Life on the hard: not as hard as you might think

There are times in the life of a boat where she needs a little TLC. Yes it can be done at anchor, but more often it means being lifted out of the water and placed on the hard where anything can happen and often does.

It is never a dull life being on the hard. It can be perplexing, but it can be fun. Annoying and tedious but at the same time full of the joi de vie for which sailors have become renowned.

Yes it can be a tad squashy, being placed just a few feet from another vessel. It does mean ensuring that all lines, sheet, anchor chains, in fact anything that may come into contact with the ground has a rodent inhibitor in place to ensure they never come aboard. It also means, for those who do not have a holding tank, an early morning quick dash to the toilet with a “hang on hang on, ahhhh just made it” sort of response.

But the good side is definitely the on-shore get-togethers. Over the years we have noticed that any excuse can be found for firing up the barbie.

Over the course of time we have had to undertake work on our boat that has sometimes meant finding a good level hard spot on a sandy beach for those quick fix/short stay jobs. Or, as often happens, a longer, more protracted haul-out is required where a more lengthy project can be undertaken.

We have used both venues, the beach and the haul-out at boat yards specific to hauling out and marinas that also have the facility. Both have served the purposes well.

The beach

Judgement has to be made as to the suitability of the beach, the work needing to be undertaken and the time-frame involved. It is of little use to beach a boat and then find out that the work requires more than the tide will allow, unless of course you are prepared to stay overnight, through the rise and fall of a tide.

A few years ago we beached our vessel on a secluded beach where many other boats had done the same thing, in fact there was already another boat on the beach when we gingerly manoeuvred Hybreasail towards the shoreline. We had done the reconnaissance the day before to determine exactly where we needed to be to gain the most benefit from tidal vagaries. We also checked out for rocks: do not want to find ourselves sitting on top of rocks or big stones that could easily damage the hull, or be kicked by a wayward foot.

We also checked out the weather. It may seem a foregone conclusion but, believe me, we have seen a number of people beach their boats in relatively calm weather only to find it turn and make getting off the sand a very onerous event. We chose days that had the longest daylight hours with preferably a late morning low tide. This gave us time to make land comfortably, set our lines and anchors far enough out to enable ease of re-entering as the tide came in. Job finished and, with an incoming tide we gently rose to meet the occasion, job done.

I must make note here, there were many times when on the sand that we have used the shade of our boat to rest awhile and partake in a few drinks and nibbles with fellow cruisers. While in the pond on Middle Percy Island we took the opportunity of a low tide at lunch time to have a barbecue with other boaties in the shade of their trimaran. As I mentioned any excuse is a good excuse.

But there are occasions when it takes more than a few hours to undertake work. Like antifouling, painting and the myriad of other jobs that keep popping up when you least expect it. You know the old story: one job leads to another and another and another.

Life on the hard stand

People often think that it is all about the boat when they come out of the water. Not so. Yes, the yacht has to be indulged by keeping her in good order, but there is so much more to being on the hard.

The socialising is all important. It is what keep the women sane and the men able to carry on with the work of fixing whatever it is that needs fixing. A little communal sharing of information has shown us that, generally speaking, men are the same the world over and yes the women too have their similarities.

Life on the hard for a woman can mean the knowledge that ‘the boat ain’t goin nowhere’. The anchorage is now solid ground and will not cause you to swing and jostle at each turn of the tide. There is no need to get into the dinghy to go to the supermarket. It is just a short few steps down the ladder to the ground, hope on a bike, in a car or on foot if you have neither of the other forms of transport and Bob’s your uncle.

Yes sometimes life on the hard can become a bit tedious, maybe that is why any excuse will work if it means firing up the BBQ. In our present location, on the hard in Pangkor Island Marina, there is one yacht on the hard that has been here for over eight years. In that time they have travelled much, completed a new refit and are working on the finishing touches before finally going back to the water.

Another chap has been here for six years. They both love it; they say it is like being in a village where everyone has a similar outlook.

Our latest reason for again firing up the BBQ was Australia Day. But if Australia Day had not occurred there would always have been a birthday an anniversary or, later in the year, Bastille Day or the 4th of July. When these occasions do arise you will spot seldom-seen boaties emerge from their cocoon of comfort to partake in a few drinks, a good feed, a lot of laughs and mucho, mucho storytelling.

These events are where men stand tall and recount their adventures, where women listen gobsmacked and open-mouthed knowing full well that just a few of the tales are taller than the teller. But it is all in good fun.

As I mentioned we are currently on the hard at Pangkor Marina Malaysia. We, or should I say our catamaran, has been here for about a year an a half. It is a great place to leave her and has allowed us to go off on other adventures.

But each time we return it is like coming home. Check and clean the solar panels, start the outboards, do a general clean through: how on earth do I still come up with more things that I really do not need?

But wait, the yard office has an ever-changing selection of books and DVD’s both movies and music, so while I do offload things I have been know to return with a new stash.

As with any marina hard-stand facility, most offer shower and toilet facilities. Some even offer laundry facilities, i.e. a washing machine. We are fortunate with ours as we are within easy walking distance of quite a few warungs, eating houses. There is the ability to hire a car and we can get a taxi to pick us up at our boat and deliver us to whereever we wish to go.

All in all life on the hard is really not so hard after all.

Anne Wilson
Jeanneau JY55
Race Yachts
NAV at Home
West Systems