Prep work

In a marine twist on the old child-brings-laundry-home-for-mom-to-wash trope, I went out to clean my son’s boat.

Since her owner moved to Virginia last fall, Nameless has been used primarily as a heron perch, so this isn’t a case of the quick rinse. No pictures of what I faced when I got there, but it wasn’t appetizing. In that first outing I scraped away the top layer of heron poop, feathers and pellets. Cleaning a boat is more like an excavation. Before we can sail her I have a couple more days of cleaning to do.

I’m trying to apply the term “good life” in two ways to my life on the water. I’m after enjoyment, but not at the expense of wildlife, or while degrading the marine environment. So I’m making an effort to do whatever needs to be done on our property, and with our things, in ways that have a positive effect on wildlife and the marine habitat. When that’s not possible, I at least try to choose methods that minimize the damage.

The crust on Nameless’ topsides was entirely organic, so the chunks were easily disposed of directly into the water. All the little microorganisms feasted. While I was doing the top Tom went around the hull and knocked off chunks of mussels. So we fed the starfish on the harbor floor as well.


Now though comes the real cleaning. A cementlike glaze of moss, algae, dirt, the omnipresent pollen and liquid excrement will only be dislodged by hard scrubbing.

Household cleaners, no matter the environmentally friendly messaging, are not what the doctor ordered for marine organisms. The labels of even the least toxic still say “may be harmful to aquatic life.” Plus, I know that sometime this season I’ll be forced to apply something nasty to this boat. Bottom paint or varnish or something. So, in my version of a cap and trade type policy, for the cleaning I’m using a combination of two old standbys, salt water and elbow grease.

Obviously, for this to qualify as enjoyment, I’ll only be scrubbing on sunny days.

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One Comment

  1. Nancy,

    This is Ried, an old friend of your dear son Jeremy. He and I have been keeping in light contact through Facebook and telephones recently, and many of our conversations center on travel, adventure, and sailing.

    He has told me that since his boat is not in use, you and Tom might need an occasional excuse to take it out, and it is now sparkle clean, I should bug you about teaching me to sail.

    In exchange, I can help with any maintenance and tell some good stories.

    Please let me know.


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