Whether you are hauling out for a short period or planning an extended stay on the hard, living on your boat while it’s on land can be challenging. We have spent many months in various boats yards between Trinidad and North America, and over the years adopted a few measures that make our hard time an easier one.
First we always tie our ladder on! It may sound simple but you certainly don’t want that falling away from under you. Under the ladder we place a rubber mat or a scrap of carpet, anything to wipe some of the boatyard muck off your shoes before you (and others) climb on board.
We put up a tarpaulin to cover the deck. Without the cooling aid of the water the hull can get pretty hot. Not only does this provide temporary shade but protects from rain too.
Little critters can be the bane of your life. On land, without the sea breeze to blow them away, mosquitoes can be an incredible annoyance. If you are hauling in warm environs without air conditioning then your hatches will need to be open. The easiest way to protect yourself if you don’t have mosquito nets is to put together some makeshift mosquito covers for your hatches. They don’t have to be pretty as they are only temporary. You can either use wide blue masking tape to stick the netting to the inside of your hatches or throw netting over the outside and secure in place with heavy rope or chain, etc. To protect our cockpit and companionway we attach a large, double mosquito netting to the underside of our Bimini and secure in place with clothes pegs. It can be hitched up during the day for easy access and dropped again at night.
Ants like to crawl up shore power cables and boat props and it’s hard to keep these little pests away but they can’t climb over salt or Vaseline. Keep all food areas cleaned so as not to attract them.
If ants get on board and nest you need to get to the root of the problem quickly. Various products work for different types of ants. We have found ‘Terro’ to be particularly good.
Cockroaches are another nuisance you want to avoid. We were in a boatyard on one occasion where a neighbouring boat was completely infested. At first we didn’t know where all the cockroaches where coming from. Then our elderly neighbour invited us on board his ship for drinks. He was proud of his dilapidated boat with great plans to turn it into the next Jolly Roger tourist trap. Sitting there talking to him was almost impossible as roaches scurried this way and that. I wondered if perhaps he hadn’t noticed until his hand crashed down onto the table catching one. He didn’t bat an eyelid and carried on chatting away about his big dream. Now we knew where they were coming from but there was nothing we could do. It wasn’t until we were back in the water that we managed to get rid of them successfully with ‘Combat’ gel in a syringe.
We lay cheap linoleum or thick card to our teak cockpit seats and floor and tape down the sides to prevent grit and dirt from scratching their surfaces. This can be done inside the boat too, to protect the floors especially if workers are traipsing in and out. If your cockpit is prone to getting wet in the rain then obviously this needs to be dried out fairly regularly.
I don’t think any of us like to climb out of bed, down a ladder and walk across the yard in the middle of the night when nature calls. We use a gallon epoxy paint bucket or something of similar size that has a handle and preferably a lid. We place this in one of our toilets and add a splash of nice smelling disinfectant. The bucket sits in the bowl and you can use it in an almost civilised fashion. Every morning it gets emptied at the toilet block. No more midnight dashes across the yard.
While we essentially scale down cooking while hauled we still like to eat and drink onboard. But pouring dirty dish water down your sink not only causes the grey water to run down the hull that you are trying to work on but also creates a wet dirty environment under the boat to attract insects and vermin.
We found that sticking a piece of PVC hosepipe into our galley outlet and placing that in a bucket collects all the dirty galley water, which can be also emptied daily.
If you’re just hauling and storing whilst you fly home for the summer perhaps these things don’t really matter. But if you’re DIYers living on board, hauling out to do jobs at your own leisurely pace, these small things can put your hard time back in the comfort zone.
Rosie and her husband Sim Hoggarth have been cruising the Caribbean and North America full time for the past 12 years aboard Wandering Star.