In seagoing boats it's called a wet locker. It's a closet used only to quarantine boots, slickers and other wet garments, especially when wet with salt water. Why? Because wet is bad and salt water is even worse. When it dries, salt crystals are left behind. They draw moisture out of the air and garments always feel damp.
Your houseboat may not have nor need a wet locker but, like a home with a foyer or mud room, it needs a buffer between your living areas and the great outdoors. Here are ways to bring less mess into your houseboat's interior.
* Train family and guests not to run in and out for every little thing. Dirt and dampness get tracked in and the AC is overworked when doors are opened often.
* Children and guests may also need training in using the main entry rather than the nearest door-especially if the rear deck opens into the master stateroom.
* Have dry towels and cover-ups on deck for swimmers. For boats in salt, brackish or polluted water, a fresh water shower on deck is a plus. We made ours cheap and simple with a sink sprayer plumbed into a cold water line and we use it only as a rinse and not a shower. Soap scum builds up if you use soap or shampoo here.
* The Wall Street Journal reports that overshoes are making a comeback, even in the swanky financial district. Find them at www.Totes-Isotoners.com, www.SlipfreeShoes.com and www.Gemplers.com. Before boarding the houseboat, simply peel off the rubbers and your shoes are clean. Most overshoes are supple and thin for convenience. Heavy-duty rubbers made for commercial use wear longer, but may not peel off as easily.
* Mount an old-fashioned shoe scraper on the dock or on deck just inside the entry gate. You can find them at www.Solutions.com, www.BedBathAndBeyond.com or www.Uline.com. They come in many styles, colors, sizes and decorator designs. You can also make one by mounting one or two old-fashioned scrub brushes on a board.
* Some door mats scrape sand and debris off shoes but aren't absorbent. Others soak up water but aren't abrasive. Mats that let debris fall through are a good choice for the dock or on deck outside main the entry door. Just hose the dirty away.
Large selections of door mats are available in stores, marine stores, garden suppliers and online. For commercial mats including heated mats for cold floors, go to www.GlobalIndustrial.com.
* Find big selections of outdoor carpets at www.OutdoorRugShop.com in many sizes, colors and patterns to complement any decor. Polypropylene area rugs on deck can be hosed down and they dry quickly. If mud is a problem at your marina, buy cheap bamboo beach mats when they go on sale at the end of the season. When they're soiled, throw them away.
* Keep plastic bags near the entry. Bag wet umbrellas, muddy boots and sodden raincoats until you can deal with them.
* If you have a closet near your houseboat's main entry, turn it into a wet locker and you won't have to hang wet rain gear and backpacks in the shower. Put a tray in the floor to collect drips and add ventilation louvers in the door. Heated closet rods are available from www.NaturesTapestry.com and www.DampSolutions.com. Air the locker out often and use anti-mold spray from www.AllergyControl.com.
* Even small dogs collect dirt in their footpads and fur but some door mat bristles are just too tough on little paws. We have a soft, absorbent mat from Gypsy and a towel to wipe her down. While she's enjoying the rub-down, the mat collects sand and debris that otherwise would go indoors.
* An old-fashioned whisk broom is quicker than a hand vac for minor brush ups. Keep one handy for brushing off clothing and shoes before going inside.
* Safety first when choosing mats and throw rugs for your houseboat. They should lay flat, cling well for sure footing and should be secured so they don't blow overboard because losing a rug can be costly.
* For temporary use in dirty weather or when showing a boat for sale, put down a disposable runner. Some last as long as three weeks. Self-adhesive plastic and craft paper carpet covers are available from www.PlastiCover.com, www.Pro-Tech.com and www.Floor-protection-resources.com.
Disclaimer: suppliers and sites listed here are for guidance only. No endorsement by the writer or this magazine is implied.