Haul Out Day Is Finally Upon Us
We woke up after our final night sleeping to the comforting sound of water slapping against the hull, and by 9am were dropping our mooring lines and motoring over to the fuel dock to fill up on diesel. It was a bizarre feeling. Our bimini and sprayhood were absent, leaving the cockpit wide open and feeling very spacious all of a sudden. The sails had similarly been taken down so the whole boat was bare; it felt like we were on another yacht entirely.
We were both a little nervous about hauling out. We have of course hauled Ruby Rose out before, but that was in Conyer where we knew and trusted everyone. John, one of our crew for the ARC last year, is actually the person generally in charge of manoeuvring the travel lift, so Nick and I always knew our boat was in good hands (even if John did forget to untie a mooring line once as the boat was being lifted out, causing several moments of alarm and confusion…).
Where was I? So yeah, we weren’t our usual relaxed selves and there were a few tense words exchanged. As we approached the fuel dock a gust of wind came through the marina and suddenly our bow was being blown away from the pontoon; several metres of water stood between us and the dock. A man holding a bottle of water in one hand stood by and helpfully informed us that we were being blown off. He looked like he worked there (I never found this out for sure, but why else would he be standing on the pontoon?) so I said to him, “Are you able to take my lines?” I’ve learned the hard way to always ask first!
He nodded and caught the midships line, which he then just held. “Put it around the cleat!” I said (another lesson I’ve learned: don’t be afraid to give instruction). Moving in slow motion, as only Caribbean people can, he looped the line around the cleat. “Can you pull us in?” I asked, receiving a blank look in reply. Fed up, I told him to put the bottle down and pull us in, using both hands. “Alright, just calm down…” was the reply. I love getting told to calm down by people on the dock who are being totally useless while my boat is getting blown off. Anyway, he did pull us in, I managed to lasso the bow line around the cleat from the foredeck- always a smug moment- and we tied up without further incident.
The Hauling Out Process
Once the tank was filled up, it was time to back into the well in order to be lifted out. This time we were dealing with the team of boatyard employees and any feeling of nervousness or reservation vanished the second they took our lines. They were incredibly professional, efficient and clearly well practiced in the art of boat hauling. We watched as our home was lifted from the water and swayed in the slings as the growth on the hull was jet-washed off. Afterwards, Ruby Rose was manoeuvred into position, sleepers were placed under the keel plate, and a series of steel tripod-like stands were placed around the perimeter of the hull to hold the boat up. Later they’ll be welded together to prevent any lateral movement.
Life In The Boatyard
The next few days were spent living in the boat yard, and it wasn’t particularly pleasant. We weren’t able to use the toilets or showers onboard, so had to use the marina facilities instead. Of course, this coincided with a major island-wide water shortage and for several days the showers were out of order and the toilets didn’t flush! Nick and I ended up using the toilet behind the fuel dock, which was behind a locked wire gate, complete with a barbed wire top. During the day the gate was open, but at night we got a chance to put our inner action heros to the test and scale the fence. Needless to say, we were totally rubbish and how we managed without causing any injury I’ll never know. Showers were also a, shall we say, informal affair and consisted of a hose, a bottle of shower gel, and an audience consisting of the entire population of the boatyard. We left our swimwear on. Just in case you were worried about that.
In addition to the work we had already completed (much of which I discussed in my previous post) we changed the anodes, scraped the propellor until it gleamed again, cleaned and waxed the hull, finished polishing the transom, and cleaned basically every inch of the interior. I spent many happy hours contorting myself into awkward shapes in order to get a cotton bud and toothpick into every corner and crevice in order to scrap out years worth of of grot. Nick heard somewhere that you should wash down all surfaces with a vinegar solution to prevent mould, so feeling slightly foolish, and suddenly craving fish and chips, I wiped everything down.
Leaving Ruby Rose
Eventually everything was complete and it was time to leave. With nothing else to do with our day, we went for a swim down the beach for the last time, then showered (the shower block was finally back in order), and said goodbye to our home. It was an oddly emotional moment, leaving Ruby and it was with great reluctance that we walked away from her and climbed into the taxi. I sat in the backseat as Nick chatted with the driver and stared out the window, trying to soak up my last moments in the Caribbean. Arriving in the airport, we could have been anywhere in the world: clean, air-conditioned and with all the usual shops, we sat and had a meal and a beer and marvelled at the fact that in 12 hours time, we would be back in London.