Bathroom / Head / Toilet Renovations

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The head (aka bathroom) on our sailboat needed some work.

We liked our manual pump toilet (a Raritan PHII marine head), which Clark installed about 23 years ago, but it was getting discolored and key parts of the system were wearing out and leaking salt water, so we disassembled it and replaced it with a new one of the same kind.

More about this toilet. Something we like about this toilet is that it uses a standard toilet seat, so it’s cheap to replace. The new one also has a soft-closing lid. But more importantly, this toilet works well with our  plumbing setup. Temptress is an ocean-crossing vessel, and we use her as such. By default, our blackwater goes into a tank, but while crossing, we almost always pump directly into the ocean (once we’re 5+ miles offshore, which is the legal requirement). A simple turn of a T-valve converts it back and forth from the tank to the ocean output. We also have a pipe we use for pumping from the holding tank into the ocean when we’re out far enough. This eliminates our need to hire pump-out service. See the last photo in the slideshow above for a diagram of how this plumbing system works. Combined with the AirHead composting toilet we’re installing in the aft head, we should not have to spend any money on pumping out in the future.

Additional changes to the head included stenciling and painting the sliding doors (I forgot to take pictures of the before), stripping and re-varnishing the teak grating on the floor, and adding this wall-mounted soap and shampoo dispenser we ordered from amazon, which is going to free up some space in the shelves behind the sliding doors.

We seem to be working forward-to-aft with our renovations and refinishing. We now we have the head done, and the V Berth / Guest Cabin mostly complete. We still have plenty of work left to do in the saloon, kitchen, tool closet and aft cabin!

Happy sailing, – Emily



V Berth / Guest Cabin Renovations (and lots of sewing)


We’ve got the V Berth (almost) done on the boat. Located all the way forward, it’s a rarely-used area that usually becomes a storage area for musical instruments, produce, and sailing gear, but we wanted to make it up so we have an inviting place for friends to stay aboard.

First, we needed to purchase new foam for the mattresses. We got some relatively cheap foam from Each 5″ HD High Quality Latex Foam Mattress was about $100 for an extra-long twin. Then we cut it into the appropriate shape based on the old mattresses by using a very sharp kitchen knife (lots of trimming, gluing and hard work by Clark, and trips to the boat to re-fit). All our boat mattresses are non-standard sizes and shapes, so we have to add on extra corners and pieces using contact cement, and then sculpt them by using the knife.

Note: In my opinion, these new mattresses are a tad bit too firm, so for my bunk, we used the same mattress, but glued on top on one of those cheap egg-crate foam toppers using more contact cement.

We chose teal upholstery fabric to compliment the saloon furniture cushions and all the patina brass on the boat. We found the upholstery fabric at our local Jo-Ann store. I had to hunt to find the right fish fabric, and finally found this amazing Andros Island Marine fabric at for the shams and decorative pillows. It’s easy to find fish fabric with cartoon fish or neon colors, but I wanted something that had fish that I recognized on it from the Bahamas. The Andros Island Marine design comes in a blue pattern and an orange pattern, which is the one we chose. Jo-Ann had it on their custom rack for three times the price, but this was about $25/yard online.

Here’s some of our sewing project photos:

The starfish pillow was a huge hit on facebook, and I even had people ask me if they could buy one from me. So I posted the starfish pillow pattern here for downloading. Enjoy!

I’ve also discovered there is an entire facebook group dedicated to sewing projects for boats. Click here to join the Sewing on Boats facebook group.

We have a few finishing touches left on this part of the boat. In the coming weeks, we will be replacing the old lights and adding some framed, laminated fish identification cards as art. Both the new lights and the frames will go on the opposite end of the cabin. I’ll also be making a window shade for the 2’x2′ hatch in the ceiling.  I’ll post pictures soon.

Happy Sailing and Happy Sewing! – Emily