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On the Hard

Updated: Dec 7, 2018

There are some major differences in living aboard a boat that is "on the hard" instead of in the water. The first is the motion––or lack of it. Jacked up on stands 12 feet off the ground on a concrete pad, her rudder laying beside her, Delfina is certainly not being put to her highest and best use–sailing. The second is the noise. Instead of waves slapping against the hull, we hear the low roar of the highway, the whistle of passing trains, the constant whir of machinery in this busy boatyard. Lauderdale Marine Center is the largest boatyard in the country, and there are literally hundreds of boats under repair at any given time.


Delfina is in a state of mild disarray: cushions are upended so that Christoph can get to the lockers situated below the berths; his tools are out, the deck is dirty. We are at the mercy of our fiberglass contractor now. As soon as he finishes repairing the rudder, we will be launched again and will seek our window to cross to the Bahamas. This is likely several days away, as he has to build up and grind down layers of fiberglass. We are pushing hard for all repairs to be completed before the holidays. We have begun to study the off-shore weather closely, and are listening to Chris Parker's excellent and informative forecasts on single side-band radio.


In the meantime, we are getting used to living in a state of suspended animation. I have been revising my memoir about the aftermath of the accident that resulted in Jonah's death, "One Hand to the Earth and One Hand to the Sky." I appreciate having long stretches of time for writing. Christoph has found a variety of projects to occupy his time. He installed new stereo speakers, and repaired the water maker. Now he's trying to find out why the bowthruster is leaking droplets of oil. When we are not transmitting estimates from contractors to the insurance adjuster, we are exploring the beaches and wetlands around Fort Lauderdale. There are wonderful looping boardwalk trails through salt marshes filled with palms, ferns, strangling figs and mangroves, where crabs scuttle and escape into their deep holes in the sand. We spotted the large round bodies of manatees swimming in the New River, their sleek heads bobbing as they sip a quick breath of air.


Mike and Karen met us at Grassy Waters preserve, where we wandered along the boardwalks, stopping at thatch-roofed seating areas to peer through binoculars and telescopes at the rare snail kites as well as the plentiful anhingas and egrets. The frantic thrashing of a feral pig surprised us.



Traversing the wooded trails at Hugh Taylor Birch State Park, we had to avoid the parts that were underwater at high tide, and wound up at its hip beach bar for cocktails. The ocean is warm enough for swimming, and lifeguards patrol the beaches, so we have dipped in the ocean too. All in all, this prolonged detour has just become part of our adventure.


It is the second day of Hanukkah; last night we lit our menorah and watched the colorful candles burn in a stainless steel bowl. With boatyard wifi, we can stream Netflix, so there are occasional movie nights. So long as we buy ice each day, we can keep food in the refrigerator and eat some meals aboard. We discussed the idea of checking into a motel, but the truth is that we're just as happy aboard Delfina, and can stay in better contact with the contractors if we remain close by. The Miami Art Fair begins this week, and we plan to drive down and meet our friends Jill and Sheldon there.

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