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Old 22-09-2009, 22:16   #1
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Questions about Living Aboard: Drying Clothes and Hot Showers

Hello folks,

I poked around a bit but couldn't really find any posts that completely answered my questions so...

I'm thinking about living aboard. I've always wanted to and love being out on the water. Right now I have a 50% interest in an old ericson 27 but I think I would buy a different boat to live in and sell my share or something along those lines.

I live in Washington, fairly near Seattle (across the water).

The problem is I lived on my parent's boat for about a month last winter and walking up icy boat ramps to go take a shower in the morning was a bit of a downer, especially at low tide. Also having to wash clothes at the marina.

It has been brought to my attention that moisture is very bad on a boat in winter and thus hot showers are bad. I have read that some of the dehumidifiers deal with this problem fairly well, but not sure. Being able to shower aboard would make a huge difference in quality of life.

The other big quality of life factor for me is having to go to a laundromat or marina when I want to wash my clothes. It seems pretty easy to wash clothes on a boat as there are some nice compact washing machines, but what about drying them, especially in the winter?

If I could find a way to take a hot shower aboard and dry my clothes I'd be off to the races.

Was hoping some of the obviously knowledge people here could pass on a few pearls of wisdom. Thanks for any advice you can give!

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Old 22-09-2009, 23:23   #2
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move to somewhere warmer and cheaper

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Old 22-09-2009, 23:58   #3
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When I lived aboard my Catalina 36 both my then girlfriend and I were able to take hot (though somewhat brief) showers every morning. The boat has to pretty big for a washer/drier setup. How 'bout one of those drop-off fluff & fold deals?

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Old 23-09-2009, 04:16   #4
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As a livaboard I understand your plight. We came down the ICW from CT to FL in the dead of winter, anchoring most of the time. Our 40foot ketch does have a shower of sorts, but declined to use. Instead we heated water and washed down, and when it is icy cold outside you would be surprised as how nice it makes you feel. We are now at a marina in FL and walking to the shower or laundry room is never a problem. Due to your location and size of your boat you may have to bite the bullet and use shoreside facilities? We left the north because of the difficulties of living on a smaller boat in the cold, snowy weather... Sorry I was not much help and good luck.
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Old 23-09-2009, 05:06   #5
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The Splendide vented model washes and dries but the unvented model does not dry well. We just run the vent pipe out of a hatch. It take 2 hours to complete a wash/dry cycle and is hardly compact, we took out an icemaker and half the bar to get it in.

Seriously unless you have a big boat you just need to use the laundrette...we did for the first 15 yrs we sailed.

Nell the Skipper

"Remember, experience only means that you screw-up less often."
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Old 23-09-2009, 07:16   #6
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Well, I run my own business and have put in a very large amount of time and money to make it successful so I don't really want to move anytime soon. And I enjoy the summers here. Lived in Southern California for a while but the lack of seasons wasn't really my thing.

I would be buying a larger boat to live aboard. Probably in the mid-30 feet. I got an amazing deal on the ericson at a time when I didn't have much money and it allowed me to get out on the water and have some fun, but it's a very stripped out boat and not really appropriate for living aboard. I'd probably have to dump more money than it's worth into it to get it to be a decent liveaboard. I've got my eye on this Buchan 37 right now: 1972 Buchan Sail Boat For Sale - . It's got narrow beam and pretty light displacement but I don't have a whole lot of heavy items aside from old furniture that I would probably sell. It would be nice to have a boat that I can live on that still sails decently.
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Old 23-09-2009, 07:36   #7
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Washington Liveaboard

I noticed this is your first post...welcome to the CF!

We're liveaboard's here in Washington, probably close to where you are...Poulsbo to be exact.

Living aboard in the Sound is tough in the winter...doesn't matter what size boat you have. Winds come up, docks get icy, and of course the usual rain...clouds...rain...clouds...Oh!... and then more rain! Still, living here in the winter or summer is one of the best kept secrets. It's quiet and the aquatic life is is cheap (so far), and away from the big cities is usually available.

We've lived aboard here in Washington now for the last 10-15 years or so (Port Angeles, Sequim, Port Townsend, Olympia, Seattle, Poulsbo). Anyway...we have a dehumidifier and it works wonders...wouldn't live without it but mostly they are large-ish and cumbersome so that is a consideration on a smaller boat. Dehumidifiers don't take a lot of power (relative to say...heaters)...but power is always a consideration. (I'll deal more with power in a minute)... With a 27 footer even a small compact over-under washer/dryer is really going to present some space and power problems. I can't see that working that well on boat under 30 feet but I have seen it done!

Okay... so power is really a bigger issue as most marinas usually only have a 20 or 30 amp connection. That means a limit on heat and other energy consuming devices you can have on your boat. Even if you can get more power (say the marina lets you use two connections)...your boat may only be wired for 30 amps so that will present an issue...regardless of how much power is available on the dock! Nothing like having your power trip off in the midldle of a sub-zero winter night to wake you up to the reality of living on a boat in the winter. Also there is the bigger issue of the type of heat you're going to use and a much bigger topic you can research on this forum. Anyway...

In the last 15 years we've always used the laundry facilities at the marina. Showers?...who ever told you that showers on board are bad in the winter in Washington is dead wrong! if you have a good shower sump and plenty of hot water, then you shouldn't have any problems. Mold?? You live in Washington...need I say more? Just joking of course...We've never really had a mold problem except outside on our sail covers and some of the darker corners of the boat. Just keep things mopped up, (warm and dry is good)...and it won't be that big of deal. A good shower aboard depends on the quantity of hot water and a good sump system. Be sure and check the other threads on shower sumps as it's a really big deal if they don't work right.

As far as hot water quantity..that's a personal issue and depends on the size of your HWH. Ours is a 12 gallon model (we had a 6 gallon model and it worked fine for cruising, but not so good for daily liveaboard). We now have a 12 gallon HWH that I swear by because it never seems to run out!!). BTW...until we retired, both my wife and I lived aboard and worked full time...which means laundry and showers were paramount as we both had professional (make that "dress-up") kinds of jobs...and we survived just fine.

Living aboard in the winter is a challenge anywhere it's colder...but we wouldn't trade it for the world. Once you get it set up and can adapt to the lifestyle it's awesome!! least it was for us but good preparation is paramount or you'll be miserable. Continue doing your homework, check with others, and go for it...the rewards are worth it!

Hope this helps a little. We've living aboard now, heading out to Mexico and points west in the very near future...luck and fair winds to ya!
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Old 23-09-2009, 08:31   #8
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Well, like I said, I don't see myself living aboard the 27 as it's too stripped out and in any case I only own a half interest at the moment. I'd be getting a 30-something footer such as the Buchan 37 ad I posted. 1972 Buchan Sail Boat For Sale -

Really? Not a bad thing to shower in the winter? From people I talked with who lived aboard, they acted like it was absolutely taboo. I've read a little about shower sumps but I'll look into it more.

I actually don't mind the cold and sleep a lot better when it's cold outside. I usually have the windows/hatches open for air at night even in the winter.

I have to dress up for work and it has been very nice having a washer/dryer for those times when late in the evening or early in the morning I realize I don't have any good clean shirts and need to clean one up real quick-like. And sitting around at a laundromat for an hour or two seems like a waste of time. Maybe some of the drop off laundry deals like MikeinLA suggested are a good solution. I'll have to look into what's available.

I'd probably be in Bremerton or Port Orchard.
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Old 23-09-2009, 18:20   #9
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We live in a 26'. Showers and laundry never an issue but often a challenge. The perfect set-up is a marina in a country where water temp does not allow for condensation. Or, get the bigger boat, have a proper shower cabin, and a washing machine onboard. Very, very tempting, and probably the way to go for any extended liveaboard project.

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Old 25-09-2009, 07:33   #10
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Some products I've found that might be useful for washing/drying clothes aboard...was wondering if anyone had experience with them or had any comments.

The "wonder wash" line of products ( Wonderwash Mini Portable Clothes Washing Machine: Home & Garden ) has been mentioned a few times. Seems like a good idea. I think I saw a aluminum hand cranked clothes washer a while back that looked a bit more durable. Maybe on craigslist or something.

There are also some small washers like this Haier HLP21E 6.6-Pound Pulsator Wash with Stainless Steel Tub: Home & Garden and mini dryers like this Haier HLP140E Wall Mountable 2.6 Cu Ft. 120 Volt Dryer, White: Kitchen & Dining that seem interesting but maybe a bit on the large size for a sailboat though. It seems like a combo washer/dryer might take about the same space.

I also saw this portable clothes dryer which seems like it might be great for a professional liveaboard, probably in conjunction with something like the wonderwash: Easy Dry- Portable Clothes Dryer: Home & Garden .

Just tossing out some ideas.

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