Those who have used the head in a Tartan 30 can appreciate this challenge. If you are standing with your pants
down around your ankles I defy you to pull them up without sitting down again, unless you open the door. Yes, the head
(ship’s bathroom to landlubbers) is that small. To make matters worse, access to the engine water intake valve,
the toilet intake valve and the toilet discharge seacock are all accessed from the head but are not actually in the head.
The frustrating part about that is that you cannot see any of those valves; you reach through openings and feel for them.
Fixing this situation was very high on my list.
The head, in the condition we got the boat, was in pretty
tough shape. It smelled. Everything that was white had turned to a blotchy yellow/brown. There were several
holes where both I and the PO had moved hoses. It was time to tear everything out and start over. So I removed
the door, the wall that the door was hung on, the toilet, the sink, the hoses, the cabinet face, the access doors, the counter
trim and top laminate, and the fiberglass shell that enclosed the engine vent shaft. I also removed the head-discharge
seacock, the toilet intake ball valve, the engine raw-water ball valve, the engine exhaust hose, and the water pressure pump.
At least now I had room to work.
Over the winter I made new doors to replace the sliding panels that covered the storage space above the toilet. The
new doors are hinged because I generally don’t care for sliding doors. They offer better security during steep
angles of heel, but I like to open doors to see everything in the cabinet, not just half of what’s in there. Besides,
the old sliders invariably got sticky during the warm summer months.
If there was one particularly general theme about this whole boat renovation it would revolve around access and visibility.
So many things on this boat were just plain inconvenient to get to – not just in the head. I tried to think of
ways to put the access panels, doors, switches, levers, valves, gauges, instruments and stored items in ways they could most
easily be seen and quickly be used. One-hand operation was my mantra. That was actually the fun part of this renovation.