|Image: breaking waves beneath cliffs|
Being on the hard is challenging. You are always 20 foot off the ground making it terrifying when children or dogs get too close to the edge and difficult when you want to get awkward or heavy things on or off the boat (shopping/washing/deliveries). Everything is dusty - all the time - there are so many little things that don't feel right when the boat is out of the water and everything is just that little bit, well, harder.
|Image: people applying name sticker to boat|
Having the bracing poles out from the internal doorways means that we can move around without having to keep squeezing through narrow spaces. It's a testament to Mark's tenacity and determination that despite everything (and there have been many boat and life challenges over the last couple of years) that he got us to this point and saved our home.
|Image: black dog looking off back of boat|
We were overwhelmed by the friendship and kindness extended to us when we were on the hard. People went out of their way to come and visit us to see how it was going. The words of encouragement and congratulations as we neared the end of our epic refit boosted us more than those offering us such simple words could possibly know. It made the late nights up ladders painting, the lengthy to do lists, the terror of if she would float and everything else bearable. We had a specific deadline which ramped up the pressure of our relaunch because of other activities going on in the water around us. On the other hand this meant that our return to the water coincided with lots of fun things that felt like a real celebration of boat life.
Images: top left - fireworks over the marina. top right - racing boats. Bottom left - wooden boats at the Southampton boat show. Bottom right - Fastnet flags flying high on mass of racing boats
We got ourselves a couple of inflatable stand up paddle boards and spent lots of time on the water learning how to use them. Even watching the mullet splashing around the boat was fun. We have enjoyed spending time with friends and neighbours and we're back to talking about our favourite ports, quirky Basque harbours and other tales from the sea. Enjoying a beer and paella whilst putting the world to rights beats conversations about how the work is going. We also had the littlest deckhands birthday and once again shared boat life with other children. Seeing them playing on paddle boards, loving the ride in the dinghy and exploring things we take for granted like hatches reminds us why we wanted to live the life we do.
|Image: blue sky and water out of galley hatch|
|Image: pink sunrise over marina|
All the things that seemed so magical when we first moved on board are suddenly exciting again. Over the summer we appreciated the fry flashing in the water, watching a cormorant right next to the pontoons fighting with an eel, the feel of gentle rocking and the ripples of sunlight reflecting off the water onto the boat. It was like rediscovering all those special things about living on a boat all over again.
|Image: paddle boards resting on finger pontoon|
Although there is still a lot of work to be done we are water-tight and floating. Everything below the waterline is done and she looks good. We had to be towed into our temporary space as we don't have a mast and only one working engine at the moment so we won't be going anywhere far for a while but we are back on the water and we are feeling re-salted.
|Image: White hull reflected in water|