Heads and The Existential

Winter’s Work

When exploring wild and watery environs in a vessel, maintenance is more than a matter of comfort and convenience; it is an existential necessity.

Jupiter benefitted from a big refit this winter including dozens of services, repairs, replacements and enhancements. Nothing was simple, each was needed, and almost all are now complete.


A new flybridge enclosure made for a sea change aboard Jupiter, providing shelter for the crew and an all-weather panoramic helm station.


Jupiter’s two heads are being replaced.

The critical function of marine heads (toilets) is evacuation; what goes into the bowl must go out. Seafarers’ privies are intolerant of blockages, and the adages, “your head eats what you eat” and “tiny tissue goes a long way, using more ruins the day” are accurate.

This cute potty, with a seat the size of a dog Frisbee, is marketed as the Silence Plus 2. It is neither silent nor able to manage Number 2.

Yacht heads benefit little from gravity, and must flush, macerate, and eject the contents into a 1-1/2″ hose directed overboard (if offshore) or into the holding tank for pump-out later at a convenient time and place.

Hand pump and bucket on standby for a blocked head.

An obstructed head is a sorry sanitary situation requiring surplus flush, grind and push cycles, or failing that, disassembly of the head; or worse. The unenviable mariner ships a hand pump and bucket for the inevitable.

Andrew and Rowan delight in replacing sanitary hoses.

Error 6

Jupiter’s aging washer and dryer were replaced with great difficulty owing to their snug location. Removing and replacing big white laundry machines required imagination, technical skill and muscle. Once in place each unit was run through a test cycle:

  • Washer: Pass
  • Dryer: Error 6
How do you get a laundry machine into the boat, past the engines, and through this door?

Error Codes 1 through 5 were listed in the owners manual, however, there the itemization ended. No posting for Error 6. The appliance distributor, when contacted, characterized this code as “really bad”, and now another unit must follow the same torturous journey into the vessel’s deep heartland.

“There are a lot of mysterious things about boats, such as why anyone would get on one voluntarily.”    

P. J. O’Rourke
Black Oyster Catchers on Frost Island


  1. DeeDee and Terry Lisenby says:

    Our guest head over ran on Thurs night at 2am. With guests on board flushing again and again trying to get it to drain, with a clog not moving and water continually flowing over, flooding the floor. It ran out onto our companionway floor and when they woke us up, we had almost 2 inches of water in the hallway. Ugh…….
    The good news is that the boat hallway is lower than any stateroom and has a raised lip at each doorway, so our flood was contained in the bath and hall. Never the less, after using all towels on board, dragging carpets out side, washing down floors and bilge with Lysol, we got back in bed. We were able to clear the blockage (another enjoyable task) and we washed and hosed all day yesterday. Thankfully it was a hot and sunny day. We looked liked boating vagabonds with sterilized wet carpeting and padding hanging all over our front decks and bow. Today, we are dry and clean. And will try and put the pieces back together. The carpet may never lay flat again, but it did not dissolve.
    I am seriously thinking of beginning a cross stitched wall hanging for over the head stating, “If it is not going down, stop flushing!” What do you think, too subtle? Maybe, just “Dont flood and sink the boat!”

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