Domestic house tubs are filled from the house hot water supply, but there wasn’t enough water in my boat’s six gallon hot water system to warm 55 gallons with hot water. I had previously installed a second 120 volt shore power cable, primarily to power two air conditioners 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 bath water to 103 degrees Fahrenheit in less than one hour.
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 waincote panels on house walls from Lowe’s hardware store. Each board is 7 inches wide and ¼ inch thick and available in 8’ feet long boards. I also wired in two 120 volt sconce lights from Home Depot and two extra 12 volt ceiling lights. I found an oval painted glass picture of a square-rigger on Amazon.com, which I inset into the alcove with a light behind it.
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 fresh water supply by using none return valves which ensured it remains totally isolated from the boats fresh water tanks. Fresh water flushing totally eliminates odor and keeps the bowl cleaner. When at sea the toilets can be switched to sea water flush, to save potable water in the tanks.
Installing the head 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 aluminium holding tank in the bilge—which was supposed to serve both heads—was 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 recycle plant.
I hate holding tanks, which nearly always smell, so I replaced it with a Raritan Purisan waste treatment system which injects chlorine into a tank and neutralizes the waste. This is US coastguard approved and quite easy to install if you have room 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 wash basin and faucets. The original ‘stainless’ basin was stained and old fashioned. I bought a basin called a vessel bowl from the local do-it-yourself store, which sits on top of the counter, not recessed into it. This concept allows for a larger bowl than one that is recessed. They are made of thick molded glass and available in many different colours. I bought a beautiful blue and black bowl, with polished brass handles and spout. I rebuilt the pedestal on a split level configuration using two shaped pieces of blue/black granite counter tops with holes to accept the taps and spout.
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 completely 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 days 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 it anywhere other than in our marina berth, where the boat hardly moves. Trying the have a bath at anchor could be interesting, when a passing motor boat causes their usual massive wake.