Thursday, January 20, 2022

Living “on the hard”

Barnes and Noble living life on the hard. Photo by Frances Diebler

Barnes and Noble living life on the hard. Photo by Frances Diebler

I never intended or even imagined that I would be writing this article of “Living on the Hard.” For those of you who are not familiar with this term, it means to stay aboard your vessel while it is out of the water and stored on land. Oh, this is not the first time that we lived aboard Grendel while there was work being done to her. We did it on other occasions in places such as Puerto Rico and Venezuela, but this time it was here in our own neighboring town of Fort Myers.

Last month we participated in the SAMI cruise to Fort Myers that included visits to Cabbage Key, Useppa Island, and Fort Myers Beach at Estero Island. As we were motor-sailing to Useppa Island for a tour of their island and museum, which are really fascinating, Grendel started making grinding noises. You know, the sounds that could bring shudders to anyone who is underway. My husband reacted quickly. He checked the transmission and discovered that a gear had blown through the upper casting of the transmission. That is not a good thing. We stayed at anchor and toured Useppa Island with our group until it was time to sail back to Fort Myers. We had heavy head winds and needed to call Boat US to tow us to Olsen’s Marine in Fort Myers.

The tow back was a bit sloppy as we had a strong south east wind and choppy sea. Boat US from Cape Coral towed us from Useppa to a point where Fort Myers Boat US took over and towed us to the mooring field at Fort Myers. With the help of Boat US, we picked up a mooring and waited for the next day when we would again need to be towed to a travel lift at Olsen’s Marine. All the years of paying for Boat US insurance really paid off. Once we were towed to the travel lift and secured, the fun of life on the hard began.

Olsen offered to put us up in a motel.  We declined and chose to live aboard while the work was going on. “Why?” you ask. Because life aboard is so much easier and less disruptive than moving off. Oh, I neglected to tell you that we were not the only two living creatures aboard Grendel. We had our two warm and fuzzy cats aboard, Mr. Barnes and Mr. Noble, affectionately known as Barney and Noble.

Life on the hard would be easier than trying to accommodate a concerned captain, a



wife, and two cats in a hotel room. After all, we had everything that we needed for everyone aboard, such as clothes, toiletries, cat food, litter box, and so on. The “boys” as we call our cats, are used to life on a boat and are not a bother to anyone. We certainly didn’t mind it as we’ve done it before in much more exotic places.

Okay, we were now in the haul-out slip with straps underneath the boat, just waiting for someone to haul Grendel up and out of the water to begin the process of addressing the transmission problem.

As my husband and the workman were below, assessing the problem, I decided that there was nothing for me to do at the moment. I went forward and closed the stateroom door in order to take a nap along with the cats. Later, when I awoke everything was very quiet. I walked to the door which is made of teak, turned the knob and pulled to open the door but it was stuck! I pulled again. Nothing happened. I was closed in my forward cabin with two cats and no one aboard to let me out. What to do? Since I did not even have my cell phone in the cabin, I had no choice but to go back to sleep until someone came aboard and opened the door from the other side.

Sailing teaches you patience. Sure enough, someone came aboard and I knocked on the door for him to please open the door. Freedom at last. What had happened was that hauling slings had been put under Grendel to haul her up. This had created a certain amount of torque which twisted the boat just enough that the boat was askew and the door got jammed.

Until a new transmission arrived and was installed, we lived comfortably aboard. I can not say enough for the staff of Olsen’s Marine. They lowered us each night so that we were even with the dock and could get on and off easily. Someone once said, “The definition of cruising is fixing your boat in exotic places.”

I can only add that experiences like this are a regular part of cruising life. As you can see, you do not have to be in a faraway port to have a problem. It sure does help to be in a place like Olsen Marine which is close to home and efficient as well.

Frances is a Commodore of the Seven Seas Cruising Association and a member of Sailing Association of Marco Island.

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