Thursday, January 20, 2011

everyday life: winter bathing

Saying winter bathing and everyday is misleading. It's far less infrequent than that, but we won't go there at this point. I wanted to share HOW we manage getting the crew smelling flowery fresh on these cold days.

The issue is water supply. We have two 70-ish gallon water tanks on board. In the warm months we can refill these easily and endlessly from the hose on the dock. But the marina turns off the dock water in the winter to prevent pipes from bursting and so getting water to the boat is a cold, wet, tiring chore that involves miles of hose strung from a building up the hill... it's not fun. So we're even more careful than usual with our water consumption, which means no bathing on board. Also the wee corners of the boat (where the bathing happens to take place) are harder to heat, so it's not a pleasant prospect anyhow to be wet and cold.

So we trudge up to the marina showers. I wrote about this last year. But the trip has taken on a whole new dynamic with a wiggly wee baby in arms. The packing for the trip has doubled (how do babies do that - double your load when they are so small?), and my husband looks like he's heading off for a 2-day trip with all that stuff rather than a mere shower. Towels for all, shampoos and lotions and potions, clean clothes, diapers, wipes, whatever odds and ends Zach insists on bringing with to entertain himself.
It's a short walk on a balmy 30-something degree afternoon like this with no snow. And our marina recently remodeled their bath house so it's quite nice all around once you're there (marina bath houses in general when you travel can be sketchy, so we're grateful for this!)
Naia gets to go first. And we've come up with a very high tech way to accomodate the bathing needs of this little one... a plastic storage container from the hardware store.
We sometimes leave it near the bath house and sometimes bring it back to the boat depending on how full our arms are, hence the nifty label. She gets a nice little warm tubby of water to play around in, though not being able to sit up quite yet, she mostly gets floated around in it and held up gently. We are always sure to get her head and face wet often so she gets used to the sensation. Learning to swim is the one thing we're pretty hard core about in this family for obvious reasons. Zach started at 6 months (and was a very early swimmer) in earnest and so will Naia, but bath time is early swim conditioning if you will.
Daddy goes next while I get Naia ready with dipes and lotion and jammies and nursing. All the while Zach is keeping himself busy some way or another, last night he was shooting blowgun darts (bamboo skewers from a homeschool Native America craft class) at the vents in the shower room.
If Naia doesn't fall asleep nursing, I start in on the singing. The girl LOVES singing and will sing along (howling like a little critter) when anyone sings (we first discovered this when she was 2 months old at a birthday party when she went crazy during the birthday song). Her current favorite is ABBA. I sing Dancing Queen over and over again and she lights up and howls and giggles until she passes out. Party girl.
Then I get to shower while daddy holds Naia and then last Zach goes in. Lately he's insisted that he can fit in Naia's tub. All legs and practically bursting the thing in two, he folds himself in there.
By the time we all get dressed, clean whatever messes we've made in the shower room, pack up, and then walk back to the boat, it's been at least 90 minutes or so. The day is ending. The crew is tired and hungry. But we all smell better. And that's what counts.
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17 comments:

Kim said...

Cindy! I thought this was you.

I'm so happy that I've found your blog! You do lead an interesting, un-conventional life and you're a great writer.

Lynda Halliger-Otvos said...

Improvisation is the name of the live-aboard game. I loved it when my daughter was small-she was 16 months old when we moved offshore; just learning to walk !~! Bathtime was a lovely time for us together under a 2-1/2 gal warm water shower.

eidolons said...

Another singing baby! And here I thought my little Beast was just strange. (:

Joy said...

Wow. That's all I can say. I don't even stay in the bathroom with mine anymore, just help wash hair and go fold laundry or something while they wash their bodies and play for a few minutes. The winter bathing (especially with little ones in tow) is not for the faint of heart, is it? You guys have such a great attitude about the whole thing though. :)

Diane, Evan and Maia said...

Oh, I don't miss those chilly showers! Maia pretty much gave up bathing while coming down the coast last year. The bath houses were rarely heated and the water seldom got past tepid. I loved this summer when our tank water came out at the perfect temp for bathing. Looking forward to that again...

mb said...

such a great peek into the life. i love that naia is into abba! haha.

Erin J said...

Wow, the water issue would be difficult for me to take. And the bath house too. When we have to wash the family in a public shower while camping, let me say I do not have the desire to do it again very soon.

However, the plastic tub looked quite familiar! I knew in the very first picture what it was for because we used one for the same purpose when my daughter was a baby.

Anna said...

Wow, it had never occurred to me how difficult bathing in winter on a boat would be. Thank you for sharing this with us. It definitely isn't for the faint of heart is it?!

Genny'sMom said...

Wow, if you don't smell, you don't shower, huh? Or maybe that's just what I would do... ;)

Charlotte said...

So nice to know that I'm not the only one who feels like she's juggling a three-ring circus when she showers. If only we had communal showers here. It would make things a lot easier!

Lily Boot said...

You're right - it has taken on a whole new dimension with Naia! But it sounds like you are getting down to a fine art. I love that Naia sings - don't babies make funny sounds - when I sang, Abby grunted. Very tuneful. Did I ever tell you about the time we were sailing for 2 weeks and after several days of dreadful weather - picture no sun at all, constant rain, 2.5 metre swell, 35 knot winds and finally having to navigate into harbour by gps - we finally docked at Hamilton Island, all rushed up to the bathrooms wet and cold - as had everyone else in the Whitsundays - and by the time I got into the shower - cold water only. I wept. Sending you longer warmer days - I really am! :-)

Sarah said...

Sounds so familiar. My little one pretty much got a bath once a week at best. When she was wee we boiled a pot of water and bathed her on board. Once she was standing she would come in the shower with me (not that she liked it), but there were some difficult months in between when she was mostly just dirty.

MaggieO said...

This is such a fun glimpse into a different life! Thanks for taking the time to show it to us. :)

Kerry said...

Wow! That really is a gorgeous bath house! Much nicer than I've ever seen. That really would make a world of difference.

ellen said...

140 gallons! We have less than 20! Unbelievable. I'm jealous- but I must say, if we can have dock water (granted, it's tied under the water and we pull it up to hook up, or use a heated hose) in Boston, Annapolis is capable of providing! Your bathhouse antics are so familiar. A true juggling act.

Pea said...

Wow - you just don't necessarily think of these things when yearning for a more simple life - although I have gone through similar on land.

Earth Mama said...

That is quite an adventure I must say, but it sounds like a very bonding, cooperative and family full one. I bet you don't have showering a part of your everyday though, which is another plus of it being so tricky!

:)Lisa

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