Cruising Life

Lipstick Sailor

Swabbing the decks

What are little girls made of? Sugar and spice and everything nice.

Well if everything nice means a fresh coat of makeup, painted nails, pretty hair, and a good pair of heels, then I am in trouble.

Being a lady at sea is a constant uphill battle.

Looking sexy at sea is harder than it sounds.
Looking sexy at sea is harder than it sounds.

It is a harsh environment in which I am exposed to the elements every single day. But I have found that there isn’t anything a little lipstick can’t cure.

When I left the comforts of my shore based life I knew that I would have to go long stretches without a hairdryer. I knew that I might break a couple of nails and there are no floating salons in the sea where I can get my eyebrows waxed.

I even knew that I would have to learn how to take a shower using a black plastic bag full of water. They call it a Sun Shower. It sounds luscious. Shower in the sun. Oh, those clever marketing devils.

It’s been said (Staying pink in a Blue World article) that cruising makes men more manly and woman, well… less womanly.

My manly man
My manly man

My dear husband is a very manly sailor. He gets scruffy during longer passages, he lifts heavy things, works on the engine, and constantly draws from one of three tool bags on board. Even the blood blisters he acquired under his fingernails from an anchoring mishap look manly.

Yes, cruising is good for a man.

For the ladies, cruising makes it easy to forget you are, well, a lady.

Almost every female creature comfort gets forgotten when sailing.

  • When you are dog tired trying to stay awake for your last watch before sunrise.
  • When you can barely heat up water for Cup o’Noodles because the boat is moving like you are on a wild seesaw ride with no OFF button.
  • When you beach the dinghy and become covered with salt water in the process (dried saltwater is not a flattering look on the skin).
  • When you are up the mast trying for what seems like the millionth time to fix those gosh darn mast lights and trying your hardest not to swear.
  • When you have epoxy in your hair.
  • When you are covered with diesel or engine oil and reaching for a bilge pad, praying that it isn’t the last on board.
Donning my Refit Duds. My hair is back because I got epoxy in it the day before.
Donning my Refit Duds. My hair is back because I got epoxy in it the day before.

Yes, it gets hard to remember to splash on a little perfume and slip on a cute black number so you can go out to…. Oh yeah… you’re in an anchorage and there are no places to go to in your cute black number. Which is why you don’t even have a little black number taking up precious space on the boat. Or a decent pair of heels. The absence of both is practically grounds for arrest in my girl handbook.

My newest eveningwear acquisition. I admired this scarf on a tourist in San Jose del Cabo and she gave it to me!
My newest eveningwear acquisition. I admired this scarf on a tourist in San Jose del Cabo and she gave it to me!

Not only is there no cute black dress or a decent pair of heels which both belong in every woman’s wardrobe, there is not much more jewelry than the basics to dress up a plain outfit. The lack of jewelry is not from a lack of desire, but more for practicality and necessity. Catching a necklace in the engine belt does not sound like fun. The lack of jewelry also prevents possible theft (I’m wearing nice jewelry and I must have more on board so please come to my boat and rob me in the middle of the night).

It gets hard to remember to be a lady but remember I must. Because I have realized that cruising is so much more fun when I brush my hair, put on a little lipstick and eye makeup to compliment my sun dress, and my husband looks over at you with adoring eyes and says, “You look really pretty, babe.” Yes, for this it is worth it.

And besides, I feel much more productive with a coat of lipstick on. Wonder Woman wears lipstick. And so does She-Ra. I think it makes them stronger. This I am sure of.

So after 2 months of working on the boat 10+ hours a day and 3 months of sailing, I decided to march in to town with Ann-Marie from SV Agua Azul in search of a salon.

Pampered at last!
Pampered at last!

We were on a mission. Determined to find a pedicure.

And somebody PLEASE look at my hair! I had recently tried to cut my own hair. Don’t laugh. To the untrained eye it was very passable. To the trained eye, well, “Tu cortaste muy mal!” said my hairdresser in between laughter. The type of laughter that made her throw her head back. The type of laughter that later in the week will make her chuckle when remembering that silly gringa who thought she could cut her hair. I politely laughed with her and decided to enjoy every single moment of pampering in her chair, closing my eyes and drinking it all in.

I walked out of there with an even haircut and painted toes for less than $20. Yes.

These salon visits will be included in the budget from now on.

This article was published on January 20, 2012 in Lanea Riley’s blog The Voyage of Moondance.

About Lanea Riley

Newlyweds Lanea Riley and her husband Conor bought an Islander 36, in April 2011 and within 15 days they decided to prepare Sausalito based Moondance for a southbound trip to Mexico. Six short months later, they left under the Golden Gate Bridge in October 2011.

Having more sailing knowledge than boat maintenance knowledge, Lanea has learned a lot on the way about electricity, tools, engines, cooking on a boat and how to enjoy ‘girl’ comforts and hasn’t looked back.

Lanea maintains a sailing blog at

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1 comment to Lipstick Sailor

  • Debbie

    I have lived aboard my 29′ sailboat for 12 years and have ALWAYS had a little black dress and a pair of heels onboard. The dress stores in a zip loc bag and the shoes in another. Therefore, I am always ready for a wedding, a funeral, or the fanciest restaurant around.

    Great blog!

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