The closest I get to fashion these days is picking through discarded Marie Claire mags at the cruisers book exchange in the marinas. Their pages show exotic locations and safely fake bronzed waifs in flowing sundresses, not a hint of perspiration. I flip through the pages and marvel at a world that’s so far removed from mine.
I have never been much of a fashionista, but even I, have to admit that boat life does not lend itself to high style or anything beyond basic hygiene for that matter.
The last pedicure I had, a distant memory on land. My toenails are now a chipped and scuffed mess of decaying polish and scars from tripping over hatches and off of dinghys. Not to mention the blisters spotted around my feet from hikes...
Shaving is another casualty of the ‘lifestyle’. Whether and when it happens is now dictated by a convergence of all of the following: time, energy, availability of water and razors. It is a rare occurrence.
Make up… ha! Not that I’ve ever been one for much of it, here it just seems frivolous and not on the ‘getting ready routine’. Stops in the head (washroom) on the way out are for confirming the hatches are closed and the pump toilet is set to ‘drain’ instead of ‘fill’. The mascara and blush are melting slowly in a dollar store case I bought before we arrived. Just the thought of it makes me think salt splash on dinghy, burning eyes, rubbing messy black goo… far from a vision of loveliness.
And that cute summer set of wedge heels with the leather flower in front that I imagined wearing with little summer dresses – well they would probably lead to a broken ankle or a near death experience – now that I know the terrain of life on a boat. I’ve given them up, dumped in a rough fiberglass ‘cupboard’, replaced by flip flops, crocs and my soleless boat shoes (little beaded foot necklace).
I am amazed and in awe when we arrive at an evening venue here and some ladies arrive with shiny clean hair, fresh faces and against all odds, smooth clean clothes.
I don’t own an iron (not that we could afford the energy to run one if we did), and the act of washing is a mission in itself. Get all the dirties in a laundry bag, then cover it with a waterproof bag, dinghy to a marina, get tokens, wait through both cycles, roughly fold and haul it all back to the boat without getting wet and salty again. Most of the time our clothes are hanging around the edges of the boat, airing or drying, pinched by pegs and as wrinkled as an elephant’s skin. If we manage to find something semi-clean to throw on then we’re peachy.
Both JW and I have our pseudo-safari retirement holiday floppy hats to avoid the piercing sun, and the last time my hair was clean enough and not knotted or salt caked, was weeks ago when we had marina hot showers. It spends most of it’s time wound up, clipped up or tied up. Away from my hot shoulders and not blowing in the unforgiving wind.
We have definitely sacrificed fashion for function. And in a way, I haven’t felt more fresh and alive, and therefore beautiful in ages.