It happens every three years.
For two years and eleven months, we live here in the marina within sight of the boatyard. But it's invisible to us - its existence doesn't rise into our consciousness.
Then in that 35th month we do a haulout. Suddenly, we become painfully and bluntly aware of the yard - because it has become our home. The water is out there, beyond the fence and the concrete, but we are in there, with the noise, the commotion, the weird smells, rigid and unmoving.
After a while we sort of get used to it all, climbing a 12-foot ladder a hundred times a day. Living without refrigeration and not running water into any of the sinks becomes the norm. It takes a few days.
You get to know your neighbors on the hard, their boats and the reasons they are sharing the experience with you. You cheer their successes and commiserate their failures.
And the blue dust is everywhere.
Then a miracle occurs and the boat is splashed. It returns to its natural element and to its slip. And everything returns to normal.
But not quite. Now, sitting here in our slip, we are aware of the faint sounds of the Travelift's engine and backup beeper. When we drive by the yard, we not only notice that it is there, but we note who is now in "our" spot. We discuss the progress of the work on the boats that so recently were our neighbors. The boatyard is firmly in our consciousness.
It lasts for a month or so, and then it fades once again, receding into the background of unnoticed things. For 35 more months.