THE BIG DUMPSTER that sits at the head of the gangway to our marina docks is mercifully hidden from public view by high walls. I say mercifully, because it is flanked at the moment by two old marine toilets, something no mariner of delicate sensitivity would want the public to see.
People put things beside the dumpster, rather than in the dumpster, when they judge the stuff they’re throwing out to have some residual worth, something that might be of use to someone else.
I don’t know what fortune it bodes to have two porcelain heads flanking the dumpster. I have heard that a single ring around the sun bodes rain in 24 hours, and I know for sure that if you see a double ring around the moon it means you’re outside when you should be in bed.
But I also happen to know that a used marine toilet is worth about as much as an ice cube in Alaska. I know this because there was a time when I, too, threw the plumbed head off my 22-foot race boat in favor of the much lighter bucket-and-bag-it system.
I took it down the road to the local marine consignment store.
“I have a porcelain head,” I told the man. “Good working condition.”
He sighed. “Let’s see it,” he said warily.
I led him outside and threw open the trunk of my car. The head crouched there innocently on a piece of blue tarpaulin, clean and bright and trying to look hygienic and attractive.
“OK,” said the man. “Bring it in.”
He guided me through the store and down some stairs to a basement room. And there, to my astonishment, stood rows and rows of pre-owned white porcelain toilets, wall to wall as far as the eye could see. It was like the Arlington National of boating bathrooms.
“This is where marine toilets come to die,” said the man lugubriously, waving an arm at a veritable elephant’s graveyard of maritime plumbing. “Yours might take a while to sell,” he added unnecessarily.
I guess people have given up taking their old toilets there now. They’re just leaving them beside the dumpster. I’m not surprised. It was about 10 years ago that I left my old toilet at the consignment store. I still haven’t had a call saying they have a check for me.
Let not the eyes be dry when we have lost a friend, nor let them overflow. We may weep, but we must not wail.
— Seneca, Epistulae ad Lucilium
Boaters’ Rules of Thumb, #46
Streams and currents. A current is a steady and permanent horizontal movement of water, like a river running through the ocean. A tidal stream is also a horizontal movement of water but it varies frequently and regularly in speed and direction according to the state of the tide.
A VA doctor was examining a man back from a long spell in Iraq.
“Do you pass water normally?” he asked.
“Don’t go more than usual?”
“Um — no, sir.”
“When you go, does it burn at all?”
“Don’t know, sir. Never tried to light it.”