WPSU

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Throne Room

I DO have more photos that will wrap up our trip down the Tenn-Tom Waterway. But first, a digression.

Jim F writes: "Hey Cynthia, you've described the Dragonfly pretty well to date but you've avoided the "potty" issue.  Do you have a marble bathroom? . . .  or a bucket?"

The hundreds of soldiers stationed at Fort Gaines during the Civil War shared this 10-seat latrine.
A channel to the sea provided the flushing action.
Jim, thanks for taking the plunge to address this delicate issue.  Hold your nose and here goes.

The first thing I can tell you is that our boat bathroom is NOT like the bathroom we visited yesterday (photo above)  at Fort Gaines, on Dauphin Island, south of Mobile.  



Notice the porthole.
Ain't that cute?
Our boat bathroom fixtures are slightly more glamorous thana military latrine.  You might  even call them "European-style,"  since rather than being collected in a single generous room, American McMansion style, each fixture has its own compartment.

Let's start at the top, or "head" in nautical speak. 

(Wait!  Another digression:  If you are wondering why sailors call it the "head," it's because British naval ships of the line in the 1700s and 1800s had a little platform up in the bow of the ship, where sailors went to do their business.  Thus, "I'm going to the head," or front, of the ship.)

Our vessel actually has TWO heads (yes, two heads are better than one.) Marine toilets are notorious for failing, and if your head dies on a long cruise, it's handy to have a backup. 

Scrub a dub dub,
Cap'n in the tub
Dragonfly has two "staterooms" (bedrooms) on the boat, and each  room has its own head, hidden in a small pine-paneled compartment that visitors always mistake for the closet.  


Marine heads are a bit different from port-a-potties. They flush to a holding tank, but they use a small amount of water to flush, and there's no blue chemical sludge. 

I know what you are wondering: 1) Does it smell? and 2) What do you do when the holding tanks are full?  The answers are 1) no (you put an enzyme-laced deodorant in the tank that works pretty well) and 2) you go to a marina with "pump-out" facilities.  


If you REALLY want to know exactly how a pump-out works, by all means let me know!

Dragonfly also has a shower . . .  also hidden inside a pine-panelled compartment.  For the Cap'n, who is 6'3", it's close quarters.  But it's better than having NO shower.  


When we are NOT showering, we store my folding bicycle in this otherwise empty space, which leads to more startled reactions from visitors who, again, open the door expecting to find a closet. (Most recent question: "Why do you have a wheelchair?"


That tangle of silver hose is
part of the wall-mounted
hot water heater.
You may be wondering, is that a hot shower or a cold shower?  Blissfully, hot . . .  


since, completing the European ambiance, we have a European-style hot water heater.  It looks like a rectangular, brushed metal box, mounted on the wall in the main stateroom. It uses propane to heat hot water on demand.  Turn the tap (any tap--kitchen sink, bathroom sinks, shower), the gas clicks on, and hot water gushes out immediately.  


(Yes, yes, as a solar boat we ought to have a solar shower.  But the roof is pretty full of photovoltaic panels)


Anyway, this heater is GREAT.  I want this device at home. Currently, on winter mornings you have to waste gallons of water purging the pipes of their icewater burden to bring hot water up from the basement to the second floor.


Finally, each of our small staterooms has its own wash-up sink. . . NOT behind closed doors, but right there in the stateroom.  Each sink is set into a wooden vanity, which has handy storage drawers.


People always ask, "What do you miss most while you are on this trip?"  I do miss taking the occasional bath.  Also, ladies, our boat (gasp) has no full-length mirror. If we had rough weather, sez the Cap'n, and a big mirror broke, that would be a lot of dangerous glass shards sloshing around.


But, all in all,  though not a marble palace, our facilities are perfectly adequate.  When the puny little hand-held shower sprayer becomes less than satisfying, well, many marinas have private shower rooms, with full-strength showerheads.   (And amusing signs, warning you not to wash your dog in the shower, or your boat lines.)


In extreme situations, just head for port and recite to your spouse those five lovely words: "Let's get a hotel room."


  








3 comments:

  1. Thanks for the great info! Very entertaining and informative. JF

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  2. Amusingly, right after I made this post we went to Mobile's history museum where I found the most entrancing exhibit to be ... the officers' toilet bowl from the Confederate slop Alabama. A flush toilet in 1864! And made of porcelai daintily decorated with blue flowers.(There was a rumor the bowl was painted with Lincoln's portrait...not true)

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  3. I have always loved the bicycle in a shower concept!

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