Life “on the Hard”–Helen 04/04/10

Friday we put our boat “on the hard”. We do this every spring–it’s the boater’s rite of passage. Just when the spring fever hits and you are dying to get out on the water with your craft, you take her to the boat yard and get her hauled out for about a month. You ask, “why do you do that?” Because by the time ole man winter has left town, your boat is looking pretty shabby. The white fiberglass has turned gray with numerous streaks running down the sides from rusted screws and God knows what else, your bottom is covered with a coat of slime and the odd barnacle, the deck is dirty and faded, and your sacrificial zincs have been totally sacrificed.

So on Friday we took her about two miles from our marina to Deaton’s Boat Yard and had her hauled and placed on the hard. It’s called “on the hard” for a reason. Not only is the boat sitting on hard ground but her owners are doing hard work while she enjoys her yearly spa. First of all, our boat is propped up on jack stands. She has a six foot keel, so to enter the boat you have to climb up a twelve foot ladder, and of course, you never go up empty-handed. No, you are always going up or down that ladder carrying bags of heavy things like tools, sanders, waxers, etc. or the dog. Yes, by the end of the day you know that your calves got quite a workout!

So Friday we got the boat put on the hard and then we surveyed her dirty top sides. We started by washing down the white fiberglass hull with Hull Cleaner. She was still pretty grimey and had quite a few stains, so out came the heavier duty cleaners–quite an arsonal of products that required hours of back-breaking scrubbing. We have a navy blue stripe that is about a foot wide and runs the length of the boat. It seemed no amount of scrubbing was going to get that clean and free from chalky build-up. Then we moved on to the heavy duty compound which after two applications finally restored the color. By this time it was nightfall and we dutifully fell into bed.

Saturday we tacked the big job of waxing our hull. Now you have to understand that we do this while perched up on a scaffold that is five feet off the ground and about two by six feet long. Bryce, having larger biceps than me, weilded the waxer while I went behind him and took off the wax with old towels saved for just this purpose. After the first half hour we had the dance perfected–he would apply the wax, then move gingerly behind me while I stepped forward and removed it with my towels. One mis-step and one of us could fall and break an arm or leg. We continued this dance, moving the scaffold about every fifteen minutes. It took a good part of the day to wax a forty foot boat. By the end of Saturday we were both feeling muscles we didn’t even know we had. A Gold’s Gym exercise instructor could not have given us a more thorough workout!

Today Bryce, glutton for punishment that he is, decided to apply another coat of wax. He said the second coat always goes faster, but I declined to dance an encore again. Instead, I used a paint scraper and began the tedious task of scrapping off peeling bottom paint. Why, you ask, do we paint the bottom when no one will see it when the boat is in the water. Well, boats in sea water and brackish water will soon become homes for barnacles without a coat of ablative paint. So each year we add a coat of bottom paint which does a good job of discouraging encrustration; however, after several layers of paint, it begins to check and peel. So we scrape and sand before adding more paint.

As you can see, life “on the hard” is hard work! Next weekend we will continue to scrape and sand–probably for a couple of days. Then if we are lucky weather-wise, on the third weekend we will paint our boat’s bottom–which is another exercise in bending and stretching muscles we haven’t used much in awhile. Of course, the plus side is that we will have nice defined biceps, calve muscles, and be as flexible as any yoga student by the time May and bathing suit season begins!

Tune in next weekend for our latest up-date on our boat’s spa month! And by the way, are there any people out there reading this blog? I would love to hear your comments or questions.

Helen 04/04/10

For information about Helen and Bryce’s Love Odyssey marriage retreats visit  where the strategy behind these couples retreats  is described in detail.

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