August 2, 2015

Squeezing in berths and heads

A READER called Eric asks: “Why do boat builders insist on putting TWO toilets/heads in a boat as small as 32 feet? C'mon, how many 400-square-foot apartments/houses on land have two bathrooms?”

Well, Eric, if I had to take a flying guess I’d say it was the boatbuilder’s sales department that demanded two heads. Apparently it’s a major selling point, especially among the fairer sex. It’s the same reason that builders insist on putting six berths in a four-berth boat, and four berths in a two-berth boat. The sales manager wants to be able to boast that his 25-footer is a family boat that can accommodate Mom, Pop, and four kids on weekend jaunts, unlike the competition whose 26-footer only has berths for two adults and two kids.

It sounds better in the ads, and looks good in the color brochure, but no boat designer in his right mind would come up with this idea on his own. He knows better than anyone how awkward and inconvenient too many berths are in a small boat, and what a wicked waste of space. He also knows how little time people spend in the head and how hard it is to compensate for the extra space a second head steals from the interior.

But he has to earn an honest nickel, and the boatbuilder is the boss, so he grinds his teeth and squeezes in a couple of berths here and a couple of heads there, knowing full well that he’s creating a travesty of boat design.

There are a few traditional designs that follow more normal rules of practical and esthetic design and, ironically, they usually cost a lot more than the plastic Best Westerns that fill our marinas.

So, Eric, I’m afraid there’s only one thing left to do, and that’s to take yourself to an old-fashioned naval architect and commission him or her to design you a boat with as few bunks and heads as you consider appropriate. You will instantly become that architect’s dream customer, and you might even feel your feet being kissed, but whether you’ll be able to find a builder willing to create this aberrant kind of boat, one so far removed from the modern norm, is quite another matter.

Today’s Thought
Change doth unknit the tranquil strength of men.
— Matthew Arnold, A Question 

“Did you visit that spiritualist last night?”
“Was she a good one?”
“No, just a medium.”


R Webster said...

I have been known to help friends improve their boats by removing certain extraneous plumbing from the second head and putting the space to better and higher use. Not ideal without major surgery to bulkheads and cabinetry. But the situation can be improved.

Eric said...

Those were kind of the same things I was thinking. Actually, I was more ranting than asking, but thank you for the response. It's nice to be reminded that great minds think alike. I enjoy reading your posts, you don't seem to hold back on whatever it may be you are saying. The thing that gets me is cleaning two heads and all the associated plumbing problems which are bad enough when there is one. I guess I'll just remove one like R Webster suggests. Now, where is my sawzall,,,