Cruising: Living without Hot Water & Coleman Solar Shower

I knew we wouldn’t have hot water right away when we moved on the boat. I didn’t think it would be a very big deal, because um… tropics? Hello? We’ll shower in the rain and dance naked on the deck. Well, maybe not naked, because there are kids here who would be traumatized for life if they saw their parents dancing naked on the deck. Oh, and maybe no dancing, because soap +water + deck = slippery as hell!

Anyway, who cares, though, because we’re going to be swimming like fish. Do fish take showers? NO THEY DO NOT! So who cares if we have hot water? We don’t need no stinkin’ hot water.

Then we spent numerous weeks at marinas with showers, so we barely even noticed that we didn’t have hot showers on the boat.

Then. Cold.

Freaking COLD.

Damn it.



Yeah, I’m talking hoodie wearing, shivering, curled up to share body heat on the dinghy kinda cold. Yay.

BUT, its cold, right? Who needs showers when its cold? Surely we aren’t sweating, so we can’t be smelly…

Ummm. Ever live on a boat with 4 teenagers/young adults? How about adding two MORE young adults? Hmmm. We need showers.

Finally someone decided that braving cold showers wouldn’t be that bad.

Have you ever had an ice cold shower when its already cold and damp outside? Holy shitballs, it really really sucks. It not only sucks in the moment, but it sucks for a long while afterwards as your body tries to warm itself back up, all the while your mind is screaming, “I’M SORRY! I WON’T EVER MAKE SMELL OR OIL AGAIN! PLEASE LOVE ME!”

So… long story short, yesterday, after almost 12 full days of no showers, I hit my limit. Not only had we not had access to hot showers for 11 1/2 days, but there was no hope for showers and the water was still too cold outside as well. We were getting ready to leave for the Bahamas and I felt like I had an inch deep layer of sweat and grime on me, especially my hair.

I finally told Patrick that I was going to just shave my head. I couldn’t handle the greasy hair for another minute.

Suddenly he remembered/found the shower bag that was on the boat.

A new hope was dawning!


This little 5 gallon bag didn’t have much time to heat up, lying out on the deck for even a couple of hours got it to a nice, tolerably warm temperature. It also helped that it was 75 degrees outside with barely any wind!

While my shower bag was basking in the sun, I went to gather my shampoo, soap, clean clothes and all of that decadent stuff.

Notice anything wrong with the shampoo? (If you don’t catch it, don’t feel bad, its hard to see in the photo. I obviously don’t ever catch it, even in person, because this is the second HUGE bottle of CONDITIONER that I’ve bought when I intended to buy shampoo. I don’t even USE conditioner.)


So instead I gathered baking soda and vinegar. Good enough.

Patrick left to go get the kids and I thought, “Ahhhh, I’m ALONE. I can go have a shower in peace!” Granted, I was having a shower on my back deck in view of other boats, but since I don’t know them/can’t really see/hear them, I don’t really care.


I took my soapy things and headed for the swim platform. “I’m ALONE. What if the deck gets slippery with soap and I fall off, knocking myself unconscious and drown? The kids will come back to find my lifeless body floating around with clean hair. ALL FOR VANITY!” My brain is a tiny bit morbid at times. I guess I decided that cleanliness was worth the chance of death, because my hair is clean as I type this.


The swim platform always seems SO far down!


I have to admit that it took me far too long to figure out how to get the water to actually start flowing. There aren’t even that many parts to be confused by, and yet… It seriously took me a long time to figure out that you just pull down on the red shower head thing to get it to start, and to be perfectly honest, I didn’t really “figure it out” as much as I gave up and decided just to remove the stupid thing altogether. Yeah. Braniac over here.

I stepped down onto the swim platform carefully (that whole slip and die thing in the back of my mind). I was also very VERY careful not to get baking soda or vinegar in my eyes after reading this cruiser’s account of her traumatic experience. It felt SO amazing to feel my hair getting clean. Then I just washed off under my nice baggy clothes (nope, not going to see me showering naked on the deck of my boat, its not going to happen) and went back inside to change.

HOLY CRAP. This thing saved my sanity. The warm water felt totally freaking divine. I didn’t even use the whole 5 gallons of water, thinking that the girls might want to have a bit of a rinse off when they came home.

I’m sold. I want to find another one of these to keep as a back up until Patrick gets his water heater-beast built.