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

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Beach time!

While we are waiting for the weather to change, the kids and I hit the beach. Waves and sandcastles made for a great day! Meanwhile Seathan got on with fixing the boat!

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Murphy’s Law invoked.

First of all thank you all for the wonderful send off wishes yesterday, we will store them for later this week…..
We were all set to leave today but Murphy played his Ace!, we woke to a strange new wind from the SSE, visibility is down to 1/2 mile and the air is full of Saharan dust, a little worse than your ordinary household dust as this stuff is red brown and its not making our beautifully washed decks look so good.. Its a Sirocco from the Africa which is known here as the Calima, its blowing fairly hard and it’s coming directly from where we need to go. No point in banging our heads against the wall for three days, we are supposed to be cruising!
We’ll sit it out until Sunday, the way the Gribs are looking that will be a good window, meanwhile we have a good opportunity to complete the never ending list of chores on the boat.
We discovered a small ingress of water yesterday it turns out that some swim ladder mounts had been installed years ago without best practise, good news is we discovered it and have today managed to prep the whole area, all deck fittings removed and properly reinstalled and the affected area has been cut out and is ready to be re-glassed tomorrow. All the beautiful Canadian Cherry is still intact, Phew!
Our sails are looking great after a nip and tuck, we have revamped the asymmetrical spinnaker system so that no one has to venture out on to the pole for deployment or retrieval.
We installed our under bridge deck safety lines should the unthinkable happen, good to know they are there.
What else is going on? The kids are having a ball, a small but crazy gang has formed with the French outnumbering the Scottish-Belgian contingent by a factor of two, the pontoons are no longer safe for the elderly, scooting is the order of the day, Aeneas’ war cry down the ramp at low tide is something to be heard.
Last night was Octopus fishing night, Yotam, Eden and Tyrii hooked a big old fellow who managed to break the line and retreat to his rocky crevice to lick his wounds! Tonight is another night and we can still see him. BBQ is ready and waiting.
Some guys on the dock had better luck they speared a 46 kg Mahe Mahe, big fish!
That’s it for today, we are in the hands of the wind gods.

Ready for the big crossing

After nearly two weeks in Gran Canaria we are ready for our big crossing! We’ve had a great time on the island and last weekend we rented a car to explore the beautiful mountainside and some of the beaches. I also visited several museums with the kids. There is a great museum about Christopher Columbus which Tyrii found fascinating and he is now writing an essay about Columbus. We also visited the science museum and the museum about the Canary islands. And the atmosphere in the marina is great. Everyone is getting ready for the crossing and there are (finally!) other kids to play with. It’s been a busy few weeks with lots of cleaning and fixing jobs in order to get the boat ready. And of course there’s always time needed to chat to other people and make new friends.
Yesterday, we did our big shop (7 trolleys!) which was delivered early evening and packed away neatly in a few hours. We are waiting for one more delivery tomorrow morning (fruit and veg) and then we can go. It’s quite a challenge planning for one month of provisions but I think we did quite well. The freezer is full of vacuum packed and pre-frozen meat, we rubbed 150 eggs in vaseline to keep them fresh, we packed away 10 kgs of pasta, 10 kgs of rice, 15 kgs of potatoes, plenty of flour for making bread, 200 litres of water (even though we have a water maker it is always wise to take plenty of bottled water just in case!), 40 litres of juice, a few cases of coca-cola, some beers, and so on! We plan to stop over in Cape Verde which is about 7 days sailing from here and then cross over to the Caribbean from there. Everyone is excited about leaving and we will have a few birthday parties (including my 40ed!) en route! And of course Christmas might be happening while we are in the middle of the Atlantic but I’m confident Santa will find our boat and our stockings are ready. We even have a little Christmas tree on board!
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Windy in Las Palmas

We’re happy to be in the marina as it is blowing very hard here in Las Palmas! One of the boats anchored in the bay next to the marina even ended up on the rocks last night. This weekend we’re doing some sightseeing and catching up with granny Etty who is visiting us for a few days (together with her travel and golf buddy Ann)! There’s a lovely atmosphere in the marina with lots of boats getting ready to cross the Atlantic and many other kid boats including a lovely Aussie family next to us.image

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Land Ho!

After 120 hours at sea we are finally approaching Las Palmas, Gran Canaria! And how relieved we are to get here! We had some rough weather on Sunday night and again last night. Big waves and wind speeds reaching 35 to 40 knots at times. The boat and the crew handled it really well and we are all doing great! The kids slept through it all both nights and didn’t seem phased by the weather! Right now we’re all enjoying some sunshine as we are approaching Las Palmas in big 5 metre waves!