How Do I: Keep Me and the Kids Clean

Ok. I have to admit, personal hygiene is kind of a tricky aspect of such small space living, especially since we are not exactly little people.

When I first looked at the boat, one of the reasons I jumped so hard at it is the fact that it had a toilet and a shower. It all looked so reasonable initially. And, those first months seemed just fine – challenging a bit, but just fine. Of course, I didn’t have the kids aboard yet. I had sent them to live with family while I got things such as enough bunks and a vehicle to drive squared away.

For me, alone, the only real challenge stemmed from the tiny water heater. It’s a bitty 4 gallons. My friend down the dock has an on-demand water heater. I think that would be an awesome upgrade. He also has a teeny tub. I’d love that too.

Anyway, washing AND RINSING my body well AND washing, rinsing, conditioning, and rinsing my hair was difficult to do before the water got too cold. Now as the season progressed to summer, it wasn’t so bad since the outside temperatures were pretty nice. Sometimes I even took a cool shower! The cooler you can tolerate, the longer you can shower by stretching the available hot water.

The water for the shower, and all our household needs, comes from 2 35-gallon water tanks. We fill them every 2-5 days, depending on our water use, with a hose we connect to a spigot on the dock. We get 2 showers and about 2-3 days of general water use (dishes, drinking, cooking) from that amount.

The shower stall is not quite as wide as a standard piano bench and maybe 2/3s as deep. It has a well the water drains into which is then pumped overboard. I don’t know if this is a normal set-up or not. I don’t know if other boats have a holding tank, drain directly overboard, or what. Probably all those and more.

The stall floor has a drain hole that is probably 5″x5″. I haven’t gotten a cover for it.

We don’t have to do anything special for showering except ensure there’s adequate water in the main tanks, turn on the pump and work FAST!  Oh, and remember to turn the pump off when we’re done.

The shower, like other things aboard, is SMALL. I You have to be careful not to spread your arms too far. Or really, at all. The faucet lever is too sensitive and one bitty knock gives you crazy cold or crazy hot water!

We’re not little people. I have gained a fair amount of weight this year and the difference in utilizing my shower is significant. I can still do it, but it’s just more energy consuming having to be more careful.

My oldest struggled with the size of the shower and the need to spread out to get clean. My middle struggled (still struggles) with getting a temperature that isn’t too hot or too cold (it’s super finicky) and not using all the hot water in the process. My youngest has yet to take a shower because of the large drain hole being scary. And, just last week, I learned my middle child’s head is hitting the shower head. Sigh. So, even though we have a shower, it’s still a daunting feat to get clean.

My oldest two and I use the kitchen sink to wash hair since we can get a much better cleaning and rinsing there. Sometimes I wash, rinse and leave conditioner in and then go shower and rinse the conditioner at the same time to get a deeper treatment. Sponge baths sometimes happen too – especially if it’s really cold outside.

To supplement, we have a couple good friends that help us out by letting us come and shower and bathe at their homes. We try to do that at least once a week to get a really good, thorough shower. It’s impractical for all of us to shower daily since the water tanks need filling after about 2 1/2 showers. And my youngest is still very, very much in the bath stage. He doesn’t get too dirty.

I’d dearly love to remodel the head (bathroom) and better utilize the space, install a small tub like my friend down the dock and an on-demand water heater.

2 thoughts on “How Do I: Keep Me and the Kids Clean

  1. Merri-Grace

    Wow! Super interesting! Living in Tenakee without a show I can totally relate to washing my hair in the sink. Great article!


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