Out of Sight, Out of Mind? Leaving Your Boat on the Hard

The first time we left Kate on the hard I remember reaching across the back seat of the taxi as we pulled away, searching for Steve’s reassuring hand. My eyes welled with tears and I heaved a heavy sigh as he told me over and over that the boat would be ok without us. 30 hours later when the last plane touched down I was looking ahead, not behind. I had successfully pushed my worries down into the shoes. Mostly.

Kate on the Hard, Papaya Yacht Charters & Services, PhilippinesBeing away from home is difficult. Leaving the only home you have in the whole world sitting precariously in some foreign, tropical country unattended is beyond stressful. They only way I cope is to allow myself the luxury of “out of sight, out of mind.” Since there is nothing we could do from a far if a cyclone strikes when we go for a quick month-long visit to Australia; or if she floods a bit ‘cause the mast leaks and the bilge pumps fail during record monsoon rains; or if a fuzz of white mold creeps across all the surfaces despite my best efforts, there is no sense in stressing.

Easier said than done, I know.

What I rely on is the knowledge that Steve and I have been thorough and meticulous. That we have cleaned the boat from top to bottom, inside and out of every compartment and cupboard and hold. That we’ve left no food open on board, even if that means giving things away. That we have packed and stored all the books, bedding, clothes and electronics in totes and bags and water tight containers. That we’ve made the effort to take down and cover up as much as we can outside. That we wrote lists and organized our attack and never cut corners.

That first time we gave ourselves 9 days to prepare Kate to be on the hard without us for 6 months. We had been sailing full time for 5 years, but I had no experience with boat storage. I relied solely on common sense and a lot of fresh water. We rewarded ourselves with sunset beers at the marina bar.

As it turns out we were away for a year. However, like almost every time we’ve left the boat on the hard since, we slept on board the night we returned. To me that is the ultimate reflection of our care, and gold star for our efforts.

Our led time for departure has dramatically improved, but I still allow lots of wiggle room for the unexpected; a newly discovered leak, an unexpected repair, rain that just won’t quit. I also allow for a few luxuries; a meal ashore after a long, hot day, laundry to be dropped off at a full-service laundry matt, a night in a cheap hotel. The whole ordeal is hard work and stressful enough, no need to make yourself feel guilty about the small stuff. Kate in cyclone pit, Vida Point, Fiji

Our time away from Kate is winding down. We’ve past the tipping point and have started counting down that days until the big reveal. Which also means that my “out of sight, out of mind” mantra isn’t working so well these days. I’ve peeked at the weather reports. I’ve started to prepare myself for the unexpected. And, as always, I’ve reminded myself several times there is no sense worrying now, there will be lots of time for that on the 10-hour flight back home. Thank goodness for free wine on international flights!




A few years ago I wrote an extensive and informative article for Cruising World about how to prepare a boat for tropical storage in hopes of giving other boat owners a bit of advice and reassurance. Click the image below. I hope it helps!

Tropical Storage article, Cruising World






2 Comments Add yours

  1. Em says:

    Try not to worry! (But, like you said” easier said than done). You have worked hard prepping for departure. I have my fingers crossed for you guys and Kate. Enjoy the complimentary vino too!


    1. Heather Francis says:

      Has been record rains and flooding in the Manila area in the last week…just hope its been bright enough to charge batts and keep bilge pumps happy…with all the running rigging removed the mast leaks is a bit more.

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