Thursday, August 9, 2012

And Yet Another Post About Laundry

If you have been following our blog since its inception, you are well aware of our laundry woes.  Back in Chicago, we did our laundry in a contraption operated by a hand crank that Krissy referred to as the "butter churn."  In Kentucky, we had a washer and dryer combo in our basement, which was great, but we left that convenience behind with land-based life when we moved aboard Sea Gem.

Over the past year, we have primarily been collecting quarters to do our laundry in the Marina's laundry machines.  This worked well enough for awhile, as the inconvenience of getting quarters, battling for empty machines, and hauling our laundry back and forth from the laundry room, was bearable so long as we didn't have to do laundry more than once every couple weeks.  We also sent our laundry out once using a service that comes right to the boat for pick-ups and deliveries, and that was very pleasant (perhaps decadent is the word).  However, as you might imagine, it was expensive, and it required that we be without our clothes for a few days.

Despite these downsides, we were doing alright on the laundry front--until Helina came along.  Helina, somehow, generates at least triple her volume in dirty laundry every few hours.  We can no longer wait two weeks to do our laundry, but rather have to do it at least every two days.  Collecting quarters and running laundry back and forth from the machines (and often arriving to find that all the machines are full) simply does not work for us anymore.  And sending laundry out with the required frequency would bankrupt us.  And so we needed, yet again, to find a new method for doing our laundry.

Sea Gem arrived from the factory (in 1986) with a European-style combination washer and dryer (a "Comb-o-matic").  That is, a single machine both washes and dries the clothes.  On its face, this would appear to be an obvious solution to our laundry woes.  Surely you are wondering why we would have ever lugged our laundry to the coin-operated machines when we had a machine right inside our boat?

The answer is that we were scared to use it.  You see, when Gulfstar built Sea Gem in 1986, they opted to build the boat around the washer/dryer.  The unit is neatly nestled inside a cabinet, which looks nice and tidy, but it is completely encapsulated on all sides except the front:

Front Access to Comb-o-matic
Back of Comb-o-matic Protruding into Nursery
How, then, do you check the hoses for leaks?  Or clean the dryer vent or lint filter (which is on the back of the machine for some reason)?  You can't, and because we did not want to start a flood or fire, we simply didn't use the machine.  Sea Gem's former owners similarly explained that they did not know how to clear the dryer vent and hardly ever used the machine.  And so the Comb-o-matic continued to sit unused (with the exception of infrequent Dryel emergencies).

Once Helina came along and it became apparent that we really needed to be able to use a laundry machine on the boat, I decided to put some effort into figuring out how to safely use the one we already have.  My solution was to cut a hole into the cabinetry behind the machine to be able to access the vent hose, lint trap, water hoses, and everything else located behind the machine that needs to be serviced:

Access Hole
Instead of leaving an ugly, gaping hole in the cabinetry (which is right next to Helina's bed), I installed an attractive teak cover that can be easily removed to service the machine.  (As you can see, the stain does not match right now--a project for another day.):

Teak Access Cover
Over the past week, we have been washing and drying one load a day (sometimes two), and have finally been able to clean clothes at the same pace that Helina soils them.  What's more, the Comb-o-matic in our boat is perhaps even more convenient than the separate washer and dryer we had in our basement in Kentucky.  First, we don't have to haul our clothes to and from the basement.  We simply walk them a few steps through our boat.  Second, we don't have to move clothes from the washer to the dryer.  What was once a two-step process now takes only one: throw the clothes in the machine, and when the machine stops, they are both clean and dry. 

Downsides?  So far, only one.  Because the machine spins clothes at a very high speed to wring the water out and enable the dryer to work more efficiently, the spin cycle sounds more or less like a jackhammer.  (I have looked into it, and this is a common complaint.)  So, for a couple minutes per load, we can't hear ourselves think.  But, compared to the butter churn, how far we have come...


  1. Well done :) Children really do make a mountain of dirty laundry! On the bright side the loud noise will probably help condition Helina to sleep through other loud noises. Tesla provided the noise for Chloe and Chloe in turn helped Penny learn to ignore loud things.

  2. Ryan, your prediction is exactly right! The other day, she was crying her head off, and then the machine went into jack-hammer mode...she was instantly silent :)

  3. Excellent post! I must thank you for this informative read. I hope you will post again soon.Laundry Machine Manufacturers In Hyderabad