The live-aboard’s greatest enemy

On Saturday I was in the middle of a sweaty uncomfortable boat chore and needed a break. I made myself a coffee and sat down with the laptop to check emails and catch up on the few blogs I follow. I laughed out loud when I read artofhookie, for it appeared that Alan, aboard Sookie, far away in the Pacific Northwest, was doing exactly the same as me! No matter if you live on your boat in the rainy northwest coast of North America or the arid northern Mediterranean coast of Spain, damp is your enemy.

Contorted into a tight corner to attack the mildew!

Contorted into a tight corner to attack the mildew!

Two years ago, when we sailed in Ireland in the wettest summer on record, we fought an ongoing battle with mould. Freshly laundered clothes turned stinky and mouldy within days of being put away. Since first moving aboard, we have kept t-shirts, shirts and other ‘foldables’ in damp-proof zip bags, with condensation attracting cedar balls inside. That system seems to work. But we can’t fit all of our clothes in those bags. So we hang dresses, trousers, jumpers and cardigans in our hanging lockers. It was those, along with our shoes, that suffered most in Ireland that summer. Since then I’ve become better at dealing with the mould issues, but there are still occasional surprises when one of us pulls out a piece of clothing that hasn’t been worn for a while, as Julian did this week with a pair of jeans.

It goes without saying that we live in a salty environment, and saltiness attracts moisture. Carina’s nooks and crannies turn black and mildewed, and it is a constant battle to keep them clean. Our ceilings and upper parts of the walls in our bedrooms and heads are covered in cream-coloured vinyl,  which takes on a black hue as the weeks go by. Our hanging lockers are painted fibreglass, and they too take on the swirls and blotches of mildew.

We take steps to avoid damp and the build up of condensation by regularly opening and airing lockers and, on these autumn evenings, closing the hatches before night falls so the evening dew stays out.

In late June I thoroughly cleaned the forecabin (Lily and Katie’s bedroom), so I was surprised when I tackled it again on Saturday to discover how mouldy it had become. After all, with the exception of Ilha de Culatra, the air has felt dry all summer, and Carina’s seating and bedding hasn’t felt damp, as it has done in previous years. The nine days we spent in Culatra were damp, damp, damp and, despite the excessive heat, clothing hung out to dry never fully dried. Once we left Culatra the boat dried out pretty quickly, but the mould continued to grow.

Carina gets mouldy despite these blue skies every day.

Carina gets mouldy despite these deep blue skies every day at her winter home.

So, on Saturday morning I tackled the girl’s bedroom. Rubber gloves, old toothbrush, warm sudsy water, disinfectant, and wet and dry cloths. It was a hot day and in the cramped confines of the fore cabin I was soon sweating profusely (or ‘glowing’…isn’t that what we ‘ladies’ do?). Everything had to be moved out of the cabin or over to one side, then scrub scrub scrub with the toothbrush. When the port side was dry, I replaced everything, and then started on starboard. I hate most household chores, but this was particularly draining.

Still, I got it done. The cabin looks clean and I’m happy the girls are sleeping in a mould-free bedroom again. A few days ago, Julian de-moulded the saloon and galley. That just leaves the aft cabin, quarter berth, both heads and all the hanging lockers. Roll on next Saturday when I can get the rubber gloves and toothbrush out again!


Great Friday

The interior of Carina has been cleaned from top to bottom, clothes and food have been put away, there’s banana bread baking in the oven, and I’m waiting for a phone call from two of my oldest friends to tell me they’re on the train to Plymouth. It’s not a good Friday, it’s a great Friday!

8am this morning...the view from the cockpit.

8am this morning…the view from the cockpit.

Lily and Katie have gone to visit their Grandma for a few days, so Julian and I could pack up the house and get Carina ready for us to move aboard. We borrowed my mother-in-law’s car, loaded about half the stuff we want to bring aboard, and drove down to Plymouth on Wednesday morning. Julian drove back up to his mum’s yesterday, leaving me with a boat to clean and bags and boxes to unpack.

So here I am, 24 hours later, and I haven’t done too badly! After a winter uninhabited, mould was my biggest enemy on Carina. However, compared to the challenge I faced when we first move aboard back in 2012, this was easy. We put moisture traps in all the cabins over winter, and Julian replaced them regularly. They’ve really done the trick, and removing mould from the head-lining didn’t take too long. It simply involved contorting my body into nooks and crannies, reaching farther than I thought I could possibly reach, and trying to avoid banging my head every five minutes. Thank you to my wonderful yoga teacher at Exeter University this year, for bringing me back to my old bendiness again!!

In Larkin’s pub, at home in Edenderry over New Year, I suggested to my friends Iseult and Angela that they come stay on the boat sometime in April. I’ve known these two chicas since we were all four, when we all started school in September 1977. About a decade ago we started having annual weekends away, but it hasn’t happened for a few years. So I’m very excited to get three whole days with them, to introduce them to my new home, and show them some of the wonderful sights around Plymouth. Having visitors always provides the impetus to get my home clean and tidy, so Carina’s looking especially shiny this morning!

So now I’m just waiting for a phone call to say their plane from Ireland has arrived and they’re on the train to Plymouth. Then I’ll go meet them for a weekend of good food, good wine and, most importantly, good conversation.