Grooming takes a dive when water and electricity are scarce, activity is high, and slovenliness is king. We tumble out of bed in time to beat the tide and consider ourselves lucky to get a pot of coffee going. The crew needs breakfast, belowdecks is a mess, and someone's
got to winch the sails and man the helm. While we are sailing, personal hygiene can be compromised. There's so much to do that it isn't until we pull into port and greet the dockhand with a yellow-toothed grin that we realize we haven't even brushed our teeth!
Looking and smelling like a derelict is uncool, no matter how seaworthy you are. Sooner or later it's time to face a real world with real people, who bathe regularly, comb their hair, and wear clothes that don't look like last night's pajamas. It really doesn't take long to get presentable, as long as you're organized. Let's tackle this one step at a time.
Teething I once heard a lengthy dissertation between two men on the VHF radio about when, how, and if they planned to brush their teeth. Glad I'm not on their boats! Rotting particles from the previous evening's dinner will cause horrendous bad breath. For instant, waterless brushing keep handy a packet of fingertip toothpaste dots, such as Dental Dots. When brushing is impossible, chew a piece of dental gum, which claims to freshen breath and whiten teeth; or gargle with an anti-bacterial mouthwash. Find all of these items in the toothpaste section at the pharmacy.
After time on the water, when our skin is sticky with salt, there's little we boaters crave more than a long, hot shower. We can't always get one, but there are other ways to feel clean.
Wash up with a wet washcloth, a bit of deodorant soap, and a cup or two of water. For instant freshening that can be done almost anywhere, use wet wipes; the kind made for babies won't irritate delicate body parts. Before combing out hair that has been molested by the elements, work through a dab of conditioner to restore its vitality and relax tangles. If attempts to recoup your normal follicle order fail, cover the mess with a flattering hat until you can give it proper attention.
Bath Time If it's warm enough and the water is clean, grab a saltwater-soluble soap or shampoo, dive off the stern, and lather up. Take a second, rinsing plunge, and then climb aboard for a final, freshwater rinse to remove salt residue.
Of course a solar shower bag, a two-and-a-half to five-gallon bladder with a hose attachment, is a staple on many cruising boats. Your can fill the bag with freshwater on shore and secure it topside while underway, and before long you'll have enough warm water for several frugal showers. When indulging in a solar shower, it's customary to erect the water bag from the mast and perform a shower dance for the neighbors. Wear your bathing suit for the show (in the USA you can get arrested for indecent exposure), or protect your modesty by investing in the companion shower enclosure designed for deck use. Due to lack of pressure, water emerges leisurely from a shower bag; so skimp on the soap, as it will be difficult to rinse off. Too chilly to shower outdoors? Hang the bag on a high hook inside the head. Or, set up the bag on deck near a hatch or porthole to the head, and then snake the spray nozzle through the opening.
You say you've got a private shower and plenty of freshwater on board? Lucky you. On many boats, the entire head is the shower area, so everything gets wet. One dry idea is to hang a protective curtain across the toilet area. Attach it with a screwed-in metal curtain track.
The average boat shower has a wimpy spray, akin to a kitchen sink attachment; and some are prone temperature tantrums, zinging bathers with erratic jolts of hot and cold water. Unless your water system is pressurized, you'll be tapping your feet or hands to the tune of water delivery as you coordinate pumping and showering. Not all boats have a hot water tank, so this dance will be especially lively if the water is ice cold. Just remember when you are swearing at it that a less than perfect shower is preferable to having none at all.
Before you shower, check that the bilge pump is on and set to drain or you'll soon be walking on water. With any shower, be sure to monitor water usage so the last person doesn't get caught trying to remove a head full of lather with a cold dribble. To conserve fresh water, keep boat showers short and functional. Rinse, shut off the water and soap up, then final rinse. Perform extraneous tasks, such as brushing your teeth and shaving, in the same manner; or do them elsewhere. Trim down shower time with duo-function products, leave-in hair conditioners, soap and moisturizer combinations, and shampoos that double as body washes. If you are doubly blessed with a built-in deck shower, deferring to it in warm weather will keep the shower mess out of the boat.
|"In marina showers, it's often difficult to find a dry place to set your gear, so bring only the necessities."|
Many boaters find marina shower facilities are the most expeditious way to get an entire crew clean. Avoid rush hour at the stalls, between 8:00 and 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. Busy showers mean long waits in a steamy, often messy, environment. It's often difficult to find a dry place to set gear, so stow yours in a water-resistant tote that can loop over a hook. Bring only the necessities, such as shampoo, soap, and towel; and do only tasks that cannot be accomplished on the boat. During the summer, reduce baggage by wearing a bathing suit with a light cover-up to and from the shower.
Hair Care Salt air chemically reacts with processed hair. To avoid having permed or colored tresses turn seasick green, douse them ASAP with fresh water—and club soda works in a pinch. If your coiffure needs to be electrically coaxed to look good, it won't survive long in Seaworld. Talk to your stylist about a wash and wear do. Beware of exposing wet, short hair to heavy wind, as it will dry sticking straight up, like a rooster's comb.
Onboard Attire You are clean, but what about the condition of your clothes? If you were smart, you brought along wrinkle resistant, easy-care duds that can easily be revived from stints in smelly boat lockers, the worn clothing heap, or a cramped duffel bag. Begin by locating, shaking out, and hanging up the garments to be worn. Do this before you clean up, and they will be waiting and ready to wear. Spritz aromatic items with an odor-eating product, like Lysol aerosol or a light spray of cologne. When it's dry and airy outdoors, clip clothing onto the lifelines or hook hangers from masts. Steam out wrinkles by positioning items in a dry area of a hot shower, or mist them with water and hang them outdoors to let the wind do the ironing. I keep a travel iron aboard for emergency touch ups, but I rarely use it.
Passing the Sniff Test Even your friends won't tell you… Using deodorant soap is a short-term solution to the perspiration problem. Swathe underarms with a good antiperspirant to keep them dry and control body odor. Before putting on fresh antiperspirant, make certain you've entirely removed the old stuff. Some brands claim to last as many as 36 hours! Deodorant buildup can eventually plug sweat glands and trap bacteria, resulting in sore, infected lumps.
Whew, we're done! Smile. You are now land-worthy. The local yokels will never know you've just survived a day at sea—but, you'll tell them about it. Won't you?