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This article was published in the

Good-old-boat

May 2016

Old-Fwrd-head    When we bought the boat this bathroom was a poky little hole with a tiny ‘unstainless’ steel washbasin and a minimum size manual toilet—which I could not prevent from leaking for love nor money. Furthermore, the head was not plumbed into the holding tank, as I was led to believe by the seller. It discharged directly overboard, which is illegal in American waters. One reason for this was because the aluminum holding tank had holes in it.

   There was no shower, because there was no room to shower—unless you wanted to sit on the toilet and soak everything else as well. Consequently there was no drain under the grating. Any leakage went straight into the bilge which is not a good idea when a toilet leaks.

   I closed all the sea-cocks and we never used the place, except for storage of fenders and ropes. It was a waste of space, so I started to consider what could be done with it.

  The main problem was the tiny space. It was only three feet wide at it’s widest and three feet six inches long. However, there was an eighteen inch wide, full depth locker forward of the bathroom with its door opening into the corridor, and not actually accessed from either of the two forward cabins. Each cabin had it’s own hanging locker anyway, so after careful measurement I decided to incorporate this space into the bathroom, then look at what I had to work with. I had already remodeled the aft cabin bathroom, so it didn’t matter what I dismantled or discarded from the forward head.

Fwd-toilet  I cut away the half bulkhead between the bathroom and the locker using a saws-all and a big hammer and chisel. Then the locker door frame was removed to reveal a deceptively large space. I used the bulkhead piece to infill the gap where the locker door had been.  

   The old washbasin and toilet, along with their pipes were removed and thrown away. As was the smelly backing panel and other side panels. On removing the panels I discovered the port light caulking had perished and it leaked. So that came out, to be re-bedded with new sealing compound.The vinyl ceiling material was discolored and old, so that was ripped out as well.  

As is well known on boats, one thing leads to another, and another...

   I could certainly now began to see what I had to work with. Yet I still had no clear picture how it would all go back together again. After a lot of repeated measuring and drawings I decided that the widest part of the area, where the old toilet had fitted, would make a good shower stall. A new toilet would fit nicely in the locker space, and in between I could install a similar vessel washbasin and faucet like the aft bathroom.

   I bought the same ‘Elegance’ model toilet like I installed in the aft bathroom, and the same style faucet and taps. I decided to also install the Purisan waste system which was working so well in the aft head. I would then have two completely independent heads, both with a US Coast Guard approved waste treatment system. I installed the percolator behind a mirror and nothing can be seen of the working equipment.

New-Bathroom   The toilet also fitted flush against the back of the old locker bulkhead and I was able to route the inlet and discharge pipes down through the floor, so no pipes are visible at all in this bathroom. I hate to see marine heads with exposed pipes and valves, when with a bit more effort they can usually be enclosed.

   I found a faucet set the same style as the aft bathroom, but having a shower head on a flexible pull out cord, hooking to a polished wall mounting bracket.

   It was not difficult to modify the existing sink locker to mount the new bowl, but like in the aft bathroom, the single faucet needed mounting higher to be able to pour into the bowl. I therefore built a raised section and fitted both levels with polished granite tops.

   Positioning the head where the locker had been left a nice space for a shower, with the shower head pulling out of the washbasin counter top. The shower drains through a grating into an automatic discharge sump which pumps out through a vented loop into the wash basin drain.

   I tiled this area with one 1/8” thick waterproof vinyl tiles, glued to the wooden walls and thoroughly calked. The back panels were finished with plastic sheet.

   I then built a seat of teak slats to be able to sit down while showering under way.

shower-head   I replaced the old wicker sliding doors with mirrors, giving the room a much larger and brighter feel. Vessel-bowl

   The ceiling, which now spanned the old ceiling and the locker ceiling, was clad with PVC Ever-True Interior wainscote planking. These are tongue and groove panels which form a very nice rot proof ceiling. They also offer a degree of insulation, which the old vinyl did not. They were simply screwed and pinned to the existing cross bars with all the wiring for the ceiling lights concealed above.

   I also installed two 120 volt wall sconce lights. Both the 12 volt and the 120 volt lights work from the same dual toggle switch. When in port we use the 120 supply and when at sea the 12 volt lamps.

   The bathroom now looks more like an elegant yacht of a bygone era, yet it is modern and extremely functional..

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