We’re living in the Bahamas, but we’re not really on vacation. So we have to do chores. Just like at home, only different.
Laundry: Here at the marina, we just walk down the dock to the laundromat. Three washers and three dryers, at $5/each. When not at a marina, the laundry goes from the boat to the dinghy and then to the laundromat.
Sometimes in black plastic garbage bags in case it rains. We might get soaked, but never the laundry. Once (not this trip), I fell into the water transferring heavy, awkward bags of laundry from the dinghy to the boat. The laundry never got wet. Better me than the laundry. Sometimes the laundry has to be carried in a roller cart to a laundromat, sometimes a fair distance.
Grocery shopping: We have it easy here in Hopetown. There are two grocery stores and sometimes one will have what the other doesn’t. But sometimes neither has milk, or any veggies except potatoes and onions, and so on. Neither is bigger than a 7/11; one is probably half that size. We take our dinghy or the marina’s pontoon shuttle across the harbor to town and carry the groceries back the same way. I’m glad I brought my shopping bags. We can only buy as much as we think we can carry. Here, the grocery stores are right at the water’s edge or a short walk further.
During the course of this trip, we have reached the closest grocery store or produce market via dinghy, bus, taxi, a borrowed car, and on foot – often involving lots of asphalt and traffic. A dim memory now. At some point, we bought a roller cart – I think after crossing the bridge in St. Augustine too many times with very heavy bags.
Filling the propane tanks: We have two 5 pound propane tanks for our stove. When one is empty – no warning, the flame just goes out – we hook up the other tank and find a place to refill the empty one. Here in Hopetown, we take it by boat to the dinghy dock of the local grocery store and leave it with others.
Later that day – or the next day – or the following week – it will be returned, full, to the same dock. When you pick it up you go into the grocery store and pay for the propane. And no one steals the tanks even though some of them, empty, are worth over two hundred dollars.
Getting water: We use water from our onboard tank, which holds about 70 gallons. We carry another 10 gallons in containers. Which is really a lot of water for a boat this size. We use about 20 gallons/week; we could use less if necessary. One of the biggest water users in a house is a toilet – we don’t use any for the toilet – and another is the washer and dryer – which we don’t have. Showers are short – usually in cold water, so it’s easy to keep them short. We have both pressurized water spigots and foot-pump operated ones at the galley and head sinks. All cold water. Coming down the ICW, we filled our water tank whenever we were at a gas dock filling our diesel tank (20 gallons – 200 miles). Since we were motoring every day, we used more diesel than water. In the Bahamas, water can be purchased at a marina (which we are doing), or collected on the boat through various methods when it rains, or “made” with an RO (reverse osmosis) watermaker. Most water-makers are electric; they can make up to 10 gallons/hour, but are exceedingly temperamental. On our last trip to the Bahamas, the huge flush foredeck of our Shore 41 was a perfect rain catcher and we never had to buy water. The first rain of a storm washed the decks, then we filled the tubs for laundry, and finally we put it right into our tanks for drinking. Here, we buy water for 35 cents/gallon.
Cleaning: The boat has to be cleaned, inside and out. The outside because it gets very salty on deck from the spray and because whenever we step off the boat, dirt comes back on our feet and shoes. If the boat’s not cleaned, the salt and dirt gets tracked down below – and always ends up in our berths. Plus, salty water is slimy and does not dry. With luck, a good rain storm will clean the decks. The inside of the boat is usually cleaned with recycled water – often water that has been used to rinse dishes, or my hair. Recycling water is important because we are buying all our water. We also use Clorox wipes in the galley and head areas for cleaning.
Washing the dinghy: After being afloat here in the Abacos for over a month, our dinghy had grown a bit of seaweed and some little barnacles had attached themselves. We took the dinghy to a nearby beach, tipped it over, and scrubbed.
None of our chores involves negotiating traffic or parking lots or snow-covered roads. It’s bright and beautiful and everyone is unbelievably friendly and helpful.