As we pack and prepare to move aboard, friends and family have been naturally curious about what exactly cruising will be like. How will we cook, do laundry, provision, and all the little things that are much easier to do living on land.
Let’s begin with laundry. Fortunately, we start out in a marina, so this means we will have access to washer and dryer while we are there. Once we leave land though, I revert to the bucket method of doing laundry. Here are my supplies:
Plunger- this is a device made for doing laundry the old fashion way. Think churning butter motion, but you are instead agitating the clothes.
Bucket– a 5 gallon one works just fine.
Wringer– to save my hands from the wear and tear of wringing clothes out, we picked up a commercial auto shop towel wringer. Joe will come up with a good way to attach to the bucket or a plastic tub.
Doing laundry is pretty straight forward- you fill the bucket with a small load, then fresh water. Add a little soap, and agitate with the plunger. You will be surprised by how dirty the water gets, so rinse and repeat until the clothes are clean and the the rinse water clears. No plunger? In a pinch, I have stepped into the bucket and pretended I was stomping grapes to get the clothes clean. This works, too.
Some cruisers use ammonia to clean clothes instead of soap. With Ethan on board, who has mild ezema, we will stick to using All, a sensitive skin brand of laundry detergent. We will also need to rinse his clothes thoroughly, like we do at home.
Once the clothes are clean, next step is wringing them out. The auto shop towel wringer, shown above, will make my life much easier. Of course, you have to watch out for clothes with buttons and zippers, and may need to wring them out by hand if they won’t fit through the wringer.
Clothespins: The next step involves using clothespins to attach the clothes to the sailboat lifelines to dry. In case you haven’t been on a sailboat, the lifelines are not just for keeping you on the boat, they make great drying places for your wet clothes.
There are several types of clothespins to use. Most cruisers use wooden clothespins, but they seem to not last very long and break apart easily.
The flip side is using plastic, but if they fell overboard, I would only be contributing to the plastic pollution already negatively affecting the oceans. Not good. I have found a plastic clothespin that has a hole in it, so I could experiment with tying it on the lifeline so they didn’t fall overboard. On second thought, doing this would be my back up plan if I ran out of the wooden clothespins.
Once the clothes are dry, fold and store. Repeat as often as you need to.
Underway Hint: Some cruisers recommend placing the dirty clothes in the 5 gallon bucket with some water and soap, then place the lid on tightly. The movement of the boat will agitate the laundry. Rinse, wring, and dry after your sail.
Available in 2016: A few months back, I had ordered this foot powered laundry product, called a Drumi, that was due to ship before now. However, the company pushed back their delivery date to 2016, so I wrote them asking when it would be delivered? They cancelled my order. Looks like an interesting product, but customer service was not impressive.
Easy Go Washer– Here is a product that is said to work well, if you have the space. I would say the downside is that it doesn’t spin and drain the water out. Still, this portable laundry device uses zero electricity.
Final note- I think I will stick with my blue plunger and bucket method, then use my wringer to remove excess water. I don’t mind doing laundry this way. Though, when Ethan gets to be a little older, I plan to teach him how to do his own laundry, right? 🙂
Sounds intriguing …where will you be off to first?
Hi Joan, google Longboat Key Marina, it is part of a very nice resort. We need to add some equipment to the boat and do some survey items. Then, we plan to sail south through the Florida Keys and around to Fort Lauderdale, FL to have the rigging and sails done. Next, we are taking off for the Bahamas for the winter and spring. 🙂
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When I lived on a US Forest Service Fire Lookout at 8000 feet water was precious. They filled the cistern once with a 4 mon supply. So, wash face, wash dishes or clothes, wash the floor with same H20. Can you reuse shower water? or do you have lots of fresh water?
Water is certainly precious on board. The boat has 4 water tanks adding up to 192 gallon capacity. We do plan to add a water maker to the boat soon.
Mary Helen, living at the lookout sounds like a wonderful experience. Did you ever run out?
A solid rain that half fills the dingy is a laundry godsend!!!!!! Also, we found the lifelines sometimes left rust marks on the clothes (salt water) and were also invariably salty which is not nice in the clothes and keeps them from drying completely so we had a separate dedicated laundry line that we strung up to dry the clothes.
Also, be careful when you put the clothes pegs on, if the metal spring touches the fabric you get more rust stains….and finally, if you put a couple of pegs on the leading vertical edge of larger items (towels, trousers etc…) right near the line it reduces the chance of them opening up in the wind, popping the clothes pegs off and falling over the side.
Always a joy!
Thank you!! Any advice for chasing away little spawns of Satan, aka these black birds that poop everywhere? I will be writing a post about them soon- and how my battle goes. LOL
no, spawns of Satan I haven’t figured out how to exile, though I imagine that once you are off-shore, or out of the mainland US it may improve. We didn’t have all that many problems.