Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Boatyard Blues

I arrived at the boatyard this morning expecting to have the boat hauled out of the water for a fresh coat of antifouling paint. I had with me a whole list of jobs that I wanted to get done that the boat has to be out of the water for me to do. I was all ready to go. I had forgotten since our last haulout last July how boatyards work.

Almost every boatyard I have been to operates pretty much the same way. They know you need the work done. They know they're the only yard for maybe 20 miles (which is a long way on a 7 knot boat, slower with a foul bottom). They know that if they don't get to you when they said they would, you'll wait. The last time we brought the boat here, we waited three days for a two hour job.

I tracked down the Yard manager, who is very good at wandering directly away from people while looking busy and avoiding any hint of recognition. He muttered something (while zipping around feverishly but doing nothing in particular) about probably tomorrow, definitely the next day. Why, I naively thought, did you allow me to make an appointment for this very day weeks ago if you weren't going to do it today? I could have done many other productive things with my life if I knew for sure that it wasn't going to happen today. Instead, I'm sitting on the boat at the fuel dock (no permanent place to go) in limbo. I need to be around in case there is a miraculous flurry of activity and they need the boat moved now. Of course, it never happens, but I would hate to go run three hours worth of errands and come back to find the boat resting on parts of the hull unsupported by bulkheads or that it wasn't levelled properly and is in torsion or any number of things that could have been easily prevented by having the knowledgeable owner on hand. Honestly, the only people who have enough experience to haul a Gemini without supervision is the factory. They're just too unusual for yards to treat them like a generic sailboat. So I'm stuck here until either something happens or they all go home for the night. Then I'll start the same routine tomorrow. They never seem to get that I'm a livaboard. They say things like "Just leave the keys in it and we'll call you when it's done. Which month did you want it by?"

"No point," I say "I'll be there."
"Oh, okay comes the response "We'll call you when something happens."
"Well, I would know when something happens. I'll be on the boat."
"Yeah, we'll call you."
Nevermind. It seems that the only strategy that really works is for me to get down to my last half day and then get visibly nervous about not getting done on time. Then things happen. I have to be looking at the boat in the lift thinking that I have to have the engine running and be backing out of the lift in 20 minutes or I'm no going to make it to work. Then stuff happens. The problem is that I apparently can't simulate the look without being in actual distress. I think even if I did, though, no yard is going to buy it on the day of the appointment. So I'll try again tomorrow.

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