One of the biggest challenges facing someone living full time on a small boat on the hook (at anchor) is simply staying clean.
One thing we lack is an unlimited supply of water. We can’t simply turn a tap to get it. I try and keep about six gallons or so of drinking water on board, but where does it come from? Well, I buy fresh gallons of spring water at Publix super market for 86 cents a gallon. A lot of times I’ll take my empties up there and fill them from their filtered machine at the entrance for 35 cents a gallon. When I do my laundry I take four empty jugs with me and fill them at the deep sink. There’s a faucet at the nearby Post Office that a lot of people use but the admonition is “don’t let them see you doing it.” I’ve never used it. As you walk around a few block area near the dinghy dock you’ll notice that all of the outdoor outlets are missing the knobs. The owners keep them hidden and only attach them when they need to use a hose.
A lot of people trap rain water. I haven’t figured out a good system for that on this boat, yet. When I was on my Kaiser 26 down in Mexico, Belize and the Rio Dulce in Guatemala, I worked out a good system that would fill my 35 gallon tank in just a few minutes. I never drank that stuff but used it for washing dishes and myself. The main problem with rain water, though, is it’s not reliable. It doesn’t rain every day.
Another source for water, though not for drinking, is the melt water out of the cooler chest. A gallon of fresh water weighs 8 pounds, so there’s a bit more than a gallon of water in each of the 10 pound bags I buy. I buy two bags at $2.49/each a couple of times a week so I’ve got nearly five gallons extra water on board. It’s good for washing dishes and sponge baths, and that’s it. I keep that water in the old empty jugs. I’ve marked the tops of those with a dab of yellow fingernail polish that I’d bought to mark something else a long time ago.
So, how does on handle personal hygiene? Sponge baths only go so far. I subscribe to a lot of RV sites on Facebook because those people face a lot of the same challenges boaters on the hook do. They recommend joining a fitness club with branches all over the country. That’s good for them, but there aren’t many of those clubs close to the anchorages and then you’re faced with getting to them without a car.
There are a couple of fitness clubs here on Anna Maria Island, FL, but they’re rather pricy. Even day passes so you can get to take a shower will cost a minimum of $5. This winter I joined the Y over in Bradenton which was right on the bus route. It cost $20/month. I had access to a great fitness center there as well as hot showers. As with everything associated with this lifestyle there was a hitch. . . There’s only one bus every hour that goes over to the mainland. But you get to know roughly when you can catch it so you paddle to shore in advance and wait. By the time you board the bus you’ve eaten up close to an hour or your day. Then it’s a half hour out to the Y. You spend a couple of hours there exercising and taking a shower. A bit less if you only take a shower. Then you have to wait for that ONE BUS that’s headed back to the island. If you miss it you’ve got to hang around for an hour until the next one comes. In all, to keep yourself from stinking, you’re going to spend the equivalent of half a working day just to take a shower. I found myself going longer and longer between trips to the Y as the winter and spring progressed.
Last Friday I was going to make a shopping run up to Publix on the free trolley. They run every 20 minutes up and down the length of the island. As luck would have it I JUST MISSED a northbound connection. It was a hot, breathless day so I switched over to the southbound stop figuring it would be more comfortable sitting in the air conditioned trolley down to Coquina Beach at the south end of the island and then back up to the Publix than it would be waiting in the broiling sun for the trolley to pass me southbound, take his five or ten minute rest break down there and then get back to the northbound stop. I’m glad it worked out that way.
I was getting a little “ripe.” My hair was gunky from not having washed it for longer than I want to admit, here. (I was no longer a member of the Y so a ride out there wan’t doable.) As we pulled into the bus slot at the beach the thing that caught my attention were the people taking showers! All along the pine tree lined beach path there were at least a half dozen shower pylons so people could rinse the salt and sand off of themselves before getting in their cars. As we used to say in Antibes, France, “Vòila!”
Saturday morning I was up early. Packed my shampoo, soap, wash cloth and towel and headed out. As we turned into the bus slot the county bus that goes over to the mainland was just pulling out which was great for me. I planned on going across the bridge to Annie’s Bait and Tackle to get some fishing gear. So with the bus just leaving that meant I had an hour to take my shower.
By each of the shower pylons there is a little “Changing Station.” To cut it short, I had a delightful, refreshing shower. Cool water but not cold, and with the temperature already in the low 80s that morning I enjoyed it a lot. Now, when I’m here at the anchorage I’ll be going down there several times a week to get cleaned up.
But I’m not going to be here much longer on a permanent basis. I’m looking to get under way in the middle of next week and go gunkholing around the area. I want to stay close by until after my birthday early in July because there are so many good restaurants here. Last year, for my 75th, I wanted to go have a nice lobster dinner. The three quarters of a century is definitely a “milestone” birthday.*
Instead I spent it at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital suffering from renal shutdown caused by severe dehydration.
When that’s over I’m planning on heading south to check out the gunkhole possibilities around Pine Island Sound and up into the Peace River. The nice thing about rivers is they’re fresh water so you can scoop buckets full and bath yourself. Not a big fan of diving over the side since there are gators everywhere. Last week a woman was snatched off the bank by a 12 foot gator and eaten.
That’s it for the moment…
*Milestone birthdays. There are certain birthdays in a person’s life that are extra special. Milestones if you will…At 16 you can drive a car most places. At 18 you can register to vote. At 21 you can go into a bar and legally order a piña colada. Then you’ve pretty much go to wait around for the 50th and 75th. Milestone all.