Sailing, Electricity and a Hand Crank Washing Machine

 

“Electricity can be dangerous. My nephew tried to stick a penny into a plug. Whoever said a penny doesn’t go far didn’t see him shoot across that floor.”
-Tim Allen

“How are we going to wash our clothes?” Logan asks. Logan is our daughter who has become very accustomed to the luxuries of infinite power consumption.

Times are great when you are 15 years old. Everything is free. Turn the air conditioner down to 68 degrees on a hot summer day and up to 74 on a frosty winter night. And why not? It’s all free.

But times are about to change for poor Logan.

Being on the open water doesn’t give you the luxury of using all the electrical power you want and then simply sending the power company a check at the end of the month.

“How many solar panels are we going to have?” my wife asks.

“Four,” hoping that would be the end of the conversation.

“And what will that do for us?”

I didn’t want to go into the whole amp-hour, hours of sunlight and all that other
technical jargon that only the engineers who designed the solar panels understand.

“Well, if we have good sunlight for about five hours each day, we could run one-100 watt light bulb continuously.”

Logan was looking a bit puzzled and concerned by my explanation and asked, “Will we have enough power for my TV and my laptop?”

“Yes, we have plenty of power for that,” I reply. Logan relaxed a bit and went deep into thought about other items.

“How about our stove.”

“The oven and stovetop will use propane.”

“How about the dishwasher?”

“We have plenty of power for that too.”

“Really!” Logan was a bit surprised by this answer. “Where are we going to put it?”

Right now we don’t have a dishwasher on the boat. Space is limited so whenever we add something to the boat the biggest problem seems to be where we are going to install it.

“It will be in your room a lot of the time,” I reply.

“My room! Why?”

“You are the dishwasher.” Though Roxanne and I had a good laugh at that one,
Logan didn’t find much humor in it.

But the question isn’t how much power we have but instead, how much power do we need.

Boats are much smaller than homes so they require a lot less energy. If we turned on every light on the boat it might add up to 100 watts.

TV’s are much smaller and the invention of the LCD flat screen not only saves space but it also uses a lot less power than the old bulky sets.

We hand wash our dishes and the sun heats our water.

It’s a much simpler life. It’s basically a trade off. When you have a job, your free time is precious. You have so little of it that you don’t want to squander it doing basic chores, so we outfit our houses with every time saving device known to man. Washing machines, dishwashing machines, garbage disposals and dryers, the list could go on.

Not only are these machines expensive and use a lot of power but they also break and
require maintenance and replacing.

It’s a strange and vicious cycle. The job necessitates the machines and the machines make the job necessary.

Logan was still contemplating this whole situation when another question came to her, “What about a washing machine?”

“We have a hand crank portable machine on the boat,” I reply.

“Hand crank?”

“Yep, you put your clothes in the top, add water and soap, screw on the lid and then crank the handle for 3-5 minutes.”

Logan just stared at me in disbelief at this repulsive turn of events.

I continued, “After they are washed, you empty out the water, add some clean water and repeat the cycle over again. Once you are done with that you hang your clothes on the lifelines to dry.”

Logan had never been so quiet for so such a long period of time.

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