So, how do you shower while cruising? This is my husband’s biggest cruising compromise. He hates not having a “real” shower until we get back to a marina. The last year we were out cruising, he didn’t get a “real” shower for 155 days straight. But it’s not like we’re unclean on the boat. He just doesn’t get to stand under the hot great water pressure shower for unlimited amounts of time. In 2010 when we finally got to Isla Mujeres after living out at anchor for 155 days straight, David’s first luxury was to head to the marina showers. While it was a wonderful shower, it wasn’t a shower like we regularly enjoy off the boat during commuter cruiser off season! Often marinas outside the US may have limited hot water and water pressure is questionable, a matter of your own definition.
We’re lucky enough to have a watermaker, so we always have freshwater showers. Other cruisers jump in the crystal clear water, soap up and shampoo and then rinse with fresh water. We also are lucky enough to have a separate shower stall, curtained off so we don’t have to shower in the head and wipe down the entire head after a shower. But we don’t like having extra water and humidity below, so we choose to shower in the cockpit. Which has made things interesting over the years. But back to the shower itself….
For years we used just a Stearns 5 gallon plain solar shower, we started with the bigger size, but hanging it from our arch, the weight of the water ripped them out at a rate of two per season, so we’d keep extras aboard all the time. We then switched to the 2 1/2 gallon Stearns solar shower and each of us could get a full shower each night. Either solar shower worked. The 2 1/2 gallon bag needed refilling and heating daily. The larger size would provide showers for 2 days but would need reheated the 2nd day, so it really didn’t provide any advantage and ripped out from hanging regularly.
During one of our cruiser off seasons, I happened to stumble upon a website called Duckworks for a “pump up solar shower”. We purchased one just to see if it made a difference — we were already taking warm showers, we just didn’t have any water pressure except gravity. The Duckworks shower worked great for the first season, and OK (some loss of pressure) for the second season, by last season it was suffering, but still had more pressure than the original solar shower. This coming winter, we plan on using the same Duckworks pump up solar shower which will be it’s 4th season aboard. We still have an extra Stearns 2 1/2 gallon solar shower hiding under the head sink just in case our Duckworks shower goes ka-put. And if all else fails, we have the watermaker and we have a perfectly good pressure shower with separate shower stall below.
Showering in the cockpit is all well and good as long as we’re in an isolated anchorage… and it’s warm and not too windy. But other boats have a bad habit of trying to anchor too close astern, which of course, invades our shower privacy just a bit. One memorable evening I was showering in the back of the cockpit as usual when I looked up and a backpacker sailboat had anchored just upwind of us. With 20 or so young traveling adventurers aboard, they dragged past my shower maybe a boatlength to the port side. No privacy, nowhere to turn, I merely turned my back and kept showering — with shampoo all over my head what’s a person to do??? Luckily they kept dragging and the anchor didn’t hook until they were almost in the mangroves, a good half mile behind us. Another time, I had just started my shower when a small fishing boat with a grandfather and his 6-7 year old grandson aboard dropped anchor maybe a half boatlength astern. I scrunched down and tried to shower in the footwell. The grandfather decided the better part of manners was to pull up the anchor and teach his grandson to fish elsewhere.
That’s when I decided that showering in the cockpit was great, but I would really like more privacy. When we redid the cockpit enclosure last winter, rather than bug screens, we opted for privacy/bug screens. The privacy screens will afford me somewhat more privacy while showering and still should keep out all but those pesky no-see-ems. But our previous bug screens didn’t keep out no-see-ems either, so I figure I’m not giving up a lot other than some extra cash. When anchored at Little Shark River last winter and a goofy catamaran that had anchored in literally 10 places around the anchorage before parking on top of our stern, we put up the privacy screens and hopefully they couldn’t watch us take showers. I think there’s hope! The screens don’t obscure everything inside, just make it so shapes can be discerned barely by movement.
So if you’re wondering about what cruisers do for showers, they’re all over. Some do use their showers below and pressure water, some use solar showers and shower in the cockpit with fresh water, and some still jump overboard and wash/shampoo/salt water rinse and then do a final rinse with fresh water. The one thing cruisers have in common is they all tend to shower at the end of each and every day. There are very few stinky cruisers. 🙂
But we all look forward to “real” marina showers — hopefully with hot water and water pressure, although just because it’s a marina shower doesn’t guarantee hot water or water pressure, especially in other countries. And that’s one big advantage of being a commuter cruiser … David gets a “real” shower at least half the year! 🙂
So how do you handle showering aboard your boat? Leave a comment and share! THX! J