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Life on the Hard

A vessel pulled out of the water can be described as being “on the hard.”

Life for all who live aboard a vessel that has been pulled out of the water and set upon the hard is dramatically affected.

For most instances of being on the hard, continuing to live aboard is not acceptable to the shipyard. This is the case for PRIDE’s crew. Fortunately the Hotel Dinwittie of downtown Portsmouth is less than a mile walk away. Every day, including weekends, PRIDE’s crew trudge or bicycle to and from the ship. Days start at 0700 and end at 1800. All meals are aboard, so breakfast is around 0830 or 0900. Lunch is around 1230. Supper is at 1700. A quick cleanup and then climb down off of the ship and walk out of the shipyard by 1800.

An 0700 start means it is dark on the way to the ship. Work commences right away as the sun rises above the horizon, with breaks from work when meals are called. The cook starts creating breakfast as the crew starts work.

The crew look forward to hotel life…at first. But not long later we all look forward to PRIDE being back in the water, when we all can again live within reach of our personal things. It gets tiresome at the end of the day figuring out if we will continue the evening in the same cloths we worked in. Or in the morning, continue to work in the cloths we came to the ship wearing. It is also a small inconvenience living at night so far away from PRIDE’s snack locker. However, the hotel is right in downtown Portsmouth, so there are conveniences within a few blocks.

Dry-dock work this year has been more extensive than recent years. In past years we were playing catch-up with re-hardening the caulking due to a drying out process the “green” underwater planks were doing while upon the hard. It seems we have succeeded in the catch-up caulking effort, as there was little wide ranging caulking needed this year. However, there was localized caulking seam carpentry repair required close to but above the waterline under PRIDE’s counter (stern quarter). This carpentry repair has created some lengthening of the overall time out of the water.

While the extended dry-docking is undesirable, it has provided time for the crew to attend to some cosmetics that seem much harder to do when the ship is in the water. It seems possible to all of us PRIDE might actually look like she has just come out of the ship yard this year. More often PRIDE looks little changed except to the discerning eye. Meanwhile the crew are left with simultaneously learning to sail and execute the mission as well attend to cosmetics.

Of course weather has a hand in most things associated with dry-docking. Lots of rain means no painting. Deep cold can cause problems. The spring weather for 2013 in the Mid Atlantic has been quite frosty. We have seen snow flurries punctuating the rain and have read about actual inches of accumulation just outside of the Hampton Roads area. Even without the caulking seam carpentry repair creating a delay to re-launch, the rain we experienced surely has caused delay. As it stands now, we are looking hopefully to launch this coming Monday.


Jan C. Miles

A Captain with Pride of Baltimore, Inc.