Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Boat Wife - Laundry day(s)

[Maryanne]Kyle goes off to work, and I stay at "home" and get all the standard chores done. A very classical male/female divide that just happens to work for us for now, but always makes me chuckle at my "domestication".

So, Laundry. I wanted to give you guys a flavor of what doing laundry means to us on Footprint.

The picture above is from several years ago (2003), when we were traveling from Ohio to Virginia with our previous boat Prydwen. The story is the same, we would move on our route until Kyle had to go to work again. We'd find a suitable base, He'd head off for work, and I'd have a few days catch up with the chores. In this case, we found ourselves in Croton-on-Hudson in NY, I had a rather large backlog of laundry and some damp quilts from the bed (It was early June, but still cold and we were suffering with condensation issues - living aboard, cooking and breathing, with no ventilation because the hatches are all battened down against the cold soon causes condensation!).

Unfortunately, they rarely put laundromats beside the river, (not even in the fancy marina we'd managed to negotiate a deal with) and for this particular stopover I was glad to borrow a Marina cart and pushed it, fully loaded, the 2 miles or so to the nearest laundromat.

So now we are in the BVI. I'd watched an adjacent boat put a little bit of laundry out to dry several times a day and assumed they had one of those small, hand operated, washing machines. We have neither the space, nor the spare water for such a thing, but it reminded me we were in serious need of clean clothes and bedding.

I'd previously run a reconnaissance trip and found several laundromats in the nearby East End in Tortola. I also found one in an East End marina (which was both nearer and cheaper! Yay!).

So - I packed up as much dirty laundry as I could stuff in my huge hiking back pack (2 loads), and along with detergent, loaded it and my bicycle into the dingy, and rowed off to shore. Once I arrived at shore I set up my bicycle, loaded the pack on my back, put on my helmet and pushed the bike over the beach to the road. I was a woman with a mission.

But wait a minute, there is laundry machine in one of the back rooms of a local cyber cafe.. Hmmm, maybe I don't need to be peddling anywhere? I'd already seen someone that looked as though he were the owner as I passed the front - so I turned around and asked if the laundry machines were available to use? After a bit of checking, "Sure" he said, "cold water only and $20 a load". Gulp. Thanks, but no thanks, I only paid $12 a load for someone else to wash/dry/fold my laundry in Antigua, $20 seemed WAY off.

I stuck to my original plan. Heck I probably need the exercise.

So off I set, looking as though I'm all ready for a month hiking trip. I found the Marina laundry, verified I could use it, even though I wasn't a resident/guest at the Marina. Bargain almost half the price of local laundromats - just $1.50 a load for washing and a $1.50 for 20 minutes of dryer time... I got my 2 loads done for under $10 and that includes the $2 soda I purchased.

When my brother discovered my saving, he (bright as a button, and with all my missing humor quota) replied If you had biked 2 miles more would you get 4 loads for free?. Now that's thinking!

Actually, sitting in a laundromat waiting for washers and dryers to finish is not exactly stressful (unless there is a shortage of machines and a bunch of folks ready to fight for the next one to become available - and that really does happen). The hard work is really getting there, and then fighting the boredom once you're there, so I take a good book, chill out, and feed the machines as necessary.

So, laundry dry and folded, back in backpack, cycle/row home, unload.

Next day - repeat with remaining 2 loads of laundry. (This time I found the local baker and had a Swordfish Pasty and some delicious cookies for lunch while I was waiting - just $3.25).

But does anyone feel sorry for me I ask? Sure you don't, I'm "stuck" in the BVI so it ain't all bad! :-)

1 comment:

kate said...

last sunday, i persuaded mark to have brunch on colley avenue so i could use the laundromat across the street for our goose down comforter (it can't be dry cleaned - and why would you when you can spend less than $6 for a front-loading washer vs. $25 for the other?). we had assumed the dryer would take a lot longer than 20 minutes, so after our eggs, mark left me to wait and drove off to the hobby store. i walked in to find the comforter was 95% dry - but my ride was gone. "10 minutes," he'd said. 45 minutes later, i'd read the few pages of newspaper i could find sitting around and was furious at being abandoned (i was really just bored). but you're right: while i didn't have to row a dinghy, haul a 15 lb. duffel bag, or bicycle 2 miles to get there, i was also in decidedly non-scenic norfolk, va - not the british virgin islands! still, congrats on your savings!