In “the olden days”, ships did not have bathrooms. As unclean as it may sound, their system worked for them at that time. Toward the bow of the boat there was a section of the deck that was simply covered with a grating, and was open to the sea below. Sailors needing to relieve themselves would do so over the grating and any waste fell through to the sea, keeping the area clean. This was a simple and effective system for the times.

In Maritime terms, head referred to the top or forward portion of a part of a ship. The head of the mast or the head of the bowsprit or the term dead ahead are examples. When a Sailor needed to relieve himself he would have to go to the grated section in the forward part of the vessel. So when he wanted to go forward he would simply say, “I need to go to the head of the ship”. That terminology has stuck with us and to this day we nautical types still refer to the bathroom as the “head”.

Our culture has progressed in this area and today virtually every boat has some sort of bathroom facility. These range from porta potties on small boats to fixed holding tanks on others. It is illegal to discharge any waste overboard within three miles of the shoreline or in bays.

Now lucky for us our yacht have 2 “Heads” including a shower in each as well. It is still not allowed to use them when we are in a Bay or in the Harbour. In the Harbour it is no problem as you just get off the Yacht, walk over to the ablutions block and do your thing.

In a Bay however, this is a different story, “knyp” is all I can say, or convince the skipper to up anchor and get the yacht moving. So make sure you do your thing before you enter a Bay where you are going to do some snorkeling in order to avoid having a scare underwater.

As for the shower, we will have a shower in each Head and then there is one on the outside as well. We will fill up with water each day, although we have to pay for the water, it is worth it, the sea is quite salty here and a quick rinse with fresh water after a swim will help a lot. When we are in the harbour, we can also use the ablutions block for a nice warm shower.

Things are normally quite cramped in Heads on yachts, so keep it clean and tidy.