Nathan Whitworth writes:
It has often been said that I talk schitte (to use the less offensive Middle English term), but never quite so literally as in this article.
I was recently contacted by one of the editors who was enquiring about sanitation facilities on board a Corribee in response to a request from a user (of both the site, and, I presume, said facilities).
Toilet facilities seem to remain be a popular subject of enquiry as soon as people learn of anybody spending any amount of time in a small space. I would have put this down British humour, but the Americans did a sterling job of quizzing the Apollo astronauts on the subject, as well as the recent Chilean mining accident so I think going to the loo is just a fundamental point of curiosity for us humans.
By the way, they set up chemical toilets for the miners as soon as the first bore hole broke through, and before that, they did what miners do best – dug a hole.
Toilet on a Corribee
The toilet facilities on a Corribee are obviously limited by space, and a common solution is to use a chemical toilet. On the MK2 and MK3 Corribees, these are stored under the vee berth. In the case of the two berth layout MK3 (which has a compartment bulkhead with a door), the chemical toilet is also forward in its own (very small) heads/sail locker.
From a design point of view, this seems like a sensible place to put a toilet as it is neatly stowed out of sight under a berth until its services are required. However, anybody familiar with sailing a small boat anywhere but an inland boating lake, will testify that the bow end of a 21ft boat is really not the place to be at any time, let alone when undertaking a delicate manoeuvre where spills tend to be very much frowned upon. Indeed, I would be so bold as to suggest that in anything above a force four, a trip to the loo would be all but impossible.
The MK1 Corribee was slightly different. While the hull is identical across the revisions, the inner layout and coach roofs are entirely different on the later models. There simply isn’t room for a chemical toilet under the vee berth, and so some MK1s had their toilet, a proper sea toilet, fitted under the starboard locker, which is essentially the space below the chart table.
My own boat had the MK1 configuration. Indeed, a sea toilet was an essential requirement when I first started looking for a boat, and I doubt I would have bought her if she had not come equipped with the Royal Doulton sea toilet.
As any experienced boat borne toilet user will tell you, the best sea toilets, bar none, are those made by Blakes. The Blakes Lavac is the most reliable sea bog known to man, but unfortunately it takes up rather a lot of room. The bowl unit itself would easily fit where a chemical toilet had been, but the subsequently required plumbing and pump simply wouldn’t, and so this loo is but a pipe dream for the Corribee owner (pun very much intended, and so I offer my apologies in advance).
The only feasible option in “proper” sea toilet terms, is similar to the loo fitted to my MK1, and it is the non-sealing type of sea toilet, such as the ones made by Plastimo. They’re very compact, quite cheap, and simple to install. However, you must be prepared to have to service them from time to time, and the pressure that can build up in them due to a blockage is quite immense. I know of a few people who have quite literally been covered in excrement whilst attempting to repair these toilets, so be warned. In fairness to Plastimo and other companies that make similar toilets, I should say that when they do malfunction, it is almost always down to somebody putting something they haven’t eaten first down the toilet.
Suitability of a sea toilet on a Corribee
So far I’ve discussed the various types of toilet available, and I’ve done my best to do so with unbiased journalistic prose. However, as a fellow Corribee owner and liveaboard, I couldn’t allow this article to end without a healthy dose of persuasion and bias, and so here it is…
YOU DON’T NEED A TOILET!
The position of the toilet on the MK 2 & 3 make it essentially unusable unless you only sail in calm conditions, and from an environmental point of view you can only empty a chemical toilet when back on land (really, please don’t pour toilet chemicals in to the sea). Indeed, no matter where you choose to fit a toilet in a Corribee, it is going to be at best uncomfortable, and at worst unusable in anything but flat calm.
As for sea toilets, well, they require two holes to be drilled through your hull BELOW the water line. In any boat the following is sound advice, but it is especially true for a vessel the size of a Corribee: the number of holes in your hull should be kept to an absolute minimum.
Toilets take up lots of space, no matter which sort you opt for, and if one thing is at a premium on a Corribee, it is space.
My advice is to forget notions of western comfort and buy a bucket. The one and only time I used my sea toilet whilst at sea (the only place one is permitted to do so), convinced me to subsequently remove it and I have never regretted that decision. Scoop up a little sea water in to your bucket, use, then cast overboard. It’s simple, it won’t ever malfunction, it doesn’t fill the cabin with a horrid aroma, and it’s clean.
While I’m on the subject of sanitation, it is worth offering a few notes about personal hygiene.
All Corribees (so far as I am aware) came out of the Newbridge factory with a sink. I now have the envious luxury of hot and cold running water on Kudu, but before that I would boil the kettle and mix that with cold water to create enough of a “bath” to have an all over wash with. This is only a feasible option in very calm conditions (at anchor, in a marina, or becalmed), but it’s wonderfully refreshing. My generation has grown up with power showers and instant running hot water, but just a couple of generations before me, an all over wash using a sink full of warm water was considered the norm, and is still perfectly acceptable.
When conditions won’t permit a sloshy sink full of water, then baby wipes are a fantastic short term alternative. You can buy a packet of 200 “value” baby wipes from British supermarkets for as little as 17p, so they are always handy to keep on board.
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