March 6, 2011

Bliss is a door on the toilet

LEFTY OFTENSNITCH, currently serving five years in the Walnut Street pen for some crime or other, wants to know if comfort is important on a cruising yacht. Lefty has become used to a rather Spartan existence at his present residence, and feels that the yacht he is going to steal when he is released could with benefit be more seaworthy than comfortable down below.

Well, Lefty, strangely enough, comfort can be a contributor to seaworthiness. A warm, dry, happy crew is more efficient than a wet, miserable, fatigued one. Besides which, during an extended overseas cruise such as you’re planning, you’ll spend five or six times as much time at anchor or in port as you do at sea.

Comfort in port or at anchor is affected by such things as pressurized hot and cold water, showers, electric light, a fridge, microwave oven, and a door on the toilet.

Now I don’t know if you’re planning to take a woman with you, Lefty, or whether you’ll pick one up along the way, but I can tell you that women are especially sensitive about doors on toilets. My own dear wife refused to come to sea with me unless I built a hinged door for the head aboard our 31-foot sloop.

It took me six weeks of racking my brains and carving a sheet of half-inch plywood, but I finally managed. It had custom-crafted cut-outs for the toilet seat, the pump handle, and the hand basin, and you had to go through a complicated routine of raising flaps and unhooking eyes before you could get in or out, but my wife June loved it.

We were the only boat in our class with a door to the toilet and June used to give the other ladies conducted tours. They were very envious. Their unthoughtful husbands made them use curtains. I was much admired for my sensitivity and understanding of the feminine nature.

Now, you don’t have to go overboard with the comforts, Lefty. But a proper toilet with a closing door should be the minimum acceptable when you start casing prospective boats. There should be a holding tank, as well, because they won’t let you pump straight into the harbor any more in most countries, let alone dump a bucketful overboard.

We all have to set our own priorities as far as comfort goes, but I agree with June. If you have to choose, go for the door on the toilet before the microwave oven. That’s the (ahem!) bottom line.

Today’s Thought
Most of the luxuries and many of the so-called comforts of life are not only not indispensable, but positive hindrances to the elevation of mankind.
— H. D. Thoreau, Walden.

Boaters’ Rules of Thumb, #168
The efficiency of a rudder depends on its shape. A narrow, deep rudder is more efficient than a broad shallow rudder. The farther aft the rudder is placed, the greater its turning leverage. For powerboats and racing sailboats, a balanced rudder with about 17 percent of the area forward of the pivoting axis provides a lighter helm and quicker response. For cruising sailboats, an unbalanced rudder hung from a skeg or a full keel benefits from a smoother flow of water and offers less resistance.

“Excuse me, Miss, but do you have a book called Harmony in Marriage?”
“Sure. Look over there. It’s filed under Fiction.”

(Drop by every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, for a new Mainly about Boats column.)

1 comment:

Ben said...

Sort of a "theme" starting here John... Enjoyable reading as always, and good advice, maybe I should listen to karen and fit that door?