Washing Machine Aboard: Important or Elective?


Society Islands
Laundry day on Totem, within the Sea of Cortez, 2020.
Behan Gifford

The washer in our home on land appeared to run day by day to maintain up with the laundry for our household of 5. I nervous about how we’d cope after giving up our high-efficiency machines to maneuver aboard our sailboat, Totem. Wasn’t on a regular basis life going to be even messier? Or would we actually profit from kind of residing in swimsuits?

For years, we did laundry in a 5-gallon bucket, and it was high-quality. However in 2019, we added a compact washer. We love the improve sufficient that in latest months, we thought-about a good higher make. 

Right here’s how we thought in regards to the execs and cons of a washer on a cruising boat.

Compact automated washing machines

I by no means imagined having a washer on board after we set out for our sabbatical cruise. (Oops! 14 years later…) The Giantex we bought makes use of about the identical quantity of water as our 5-gallon bucket, however garments get cleaner—and it’s a lot simpler, we are likely to sustain higher. It price us round $200, and now runs round $250. 

Niall works on the laundry in Bora Bora, 2010.
Behan Gifford

Different, more-expensive washing machines on sailboats that get good critiques embrace the Daewoo Mini, which mounts out of the best way in a wall or bulkhead, however has a smaller capability at greater than $1,000; the Splendide, which, at round $1,000, has a capability that mimics a standard washer; and Miele’s compact front-loaders, which have almost the identical footprint because the Splendide, however with higher critiques and a price ticket round $1,400.

As typically occurs, the RV market affords an reasonably priced different. The primary washer I ever noticed on a cruising boat got here from the RV world. It was a small, single-tub affair that plugged into an outlet. You had so as to add water with a hose or bucket, however which will work higher for boats that intently watch water use. This technique is greater upkeep, perhaps, however it prices lower than $100.

What a few dryer?

The Daewoo Mini and Splendide have all-in-one washer/dryer or washer-only models. Whereas we all know a number of boats with the twin functionality, not a single cruiser aboard them likes the dryer perform. It takes a very long time (actually hours), it makes use of quite a lot of energy, and garments are nonetheless damp sufficient to warrant hanging. 

Drying laundry on the lifelines stays the cruiser’s best choice. After making an attempt many varieties of clothespins over time, I’m offered on powder-coated stainless pins. We’ve used them for about 4 years now. They’re extremely sturdy with no staining or corrosion, and the orange shade I picked makes me smile.

Don’t get plastic pins. Ultraviolet gentle kills all of them finally, and you’ll lose them within the ocean. Wooden sounds good, however the metallic springs finally rust and stain your garments. Suck it up and spend the cash on the schmancy set. Match your canvas shade if that helps you are feeling higher in regards to the expense.

Non-electric machines

Your “washer” could possibly be a sink. Or, within the case of some inventive crews, a cooler.
Behan Gifford

Someplace between the automated washer and a bucket are the handbook garments washers. After we had been in Australia, one cruiser’s cast-off Surprise Wash transportable machine grew to become our laundry treasure. It actually did get garments cleaner. But it surely solely lasted a few 12 months; its awkward form made it troublesome to stow; and, in the end, the bottom cracked. It was not fairly as much as the trials of cruising.

Just a few different nonelectric washers are round, however none appear higher than the 5-gallon bucket for folk who aren’t going with an put in, powered washer. 

Shoreside laundry first

stomping the laundry
Siobhan utilizing the “stomping the laundry” technique in 2015. These hundreds had been washed with semi-brackish effectively water in Chagos, Indian Ocean.
Behan Gifford

After all, it’s additionally good to show over the hassle to another person, and get a pile of sweetly clear, folded garments in return. Laundry on shore should be the perfect first selection. The grey-water rinse from laundry is a pollutant. Whereas your trickle overboard would possibly seem to be a drop within the ocean, it’s cumulatively harming the delicate setting round us. Laundromats and households sometimes drain to water remedy crops, however boats don’t.

You possibly can pay for lots of shoreside laundry earlier than shopping for a schmancy washer, and in an upcoming article, I’ll speak about our first 11 years of doing simply high-quality thankyouverymuch utilizing a 5-gallon bucket. There are some corners of the world the place shoreside laundry is expensive and ineffective; in French Polynesia, our garments washed on shore got here again damp and smelling of mildew.

clothes pins
We discovered our fancy garments pins to be funding. Wooden garments pins don’t final and the metallic springs rust and stain your garments.
Behan Gifford

However principally, taking laundry on shore opens the genuinely attention-grabbing possibility of discovering a brand new institution, perhaps training a brand new language, assembly a brand new particular person or making a brand new buddy, and getting your laundry cleaned within the discount.


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