The Hard

The expression “being on the hard” is quite appropriate. It is not a pleasant experience, to say the least. Boats belong in the water. That’s what they’re designed for. But once in a while, they have to come out for some much needed maintenance, a hull inspection, new anti-fouling, …

This is the fourth time in four years that we’ve hauled. I vividly remember our first haul in Grenada. The yard was dusty and dirty and it was stifling hot with no breeze; mosquitoes were breeding in the stream next to the boat and the streetlight next to Rehua would attract them into our cockpit. We ended up waiting for more than three weeks on new parts, suffering the mosquitoes, dust and heat and driving each other mad. But eventually parts arrived, we went back in the water and life was good again. Despite it being a gorgeous lush spice island, Grenada will always bring back those unhappy memories of being on the hard for too long.

The second time was in New Zealand, where the job of anti-fouling ended up taking more than double the estimated time due to the inexperience of the workmen (in one of the top yards near Auckland). Our New Zealand experience was disappointing and very expensive and we were on the hard for over a month. We were very lucky to have some amazing friends with a beautiful house in Auckland who let us stay with them the entire time. Seathan slept on the boat most nights, in order to cut the commute and get an early start, but it made a huge difference that the kids and I weren’t there.

We also had a brief haul-out in the “Wild West” that are the Solomon Islands. Despite it being a less developed country with very little yachting infrastructure, it was probably the most pleasant experience so far. True, we were out of the water for a few days only and ‘all’ we had to do was replace our props. We used a commercial yard that normally only services large local boats. We couldn’t stay onboard (Rehua was on the rails and sitting at an angle) but only a few 100 metres away was a lovely hotel owned by our friends Bob and Yvie. It made the entire experience totally tolerable.

So, two years after New Zealand, Rehua is due another paint job. We’ve been checking out yards for the last six months in Thailand and Malaysia and have finally settled for Rebak Marina in Langkawi. The yards we saw in Thailand had more expertise but were more expensive. Seathan decided to do most of the work himself so after much debate and research we decided Rebak was our best option. Why (and this is going to sound funny): because of the pool. Yep, Rebak has an amazing pool. The marina is situated on a small private island which also boasts a five-star resort. The marina guests have full use of the pool and other facilities. There are nature walks and tracks and the kids can roam around as much as they want. Seriously, when living on the hard, it’s really important to have some good facilities available. You don’t want to spend any time inside the boat unless you have to. Having to climb up and down the ladder each time, battling the heat and mosquitoes, having to keep all the hatches closed all day because of the dust: the kids and I try and stay out most of the day. We do school lessons in the airy shaded communal area that is the yachties’ cafe. We hang out by the pool in the afternoon or play on the beach. In the evening it usually cools down a bit and we can open our hatches and eat on the boat.

The other (probably even more important) reason we chose Rebak is because there are other kid boats around. You can’t imagine how ecstatic the boys were when they heard there would be similar aged boys and girls around. We didn’t see any other kid boats for nearly a year and all of a sudden they pop up all around us. It’s fantastic!

“So how long will we be out of the water for?” I ask Seathan as we are getting ready for our haul-out on the agreed morning.

“One week, maybe two, it’s hard to know until I can check the state of the paint once she’s out,” he says.

“Fair enough, maybe we can be back in the water before the end of the month,” I suggest.

I’m forever the optimist. He’s more cautious and won’t make any promises…

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ready to lift with only a few centimetres each side to spare

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keeping a close check on things

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quick bottom wash

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parking job

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the pool at Rebak, not too shabby!

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not 2, not 3 but 4 kid-boats in town!

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football in the rain

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school in the cafe

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on the hard

Ko Lipe, Southern Thailand

I was on Ko Lipe 22 years ago, in 1996, on a sailing holiday with my parents, and I can’t describe to you how much the place has changed. There was no tourism back then. Just a few yachts and a few backpacker-type places. Just a couple of shacks on the beach offering simple but delicious Thai food. Just one path through the jungle and one village school.

Now, the island is all ‘hippy-chique-ecofriendly-trendy-relaxed’. There are several resorts and a busy main street called ‘Walking Street’ with plenty of cool restaurants, coffee shops, bars, tattoo places, massage salons, etc. But… it is still a lovely small island, only reachable by yacht or by ferry. And it has some of the best corals and fish we’ve seen in Thailand.

Ko Lipe is only a short hop away from Langkawi (25 nautical miles) and great for a quick visa-run if necessary. Southern Thailand has a lot to offer: plenty of gorgeous islands, clear turquoise water, great snorkelling, lovely beaches, … The wet season hasn’t yet arrived but the tourist stream has slowed down so it’s just the perfect time to visit.

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Welcome to Ko Lipe!

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View towards Pattaya beach from Walking Street

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Walking Street

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yummy Thai food

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Sunrise beach and some very turquoise water

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no filter!

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dinghy ride

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Our water-maker broke and it’s not fixable until we get new parts, so we’ve had to fill up with 20x 20L jugs. We’re lucky the island has cheap filtered drinking water available!

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loading up the dinghy

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and into the tanks, it’s a team effort

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the boys with their friends from s/v Ellida

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art class on Rehua

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the parking lot on sunset beach

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kids’ table

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and the adults

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all together, and smile!

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sunset view from the restaurant

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movie star kids, they’re used to this after Indo

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getting ready for a drift-snorkel

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view from the cockpit, we’ve been treated to the most amazing sunsets 

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