On the first day of meaningful daytime rain in months, I got out my buckets and adjusted the cockpit awning to catch as much water as the sky would give my six square yards of catchment, and got ready for a rewarding laundry experience. I blocked up the deck drains and used the starboard side as pre-wash, port for extra rinse. I have a few 5-gallon plastic buckets, one for catching, one for washing, one for rinsing, and I have a dedicated toilet plunger for ‘jet action cleaning’ .
I don’t mind admitting that I kind of enjoy the challenge of orchestrating all the variables. How many clothes? How dirty? Bleachable? Is the rinse water too dirty for washing yet? Should I soap this spot, or scrub it, or see if I can forget I ever saw it? What’s the best way to scrub a spot? Is it better to churn things in the rinse water, or can they just be dipped a few times? Where is the sweet spot called ‘clean enough under the circumstances’ ? Have I used my left arm as much as my right? And how ‘bout those ‘wringing out’ muscles! The warm, steady, gentle showers lasted a good hour, and then there was sun and a little breeze for drying. The household deities were with me that day, at least through the underwear and the T-shirts and kitchen towels.
When the showers were over and I got a real chance to look around, I realized that of the seven boats in the anchorage, six of whom were French, I was the only one who was doing laundry. Did they all have so much water they could afford to waste this manna from heaven?
Then I got to really look around and learned why.
What’s to wash?