For a second time in a dozen years, I’m trying to fit a quart into a pint pot (it’s the skipper’s third attempt at it and he seems quite serene). In 2001 it seemed painful but ultimately not too hard and anyway we cheated storing furniture and more in a Pickford’s warehouse against for our return. This time there is no furniture except the bits that seem to have persisted in our UK garage cum boat store and I don’t plan to return to life ashore in the short term. The huge amount of ornaments, pictures, books and other sentimental clutter will have a place to go, mostly in the boat store. A small selection of silver smithing or beading tools and supplies will stow away on board. Then there are clothes…

Neckline detail – my posh and weighty
Frank Usher frock

In my usual attire of shorts and freebie regatta t-shirts I may not look like a clothes-aholic but I am rapidly discovering that items in my wardrobe not worn in all the time we have been in the Middle East (three years plus) are still too difficult to part with. Splitting my much loved dress collection into “get rid of”, “suitable yachtie wear” and “long term storage” piles is akin to having someone wrench a limb off or have a beloved pet die suddenly. The latter category is just not practical – where do you store clothes free from damp, mould, moth and other perils? Definitely not a lockup garage no matter how dry it appears. And why am I keeping them? No I can’t answer that one except to say I can’t put part from them nor is there room on an 18inch wide hanging rail for them. The long Frank Usher beaded number that weighs several kilos in its own right has no place on a boat, nor does an eye catching Indian embroidered silk kurta in brilliant pinks, pale greens and turquoise, nor the mother of the bride number in dusky pink dupion, worn just once since the big day.

MoB dress!

Then there are the dresses and jackets kept as I might go back to work one day, as if! There’s a cream and dark blue printed fitted dress with a chunky beaded neckline and a flirty skirt then my favourite winter dark grey wool dress and jacket from M&S. Both wonderful for meetings, travel well ie come out of a carry-on bag with nary a crease, plus matching accessories for both. Neither have been worn for three and a half years. Add to that a selection of business entertaining LDBs, a-line skirts, wool trousers, tailored jackets, lambswool jumpers and soft blouses, rainmacs and fancy silk scarves, all the remnants of a marketing directors wardrobe and perhaps you can see my dilemma.

Indian glamour

I really don’t want a practical yachtie wardrobe of t-shirts, shorts/sailing trousers, fleeces and oilies to dictate my party clothing choices! Even if the aforementioned yachtie wear is pink, floral or otherwise girlie, inherently the style is more masculine than dressy up, special. But to balance this desire against the impracticability of ironing dresses, skirts or blouses on the tiny galley worksurface, getting things dry cleaned or simply hanging anything longer than a jacket in my rather restricted hanging locker space and I do need to have a drastic cull! As for laundry we have a mini Wonderwash which does what it says on the tin but the weather during our recent sojourn aboard prevented outdoor drying and diverting some of our warm air heating to an aft heads (bathroom) full of dripping clothes for several days was not helpful. Experience over years of sailing holidays and longer term cruising is that even with a well equipped laundrette washing clothes is a time consuming not to mention expensive chore so the less that requires washing the better and quick drying, non-iron is preferable over denim, linen or cotton.

Blue & White…just how many t-shirts does a girl need?

Perhaps my wardrobe downsizing approach should be bottom up – not from socks and tights through trousers and belts to hats but more from the point of view of what a liveaboard girlie needs.  A list of items for say two or three weeks without a washday across a range of climates/seasons plus a few smarter outfits for parties or meals ashore and one or two outfits for very special occasions. That could be a much smaller collation and might even fit in the locker space available if I can bring myself to do it.