVKA in their slings and rolled her over to the water, let her gently down to find that she still floated. WE WERE A BOAT AGAIN. The engine started nicely and we motored to a berth. Bow to, with our new fat fenders protecting our sides, we nosed up to the cement quay where a marinero (sailor in direct translation, meaning marina staff) stood to take my port and starboard bow lines and in return handed me a disgustingly slimy, muddy line (I have gloves at the ready for this transaction) attached to the quay and running outwards to, we hoped, a sturdy mooring somewhere behind our stern. I took the line astern to Sid and he tied it off tightly to keep us centered between the boats on either side of us and just the right distance off the dock to enable us to mount our little bow ladder and easily climb on and off. This is called a Med mooring: something which I was terrified of at first, but when done in calm conditions, it is really extremely simple.

We felt very successful and thrilled to be in the water again, where we and the boat belonged. We could now finish our tasks and once again become a self sufficient vessel, ready to break free from the shore and start sailing.