Yesterday was laundry day. The dryers here are a little slow, so I spent the entire day wandering around the boatyard in my laundry day clothes: a red long-sleeved t-shirt, a green fleece, a pink fleece, a black fleece (it was cold, I’m telling you), and a pair of black long-winter-underwear pants. And my formerly-white flip-flops. I admit, it was a grim picture. I must have talked to a dozen people over the course of the day. But did I get a single funny look? A raised eyebrow? A muffled snicker? I did not. Because this is how cruisers look.
I always get a kick out of ads for “cruising wear”. We limp into port after ten days at sea, smelly and tired and on a three-t-shirt rotation, and the welcome wagon appears with a guide to the area. The first thing I see is a full page glossy of two Barbie-like models, airbrushed to within an inch of their lives, wearing whites so bright I think I might have to put my sunglasses back on. But I can turn the page with a clear conscience – this advertisement was not meant for me. This ad was printed for people with a) taste, b) money, and c) regular access to washing facilities. In a phrase: charter boaters.
That’s fine. Full-time cruising isn’t an appropriate venue for fashion-platery. I am not here to win a beauty contest. (By mere virtue of the fact that I am both female and under 40, I already have a rarity value in the cruising community that even multiple fleeces and long winter underwear can’t erase.)
So just how bad is the fashion situation aboard s/v Papillon?
|What the man-about-town is wearing this season.|
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, Erik wore nice dress shirts to work. When we moved aboard, these shirts shifted to a “nice item to wear on land” status. As they wore down further, they became work shirts once again – physical work shirts. The good people at Brooks Brothers may be weeping into their mocha lattes to see what has become of their wares, but I think they should be proud of how well their fabric has lasted through years of sun, oil, dirt, and general gunk.
|I can explain.|
Your correspondent is elegantly attired in her ubiquitous black fleece, a pair of pvc overalls, and dirty flip-flops. Cruising ladies have two hair options – short and easy to manage, or long and easy to tie back. I am a dedicated type 2. I chose the overalls because the prospect of sitting in the gravel in my regular jeans was frankly unappealing. Are you sensing a theme here? Practicality is king. (Some of you may be wondering what I am doing. I am sewing colour-coded tabs of webbing onto the anchor chain, obviously! It makes it easy to tell how much chain we have let out. And I am doing it on the ground, because, when you are sewing on a boat, you take your machine to the job, and not the other way around.)
|And these are my clean pants.|
The kids are actually fairly fashionable, all things considered. The problem is, they are also permanently filthy. I swear, Indy had been wearing these pants for less than ten minutes when I took this photo. Twenty minutes later, the purple shirt was also caked in mud. Also not shown are her bare legs, which are mud-dipped, scabbed, and a general fright. The girls have learned to hose off before returning aboard (thank goodness for the Hand Washers), but still. They leave again, they get dirty again.
|Mud-and-soap cupcakes, anyone?|
Oh, how the mighty have fallen. My dear, self-named Stylish. Pants rolled up into a dirty, shapeless lump. Mud splatters from head to toe. Rapidly-fraying shirt. At least the smile is as cute as ever. As with Indy, this is the early-morning “clean” version of Stylish. By the end of the day, I could have stood their clothes up in the corner.
And there we stand. Sure, we will look a little better when we are out of the boatyard and back in the tropics, if only because it is hard to make a bathing suit look too terrible. But that’s okay. We’ll save our money for new seacocks, and leave the high fashion to others.