Sails and toilets


Lucy looking lovely with her new jib

I’d set off back down to Mylor on Thursday night – arriving at around 01:15, and was tucked up in bed by half past. That’s pontoons for you! No faffing about, which Nicky will like. Lucy had been left with bare poles, so getting the sails fitted is a priority, as was getting the toilet, or ‘heads’ in boat speak, working properly.

The heads are also called the ‘sea toilet’, which means that they are very different to toilets on land. It draws in sea water, and flushes everything out with sea water. You should only put in it what you has passed through you, plus a couple of squares of cheapo toilet paper. Anything else is a big no-no, and can cause blockages. And you don’t use it for solids in the marina! But since ‘standing room and a toilet’ were Nicky’s requirements I had to get it working properly. The issue is that it wasn’t drawing in water to flush with. It would flush out fluids that were put in it, but you need sea water to coming in to do it properly. Something was very wrong.


Jabsco instructions

It took some time, but the Mylor people identified that our plumbing was wrong. For some reason we had the 19mm vented loop between the inlet seacock and the pump, no vented loop on the 38mm pipe, and a straight pipe between the pump and the pan. Ironically, this is believed to be as the Mylor people plumbed it in back in 2009, so I’ll probably have to take them to task over this.

What I had to do was very awkward, as space was tight and I’m not small. I had to remove the toilet totally, and then I had to remove the oven so that I could get unrestricted access to the seacocks. Then I had to identify which pipes went where, and why. In the end I took them all out and started again, making sure that it all went back in as per the instructions. It looks so easy on a piece of paper, but in restricted areas it isn’t, and my hands and knuckles were ripped to pieces. It was worth it though, as the first test proved that the right was is the best way, and all of the functions worked as designed. We were in business.

The seacocks are a hole in the hull of the boat, and are therefore pretty important. I had serviced them when Lucy was in the sheds, being careful to put them back exactly as they came out – but that’s no good when they were wrong to begin with.  All’s well now though.


Not much working space. The pipework was all through that hole.


L to R: heads outlet seacock, heads inlet seacock, engine cooling inlet seacock and strainer


Heads inlet seacock with pipe cut off

That was Friday taken care of. Saturday is another day, and with no wind an ideal one for working out how the sails fit. I’d got four sails, two covers, and loads of rope, blocks and shackles. I started small, and it took me a while to rig the mizzen. It’s actually quite precarious working right on the stern, but I managed without falling in or loosing any of the pingfuckits*.

Then I set about the main sail. Lots of ropes, but what does what? I’d got all day, so cracked on. First I lashed the upper sail to the gaff, then laced the luff to the mast. Then I lashed the foot to the boom, and realised that the rope was too short by the same length that the one on the gaff was too long. So I took it all apart and started again, using the last piece first this time. It all went very well the second time. I then opened up the new jib, fitted the head to the swivel and the swivel to the halyard block. Then, taking great care with the pingfuckits, I fitted the tack of the sail to the new Harken 436 furler. All was well, so I cow hitched on the old genoa sheets and ran them back to the cleats. Then there was much head scratching as I had to fit the furling line, and get it right so that, when furled, the UV sail protection strip was on the outside where it could do its job. And it worked first time! I would have bet against it. And doesn’t she look lovely?


Nice new jib

Pingfuckit = tiny little spring things with have a habit of pinging out of your hands just when you don’t need them to.


2 thoughts on “Sails and toilets

  1. Looks great, Russell. It took me years, not weeks, to get Nellie B looking like that! I can’t tell from the photo if your port boat hook is properly fastened at its aft end by the cabin roof clutches. If it is, then you might find it necessary to reduce its length. Otherwise you’ll find it fouls the staysail sheet each time you tack.

    I’m intrigued by the toilet plumbing problem, as I suspect mine is plumbed the same way as yours was (and the boat has yet to sink). It’s a while ago now, but I seem to recall satisfying myself that the toilet bowl is above the waterline, except when heeled. Having said this, I had the same symptoms at the beginning of this season, and cured it by leaving copious quantities of olive oil in the bowl for several days. It now works perfectly.

    I’m now waiting for the first photo under sail!


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