Divide and conquer: boat chores!

posted in: Boat Life, Maintenance | 0

Mary Poppins says that a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.

In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun
You find the fun and snap, the job’s a game
And every task you undertake becomes a piece of cake
A lark, a spree, it’s very clear to see

Yeah. She’s never tried cleaning up a sailboat, has she?

Cleaning up one part of the boat usually requires making a disaster out of another part. For example, we want to wipe down the bilge? Well, we’ve got to put all of the food stored in the bilge somewhere else. Usually in a pile on the floor, making an interesting obstacle course for anyone going from the companionway to the v-berth. Cleaning the water filters? We have to empty out the lazarette of two kayaks, a spinnaker and two inflatable paddle boards to access it. Where do those go? In another pile, of course! But if you’re already living the boat life, I’m preaching to the choir!

When it comes time to creating our to-do list, there are some chores we do together (four hands are often better than two) and others, we divide and conquer. Together we’ll tackle scrubbing the hull (it’s great practice for free diving!), cleaning the deck, replacing nuts, bolts and other things that seem to come loose at the inconvenient times!

Jose usually takes care of the “gross” stuff – cleaning out filters of all sorts (which usually involves a lecture on hair in the drain…oops!), greasing parts in the head, and any mechanical or electrical maintenance so we can move from place to place safely. Unfortunately, sometimes this can be extremely physically demanding work.

I tend to take over any project requiring Tetris-like organizational skills – cleaning the bilge, reorganizing provisions as they get used, organizing the tool boxes and spare parts, and anything involving “boat aesthetics”: scrubbing cushions, oiling the teak, polishing the stainless steel…and of course prepping our hard earned post-chore cocktails!


Do you divide chores at home or on your boat? If so, who does what?