Inspired by a Conversation That Wasn’t Mine

Last night I came across a recent interview between Charlie Rose and J.C. Chandor, the director of the film “All is Lost,” starring Robert Redford. I am fascinated by this film, which is about a solo sailor who is hit by a floating shipping container in the middle of the Indian Ocean.

One of the things that intrigues me is that Redford’s character is nameless, and there is barely any dialogue. I am also intrigued by the subject of the film, which essentially is the worst nightmare that could happen to a sailor at sea, except for perhaps a rogue wave.

Chandor wrote the 30-page script, and what interested me the most about that was his explanation of how the idea for the film was born. He said that 5 years ago he was on a train, looking out the window at the passing scenery, namely passing boat yards filled with boats on the hard. You can see the entire interview with J.C. Chandor and Robert Redford on the Charlie Rose show here:

Having lived and sailed aboard our sailboat, Fellowship, for many years, I am very familiar with boat yards. The key to surviving being on the hard is to get in and get out, fast. Languish too long, and it will suck you in like quicksand. Even boat owners with good intentions of storing a boat for the winter season sometimes get stuck- life or finances get in the way.

When you walk through a boat yard you can tell which boats have been there for a long time. Things deteriorate in the sun and wind, lines chafe, teak trim starts to turn grey, metal hulls get weepy. The sailboats still sing, though, if their masts are not stepped and the halyards are still running. All it takes is a gentle breeze to get a chorus of sailboats singing. In my opinion it is a sad sound – because there is no rhythm to it. When a boat is on the water, the movement causes the halyards to sing, but it is rhythmical, in tune with the swaying of the hull on the water. On the hard, though, the wind taunts the halyards.

This conversation inspired me to write a poem, which I have posted on my poetry blog, titled “On the Hard.”


Jersey girl by birth, sailor by marriage, wife & mother by grace.

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