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Voyager reviews eliminating options

Jan 1, 2003

To the editor:

While voyaging up the east coast of Australia, a member of a yacht club showed me a copy of its quarterly publication, which had an article on "Cruising in Comfort." It included the following paragraph titled "Excretion."

"Excretion is unavoidable, but fortunately it takes very little time. To help the relaxation essential to perform these vital functions, the head is best aligned athwartships with good handholds. The head compartment should not be too restricted in width; try performing with your knees tied together if you doubt it! For men, a small plastic bucket is ideal for passing urine. Some women like using one too. I find the easiest place is to stand at the bottom of the companionway steps. The motion is tolerable and the bucket can be emptied over the side. If men use the head for urinating, they should kneel on the floor to prevent splashing, but be careful not to let the lid slam shut! It is hardly necessary to emphasize the danger of urinating over the side, especially at night and in bad weather."

The Australians have their methods, but I have my own, with the purpose of keeping the head clean and free of smell. The suggestion that men should pee into a pot at the base of the companionway would not work for me because I simply cannot pee with an audience. Furthermore, the pot would need rinsing and stowing each time, which is a chore. The idea that I could kneel down and pee into the head is flattering to my masculinity and, even if practical for some (Australians perhaps?), hardly comfortable and convenient. I have a better idea.

I'm a strong believer in the idea that men should at all times when using a toilet, whether on a boat or at home, sit down to pee. I am sure all toilet cleaners would agree. On a boat it is a simple matter to drop one's pants and sit down on the head, well braced, and point that old friend in the correct downward direction. I have posted a notice in the head to this effect, which reads "Gentlemen, please pee seated. No tinkle sprinkle," with a suitable cartoon of a yachtie seated reading a copy of Ocean Navigator.

Although the point about not taking a pee over the side is to be taken seriously, it seems a fairly common practice and, weather conditions permitting, I do so with my arm locked around one of two stern poles on the boat. Obviously this is not done in situations likely to cause embarrassment to other crewmembers.

I have also had female crew who prefer to go over the side, and this is a much more precarious operation. Safety requires that she be harnessed to the boat lest she fall overboard.

I will not tolerate a smelly head on my boat, and with men adopting the required procedures there is no problem.