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23' mini-trawler
by Schucker

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

Trawler cruising on $14 per day 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. Thank you.

Date: 14 February 2019. Best Choice Washer.


Alert: I ran on at the fingertips. You might wish to pour yourself a beverage. This is a long article.

Over the years I have changed the way I do laundry aboard Seaweed. About a year ago I decided to buy a portable electric washer. On Amazon I found one for just $55. My experience with said unit has been both frustrating and fabulous. Today I'll share my triumphs and the not-so-great details of Blue.

This is the washer/spinner I bought. It is the Best Choice Portable Mini Washing Machine with Drainage Tube 6.6 lb capacity affiliate link

The reason I chose the Best Choice brand is because of price. Additionally, it has a small spinner basket. That feature would eliminate the need to wring out my clothes and bedding. Squeezing water out of sheets and blankets is not easy.


There was an issue right off the bat. The washer was taller and wider than the Amazon description indicated. Unfortunately the height was just the First Problem. The unit would not fit in the locker under my bunk.

affiliate link
Best Choice Portable Mini
Washing Machine

with Drainage Tube 6.6 lb capacity

The washer/spinner by Best Choice is 21" tall. It is 14.5" wide measuring handle to handle, and 14.5" deep including the rear carrying handle.


Side Note: Due to the placement of the motor, it is not possible to safely lay this machine on its side. Storage must be vertical.

On any vessel it is critically important that our gear fit in its designated spot. Aboard Seaweed I really don't have a good place for the washer I bought. In the meantime I am looking for a piece of 3/8" thick starboard to build a shelf for the thing.

If possible, I'd like to store my
washer/spinner just above this step.

Frankly I am intimidated by the whole construction process. Ideally this washer will wedge under the side deck. It will be secured to a shelf attached to the inner liner of my cabin. Just above the step into my forward cabin is the perfect spot.

Unfortunately, every angle
in that location is wonky.

The washer has to be raised because otherwise the unit would take up too much of the step. Because the boat slants outbound for the hull lifting it 9" above the step would be ideal. Maybe!!! And that ladies and gents is the Second Problem.

Because the washer is taller than
I anticipated, it won't fit in a
locker with 18" of head space.

Regardless of the grumbles, I still love the dang thing some of the time. Here's why:

I can wash a load and a half of clothes in just 9 to
12 gallons of water. That includes two rinse cycles.




To fill the washer is a chore. The spigot
 part won't attach to my galley sink.


FILL HOSE fits here.
CAP/PLUG keeps water from splashing.

This part is supposed to attach to my sink faucet.

My faucet is too large
for the hose opening.


Even if the hose attached I would still have to turn it on to fill, then off when the water was at the proper level. All in all, even in the best of circumstances this is a manual machine. It requires a lot of physical work.

Hoisting the pails and bending over
 to fill the washer tub is not easy.


Instead of the hose I use a pair of buckets.

Years ago I bought three round storage pails
from the Dollar Tree. I've used them as wash basins.

Now I use them to fill the washer. It's not the easiest chore.
The pails are sturdy. Two fill the washer to the three gallon level.


Water is always at a premium aboard a boat. In order to use the least amount of water possible I have a laundry system.

First I fill the Best Choice washer to the half way mark. Then I add just less than a tablespoon of Tide laundry detergent. In order to get the soap well mixed in, I stir the tub with my measuring spoon. This removes the detergent residue so I can put away a clean spoon.

Side Note: I like the smell of Tide. Because my loads are so small and the amount of Tide used is miniscule I don't feel too extravagant in buying the high-dollar name brand detergent.

Regardless of the hassle involved when using the Best
Choice machine, washing aboard the boat is
far better than hauling everything to shore. Ugh!!!

Prior to washing I split my clothes into two piles. One contains the least dirty items. That would include my shower towel, a nightie or two, and shirts. Dirtier items such as those worn in bilges or while working on the boat would be separated into a second pile. Those clothes that are least dirty are washed first, thus the initial wash water can be utilized for both loads.

If I washed the grubby bilge clothes first the water would be too dirty for the second load. That would cost me 3 extra gallons of water.

I select the cleanest half of my laundry
and add it to the washing machine:

The agitator is powerful.

It is at these times that I love the Best Choice washer. Even though I have been hand washing my clothing for years, there is a special feeling of contentment when I don't have to scrub shirts and sheets clean. Washing bedding by hand in the sink is a real pain in the transom. This washer does a great job of that chore.


The agitation is aggressive. Therefore I bought
 a laundry bag to protect my special items.


This blouse has beautiful beaded buttons.


I was afraid the buttons would be ripped off by the swish of this washing machine. Thus I went to Walmart and purchased the Evercare Delicate Garment Mesh Bag. ← affiliate link



I am impressed by the fabric in this item. The zipper is hidden and will not snag on other items in the washer. It is standing up well to use. This Evercare Mesh Bag is far superior to those I've seen at  discount stores. The holes are of a finer mesh. Though costly at $5, I believe this is an item that is worth retail pricing.

Mine was purchased at Walmart on the laundry aisle over by the housewares department. It is sold near the irons, clothespins and laundry hampers, not where the detergents and cleansers are shelved.


But I digress...
After washing the initial cleanest batch of clothing, I remove said items and place them in one of my Dollar Tree buckets. Then I place the final stack of clothes into the washer and run the cycle again. I reuse the initial wash-water.

IF my clothes were filthy or stinky I would
 start the second load with fresh water.

This washer uses three gallons per cycle. By using the same wash water I can do two small loads for a total of nine gallons of water. On occasion I will do the final rinse for each load individually. That increases my total water used to 12 gallons.


Gallons per cycle

Process for washing two loads of laundry

Aggregate Total




3 gallons

Wash load one and (reusing water) wash load two

3 gallons

3 gallons Rinse load one and load two 6 gallons
3 gallons Second rinse for load one 9 gallons
3 gallons Final rinse for the second load of laundry 12 gallons

If the second rinse water for load one appears clear after agitation, I reuse that water for the final rinse of load two. Thus I use just 9 gallons versus the 12.


There is a  SMALL WHITE HOSE on the right side of
the washer. Lower it and the water drains out of the tub:

The water empties via gravity. When I forget to put the hose in the upright position after draining the tub I can flood my deck with the next bucket of water.

You would be impressed by how
quickly I can attach that hose in
the proper raised position.



On the top are two dials. The one on the left sets the wash or spin cycle. On the right, that dial is a timer. This is a simple unit, with the motor beneath the tub.


It is electric, and uses 30 watts for two loads.

The Kill A Watt reads 0.03Kwh.
That equals 30 watts or 3Ah.


Though the instructions say one rinse, this is
the color of the rinse water after the first rinse:


That water is icky, thus I do two rinses. I have experimented by pouring water into the tub as it is draining. I do not believe that works well. The second full rinse does the job. The water runs clear on rinse number two.

There is a small bucket that attaches inside the washer for spinning:

The lid must be on the spinner to keep the clothing inside.


The How-To in
a few easy steps:

  1. Fill tub 1/2 full of water (hot or cold, at your discretion) then add 1 tablespoon of laundry detergent.

  2. Add clothing until the water level is approximately 2/3rds full.

  3. Set the dial on the left to Wash, and the timer on the right to six minutes.

  4. After the clothes have washed, drain the tub by lowering the white hose on the right side of the unit.

  5. Remove all contents from the machine. I put them into one of my plastic buckets.

  6. Place the spinner basket onto the base inside the machine. It snaps in easily.

  7. The next procedure is to place a small quantity of said clothing into the spin basket. Replace the lid. Not everything in the washer fits the basket, so having a spare pail for the spun clothes is helpful.

    I figure three  to four spin cycles per load of wash. Because I do not like over-loading my unit I am cautious. Also, if I put in too much in the spinner, it will make a racket and the basket will detach from the base.

  8. Turn the dial on the left to Spin. Three minutes is sufficient to remove most of the water.

  9. *REPEAT, at least once. I like my rinse water to run clear. For me, that means two rinses though the manufacturer says one is sufficient.

*REPEAT: what that means is I start out again with #1 doing everything except adding soap. First I refill the machine to the half way point. Then I add the clothes. I set the dial to Wash, and the timer to 3 minutes instead of the six I used for the initial wash cycle. Wash, Drain, Spin.

My goal is to rinse out any remaining soap residue. Sometimes one rinse is sufficient. Most of the time I double rinse. I am cautious because I don't want any soap sensitivities to develop.


Because that spinner container is so small, it takes much longer to spin a load than it does to wash one. Not many things fit into the bucket/basket. Though I selected this washer because of the basket spinner option, I am not impressed.

Skipper is ready to ride to the dinghy dock. Then I have
to carefully secure the clean clothes in my dink Algae.

Loading and unloading Algae with the newly cleaned clothes can be a perilous too, especially if the wind is kicking.

Remembering how much work it is to drag everything to a coin-operated laundry causes me to suddenly I like the Best Choice washer better. Not best, just better. Though the process is physically arduous it is WAY easier than hauling everything to shore.

The spinner basket attaches to the
agitator bits at the bottom of the washer tub:

Those bars at the bottom don't look like
"enough" however they are Very Powerful.

Most important of all,
everything comes out clean.

I used to hand wash almost exclusively. I still do wash my daily clothes each evening. It only takes me a few minutes to do so. Everything dries overnight. My attire is chosen by how fast it dries on a hanger, and if it wrinkles or not. I do have a system for hand washing that I'll post in a month or three.

Just know this: A washing machine is a wonderful addition to life afloat. It is not a necessity. It is a luxury. Mine because it requires so much manual attention is in a precarious spot. If someone would offer me $50 I'd sell it in a heartbeat, going back to washing everything by hand.

I washed two small loads of clothes
in one hour and four minutes.

I am not thrilled, though I am happier than hauling everything ashore. This is better. My system is still being tweaked. Half the time I don't like the unit at all, and then when everything is clean and put away I again like it. If I had a bigger boat I would buy a real washer that is totally automatic like this one: Giantex Portable Compact Full-Automatic Laundry Machine


Memory Lane: I was born and raised aboard our 40'er. When I moved ashore my stateroom (aka cabin/bedroom) became the laundry. Daddy had plans for a tool room. In the meantime Mother ordered a washer and dryer. Both were delivered within two days of their arrival back in the states.

I suspect there was some advanced planning involved...

Frankly I would like the Best Choice washer better if it had fit where it was supposed to go. It won't though. Additionally, due to the motor being mounted beneath the tub I do not believe it would be safe to store the washer in any position other than upright.

Driers are speedy however with strategically
 placed LINES I prefer to hang my clothes inside.


I also picked up a Laundry Alternative spin drier (the smallest one sold) and it is WONDERFUL. I wish I'd bought the spinner and not the washer. It gets everything almost totally dry after being spun at 1750 rpm. If I had bought the spin drier first I would not have bought the washer.

Clothes come out nearly dry after
being in the Laundry Alternative spin drier.


Now that I have $55 in the washer I'll get my money's worth out of it. But I'm not thrilled until it's time to wash the sheets, at which time I change my mind yet again.

Honestly, I've gone back and forth regarding the washer since the day it arrived. Were I smarter, I would have returned it immediately when I discovered the discrepancy between description and actual height. If I sound whiny about the washer, it is because I am ambivalent. I wish I had not spent so much $$ on the unit. It doesn't fit anyplace.


So that's my take on the whole Best Choice discount washer/spinner. I paid perfectly good money for this item. Actually the washer is worth the price paid. Given a vote, I would say buy one if you've got a place for it. It is a true blessing to not have to go ashore with dirty clothes.

This of course presumes you have the water and stamina to run such a unit. I am grateful to have it, some of the time!

Golly gee though, those spiffy combination units the bigger boats have sure are amazing. The Splendide vented models are particularly interesting for those with the funds, space, and power to utilize same.

Side Note on the Splendide units: The vented ones do dry quite well. The secret is you must remove about half of the load you washed before drying. Much like my little washer, the machines are designed to wash a larger load than they can dry at one time. Split up the load for drying and you should be fine.

Having a washing machine aboard a boat is fabulous in theory. Mine requires a lot of work to operate, though far less than hauling everything to shore. I am indeed fortunate.

Thank you for reading.

Comments welcome and encouraged on the
Best Choice Washer page.

Categories: Boat Talk, Comfort, Gear, Recommendations, Unmentionables,


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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: Frankie
aboard M/V SurfMonkey 2

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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