My wife and I didn't like the aft bathroom layout when we bought the boat. It was very nice to have a private en-suite bathroom off the aft master cabin, but for some inexplicable reason, the washbasin had been built into the bedroom, not the bathroom? This made it very difficult for the person on that side to get in and out of bed. The layout mystified me, I have never seen an aft cabin and large bathroom where the washbasin is installed in the cabin, not the bathroom. There were a few other things we didn't like as well, like the small wedge-shaped built-in bathtub and the old-fashioned manual pump-out head.
I decided to undertake a complete remodeling.
As part of the bedroom remodeling, I had already dismantled the washbasin and cupboard and removed the bulkhead to made it easy to climb in and out of bed on both sides. I had also removed the bathroom door and its framework, and relocated it at an angle, allowing room for a washbasin to be built in the bathroom, like any normal bathroom.
The bathtub was neither one thing nor the other, and no use at all for a six-footer like me. I cut it out, with great difficulty, with a plan to convert it into a shower area. After a week the complete bathroom was gutted down to the floorboards. At this point, it became apparent that if I cut a bit out of the engine room, I could probably fit a full-size bathtub back in the same space. I bought a tub from a local spa manufacture, but it was no ordinary bathtub. I had it fitted with ten adjustable jets and a pump, which along with a heater and pressure pump converted the bath into a real hot tub.
While the bathroom door and bulkhead were out of the way there was plenty of room to bring in the new tub into the bathroom. Once in, it plonked down exactly where I had planned it, even allowing for four inches of extra length, which slid into the neat alcove I pinched out of the engine room.
There wasn't enough water in my boat's six-gallon hot water system to warm 55 gallons with hot water, so I installed a second 120-volt shore power cable, and by combining the two 120 volt inputs with a double pole breaker I obtained a 240 volt supply, to power a water heater. This heats the bathwater to 102 degrees Fahrenheit in less than one hour.
I removed the old head (toilet) and pipes, and after a lot of thought about "electric or manual" I bought a Raritan Elegance electric head and installed it next to the bath. I piped it into the shore side freshwater supply by using none-return valves, which ensured it remains completely isolated from the boat's freshwater tanks. Freshwater flushing eliminates odor and keeps the bowl cleaner. When at sea the toilets can be switched to seawater flush to save water in the tanks. I even found a patriotic British loo seat.
Installing the toilet was the usual struggle with 1½" pipes, but only because I did not want any of the pipework showing in the bathroom. I hate to see marine heads with exposed pipes and valves, when with a bit more effort they can usually be enclosed.
Direct toilet discharge is illegal anywhere in American waters, so most boats have holding tanks. We had learned from the initial survey that the large aluminum holding tank, which was supposed to serve both heads, was not even connected, and about as efficient as a colander! It had to go, so it was chopped out in five hours of very messy work. We went through ten die-grinder cut-off blades and finally wore out the grinder itself when it started to smoke. The only consolation was, I did get $50 for the aluminum from a recycling plant.
I hate holding tanks, which nearly always smell, so I fitted the Raritan Purisan waste treatment system that injects chlorine into a tank and neutralizes the waste. This is US coastguard approved and quite easy to install below the level of the head. I now use the space where the holding tank was for storage of spare mooring ropes and lines.
With the toilet in position and working, the next job was to install a new washbasin and faucets. I bought a basin, called a vessel bowl, from the local do-it-yourself store. This sits on the counter-top, not recessed into it. This concept allows for a larger bowl than one that is recessed. They are made of thick tempered glass and available in many different colors. I bought a beautiful blue and black bowl, and taps with polished brass handles and spout. I rebuilt the pedestal on a split level configuration using two shaped pieces of blue/black granite with holes to accept the taps and spout.
It took longer to trim' the bathroom than to fit the equipment. I used a fascia of blue vinyl tiles and also installed a new headliner. The headliner was plastic (PVC) tongued and grooved panels called Plank Paneling, used as wainscot panels on house walls. I also wired in two 120 volt sconce lights and two extra 12-volt ceiling lights. I found an oval-painted glass picture of a square rigger on Amazon, which I inset into the alcove with a light behind it. The whole room was then re-clad with clean white plastic sheet and caulked to make it waterproof. All this took the best part of two months to finish, but the result is a beautiful bathroom, reminiscent of some elegant Victorian yacht.
It is absolutely marvelous to be able to soak in the bath after a hard day's work on the boat, especially with a pint of Boddington's pub ale which fits in the folding holder on the wall. I haven't yet used the bath anywhere other than in our marina, where the boat hardly moves. Trying the have a bath at anchor could be interesting, when a passing motorboat causes their usual wake.