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Marine toilet: ‘Part of the gig I’m afraid. Get in there, good luck, and call me when you’re done.’


Monty Halls learns about the marine toilet’s intricacies and discovers that it is a right of passage for every owner.

We all know that the challenges of yachting are many. Some challenges are physical, others mechanical and still others spiritual. My own date with destiny happened after a weekend of sailing.
Sobek with the family, when someone broke the cardinal rule of ‘No Number Twos’ on board.

The reason for this draconian measure, which may seem barbaric to some, is that our heads is a fairly simple ‘seawater in, unpleasantness out’ affair, powered by a medieval hand pump. As such, we try to avoid anything too substantial passing through our system, and then the boat’s system, as it were. There’s the environmental side as well. And I’ll leave it at that.

I’m still here to tell you that my date with fate coincided perfectly with one the hottest summer days. The family was already disembarking (the suspect remained silent despite intensive interrogation). Sobek The Dart was gently bobbing at our mooring, and I had to face my responsibilities.

Cack-handed fettling meant Monty covered himself… but not in glory.

‘Ha! It’s a rite of passage,’ said Justin, the previous owner, when I called him to seek advice. It seemed an oddly apt phrase. ‘Part of the gig I’m afraid. Get in there, good luck, and call me when you’re done.’

The foetid space of our heads was a claustrophobic experience. I’m a large chap, and it’s a small room, and I can only access the relevant bulkheads with the door shut. So very swiftly the temperature within rose to a toasty 400°C.

The next few minutes were a demonstration of how I would have made a horrible bomb disposal officer. As I contorted myself like a pretzel and sweated profusely, I revealed various pipes. I pumped the handle fervently after each twiddle of jubilee clip and sea cocks. No joy. This led to considerable frustration and further pumping as, wild eyed, puce of face, and incandescent with rage, I simply couldn’t find the blockage.

And then… Eureka! All it took was a single connection point between the hose and the sea cock. I looked at it sideways, then spun my body around and started unscrewing the offending jubilee. It is important to note that I reconnected the pipes after each test. This created a closed loop.

Article continues below…

Monty Halls talks about the trials and difficulties of sailing

Now, before you horny-palmed ocean conquerors give a rum-laden snort of derision, I’ve just emerged triumphant from my Day Skipper…

‘Why I would never have in-mast furling’ Pete Goss

One of my pleasures in life is to wander round marinas nosing at what’s afloat and I’ve started to notice…

Mariners with more experience will be already writhing from anticipation. My frantic pumping created a faecal compacted grenade under 2,000lb pressure. This jubilee clips was actually a safety catch that had been unscrewed from a range of about four inches. All of this was happening inside a compartment that was the same size as a smaller Ikea wardrobe.

I’m sure that Kingswear heard the resultant explosion. And that’s a mile away. A muffled crump caused the boat on the mooring to shudder, followed closely by a pebbled-dash figure walking solemnly, without saying a word, to the stern of the boat, saluting and stepping in the sea.

We do not discuss this incident in our family. We may refer occasionally to ‘the incident’ but then a pall will fall over the dinner table. Children will know that something harrowing has happened to Daddy and they can hug him as he stares blankly into space.

Who says that sailing doesn’t bring families closer together.

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The post Marine toilet: ‘Part of the gig I’m afraid. Get in there, good luck, and call me when you’re done.’ appeared first on Yachting Monthly.

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