Challenges of Living On the Hard


florida-sunset-marinaSunsets like this make living in a dirt filled work yard almost tolerable.

We’re about to get real here. It may seem like I am being a Debbie Downer, but this is just the way it is. This whole living on the hard while you remodel your entire boat – which happens to be our home – stuff is no smooth sailing. It is incredibly challenging and not for the weak of heart. In fact, when I asked our boating neighbors, Wright Away, who have lived aboard for years if they were staying aboard during their refit, Deborah quickly dismissed the idea and said, “Oh no, we’ve done that before. It didn’t go so well.”

To start, your living space on board makes most NYC apartments look spacious. I can span the entire cabin in approximately 10 steps, and I am short. Add in the fact that at any given moment during this 4 month project any and/or all of the interior can be ripped out leaving your home to feel cold and depressing. Its a construction zone that I cannot escape. Don’t forget the endless supply of dirt that is tracked in or the random screw or wire thread you are bound to step on and get stuck in your foot (true story). Oh, and the bathroom is a 5 – 10 minute walk away (depending on how badly I have to pee), unless I want to use a smelly port-o-potty.

But that’s just the topical stuff. This process has been incredibly stressful for us. We were never supposed to be here this long meaning that we are spending way more of our time and hard earned savings at a marina. Money has always stressed me out. I’m earning a few pennies here and there, but nothing to write home about. I think I am just afraid that the money could run out and we never even leave the dock. Its a terrifying thought. We have such big dreams! Money stress leads to us getting easily frustrated. We try to rush, push ourselves to the limit, work hard and not play at all, and sleep as little as possible. I’m not the only one who thinks this is a recipe for disaster, right? Today I almost lost it over our dodger not fitting perfectly. Yesterday it was over a wood panel that I screwed up. We’re both overworked, overtired and over this yard.

I think one of our biggest frustrations is never, and I mean ever, being able to find anything. Tools are everywhere. Nothing is organized. I go just a bit more crazy each day because of it. The only constant on this boat is knowing that whatever you are looking for will have miraculously disappeared. Its a fun game.

Jason and I are social people. Back in NYC we’d always meet up with different friends, go out for dinner, grab a drink, etc., etc. Here we may splurge on a box of wine. We’ve met some truly amazing people here at the marina, but 95% of them are men. There are only 4 total women here who live aboard – one is a nice Russian lady, one is unique, and the one I like and enjoy spending time with is 72. She may down a drink with the best of them, but still, we’re on different playing fields. I miss my girlfriends back home!

The only thing that keeps us going is the thought of the adventure to come. Who are we going to meet? Where will we end up? Will I ever become fluent in Spanish? What stories will we be telling our grandkids one day? These will make these last few months all worth it.


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  1. Don’t get too stressed! Make the best of your situation – take time to run in the mornings and drum up old high school friends in the area. Keep your sanity – you are still on dry land 🙂

    If you want to come out to CO before you ship out, come on by! xo

  2. Kelly, I hear you and empathize with your frustrations and fears. The boatyard grit and unique social settings are enough in their own right to drive you crazy. But it’s the lack of being able to “go home” and “deal with it tomorrow” that is the real clincher. I get it. But someday, real soon, you will be poised to accept the most amazing adventure. You will find a secluded sandbar for just the two of you to share for the entire day, or swim with an entire pod of dolphin, or be envited to the home of the most amazing and interesting family(Spanish speaking, of course)

  3. 🙂 Funny! I am living on “the hard” right now as well. I can totally relate to the majority of what you shared. I moved onto the boat full time about a week before starting the work. I pulled out in Feb and thought I would be out of the water for 4 weeks max, the yard manager laughed at that when I told him all I wanted to do. Well 4 months later I find encouragement in seeing my home going back together rather than still being taken apart. One of the most frustrating things I’m finding is that everyone I know (at least it seems like everyone) asks “are you back in the water yet”. It is just a reminder that I had expectations that were not realistic. And in the end that is a great lesson for me. It looks like you guys are doing a firs rate job with your new home. Would love to see it first hand once we are both back in the water 🙂 Let me know when you head South. I am about 120 miles South of you.