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"On the Hard"

Ocean Marine Yacht Center
Portsmouth, VA

A phrase I learned from our British friends early in my traditional sailing vessel career. Meaning the vessel is not in its element…rather it is hauled out of it for maintenance…or storage. In PRIDE II’s case it is maintenance as well as cleaning the underwater portion of the hull and painting it again for another season of active sailing.

“Life” on the hard presents a dramatic inconvenience for all of the crew…not to mention added expense to the company. First, no one can live aboard while PRIDE II is hauled out…a shipyard policy. Hence the crew finish and start their day with better than a half mile walk to and from the hotel. To contain company cost, meals are aboard, scheduled within the work day. Since the shipyard policy restricts us from starting work to no earlier than 7 AM and we must be gone by 6 PM, our whole day is scheduled just so. Report to the ship at 7 and get working as soon as possible…usually about 7:15 to 7:30 considering change of clothes and wiping off any dew on the varnish. Meanwhile the cook starts breakfast immediately. Often breakfast is ready to sit down to at 8:30-8:45. Considering crew might be under PRIDE II working or off to the side somewhere on sail maintenance set up off of PRIDE II, meal breaks can represent an additional amount of time between actual work getting done. Supper is set for 5 PM to give time for post supper cleanup. Then the walk back to the hotel. Carrying little because you have decided to have all you might want at the hotel, having carried all on the first walk to the hotel. Or carrying something because you leave everything aboard PRIDE II and only carry what you want for the night. This goes on day after day, seven days a week, until one of two things happen:  the weather is so bad work cannot proceed or PRIDE II is back in her natural element again.

PRIDE has been “on the hard” for a week now. PRIDE Ii’s crew have completed the required underwater hull prep work and the hull is ready for the first of two coats of underwater paint. But with the rain over the weekend and this morning being the first dry period since the rain ended, the shipyard crew cannot start painting till after mid day. By then, with a low humidity and sunny, windy morning, the hull should be dry enough for the first underwater coat. Meanwhile PRIDE II’s crew shift their energies to rigging up. The spars are in place and quite a bit of running rigging is run-off. But the “tuning” (tensioning of the rig) has not been done and sails have not been “bent on”.

Looking for the moment at the long view, we seem to be on schedule for being ready to sail come mid April.

Jan C. Miles, A Captain