05: Cruising: Bahamas
High Maintenance Trash

High Maintenance Trash

Have you ever thought about your relationship with trash? Or about trash, period? I never did. No worries about storing it or disposing of it – we have services for such things! The hardest part was remembering to pull the garbage bin the 30 yards across the gravel of the Little House to the front yard by seven AM each Monday morning. If my garbage smelled, I double-bagged it and threw it in the garbage bin out back, never to be thought of again (until 6:55am Monday morning).

When cruising down the east coast of the US, we disposed of our trash along the way at parks, marinas; wherever there were trash bins – no big deal. Our trash relationship was still rote: create trash, throw trash in bag, place bag in larger trash bin / dumpster, move on with life.

Since we have left The States, trash is no longer the anonymous, smelly bag so easily discarded. Trash has taken on a persona all its own; it has become the White Elephant in the room; our third crew member. It’s an entity that must be taken care of or bad things happen.

You see, in the Bahamas, Trash is not accepted with open arms and no questions asked as it is in the US. In the Bahamas, if you can even FIND a place that will take your Trash, you still have to pay to get rid of it – $2.50 for a little big, $5.00 for a big one.

So until you can find a place that will take Trash off your hands for a fee, you have to hold on to it. And you can’t just throw it “in the bin out back” because, remember? You’re on a sailboat: there’s no bin out back and there’s no garbagemen coming to pick up Trash.

So, it’s all about minimizing the amount of Trash you create and then finding the best spot to keep Trash until the day arrives when you can bid Trash farewell.

Here are some lessons we have learned about Trash.

Free Range is equipped with two boxes on deck near the mast; these hold extra boat parts, lines, dinghy fuel, and this-and-that. We cleaned out one of the boxes so that we could store our Trash in it, thinking this was a good place, it being outside and out of the way.


Image 2
Starboard-side box.


Well, on our next sail, we were cruising out in the Bahamian blue ocean, all three sails up, puffy, happy white clouds dotting the sky, wind pushing us along – it was perfect, except for the odor of moldy cheese scraps, rotted meat, and used toilet paper wafting back to us in pungent waves.

Lesson One: Store your trash BEHIND you when you are sailing. Even better, if you are trailering your dinghy (pulling it behind your sailboat), make your dinghy “the bin out back”.

This morning, after fifteen days of creating and storing Trash, we have found a place where we can pay to dispose of it. We pull out Trash from its location in the box on deck and discover… maggots. Tiny, twisting, white worms making themselves at home in our sailboat box.

Oh, hell no.

This is not okay.

I can handle the greasy hair and the stinky armpits that come with minimal showering. I can handle wearing the same pair of shorts for several months in a row, and I can wear my under-oos more than a single day. But I cannot and will not allow maggots on our sailboat. That is under no circumstances okay.

Lesson Two: Do not put food scraps of any kind in your Trash. Keep a coffee tin or plastic tupperware next to the sink and put all food scraps in it. Dump it overboard at the end of each day.

Image 3
An old salsa tub: our new food scrap container.

We are still getting to know Trash and I’m sure we’ll have lots more lessons to share as we continue along in this new relationship.


I miss the old trash- this new one’s a lot more high-maintenance.

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