It Takes a Village…

…to do the laundry.

There’s a set of tasks common to cruising, power or sail. Fueling, watering, dewasting, provisioning all tend to be singular tasks, and for the most part, in developed areas, there is seldom competition for the resource. I can’t remember a cruiser every coming over for a chat while waiting for a fuel, water or waste hose (especially not the latter). Occasionally, there will be some shared use of a marina courtesy car to run out and fetch supplies, but even that is rare (as courtesy cars are vanishing in favor of pick me up rentals).

Laundry is a different kettle of clothes. If a marina has washers and driers, they tend to be centrally co-located. They tend to be the province of women, and the social commerce tends to the Venusian. My own most recent session at a marina laundry stood in contrast to Janet’s. While I laundered, the conversation (started by the other party, I tend to stop after Good Morning) opened with how much, how long and hot, then moved on to destination oriented content, usually finishing with do you have a way my husband/partner can contact you if he has questions?


May I borrow a cup of gravel?

Janet’s conversations — initiated through spontaneous multi-party dialog tend to start with how much, how long, how hot, and is this your sock, towel, etc.* From there the conversation moves on to a marine oriented version of the conversations that started when the first women slapped the first animal skins & homespun on the first rock downstream of the first village water supply.

laundry then

Leave it to the Romans

The technologies have been added to — there’s still rock slapping out there — but the essence of gathering for the task and communicating and commiserating is probably older than war by a day or two at least.

It is absolutely amazing the intelligence information Janet acquires from people who would not otherwise have talked to each other in their land lives — almost every conversation includes something like, “well the machine I had/have at home… ”            Communication

These conversations also move to a sharing depth normally seen in longer more established relationships. We are hardwired to share our troubles — it’s how we keep them from destroying us. I suppose the laundry has always been a form of therapy session where new ears can hear new stories and humanity is preserved. And because of cruiser mobility, old stories don’t become so old they chafe empathy.

It isn’t exclusively domestic and is surprisingly personal conversation. We’ve garnered a lot of useful navigation information from Janet’s recountings. Sometimes it’s lots of information. Yesterday, three pillow cases of laundry took three hours to deal with. It’s always the wait for resource; the number of washers is set by room size or average demand (not peak), and the driers having been set (or weakened) to the point they won’t damage any clothing. Three hours.


Don’t think we’d want to be in a marina big enough to need this.

We’ve also noticed a conversational difference based on price. There are places where the laundry facility is free (and not junk†) — lots of conversation here. There are places where the laundry cost $5 US to wash a load and the same to dry (and more if towels are involved). Conversation here tends to focus on irritation with the price, at least before moving on to village intelligence sharing.

I know we set up beach bashes and potlucks, and other more formal information sharing events, but I think the cruising village may communicate more emotionally and persistently while getting the laundry done.

*We have noticed cruisers are more respectful of unattended laundry and orphan items.

†And so many units we collectively used their tops as the serving area for Christmas and Memorial Day buffets.

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