When a boat is taken out of the water, it is said to be “On the hard”. Nakamal needed some maintenance done so we “had her hauled” last week. Since we have to pay the shipyard for the haul-out separately from the people who do the actual work, and since she was due to have new bottom paint this coming October anyway, we decided to have both things done at once in order to avoid a second haul-out fee.
This is exactly the kind of activity that can blow a monthly budget, but exactly the kind of activity that cruisers need to have a reserve fund for – routine maintenance on our floating homes.
The bottom paint’s purpose is to slow down the growth that happens all the time when a vessel is in water, especially warm water. Growth can be plant stuff, or barnacles. Extreme things can happen if you just let it go. In Chula Vista, we hired a diver to come once a month to clean the bottom. Essentially they scrape the crap off the bottom and it turns into fish food. We have the same service here with a local named Adrian. He is very good about coming by regularly to check in on the timing of the next cleaning.
Some people stay on the boat while it’s on the hard, but that means entering and exiting by climbing a tall ladder, while the boat is in an enclosed breeze-less boatyard. We like our creature comforts so opted to stay in a charming little boarding house called Agave Azul. It’s run by three German women. The owner, Andrea, also has a German restaurant in town called The Black Forest which we hear is very good, but we haven’t yet been hit with a hankering for schnitzel here in Mexico so we haven’t experienced it. Her helpers are Ulla and Annetta and they take care of the day-to-day management of the guests and rooms.
The complex includes their living quarters, six guest rooms, a pool and a common kitchen / patio area featuring two hammocks. Me gustan mucho hammocks (I like hammocks very much). I was looking forward to the pool but spent every afternoon in the hammock and never made it to the pool.
The room was smallish but had a clean bed, ceiling fan, five-gallon jug of drinking water, and hot running water. Well, usually hot. And one day running non-stop. The water is heated with a propane-fueled water heater, and one day they ran out of gas so we had to wait for the truck to deliver more. And another day a seal went bad and the hot water in the shower wouldn’t completely stop unless you turned the spigot juuuuussssstttt so.
But the proprietors were on top of the problems as soon as we alerted them. So for the princely sum of 400 pesos a night ($25.86 USD) we were content.
The morning Nakamal came out, we got to the haul-out area a little early so were just waiting for the Travel-Lift operator to come start the proceedings. A local couple was walking their two dogs, one older and one a younger and more active pooch. Not on leashes which is pretty common. The active pooch decided to run down the boat launch ramp which was slippery at the bottom near the waterline. She slid into the drink and decided that since she was there, she might as well have swim. So around and around she swam, for about 15 minutes, before she decided that was enough and came out. The next day we saw them again and she was on a leash. The older dog appeared to be completely oblivious to the proceedings and in no way desirous of a swim.
Pulling the boat out of the water makes me nervous. This huge machine with straps hanging from it backs up over the water, lowers the straps into the water, after which you drive your boat over these straps. They adjust the placement to your boat’s “lift points” (provided by the manufacturer) then start pulling easily, sort of like the deceptively slow start of a pulse-racing fairground ride.
Once they get the bow (the pointy end) even with the land, you step off the boat (while praying you don’t fall off in front of all the boatyard workers and casual observers). Next they continue lifting while your pulse rate goes up in proportion to the height of the boat. Then just when you think you might have your breathing under control, they start moving this thing with your home and all your possessions dangling by what appears to you to be a couple of threads.
Luckily I wasn’t around to watch the process of removing the straps and balancing her from four steel legs.
The boat work went just fine, and we were back in the water right on schedule. Of course, then we had to reverse the whole haul-process to “splash” the boat back into her natural environment. We watched our house move and turn, then back up over concrete and water, then slowly lower before we got to step on board (while hoping I could actually swing my leg over the pulpit and not fall into the boat in front of all the boatyard workers and casual observers). Then it was back in the water and a short motor over the slip.
We enjoyed our little staycation at Agave Azul, but were happy to be back home aboard Nakamal.