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23' mini-trawler
by Schucker

Janice aboard Seaweed,
living the good life afloat...

Trawler life on a nickel budget is possible.
I'm doing it and you can too.

Janice Marois, nautical journalist.
Accredited member of Boat Writers International.

Here, I share my views on living aboard a small boat with very limited resources. Hopefully my successes will help others achieve the life. And yes, I'll share the things I did wrong too -- though not everything 'cause a girl's got to have her secrets!

Thank you for using my Amazon links when ordering from that site. It costs you nothing and helps me too. .

Date: 6 August 2019. Clean and Soften Old Ropes.


One of my neighbors on the canal recently bought a trawler. The ropes were older, stiff and some had mildewed. Basically they were hard to use because of the stiffness.  The proper "money is no object" solution would be to buy brand new ropes. Here is the $3 version utilized to revitalize the old boat lines.

For the record, this two-step
method does damage ropes.

This is not a panacea. It is a stop-gap
 measure to extend the life of the lines.

First, we took a large plastic garbage container
and dumped all the dock lines inside of it:

The cleaner ropes were added on top.

Salt can be a Real Issue with lines used on a cruising boat underway in salt or brackish water. So too is mildew. Salt crystals get between the strands of the rope and cause damage. Mildew weakens lines too. Neither are a good thing.

One solution is to clean the ropes that come with your new boat.  The previous owner of the trawler my neighbor bought is a good guy. That said, the boat sat in a brokerage for many months. No good comes of line left in the sun. Some of the ropes may have been salty when stored.

Given these circumstances, the new owner opted to try rope cleaning ala Seaweed.

Into the barrel I dumped a gallon of no-name
unscented bleach and a cup of Dawn dish soap.

Next I added water until all the
lines were soaking in the solution.

The water to fill the barrel was from a hose. I deliberately used a hose that had been exposed to sun for many hours. The water coming out of the nozzle was quite hot.

The lid was put atop the trash can filled with lines. 

Then we waited.

The following day the bleach water was drained out and a thorough rinsing took place. That involved a few complete water changes. Basically we waited until the water ran clear.

One way to facilitate the whole clear water thing
was that I sorted out each line into its own pile:

Then I blasted each line from end to end with the
spray nozzle of a hose. That was a tedious chore.


There are some that try using regular washing machines to clean ropes. This can be a Very Bad idea. Wet, the lines are extremely heavy. Damage can occur to the machinery. Belts break when washers are overloaded.

Side Note: Many commercial laundries have specific rules against adding lines to their machines. Don't do it!

After rinsing the lines thoroughly they
were dumped back into the trash barrel.

A couple bottles of inexpensive fabric
softener were added to the barrel of ropes.

Soaking took another couple days. The outside temperatures were soaring so the impetus to dump out the water, sort the ropes, and hang them for drying wasn't really there. That is why I waited to finish the project.

After emptying the barrel the lines were
 separated. All were hung over a chair.


The last step involved thoroughly rinsing the lines one last time to remove the fabric softener. I used a hose for that process.


The procedure to clean
 and soften old boat lines:

  1. Find a watertight container large enough to hold the ropes you wish to clean.

  2. Add the lines to your barrel. I put the dirtiest at the bottom.

  3. Pour a gallon of bleach to the barrel.

    IF your lines could be contaminated with oil or diesel, add a cup of Dawn detergent too.

  4. Fill with water until the lines are underwater. You might want to add something heavy to hold the ropes down.

    Wait until the following day.

  5. Thoroughly rinse off the bleach water. I dumped the lines out on the ground and blasted the ropes end to end with a hose.

  6. Place the lines back into the watertight container.

  7. Add full a container of fabric softener. Fill the barrel with enough water to cover the lines.

  8. Drain, rinse thoroughly, then hang to dry.


During normal use rinsing ropes with fresh water is not considered a necessity. I believe it does extend the useful life of my lines. That is why I do so aboard Seaweed.

Final Report: One ratty line did not survive the bleach treatment. It was thrown away. A second line was the worst of the batch. Even after treatment, it remained stiff, hard and frankly is junk. The rest of the ropes are a-okay and in usable condition.

If your lines are in shabby condition try cleaning and conditioning them. Even if you're unsuccessful, you are in no worse shape than before the attempt. And that ladies and gents is the story of my life aboard Seaweed. I try. When things work I celebrate.

I truly am blessed to be able to enjoy this life. Celebrate with me.

Happy boating to you and yours.

Comments welcome and encouraged on the
Clean and Soften Old Ropes page.

Categories: Gear, In the Bilges, Money,


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Now this is not fancy. Basically I copy off the top three items in my Archive file. That way you can catch up if life gets in the way of your reading fun.

Secret: If you want to know what's what, start in the Archive. It offers you the title, first paragraph and topics (Categories) covered in each article published on my website.

Something a new reader might not realize: Almost every picture on this website can be clicked. The photo will get larger when clicked. Do that a second time and the picture should be full size. Enjoy...

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Pet of the Week: Murphy
on M/V AndyMac

Submit your pet's photo.
Please email pictures of your crew!

More canine, feline and feathered crew members can be found on the The First Mate Gallery page.


The Archive holds a chronological list of every item published on my website. It includes a brief synopsis (not just the title) along with the topics covered in each article.

Click on the title and voila: you're there. Enjoy!

Skipper, First Mate extraordinaire

Of course every boat needs a Deck Swabbie. Mine, born in 2008, is a papillon mix. She weighs in at five pounds.

Coming soon ...


Topics of Interest:
You can achieve a simple satisfying life

Oh, a wondrous bird is the pelican!
His bill holds more than his belican.
He can take in his beak enough food for a week.
But I'm darned if I know how the helican.
(Poem by Dixon Lanier Merritt, 1879-1972.)


For years I've been collecting short pithy statements otherwise known as aphorisms. If you're like me and enjoy the weird, go ahead and CLICK!

These are previously posted at the bottom of each article -- for new, you'll have to come visit again.

Seaweed is in St. Pete right now.

The above chart (#411) can be a wish book of sorts as you look over your domain and wonder where to go next. And yes, I do have the originals (sans red arrow) as jpeg's for download should you desire your own for closer perusal. Enjoy!

The Writer's Block

It's my belief that other folks who boat are some of the most interesting in the world. Inside every boater is a story. Let yours out! I'd love to post short stories, vignettes, or even longer articles that focus on some aspect of our life on or near the water. Suggested topics include:

1. I Remember When...
2. My First Boat
3. Who inspired you to be a boater?
4. Fishing Trips or Tricks
5. Or another subject of your choosing

For the novice, here's how to write: Simply pretend you're sending a letter to a friend. Tell about an event or a memory from years ago that you still recall.

Life has changed so much on the water since I was born aboard. Personally I'd love to hear your memories of life when you were younger. Boats were smaller, narrower, and much slower. Kids were kids and our families often shaped the adult we have become. Here are my two aboard the tow boat my dad ran for a time:

Your pictures would be wonderful too. I posted one of Boot Key Harbor taken in 2001 that has gotten quite a few downloads and really, that's not so terribly long ago... Do you have any photos to share? Email me.

Do you want to help out?

Often an article for the website will be completely written yet lack photographs. I like pictures and am looking for some for up-coming pieces:

  • Pets afloat (include pet and boat name please)

  • Any picture of boats underway or at anchor

  • Photos of people enjoying life in or on the water

Size: a minimum of 1000 pixels across please. If that doesn't make sense think bigger versus resized for emailing. I prefer the full-size version. Also, the name you'd like me to use when I add the copyright stuff to your picture. And thanks bunches!

My email address is janice@janice142.com

23' Schucker mini-trawler, circa 1983.

Thanks for visiting. If you happen to see my boat along the
waterways, give a call on Channel 16. I'm always listening.

click picture to enlarge

My home is not fancy by any means, however you cannot imagine how wonderful it is to come back to her after an expedition on shore.

If I can live this life, why not you too?

Skipper, First Mate

Aphorism Alert: Begin doing what you want to now. We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand, and melting like a snowflake. Marie Beyon Ray.

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Every gift helps.

The Cruising Kitty is what boaters refer to as spending money. There's never enough aboard Seaweed!

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