PS Advisor 04/15/99


Washer/Dryer Combos
We own a Nauticat 43 S&S design motorsailer and I want to install a washer/dryer. I would sincerely appreciate any information you have on washer/dryers on boats for those of us who plan to live aboard without the hassle of dragging tons of sheets, towels and clothes to laundromats in Third World countries. We know a couple who installed a Bendix and are pleased with it. But we are having problems finding makes and models with which to compare.

Believe me, Ive done my homework. It seems that Philco of Italy is the only company which manufactures such a product and is discontinuing its Bendix model and replacing it with a Splendide. Somewhere along the way, they also called it a Combomatic 2000.

At the Annapolis Boat Show, the only boat with a washer/dryer was a Catalina, which had a Splendide.

These washer/dryers come in two varieties: 1) a vented dryer model (in the larger, 23″ size) and 2) unvented dryer (in the 17″ size).

I called the Nauticat manufacturer in Finland to find out what washer/dryers they would use. I was told there is a German washer/dryer called Eumenia Luftikus supplied by the Tritan Company in Hamburg. When I tried to reach the phone number I was given, I got a residence. The Germany Embassy here in Washington couldnt find any business by that name.

Of course, I want the impossible: a washer/dryer with vent that will fit through an 18″ companionway! Ive searched the Internet until my fingers were blue, but can’t find any other alternatives.

Susan and Jack Webb
via e-mail

We don’t know a lot about washer/dryer combos for boats, so asked one of our contributors, Bill Seifert, who manages half a dozen big Aldens for their owners. He once worked for Tartan, TPI and Alden and also has installed them at time of construction. Heres what he had to say:

The combination units (Splendide is a European unit sold under various names) have a very small capacity, about 8 pounds. Several of the yachts I manage have these units and all have had problems with the door interlock switch. Drying heat is minimal (1400 watts) and takes a long time. Last week in Aruba it took about 1-3/4 hours to wash and dry two single berth sheets. Towels are best dried on the lifeline as the dryer timer only goes to 120 minutes. The combination unit is relatively small, 23-3/8 wide x 33-1/4″ high by 17″ deep, so it would fit through your 18″ companionway. West Marine sells the Splendide, imported by Marine Appliances International, for $900.

In building a new boat, a regular home-style washer and separate dryer are often fit in place before the deck goes on, as practically no companionway is large enough to accommodate them. I have fit some home size units just barely through a 31 square deck hatch. We got practice heaving to on one passage when we found the washing machine could not tolerate more than 10 of heel while in the fast spin cycle.

There is a common European device which has not attained popularity in the US, a washing machine with a very fast water extracting spin cycle that leaves laundry drier than one could possibly wring out by hands. These units are counter height and relatively narrow, and would be my first choice, provided my boat was wired with 220 volts. (Running a generator to dry clothes, which would dry faster hung on deck on a sunny day, is not energy efficient.) Occasionally these units can be found in the Caribbean, and are more prevalent in Third World countries.

If space is at a premium, theres always the bucket. Without a watermaker, a lot of cruisers wash and rinse with seawater, then give clothes a quick freshwater rinse. Not the nicest treatment for fabrics or skin, but a lot of fabric softener in the rinse helps.

Practical Sailor has been independently testing and reporting on marine products for serious sailors for more than 45 years. Supported entirely by subscribers, Practical Sailor accepts no advertising or any form of compensation from manufacturers whose products we test. Testing is carried out by a team of experts from a wide range of fields including marine electronics, marine safety, marine surveying, sailboat rigging, sailmaking, engineering, ocean sailing, sailboat racing, and sailboat construction and design. This diversity of expertise allows us to carry out in-depth, objective evaluation of virtually every product available to serious sailors. Practical Sailor is edited by Darrell Nicholson, a long-time liveaboard sailor and trans-Pacific cruiser with more than three decades of experience as a marine writer, photographer, boat captain, and product tester. Before taking on the editor’s position at Practical Sailor, Darrell was the editor of Offshore magazine, a boating-lifestyle magazine serving the New England area. Darrell has won multiple awards from Boating Writer’s International, including the Monk Farnham award for editorial excellence. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton Master license and has worked as a harbor pilot and skippered a variety of commercial charter boats.


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