What haven’t we got on board our Small Ship?
No shower, dishwasher, washing machine, bath, tumble dryer, double bed, fridge, TV, Radio 4, microwave, blender, breadmaker….
But we do have: a chemical toilet, a gas cooker, improvised fridge under the floor, sink and a kettle, single berths, the internet (when we have the data and connectivity), a hairdryer and iron( for when we’re connected to electricity on-shore).
Living in this small and delightful space has made me think about what’s essential, what’s desirable and what falls between the two or can be improvised.
The lack of space for a shower and washing machine don’t matter here in The NL as any mooring we pay for has these facilities. It now seems normal to walk along the street in my pyjamas (with a jumper on top), clutching my sponge bag to visit the showers. The trick is knowing in advance whether you need 50 cents or 1 euro to operate them. They are always hot, scrupulously clean and sometimes have piped music. I showered this morning to Chic and Sister Sledge. The most unusual site for a shower was under the Bandstand in the centre of Grou. You can get used to anything. On a Marrekrite mooring, it’s a kettle of water, soap and a flannel.
Using a launderette instead of your own washing machine means paying for the laundry at the point of delivery and makes you less fussy about how often to wash things. Amazing what sponging and airing can achieve and better for the planet too. We can iron things if we really want to, but only done that once, so far. The facilities and how to work them vary from place to place, but mostly the detergent is added automatically in the washing machine. The strangest one was still operated with 1 or 2 pfennig coins (German currency pre 2002!) obtained from the on-site shop. These were German currency pre 2002. The washing machine was efficient though.
Being able to have hot food and drinks on a cold day, or after a long journey (remember we have to steer our boat from an outside deck – no cosy cockpit for us) is even more important than having cold stuff when the weather is hot. So we mustn’t run out of gas. We carry a spare gas cylinder and once the current one is empty, swap it for the spare and replace the spare at the next opportunity. Water is available at the moorings, either free or 50 cents for a metered amount. We have water tanks, 2x 2 litre containers for drinking water, backed up by another 50 litre reserve. This makes us careful about using water. Washing up water is used to mop the floor or any other cleaning task, before we let it run down the plughole. Hot water from boiling eggs becomes washing up water. We use as little crockery and as few pots and pans as possible, while still making decent meals.
The chemical toilet needs emptying every 3 days, so we don’t visit a bar or cafe without using their facilities.
When people go on expeditions to dangerous places, they include some things in the rations which, while not strictly necessary for physical survival, keep morale up. Our morale boosters are: good coffee, Earl Grey tea and liquorice – which is so popular in The Netherlands that it takes up a large section of the supermarket. As long as we have these, we don’t mind about re-using water or wearing crumpled clothes and makes our occasional stay in a B&B even more special.