Take spring to refresh both yacht and soul

Feb 27, 2014 by Alene Keenan

Whenever spring rolls around, I always know it’s time to take stock of my life. It’s the time I start sweeping out the cobwebs, literally and figuratively. The winter’s hectic travel schedule melts away, and all the things I have been ignoring in my life start to present themselves again. And that’s not a bad thing. Spring is about rebirth, renewal, regeneration.


If you’re like most stews who have been working nonstop taking care of guests and struggling to make it through another hectic winter season, there’s no better time than spring to cleanse and rejuvenate your body and your soul while you cleanse and rejuvenate the yacht. What dust balls are lurking in the corners of your life? Time to clean up, yachties.


The reason for spring cleaning has roots deep in history. Connections can be found in many cultures. I like the Chinese custom of cleaning the home in anticipation of the new year, which occurs shortly after the Western new year. The Chinese sweep their floors and clean their homes to get rid of bad luck and misfortune that may have accumulated during the previous year.


Once the house is a clean slate, they welcome good fortune by banning sweeping for the few days following the new year to prevent sweeping away any good fortune that came with the turn of the year. Sounds like a good reason to take a little well-deserved time off to me


One way to capitalize on the urge to purge and the desire to maintain our health is to consider using all natural cleaning products to get the job done. A good approach to achieve this is to substitute essential oils for some of the harsh toxic supplies we typically use to spring clean the yacht. Some essential oils can even kill bacteria and mold. That is much safer than using chlorine bleach in enclosed spaces.

These oils have numerous applications. They are extracted from plants, so they are not made of petrochemicals as so many of our cleaning supplies are. They’re very strong, so don’t go overboard. As with any new product or technique, use with caution, and always test a small amount on an inconspicuous area. Try these in crew cabins that have been neglected.


Here are just a few ways to use them.

* Combs and brushes. Fill a container with one-and-a-half cups water, a half cup distilled white vinegar, and 20 drops tea tree, lavender or eucalyptus oil. Soak combs and brushes for 20 minutes. Rinse and air-dry.

* Shower doors. Wipe glass doors with a few drops of lemon oil mixed in a half cup of water twice a month. It will protect them from grime buildup.

* Toilets. Add 2 teaspoons tea tree oil and 2 cups water to a spray bottle. Shake, then spritz along the toilet’s inside rim. Let sit for 30 minutes, then scrub clean like usual. (You can also place a few drops of your favorite oil on the inside of the toilet-paper tube. Every time the paper is used, the scent will be released.)

* Windows. Mix 2 ounces of water and 10 drops lavender or lemongrass oil to wipe grime off windows.

When we push the body beyond its limits we increase the potential for a stress reaction to occur that results in the build-up of toxins. This weakens the resilience of the body and is associated with lowered immunity. A daily routine using essential oils helps us eliminate toxins and keep our immune system strong. Essential oils have been use through history for their medicinal and therapeutic benefits.

Unadulterated essential oils are translucent and range in color. They are found in the seeds, bark, stems, root, flower and other parts of plants. They are natural phytochemicals made up of volatile aromatic compounds that are immediately absorbed by the skin. According to Antonika Walker, a representative for the DoTerra Corp., three of the most versatile essential oils are peppermint, lavender and lemon. They can be incorporated into your daily yachting life to improve your health mentally and physically.


Applying essential oils to the bottom of the feet will penetrate the skin within 30 seconds and every cell in the body in 21 minutes. Individually and combined, their uses are unlimited. Here are the top three essential oils that not only “spring clean” your body and soul, but that boost your physical and spiritual health.


Peppermint is high in organic molecules that are recognized as containing the most powerful antibacterial and antiseptic constituents in the plant world. Taken internally, they increase circulation because they are highly resistant to oxidation. They revert cells to normal function and activity, and create an uplifting quality. Peppermint can be used topically to lower body temperature and naturally alleviate headaches, added to water for detoxification, and used aromatically as an antiviral in the air vents on a tissue paper or cotton ball.


Lemon has significant amounts of a type of molecule that prohibits the accumulation of toxins and help to discharge them from the liver and kidneys. Lemon oil is antiseptic, antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, and is a natural antihistamine. Commonly used for bites and stings, regulating blood pressure, and cold sores, it improves concentration and purifies the air and water. It is good for depression, digestion, hangovers, heartburn, intestinal parasites, stress, and varicose veins.


Lavender is used to reduce swelling, and it lessens pain caused by inflammation. It is an antifungal and prohibits the growth of candida. It is effective for insomnia, and is commonly used for a variety of ailments, including anxiety, blisters, boils, burns, wounds, exhaustion, dry hair, ulcers, parasites, mental stress, inability to concentrate, mood swings, and physical stress. Enjoy a drop in water, diffuse a few drops in an ultrasonic diffuser or use on a cotton ball in the air vent.


Some of us may still be trying to chisel out some free time to tackle spring cleaning and at the same time re-examine our New Year’s resolutions. Whether we are hoping to revisit our vow to address our health and physical condition or we are summoning the determination to get the yacht, our surroundings and our life sorted and organized, it’s time to bust a move. By focusing on renewal and regeneration of our bodies, which are overworked and stressed almost to the breaking point, and our souls, which are crying out for some attention and TLC, we can create a condition for a springtime spiritual rebirth. Consider turning to nature as your source of over-the-counter wellness and to reduce your amount of toxicity exposure in cleaning products by making your own products using essential oils.


If you would like a consultation on the use of plant based medicine and essential oils, e-mail info@puremedicinepro.com. All of DoTerra products are available through National Marine Suppliers.

Alene Keenan has been a megayacht stew for more than 20 years. She teaches at MPT in Ft. Lauderdale and offers interior crew training through her company, Yacht Stew Solutions (www.yachtstewsolutions.com). Download her book, The Yacht Service Bible: The Service Manual for Every Yacht, on her site or amazon.com. Comments on this column are welcome at editorial@the-triton.com.


About Alene Keenan

Alene Keenan is a veteran chief stew, interior training instructor/consultant, and author of The Yacht Guru’s Bible: The Service Manual for Every Yacht.

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