Peeing Off a Boat is OK? Or Should We Learn How to Use a Marine Head? Patrick Childress Sailing #51

By | October 18, 2019


if you’re ever offshore and you fall
overboard lesson number one is the first thing you do is zip up your fly that way
your friends won’t laugh at you at your funeral HI Im Patrick Childress, and we will get back with Hank
Smith in just a few minutes I wanted to tell you back in 1980 I was crossing the
Pacific I was into the second year of a three-year solo circumnavigation on a 27
foot sailboat on a pleasant day with the wind off the port quarter and sailing
along and I was taking a pee off the back side of the boat which was nothing
unusual but just as I had been warned the boat took a sudden very unexpected
lurch and I was on my way over the back it took all of my strength and effort to
Teeter myself back up onto the cockpit and from that day forward I never peed
over the side of the boat while at sea again I always used the head and sat down.
Checking with some other people… I first met John Neal in Papeete Tahiti in 1980
John was sailing on his 26 foot Mahina it’s been 30 years now that he and his
wife Amanda have been operating offshore expeditions most recently on their sailboat
Mahina Tiare and I asked John if it’s addressed in their crew manual about
peeing over the side he said no but it IS in their crew orientation and nobody
pees over the side off of his boat while at sea and even men sit down while they
use the head checking with another source yet was Andrew Burton who lives
in newport rhode island he has been sailing most of his life professionally
delivering sail boats across oceans operating private sailboats and charter
boats worked as a magazine editor and he has the same policy
nobody pees over the side of the boat while at sea and men sit down using the
marine head .so this is what the pros do how they approach the safety of keeping
people on the deck of their boat Hank Schmitt who operates offshore passage
opportunities it is in his crew manual that nobody pees over the side and men
sit down on the marine head well let’s get back with hank he’s going to give us a
little more information and show us how to use a marine head, how to make sure that it’s
flushed properly so the whole crew comes out smelling good we were having a little fun with you up
on deck but it is serious business about taking a leak offshore and you really
want to be careful so we really recommend not to do that offshore and
again almost kidding aside but you really do want to make sure your your
fly is zipped up if you do fall overboard but while we’re on the subject we
thought we would talk about using the marine head it’s a thing that a lot of
people are reluctant to ask questions on because it seems like such a simple
thing but so many people do not use a marine head correctly well you have to understand
about using the head and again some people call it the head I call it the
gym because that’s where we do get a lot of our exercise. once you put something
into the toilet we have our bottle to demonstrate it goes in and you’ll see
that we have on the side just for flush which water goes out it’s actually dry
Bowl and then there’s another saying for flush so you want to evacuate the bowl
first with it on dry and then you have to envision what’s going on everything
is going into the toilet through hoses and it has to go up a hose through what
they call a vented loop then down to the hose and either into your holding tank
or offshore we’re going to talk about just using it offshore where we are
pumping everything over the side so you want to make sure first that everything
disappears from your bowl so now there’s nothing there it’s empty but then you
switch it over to the wet side and as you pump you get your exercise and water
comes in and what we’re doing is that water is forcing everything in the hoses
several feet into the hose up over the vented loop down and then back over the
side and then after you’ve pumped it 10-15 times you want to go back to the
dry Bowl and a marine head. unlike at home, you want to leave it empty so there
is no water if there is any back flush what happens is because of that hose if
it does back flush a little bit it’s gonna back flush with clean sea water
and you’re not going to smell up your head if you don’t pump enough any back
flush might still be contaminated water and your heads gonna start stinking a
lot so you really want to make sure you pump a lot so it’s the big hose at the
bottom which is the evacuation hose so you want to make sure you pump a whole
lot to move everything the big hose underneath you’ll see it
goes behind the toilet behind the bulkhead and let it go goes head and
travels up through the big loop to your Y valve where you set for it to go
either to a holding tank or overboard dockside of course we’re where we are
now on holding tank once we get offshore in the ocean switch it over seacock and
then when it’s seacock of course pump it a whole bunch of times make sure you
get rid of everything dockside either try and use the facilities at the marina
or don’t pump as much so you don’t fill up your holding tanks now if you’re
doing number two of course you don’t want to start with a dry bowl so you
might want to go to your head put it on wet put some water in there and then
some boats really don’t like you to throw anything even toilet paper down
the toilet you can use toilet paper as long as you don’t use too much toilet
paper I like to say is compromise between poor angelina jolie that got
vilified for saying that you only needed one piece of toilet paper and then
that’s a little extreme on one end and on the other end try not to do it my
oldest daughter did and make a catchers mitt it way too much so as long as you
use smaller pieces put them in it really isn’t a problem
you’re not going to clog your toilet but again only toilet paper and then again
you need to put it on dry first if you keep it on wet you’re just going to keep
circulating not emptying the bowl but you put it on dry to evacuate once it
all disappears it’s just sitting right at the beginning of your your hoses so
you put it on wet and then you get your exercise in the gym pump a good 10-15
times move everything along the lines gets over that vented loop and down over
the side and overboard and then back to the dry position and we tried to get rid
of everything and that’s how you’d leave it in the course of your trip
if water’s coming back and it’s still smelling you’re not pumping enough so
you just have to pump more and that again is the nice way to keep your
marine head not smelling too bad, and not worrying about any clogs and you keep everybody very happy without
any any problems. there are no plumbers at sea…the captains usually drafted and he doesn’t like
that! I hope the information in this video was worthwhile for you if so
please click on the thumbs up button and if you haven’t already on the subscribe
thanks again for watching and we’ll see you soon

68 thoughts on “Peeing Off a Boat is OK? Or Should We Learn How to Use a Marine Head? Patrick Childress Sailing #51

  1. Sydney Austin Post author

    No volume for Hank ..Couldnt hear what he was saying..

    Reply
  2. Davy P Post author

    Yes, the volume is lower than other videos, but I play mine through a Bluetooth speaker which acts like an amplifier.

    Reply
  3. Emily & Clark's Adventure Post author

    We have a piece of safety gear on Temptress that I've never seen anywhere else. It's simple and big for safety.
    I have a funnel with a hose in the cockpit running down a cockpit scupper. The funnel is actually a silicone "her-anal" available on eBay. We both use this at sea. Safer and easier then using the head. Keeps you at the wheel when you need to be there and saves us an uncomfortable trip below when things are rough.
    I invented this while solo sailing in a storm. Similar story.
    I think we need to show this in a video soon on our channel.

    Reply
  4. Patrick Childress Sailing Post author

    Please turn up your volume to hear Hank better. People have let us know that the volume is low but if you turn it up you should be able to hear it. Apologies!

    Also…for more about Marine Head Maintenance: https://youtu.be/bRofFfb37eg

    Also, What do you think? Pee over the side? Or Sit down in your head and get your exercise?

    Reply
  5. Lotophagi Post author

    Only things that have been swallowed first go in the head – it takes a long time for toilet paper to decompose. I provide nappy bags for the paper to go into. These are kept until they can be disposed of on shore. Men hate to pee standing up so I use a wide necked bottle.

    Reply
  6. Dutch Globetrotter Post author

    When I got on board of Britican for the first time it went like this:
    "Hi welcome aboard, if I catch you peeing from the sugar scoop while at sea you're off the boat."
    "Your bunk is right this way."

    Reply
  7. captainandthelady Post author

    I've heard you should use single ply TP instead of two ply. What is your opinion?

    Reply
  8. Freddy Rassinger Post author

    Where else do you get such wisdom? Pure gold. Thanks Patrick.

    Reply
  9. Robert Rudolph Post author

    _ My preference is still the Composting Toilet, NEVER smells, no Through Hulls and love the idea of the little "Fart-Fan" getting the "Methane" outa the boat. OK, so every 2 -3 weeks you have to dump the compost which is at NO COST in a trash/refuse bin as opposed to having it 'Pumped-out' costing a fee. This couple used to RV all over for years now sailing around the world, check the link: _ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5CdnVZkCKXU&t=705s

    Reply
  10. alfonso m Post author

    I will be completing my intermediate "US Sailing" certification this weekend, interestingly enough, we haven't discussed this although I suspect it's due to the fact that we are using Catalina 22's which only have port a pottys, either way, I greatly appreciate your videos, they are not only highly instructive but also very entertaining.

    Reply
  11. Dennis Grosen Post author

    that is how many fishers out in there 16-20 foot boats is killed every year speciel in the kold time many not even have life west on 2-5 every year here in Dk alone what a waste of life in kold waters it only takes a few minuts to die

    Reply
  12. David Armstrong Post author

    Non-sailor (for now), but why not pee in the cockpit drain? Pee is actually fairly "clean" or so I thought.

    Reply
  13. Mike Phillips Post author

    My wife & I cut a large Clorox bottle in half leaving a bit of urinal shape to it on the half with a handle & we both use it to pee when passagemaking within the safety & confines of the cockpit. Contents are simply dumped out over the cockpit lee side while underway, again, from the safety of the cockpit. This works extremly well, saves all the hassel of going through the boat to use the head & everything that entails. Works like a charm especially in a rough seaway, simple, fast, clean & easy. That same clorox bottle lasted 5 years lol! I recommend this method heartily to everyone for a better peeing experience offshore!

    Reply
  14. Shoestring Tom Post author

    There are many "hardn'fast" rules, no leaking from the rails is one. I have friends who were all experienced seamen making a rough overnight passage on a small boat, one stepped out of the wheelhouse to take a leak and was never again seen. When that happens the family and remaining crew never quiet get over it for the remainder of their lives. It is a serious subject and well done Patrick for addressing it. BTW .. Great tutorial Hank .. 👍💚🍀

    Reply
  15. Maya Opperman Post author

    Thank you for this important public service announcement 😊

    Reply
  16. pate allan Post author

    I guess the act of just going to the rail is the problem not just peeing. There's nothing magical about peeing that sends someone overboard. How about catching a fish ? one hand is on the rod, the other on the reel. You have nothing preventing a fall. Do we make policies like, no body catches a fish? Why not, hey use a harness at all times. I just wouldnt want urine blowing and leaking all over my decks.

    Reply
  17. clutelmm Post author

    I have the same toilet and wasn't sure on how to use it, now I am. Thanks!

    Reply
  18. Atreyu Principalh Post author

    Sir GOD BLES YOU THANK YOU FOR THIS IMPORTANT HOW TO LESSON!!!

    Reply
  19. dfgjhdj Post author

    anybody try using those "flushable" wipes in a head? they supposedly gum up plumbing, but they're kind of small.

    Reply
  20. Mo River Post author

    On the subject of peeing over the side, because I single-hand most of the time, I simply place cut off 2, or 3 liter bottles of soda upside down on each cockpit scupper and aim there. I keep a gallon of bleached water to rinse down the bottles after each use. All while tethered to the boat. I've been tossed around in weather but so far stayed in the boat. For #2 in the head, I've found that dropping and flushing works best. Great video on a neglected subject though.

    Reply
  21. santa mulligan Post author

    I thought mahina was an albin Vega 27 more people are putting thetford cassette toilets in and are removing the thruhulls that and or a bucket are the simpler way to go

    Reply
  22. Bb Viper Post author

    I stopped peeing off the side of the boat after dragging 'it' on sharp coral on sea floor.

    Reply
  23. Jesse Arzate Post author

    My five-year plan is to finally realize my dream of having my own boat so I'm starting off by doing my homework years well in advance instead of learning the hard way. I've watched several of your videos and my jaw has actually dropped because your explanations are so straight-forward that my mind is left blown at the simple and practical genius of your solutions. Thanks to you, I solved the great mystery of how to maximize water catchment at sea. And by the way, probably the biggest lesson I've had realizing is that owning a boat is actually entering into a serious and committed relationship. So just like any relationship, you really need to put in the work if it's going to be a good and lasting one. Thank you so much for the wisdom.

    Reply
  24. debeeriz Post author

    1 if peeing over the side dont piss into the wind,
    2 in rough weather sit down to pee,
    3 if like me, you are elderly and the doctor tells you not to lift heavy things, does not matter if its rough or smooth, always sit down to pee

    Reply
  25. Marcel D Post author

    Another good video from PCS. Also another reason why I may want to change over to composting toilets when I finally get my long term cruising boat. There is enough work to do on a boat already….

    Reply
  26. Paul Fitzgerald Post author

    I use a plastic urine bottle if I am alone in the cockpit, like on night watches.
    Like this, mine is a bit more robust.
    https://www.breezemobility.com.au/products/3040l-male-urinal-with-screw-on-lid
    They also make versions now for females as well.
    Just tip the contents overboard, and if it is tied on with a lanyard you can throw the whole thing overboard to wash it if you are not moving too quickly.

    Reply
  27. Frank D Post author

    I gave $25-30 to Offshore Passage Opportunities back in the late 90s and never heard a word from them. What a rip-off!

    Reply
  28. bertkutoob Post author

    I thought it was just my family but I see not. What is it with daughters and toilet paper…? Do they all think it grows on trees…?

    Reply
  29. Darren Watson Post author

    Great approach to the topic and something I hadn't really given any thought to, but, needed to know. Any information that can keep people safe is GREAT.

    Reply
  30. Greg Pearcey Post author

    Why not just keep a pee bottle handy? Empty it overboard when convenient.

    Reply
  31. Greg Pearcey Post author

    Angelina Jolie prolly uses a bidet and towel for #2 and a single square for pee

    Reply
  32. Tom Williams Post author

    I'm embarrassed to say I've always wondered how to work one. Thanks

    Reply
  33. David C Post author

    Great info! Remember to use the head properly to avoid creating a sh*ty mess of repairing the head to remove the clog! Thanks!

    Reply
  34. John Gagne Post author

    Gentlemen . . Important topic indeed. As Patrick may remember, I am guilty of taking a leak off the side in route to Bermuda. .

    Reply
  35. Mark Jennings Post author

    I fitted a clear section at the bowl outlet to see when water was clear….

    Reply
  36. Redemption Post author

    Gatorade bottle. Anyone doing the iCW alone will tell you the same. Dump when nobody is watching.
    But if the head is used, sit down.
    Lol, great video!!

    Reply
  37. tynu bernard Post author

    Mens prostate it is common in men peeing standing. Nothing good comes from peeing standing :)))

    Reply
  38. yakyakyak69 Post author

    Just install a Nature's Head. Stop pumping pee & poop and remove the hoses from the boat.

    Reply
  39. Hans Quistorff Post author

    That is why before they had toilets on sailing ships you were required to go to the head of the boat where there was a net to keep you from falling int the sea. Thus the name head.

    Reply
  40. Nigel Donald Post author

    Excellent video! I dont have a head on my boat but I had no idea how to use one.

    Reply
  41. Steve Burton Post author

    You might want to do one on the crystal deposits you get from using salt water to flush urine. Veggie oil helps…

    Reply
  42. How to Sail Oceans Post author

    Volume on 11 … I have a composting head, which are not easy to pee into unless sitting down. Offshore, however, I almost always bucket-n'-chuck-it (using the bucket in the cockpit well). If the decks are on continuous flush (Force 5 and up …) I pee on the lee side deck, with one hand on the boom gallows.

    Reply
  43. Lyfan Deth Post author

    Sitting on the head: yes. Although from small craft & aircraft heads, I've found that a three point brace (head against the overhead, spine locked solid into the legs set against walls or other) or four point (at least one arm) pretty much is mess proof.
    There's also a forgotten part of the head called a "knee board". Set vertically on the floor in front of the head, it can be a piece of 1×6 or similar, with semicircles cut out on top do a man can "kneel" in front of the head, locked in position, with no to drop trousers.
    We've also dedicated a "not for drinking" wide mouth tupperware bottle, for use in the cockpit when going below just doesn't seem like a good idea.

    Reply
  44. poche12651 Post author

    Two people I know most probably drowned peeing off the side of the boat or dock. They were drinking, fell and probably got knocked out before they fell in the water. One does not even need to sit on the head. Just piss into a container and dump it.

    Reply
  45. midgoog2 Post author

    Electric pump for the head anyone????
    I know my better half would baulk at that amount of pumping

    Cheers Eric

    Reply
  46. Greg Horne Post author

    Bucket, bottle or cockpit drain is a pretty safe comprimise. Saves wear on the head, and crew.

    Reply
  47. dodgeplow Post author

    Have you or the guys writing these "no pee off the side" manuals not heard of a harness and tether?

    Reply
  48. Ken Post author

    This is an excellent presentation and explanation of the head. I am completely unfamiliar with these things and learned a lot in a short time. I have been looking for exactly this information. Many thanks.

    Reply
  49. J S Post author

    lol use a bottle and pour it out. your welcome lmao, what a stupid thing to make a video about.

    Reply
  50. Marty Spargur Post author

    Zip up your fly-LOL- after a week or two of gales it is common to see men with them open because they have only been closing the one in their foul weather gear for so long they forgot that the one in their clothing did not get buttoned.
    First… it is very common during sailboat races to see crews pissing out their beers over the side. The general consensus is "everybody does it" and "get over it". OK' I'm not particularly offended by the practice, especially if the peeer uses some discretion. But please appreciate that many people ARE offended by the practice, and whether they are overreacting or not the fact is that in the United States a complaint and judgement against you will automatically land your picture on the web as a registered sex offender. Hardly worth it.

    I have crewed on many boats that prohibit pumping "Anything that has not been eaten first" because they are so afraid even paper will clog the kybo. This, imo, creates very unsanitary conditions because of the difficulty in storing used tp safely. Not to mention It Reeks.
    The proven solution to minimizing clogs is 'pump as you go'. Don't wait for anything to accumulate in the bowl. The more you pump, the cleaner the whole system will be. A typical rule-of-turd is to pump 12 strokes minimum after the bowl is empty. You will have to re-open the "water in" a time or two to do this. Open that before you start pumping air again to save time.
    Of course if we are using a holding tank you need to take this into account, especially if it tends to fill quickly to capacity.

    When pumping the bowl dry, back off on the speed with which you are pumping since an almost dry bowl will often fling what's left in there up into your face. Which brings to mind how much pressure you can pump with. If what's in the hoses is balking at being pumped overboard, A Little more pressure will often be enough, but do not force anything.
    Any and all manual pumps should always be operated gently and with full strokes, not too fast. If you're pumping just air, fine, pump fast to get it primed. But pumping too fast against solid water is extremely destructive to the pump.
    Double hose clamps on all hoses are a sign of a professional installation, but anytime you're adding a second hose clamp (jubilee clip) ensure that there is actually a long enough spigot or hose barb under the second clamp or you will just be constricting the hose with a clamp that is working against the first one, as it will be trying to pull the hose off the barb.
    Oh, now here's an unsolicited opinion: If you want a "Y" valve that actually seals and doesn't leak, look for the "Whale" brand. Those are "T" valves so they might not be convenient replacements for a "Y" valve. To prove this for yourself simply visit the chandlery and see how many of them you can actually blow through when they're "closed".
    Finally, if you clog the head, don't be shy about getting a little bit down and dirty. It is really no big deal to fix, and people will be super impressed. Using a 5/16" or 7mm NUT DRIVER on the clamps instead of a flat screwdriver will make the job go twice as fast, with fewer cuts to your hands.
    The dangerous and nasty part of fixing the head is dealing with the formaldehyde and other toxic holding tank treatment chemicals, not the natural stuff.
    Thank You Patrick!!

    Reply
  51. Ernie Tetrault Post author

    While attending Maritime Academy, I had an instructor who told us something like "Nine out of ten male drowning victims who fell off boats were found with their fly open".

    Reply

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