Thursday, January 20, 2011


Sometimes you get into the swing of things taking a little bit longer due to the fact you live on a boat, and don't realize quite how much time is being spent with those chores until you spend a few days in a house with all the amenities.

Friends graciously offered Justin and I to stay at their cabin in the woods of New Hampshire, anytime we want. We have been wanting to get away this winter before the baby arrives, and Justin was able to finagle his schedule at work so that we had a long weekend to do so.

We had a fantastic time, and it's just such a beautiful spot. We went up with no plans whatsoever, but did bring our laundry, a few games, and of course, Willie!

Much of the laundry that we brought up was the new cloth diapers that we have. I was told to prewash them - some of them need it so that the cotton absorbs better, and some of them needed it for the fabric (PUL) to seal. Really, this was my first lesson in living aboard that laundry takes a hell of a long time to do when you live on a boat!

There are three ways of doing laundry if you live aboard. 1) You hand wash. 2) You use the marina's laundry facilities. 3) You go to a laundromat/friend's house/family's house. Over the years, we have used a combination of the three.

When I hand wash, I have to go into the lazarette, pull out life jackets, extra dock lines, and fenders, and pull the 5 gallon bucket out. I then have to empty the bucket, which usually has more lines in it, then I generally put everything back where it came from. I fill the bucket full of water, add soap, swish it around, and then add the clothes. I have a plunger that is used solely for laundering purposes, and I generally bring the bucket inside and set it under the table, where I plunge our clothes for a couple of minutes. Throughout the day, I will continue to plunge them as I walk by the bucket. Once I've decided that I've squished them enough, I dump the water, rinse the clothes, and hang them on the lifelines to dry. (Note: This must be done on a sunny day, otherwise the bucket gets thrown in the head and the rinsing/drying happens the next day).

When I wash clothes at the marina, I have to load up an Ikea bag or two (those things are enormous) and, depending on how much laundry I have, I may or may not have to scope out a dock cart. In the winter, this is an easy task because we are docked right next to the drop off point. In the summer, it's a whole other story. At Constitution Marina, dock carts can be hard to come by in the summer, and sometimes you have to walk the entirety of the marina just to beg one off of someone. Once you get the cart, you check your pockets twenty times to ensure that you have enough quarters and lug up all of your laundry to the washers and dryers, hoping like mad that someone else isn't using them. After the 15 minute walk to get to the washers, you almost always find that at least two of the three of them are full. As long as there's one, you're ok, but you have to be diligent to promptly switch your laundry over so that it doesn't get stolen by someone else....otherwise you'll only get one load of laundry in that day. Then there's always the issue - do I walk the 15 minutes back to the boat, only to turn around again to switch my laundry over? I usually bring everything I need to also take a shower, so that I can wait for it. Anyway, you get my point. Laundry takes forever when you have to do it at the marina, and you had better not expect to get much else done that morning/afternoon/evening.

The laundromat isn't too terrible, actually. You just have to fill those ikea bags, find that dock cart, and bring the laundry up to the car, then reverse the process when you get home.

So, when we got to our friend's place and the washer and dryer were in the very same living space, it was absolutely amazing and it suddenly dawned on me that we (boat people) are a little bit crazy for doing any laundry at all!

This has also made me realize that cloth diapering on a boat is going to be a little bit insane, so after much researching, we will be going with diaper covers and flat fold diapers for the majority of our cloth diapering. The flats are a square piece of fabric that you fold in various ways to cover the baby's bum. The great thing about them is they're way easy to hand wash, and they dry really, really quickly. I really think it's the only way that I will sanely cloth diaper the baby on this boat. We also have about a dozen of what are called pocket diapers and those have microfiber inserts, but both the cover and inserts must be washed each time, and they don't hand wash as easily, nor do they dry nearly as fast.

Hanging the flats to dry after their first, second and third prewash.

Newborn size diaper covers, thanks to Serena and Tig!

Pocket diapers and microfiber inserts. Notice that the snaps make them a one-size-fits-all diaper.

I realize that this is an insanely long post to discuss the ''simple'' topic of laundry, but I think fellow liveaboards will totally understand it, and dirt dwellers might get a small understanding of just how simple their lives really are! (And for the record - I am totally NOT complaining...I just found it interesting enough to write about).


  1. I want to wish you the best of luck with cloth diapering. You are a braver woman than I! I researched it and finally just went with disposables for my own sanity but I do envy my mom friends and their babies with cute little cloth diaper butts!

    Amanda at livesaboard and is also cloth diapering. Unfortunantly her little one has a heart condition and is in the hospital right now, but if you want to follow her progress, I'm sure once her baby is stable she'll be blogging about cloth diapering and living aboard. Good luck!

  2. Charlotte, you may call us brave...I think I prefer the term crazy. ;) Actually, we're just really, really frugal and after looking at the price of disposables, I just knew I couldn't do it, and would do anything to avoid that extra expense.

    Justin and I both read Amanda's blog every day. What a scary journey they are going through, but thankfully they seem to be in great hands. I hope they are able to get back to the peace and quiet of their boat very, very soon.

  3. Jenny & Charlotte, so funny that this is the first post that I wanted to comment on and you are talking about me!

    Jenny you are brave to do cloth diapers. And crazy. Certifiable! Cloth diapers are a challenge but I find that for me, they are worth it.

    Good luck! I look forward to seeing how they go.

  4. I got really stressed out as I read about the whole laundry process. The stuffing it into bags. Hunting down a cart. Hoping the machines aren't taken. It's really the only thing I can honestly say that I HATE about living aboard. Seth mans the plunger and the bucket in the summer out in the cockpit, but we haven't tried it this winter. We just wear our jeans over and over til it looks like they're rotting a little.