A clean getaway?

Some sailors claim to know all about showers in marinas the world over, but it won’t wash with Dave…

Here’s Dave’s latest column, published in the August 2015 issue of Practical Boat Owner magazine.

I’ve just returned from Lisbon. It’s in Portugal. The showers in the marina were fantastic.

Other than that there’s nothing much to say about this spectacular city which was home to Magellan, from which Henry the Navigator and Vasco da Gama embarked on their voyages of discovery, where Christopher Columbus anchored on his way back from finding the Americas and where I discovered an intimate little bar where beautiful Fado dancers whirled faster and faster into the giddy night.

Trouble is, I probably couldn’t find it again; but I know you’re interested in loftier matters, for the simple reason that there are really only four types of sailor.

We reveal ourselves the moment we step ashore. There’s the type that craves a shower first and a beer second, and ones who want a beer first and a shower second. This second type never actually gets around to having a shower.

The third type is called ‘women,’ but no one’s figured out what they want. Then there’s the fourth type, but we’ll get to him later.

In the meantime, the fact is that from Levington to Lymington to Le Havre there’s the same bloke getting into a lather in all the marina and yacht club shower blocks.

I couldn’t tell you if he has a female counterpart, but he’s the guy who, as he vigorously rubs himself down to the point where smoke and odd squeaking sounds rise from his nethers, says: ‘Third cubicle on the left, mate, you’ll get 40 seconds on the push-button; the others deliver 20 to 25 max, and the water pressure’s down’.

Related articles

We sailors all like a shower to cleanse ourselves of salty crust, but for many it borders on obsession. Tread the thick crested carpet of the Royal Off-Shore Cursing Club bar and the fantastic tales of far-flung and exotic lands broaden your horizons.

All you have to do is listen and learn: ‘Antigua, old boy, best showers n Caribbean’. As for Martha’s Vineyard, ‘Frankly disappointing, merely tepid after 2pm, shan’t go there again,’ and then there’s the Galapagos Islands: ‘Need to do something about the water pressure if they expect people to visit. Bally big tortoises apparently; didn’t see ’em’.

In fact, this fount of all shower wisdom might actually be one and the same bloke, ‘cos there’s no doubt he gets about a bit and I’m sure you’ve met him on countless occasions.

He’s the shower shaman, the guru of gush. He knows, for example, that in a particular shower in Monte Carlo you can make savings by using casino chips, if you file them down in a certain way.

In other cases, tokens bought in one marina provide better value in another, but where unfortunately the soap is diluted. Others are completely free, and in a particular spot on the East Coast which used to be a naval training base, they have officers’ baths the size of wave tanks.

There’s also one somewhere in which six of the 10 cubicles have calcium build-up in their shower heads. This is all vital cruising advice, and the shower shaman, who’s working on a patent for a device to hold in the spring- loaded shower buttons so you don’t have to lean against them to shower, has also approached the RYA to sponsor a book that he’s sure will be a million seller: ‘SUDS: The Sailor’s Ultimate Directory to Showers of the World – new edition, now with star ratings!’

Frankly I wouldn’t bother splashing out on a copy, ‘cos it sounds like a load of old flannel and it’s all a bit OSD – that’s Obsessive Shower Disorder – but then we sailors all have a touch of that.

I’ve been marina-bound and have taken five showers in a day ‘cos at some places there’s nothing else to do, and if the water’s free you’ve just gotta go for it.

Serious cruising sailors know even better how to optimise resources, and can often be heard in shower cubicles dancing hornpipes on crusty cruising chutes, clothes, sheets (that’s ropes and bed linen), warps, fenders, standing and running rigging, and anchor chain. Long-term liveaboards draw the line at washing themselves, their clothes and sheets (bed linen, that is).

That about covers it, apart from the fourth kind of sailor: me. I’ve just spent £5 at a boat jumble on a ‘solar shower’. This is a fancy name for a black plastic bag with a shower nozzle.

It means I can avoid all the weirdness that goes on in showers and, best of all, I can take a shower while drinking a beer in the cockpit of my Sailfish.

Bliss, basically. I have some of my biggest thoughts in the shower, and that set me thinking. Is it a bloke thing, or are women just as weird?