December 5, 2009

The Trouble With Washing

The search for a place to bathe has a long history on this coast. Harking back to the days of the gold rush, weary (and likely smelly) travellers would disembark from the ships that brought them and head straight for the bathhouses and shaving saloons. Often part of a hotel (and brothel) you could get cleaned up for a small fee then enjoy an evening with the ladies.

Those kind of public bathhouses are pretty much a thing of the past – but sailors still arrive in harbour with the same basic needs. Whenever we get somewhere new, the first bit of local info that people provide us with is where the showers are. This would kind of worry us if it weren’t just part of a whole ancient boating custom. You always tell the new sailor where he can wash, find spare engine parts and who has the cheapest beer. I’m not sure about the brothel part…

We do have a shower on the boat – a pretty decent one in fact. But washing burns through water, so whenever possible we shower on shore. But shower day is a bit of an undertaking - we have to pack up all our bath stuff, find enough quarters and then head off in search off hot running water. It's really not surprising that Maia has taken to poring over pictures of fancy bathrooms in magazines - she probably dreams of someday soaking in those tubs, or going into bathroom remodelling...

Bathing just isn't a luxury for us anymore. It's about as relaxing as flossing our teeth. And sadly the bathing facilities for boaters lack the charms of those traditional bathhouses. But here's our list of the best and worst showers on the coast so far:

Coos Bay – Cheap at 25 cents for 3 minutes, this shower had great water pressure and temperature unless someone was using another stall. It smelled though. 5/10

Crescent City – The cement shower stall wasn’t pretty and it looked like a few too many burly fishermen had washed up after bloody fishing battles, but the water was hot and the shower was free. 6/10

Eureka – Despite the town's rich and lurid bathhouse history – these days the showers are only for marina patrons. n/a

Alemeda – Free with our marina slip but a bit grubby. And we all know that other people’s grub is kind of yucky. 6/10

Halfmoon Bay – The showers were for marina patrons. n/a

Morro Bay – Maia was so traumatized by these showers that she may never bathe again, ever. The open air stalls are downright frigid on all but the sunniest days and when you're small and skinny, getting out from under the warm water (that shut off far too suddenly) into chilly air and having to use a damp towel - well, it scars you. The water’s hot and they smelled like someone had splashed cleaner around though. 4/10

Ventura – We coughed up some serious cash for this marina and were happy to find the showers were not only clean, heated and free but that they had fresh flowers in them – orchids even. 8/10

Newport Beach – We’re pretty sure if the locals saw the grubby cement stall where the boat folk wash up they’d use hand sanitizer after smiling at us. The shower may be free – but a little more hot water would help kill off some of the germs. Or maybe not... 5/10

1 comment:

Seven C's said...

This is the first time I have seen the shower facilities listed let alone rated for the West Coast - or anywhere else for that matter! What great information!
I will add my two cents worth (or is that quarters worth?):
Winchester Bay, OR (22 miles north of Coos Bay): Bring plenty of quarters - probably four per person depending on how long of a shower you want. The water is warm to hot with very good pressure (read that "stinging pressure!"). Allow at least one full minute for the hot water to reach the shower head (there goes one quarter...).
But the rooms are at least somewhat warm and usually clean. Not fancy, but usable.