It's a Hard Life ... or Life on the Hard: August 4th 2007.
Well, it's about time I wrote a log. Erin is off hiking to the top of the peak in Bora Bora. I hurt my foot yesterday standing on some coral (don't say a word, Dad) and I am sitting out the hike and trying to make myself not feel like a wuss. The last log entry had us in Huahine with Erin's parents about a week ago. Since then we have sailed to Raiatea for a haul out and a bottom scrubbing/painting and are currently in Bora Bora. Sailors call pulling your boat out of the water going "on the hard" - and Raiatea is a great place for it as it is the location of the Moorings Charter Fleet in French Polynesia and they have great facilities.
Why are we hauling out? Well, after scraping all the growing stuff off the bottom of the boat .... then doing it again. Then again. Then exhausting an entire scuba tank while scraping off 3 inches of green grass that had lots of little shrimp hiding it it. Shrimp which don't like being exposed to the open water and look for places to hide (like you belly button, ears or god knows what else) we decided we needed functional anti-fouling paint. Raiatea is one of the few places that have facilities that can handle a catamaran, so there we go!
It's a hard life, being on the hard. Because your boat is up on stilts (out of the water) none of the normal functions work because many of them need water to function properly. The generator is water cooled - so no electricity. The refrigerator requires electricity, of course and is also water cooled too. This means NO COLD BEER. The SSB Radio has a ground plate that requires salt water to complete the ground circuit - so no SSB. No water, no cooking (unless you want to haul your dirty dishes to the bathroom at the boat yard), no air-conditioning and above all, no showers (on the boat, at least). This is all because if you are painting your hull, the last thing you want is water dripping out of all kinds of openings in your hull and washing off the new paint before it has a chance to dry!
After many un-returned e-mails to Raiatea Carenage, we found another boat yard Chantier Naval Des Isles. I am glad we found them - because they were WONDERFUL. We had a huge list of tasks to accomplish during our time on the hard - and they were all finished on time and under budget (if you can believe it)! The only problem with Chantier Naval was a lack of facilities for shore living. They had a shower (emphasis on the one) which was not exactly dirty, nor was it exactly clean ... there is a difference you know. But everyone used it from the work crews showering off a bunch of bottom paint they had just sanded, to mothers bringing in their 3 children for a nightly cleaning. Not exactly easy access since there were lots of users and the one toilet was in the shower enclosure too. There also was no restaurant nearby. Actually there was, but it was only open for one of the 3 nights we were there. Erin did, however, find a pizza place during a bike ride and brought back pizza for a lovely surprise lunch for a scraping, seacock and strainer cleaning Chris.
To give an idea of what we had to do (and did!) here is a list: Straighten/weld bent stern anchor (never mind how it got that way), Scrape propellers and drive shafts clean of barnacles and apply special deluxe super secret antifouling (sorry, can't tell you what it is - or you know what would happen), lubricate and service all sea-cocks, grease propellers (x2) and change all zincs, get propane, epoxy a chipped hole in the transom steps, get our credit card that we don't use -but paid by mistake to send us a refund, find out where our spinnaker that we ordered from Hong Kong is and make sure it is on its way to Chantier Naval, and of course pressure wash the hull, sand and paint it with 2 coats of antifouling. If you can believe it - we went out of the water on Tuesday and slipped back in on Friday with all projects competed! Thanks to the hard work of the Chantier Naval crew who sanded and painted our boat for a grand total of 12 hours of charged labor!
Anyway, we had high hopes for the haul out. For those who are curious here is how it went. First, we had to motor up to the lifting area - which was a bit different from what we are used to. The way they do it at Chantier Naval is to put a giant, steel, propeller and hull destroying cradle in the water which you drive over the top of - then they fasten you to the cradle and pull it up a slope with a tractor. It was a bit scary but worked like a charm. Notice how accurate our navigation software is!! Notice the pained expression in my face in the fourth picture below as someone makes me pose for a picture while our boat is about to be destroyed (for all I knew at the time .. ).
How did we get hauled out of the water...yikes... First, motor into the "driveway" of the marina and onto the cradle. After we are on the cradle, the tractor pulls us up the slope and drives the (wheeled) cradle through the crowded boat yard. Notice how close we come to other boats. These guys can drive!
Once the boat is on its new home a pile of wood is made under each keel (more closely resembles a game of Jenga than a stable platform), and the cradle is lowered so that our keels fall onto the Jenga wood and steel supports. Now they drive away with the cradle so they can use it to lift the next boat! Time for us to get to work. Poor Erin had the job of scraping the water line algae off with bleach - but she is still smiling. Chris scraped the propellers for 3 hours with a scotch pad until he figure out that a drill and a wire brush was a far better tool. Getting the anchor fixed was easy - the metalworking shop was across the parking lot so the 50 foot walk wasn't too bad...but the ladder was tricky.
So. After all that work we have a beautifully painted boat, shiny propellers and slick, speedy performance. We clocked in at 8.7 knots under power when we left the boat yard - have not seen that speed, since, well, not really ever! I just hope the paint works for a few months so we can sail fast to Australia. We are now off to Bora Bora for a little R&R after all our hard work. We arrived yesterday - but we'll have more on Bora Bora next week. For now just a picture or two of Barefeet under sail with Bora Bora in the background! On our way, some friends from s/v Scholarship took a few pictures of us which is kind of fun, and we took some of them.