#BoatFail – 5 Kitchen and Bath Fails

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We don’t take purchases lightly.

We have a strict “Buy 1, Get Rid of 1” rule in this boat.  Want that cute new shirt?  Which one are you going to get rid of if you buy it?  New shampoo?  Your bottle is not empty yet – put it back on the shelf.  New wrench for current boat project?  We have one at the condo – so drive over and get it, instead of running to the hardware store to save 3 minutes… So a lot of research goes into pretty much anything that we buy.  In fact, most things need to have at least 2 uses, or at a minimum – be space savers. All things have to “work” on a boat.  Here are some of the things we’ve bought and tried to use on the boat.  They’ve basically just been a waste of money.  Maybe this post can save you some cashola – and I’ll tell you what worked in the end, if I’ve found a solution…

#BoatFail 1 – Perculator/Coffee Makers:  We had an espresso/cappuccino/latte maker at the condo.  And I’ll admit we’ve become quasi-coffee snobs ever since spending a few months in Europe years ago.  We love our coffee.  But we could justify neither the space nor the electricity that the machine we had requires.  So we sold it. That started our journey through Coffee Maker Land.  I started with the percolator.  I remembered my grandparents using one forever.  And we’d used one camping.  The up side is that it produces an entire pot of coffee in one go. But it’s not delicious.  Neither was the Stovetop Espresso Maker, or the Pour Over method with the fancy little ceramic cup thing that holds a coffee filter.  What did work?  The French Press.  You boil water, pour it over the coffee, let it sit 6 minutes, then push the plunger.  No coffee filters.  Very little grain in  your coffee.  And the best part?  It’s delicious!  The down side?  I bought the biggest one I could find at Home Goods, and it only makes approximately 3 cups of coffee at a time.  We have to make a couple of rounds each morning, especially if we are under way.  But we just put it into a Thermos and we’ve got good, hot coffee for a bit.  While none of the options were particularly expensive, they certainly did not provide what we were looking for – and in the end were a waste of money.


leaky food containers on Vimeo.

#BoatFail 2 -Leaky Food Storage Containers:  Food storage on the boat is tricky.  Space is an issue, for sure. But also air/humidity getting into your container can quickly ruin your entire purchase.  Not to mention a leaky container making a giant mess in your deep, awkward fridge.  I don’t really like plastic, but can’t store glass containers safely or efficiently, since they don’t nest. Fortunately there are several BPA-free options on the market – and I’m careful not to put hot foods into them, in the hopes that there’s less toxic garbage getting into our foods.  But, alas, you get what you pay for and Sistema brand containers are HORRIBLE.  They may look the same, with their little brightly colored gaskets and locking sides, but they leak EVERYWHERE.  They just ended up in the trash – not even worth using for some sort of tool storage/organization.  I’ve found 2 brands that work great – Lock and Lock and Snapware.  These guys can be expensive.  I’ve found the best deals on L&L at TJMaxx and the Snapware on Walmart.com  Sterilite have been pretty good too, but are more hit and miss.  Don’t even get me started on round containers – of any brand.  Let’s just say I learned that squares/rectangles create WAY less wasted space.  FYI – I also try to only buy stacking/nesting containers.  But the majority of them always have something in them, as they’ve pretty much become my “pantry”.
#BoatFail 3 – Stacking baskets in the fridge:  So. Many. Baskets. This little mystery is still being unraveled.  As I mentioned above, the fridge is deep and awkward.  And I’m short.  I have to stand on the bench in front of the galley and lean way over just to almost reach the bottom of the fridge.  Stuff that goes in needs to be somewhat organized and definitely contained.  But I can’t just have a fridge full of Lock and Locks.  So I’ve tried various configurations of various stacking baskets/containers in order to categorize the foods and just pull out what I need.  Just like a land based house, I can’t stand around with the lid open and wonder what’s in there.  I also want baskets that have holes in them for air flow – that’s the only way you can keep everything cold enough to prevent food borne illnesses.  And I’m pretty sure that every boat that has a refrigerator has a different solution for this.  I’m close to solving the mystery, but in the meantime, I have waaaay too many Dollar Store baskets…

#BoatFail 4 –
Big, beautiful, fluffy towels: A year or so into boat ownership, when we knew we were in love with living on the boat, I bit the bullet and bought a set of new towels.  No holes.  No bleach spots.  No stains.  Nothing but new, soft, fluffy goodness.  Guess what?  6 months later, I realized that they were never really dry.  And if they won’t dry in Savannah, they won’t dry in the Caribbean.  I started researching and had some “Turkish Towels” in an online shopping cart.  They are fast drying and come in several color options – both bright and neutral.  I did one more internet search, just before hitting the Buy button – and ran across a blog post over on It’s a Necessity. (crazy timing!)  And again, I almost sealed the deal with that Buy button.  But I’m super-frugal.  So, even though it was a long-shot, I went to TJ Maxx.  And guess what I found?  Yep, 2 versions of Turkish towels.  I grabbed one of the more traditional style, and then 1 that was traditional on one side, and thin terry cloth on the other side.  These were all a fraction of the cost of the towels I found on Amazon.  And they were well worth the cost.  After about a week trial, I was at another TJ Maxx and picked up 3 more.  Now we’ve each got 2 of the terry cloth backed version.  We’re loving them.  They dry us off really well and then dry very quickly.  I use the non-terry cloth towel at the pool/beach, and it will definitely have a place on the boat.  And while it is very versatile, it really doesn’t dry us off as well as the combo version. I even grabbed some “hand towels” to use as kitchen towels. I am really happy with what we ended up with – and so is our daughter, as she’ll get those big, fluffy, beautiful towels.
Before – sprayer was on left, handle was on right
#BoatFail 5Residential Shower Handles: Ok, this is not really a fail, because we eventually found a work-around.  On Luna Sea the sink handles turn into shower sprayers.  So if you want to take a shower, you go into one of the heads (aka bathrooms) and pull out the sink handle to spray water all over yourself.  Then you turn off the water, lather up, turn the water back on and rinse, then put the handle back.  It’s a pretty common boat method.  BUT.  Our handles were getting pretty shoddy.  The water would just trickle out in some areas and then pressure wash you in others.  Showering on a boat is already a challenge.  It was time to do something.  The down side is that the Beneteau replacement shower handles were anywhere from $200 to $400.  And we have 3, if you count the galley.  Mark found attractive handles that would fit our sinks at Home Depot for $80 each.  That’s a huge savings, right?  He found 3 of them (I believe he actually had to order 2 online, since the store only had one in stock).  They were so pretty.  Unfortunately, the Kitchen Sink Faucet Designers didn’t realize we would be pulling them out of their bases and holding them over heads…  The hoses were way too short. (That’s what she said!)  We could pull them out, but then had to basically lean over the sink to wash/rinse.  The solution turned out to be fairly simple.  Mark removed one and took it to a local company that made longer hoses – specifically to our desired length, and Viola!  Perfect showers for an additional $20.
After – Sprayer/knob combo allowed soap dispenser addition!
Here’s my question for you – did you buy things that were just a waste of money?  Did you find solutions?  Are you in a spacially-challenged home and able to find work-arounds that don’t break the bank?  Let me know in the comments.  I’m always looking for solutions!
10 Comments
  • The Cynical Sailor

    Reply

    You sound exactly like us with the French Press. Always have to make two rounds, sometimes three and get the thermos loaded up if we're going to be underway. I am thinking of buying a spare one because if ours broke then life would not be worth living on our boat. You would probably hear our screams of anguish miles and miles away. It wouldn't be pretty 🙂

  • Sailing LunaSea

    Reply

    I've thought of trying the Aeropress, since it's not glass, for exactly that reason. But I'm happy with the French press. Maybe I'll buy a back up, too – while we are still conveniently close to Home Goods,etc. Good plan!

  • s/v Odin the Wanderer

    Reply

    We still have our espresso machine. It was for marina use and then we would find it a home, but then DH realized he could crank it up every couple days when he "exercised" the Honda generator, so it's still here. Also, electric tea kettle. It was expensive and purchased for land-based tea. Even DH thought it would save propane and be minimal electrical draw, since it was so fast at boiling, but the initial draw is HIGH. We can't part with it. It's stored for marina stops 🙁

  • Sailing LunaSea

    Reply

    That is fantastic (yet sad) news on the electric kettle, as I was considering trying one on the boat. We have one in the condo that is on it's last legs – and we use it constantly when we are not on the boat. Guess we will stick with using propane to boil water on the boat. Thank you!

  • wherethecoconutsgrow

    Reply

    We LOVE our aeropress!! It's so easy, and its plastic. I feel like it uses less coffee than the French press needs too, because of the extraction process. I have several French presses on board just because I had them to start, but we never use them.

  • Sailing LunaSea

    Reply

    Hey Jody!
    My only concern with the Aeropress, really, is putting boiling hot water into plastic. I worry about the chemicals leaching out. I guess I should research that a little further… They do sound pretty perfect for boat life!

  • Kelley, Sailing Chance

    Reply

    @the cynical sailor, that is EXACTLY what happened to us. I went months putting a filter in a strainer and pouring water over the coffee grounds. It was terrible. Never tried the aeropress, but I love my french press!

  • Sailing LunaSea

    Reply

    Another vote for Aeropress! I guess I need to give it a shot. As soon as all these projects are done, I can start the search. Thanks, sailors! 🙂

  • Nate

    Reply

    I prefer to use the percolator. The coffee is not as good as any other method but it is the easiest. Plus we can get a huge pot of coffee.

  • Sailing LunaSea

    Reply

    Thanks Nate!
    I should update this post. I just ordered a magical, stainless steel double walled (no glass) French Press – and it makes 6 cups at a time. LOVE IT! We've only had it a few days, but I definitely prefer it.

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