Spotting a Cruiser: Laundry Day

The main difference between cruisers and weekenders is laundry. Those who go sailing for a weekend, week, or month, will typically carry all the clothes they need for the trip. As the clothes get dirty, they will simply be stowed away in a hamper or bag until they get home and can do all the laundry once they return. This means that these people will have clean laundry for the duration of their voyage and never need to do any laundry as they go! 

Cruisers differ from these people in that they will not be returning anytime soon to do laundry, and it is physically impossible to carry enough clothes onboard for the entire journey. This means that cruisers will need to set out and find places to do their laundry. Typical favorites are laundromats, where all the clothes can be washed in a few hours out of the day. When a laundromat is not to be found, other methods of doing laundry will be sought out.  

On Wisdom, we use a small and compact machine called the "Wonder Wash" which allows us to do our laundry independent of electrical access. It has a small hand crank on the side that you use to operate the machine as it spins to wash your clothes. While washing and rinsing are done in the compact confines of the machine, drying the laundry is a whole different ball game. 


The laundry needs to be hung out to dry, and on a sailboat, open space is limited. A typical favorite is to hang the clothes up on the lifelines. Our concern was that the blue from the dyneema lifelines would leak into the clothing and give us a lovely blue strip through all our shirts and shorts. Instead, I hung up three whilte nylon cords running rom the head stay to the mast, and from the head stay to the shrouds. 

These cords allowed us to hang two loads of laundry from the machine over the foredeck where it could drip dry in the afternoon sun. 

Where you do your laundry and when is important. While your clothes drying may add some nice color to your yacht, do remember that you are anchored in front of expensive waterfront property. It is best to do laundry in a quiet area where you see few houses, and to do it on a weekday. Most waterfront homes that look like small hotels are actually weekend homes for the wealthy. If you do laundry on a weekday, they won't notice your presence and won't complain to the marine police about "that eyesore over there." 

Being discreet is important when passing through new waters. It is important to remember that you are the visitor and you should try to minimize your appearance as to attract less attention from the authorities. If you become an eyesore, some locations will actually ask you to leave and anchor elsewhere. What if they tell you to move as a storm approaches? By staying below the radar, you can enjoy the protected waters of an anchorage, keep your clothes smelling fresh, and cruise without causing a ruckus.