Shamed Into Doing Good

Living the Dream, But We Still Have to Clean

Doesn’t this look like an ad for a marine toilet? Talk about pristine. This is actually a photo of a real boat cat, Samantha, currently crew on Zero to Cruising’s catamaran, curled up behind their real head.  Mike and Rebecca have an exciting new cruising life planned and unfortunately, Samantha must sign on with a new captain and crew. This photo is one of many that  Mike shared when he introduced Able Ship’s Cat Samantha and her plight in his blog.(NOTE: If you don’t follow Zero to Cruising, you certainly should.)

My first thought upon seeing this photo was, “Damn! That head’s really clean! And white! Where’s the cat hair?  Water spots? Sand? General dirt? Does anyone really live here? We lived aboard with Jake, the nearly perfect Black Lab, and he never ventured into the head. Even so, the fixtures were adorned with dog hair, no matter how often I cleaned.

This photo reminded me of one of the many times I felt inadequate as a new live-aboard sailor. We had attended the Newport Boat Show and toured all the new boats looking for ideas.  Most boats at such shows have actually been used for a season, and sometimes the owners or brokers live aboard during the show. Even so, all were in pristine condition and every head looked brand spanking new each day the show opened. I made note of this and sighed. My boat never looks that clean.

P6010128-001Here’s our aft head after a major cleaning. Note that my boat is 27 years old, and the system is much harder to clean around. Samantha would not be comfortable with all those hoses, and neither are my fingers. This is as good as it gets. I’m not embarrassed by this photo, but I know that no one will ever look at any photo of La Luna and say, “Damn! That’s really clean!”

When we first moved aboard, EW worried that I would miss our brand new state-of-the-art dishwasher. I loved that dishwasher, but I left it behind without a whimper.

Leaving Connie was a whole other matter. Connie cleaned our home twice a month. She and her husband had sold their business and retired, but Connie loved to clean and wanted to make money to allow her to splurge on her grandkids. EW and I used to scheme to be the first to arrive home after the house had been “Connied”. The first person to open the door was able to inhale an aroma that shouted, “Clean Home!” in the same way Mike’s photo of Samantha in the head declares, “Clean Boat!”

I love seeing a pristine boat. I appreciate it, but I don’t live it. I just don’t. Boats need constant cleaning: inside and out, on deck and below the water-line, the steel, the fiberglass, the canvas, and the teak – it all needs to be kept clean. My mom talked about cleaning the house “top to bottom”. Boaters actually do that. Mom never cleaned the shingles of the roof, but we scrub the decks – our roof. My mom was a clean freak, bless her. I am most assuredly  not, but I have friends who are and who will go to great lengths to keep their boat in pristine condition. I love them, but I will not scrub my deck until I get Carpel Tunnel. We enjoy their company, but I will not use car wax on my interior fiberglass.

Who am I kidding? I don’t have any interior fiberglass. But if I had it, I wouldn’t wax it, believe me.

In the land home, B.C. – “Before Connie” – EW and I shared all cleaning duties. On the boat, we both tend to focus in certain areas, leaving some sections to fend for themselves or wait for a good rain storm. I do all the ‘household” cleaning below deck. EW had to wait through 25 years of marriage and move me onto a sailboat before I stopped expecting him to participate in weekly cleaning. He cleans below the water line, buffs the hull, has been known to vacuum in the engine room, and polishes the on-deck steel. Everything else gets done – or not – as time permits. I like having a clean boat and I sometimes plan how to make it pristine – but I don’t want to do that much work in paradise. Frankly, I'd much rather write about cleaning than actually do it.

Samantha, you are a lovely boat cat and I’d consider adopting you if I weren’t allergic to cats. Plus, I don’t think La Luna  would pass the black paw test. I can, however, recommend a couple of other boats that might work for you. Does the aroma of car wax bother you?


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Any chance you want to make another pet delivery to Boston? I am more of a mono-hull person - but would make an exception for that cat! Great post.

Lavinia Maggs

Haha! I thought the same thing when I first saw all those pictures of Samantha in ZYC's blog! Oh well... Now if they can just come up with something to eliminate all this dust ...!

Barb Hart

Lavinia, I'm so glad I wasn't the only one! My take on clean - no one is disgusted when they see the boat and no one ever gets sick from my cooking. So far I've passed those tests. Hugs!

Barb Hart

I thought of you, Sweetie. She is a super cat. Has only ever lived on a boat, so I'm not sure how she'd do on the dock. Hugs to you!

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