Life in the Boat Yard

Okay, it’s only in the boat yard, but we’re pretty excited: last night was the first night we spent aboard our new boat!! Yes, we’re living aboard her now!!

And so come the inevitable questions. I’ve written before about living on the hard more from a galley perspective, but there is one question I get pretty frequently from those about to try living aboard on the hard for the first time. Sane thing when we tell a non-cruiser that we’re  living on the boat while we’re working on her in the yard.

We get a few sheepish looks and then the question, “so what if you need to, uh, pee in the middle of the night?” Yeah, we can’t really use the toilet. During the day, it’s pretty simple to use the yard bathrooms. But do you really want to do that in the middle of the night?

The first time we lived in the boat yard — just a few days for bottom painting — we’d climb down the ladder, cross the yard and use the facilities in the shower house.

The next time we were in the yard, we were doing some major work on our first boat, Que Tal, and would be on the hard for 4 months. Dave’s one of those guys who gets up several times a night and he said “no way” to going down the ladder every time.

Solution: the pee bottle and its corollary, the pee bucket.

We put a 5-gallon bucket in the head for me and simply took it out and dumped it it in the toilet in the morning if I’d used it. To be honest, it’s rare that I get up in the middle of the night, so Dave wanted something easier to take down the ladder the other days.

He tried several different jars and bottles, but for various reasons (volume and watertight threads being the main problems) the ones we salvaged from the trash just weren’t right.

Then one day Dave saw a Nalgene canteen used by campers and backpackers and got one. It holds 96 ounces, has a wide mouth and is designed to carry water in backpacks and daypacks, so it’s engineered not to break or leak.   I can vouch that it has never leaked — the big concern for a pee bottle!

And now, considering that the head is in the opposite hull from our cabin in the new boat, I’m guessing it may get used no matter where we are.

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22 Comments
  • Sharon Thompson Dunsworth
    Posted at 03 October 2014 Reply

    We are having Island Queen hauled out today and we’ll be staying on her for the next several weeks. Thanks for the tips.

  • Capt Rich
    Posted at 03 October 2014 Reply

    Being an “Old Salt”, I consider my pee bottle as basic equipment. I have found the best container to be a 50 fl oz laundry detergent bottle. They come with a large mouth, and all I have seen come with a pouring insert. So grab a pair of pliers, grab hold of the pouring insert and pull it out. Voila…perfect pee bottle!!!

  • Sue Bayley
    Posted at 03 October 2014 Reply

    Greetings from my boatyard to yours! I am in Bock Marine, near Beaufort NC.

    • Susan Lynn
      Posted at 03 October 2014 Reply

      You are so lucky – this is my very favorite part of our country. So beautiful there – enjoy.

  • Eva Persson
    Posted at 03 October 2014 Reply

    I have to tell you about something I bought in Sweden, but I am sure it can be sent internationally. My parents have a small sailboat (Havsfidra) without toilet, and they told me about it. Perfect for trips, camping, on boats without toilets (whether temprary or permanent :)). With a very good lid and in great colors. I can truly recommend it!
    http://www.pipinette.com/Pages/se/kopstallen.html

    • Eva Persson
      Posted at 03 October 2014 Reply

      And the site is in English too, I just realized. Go to the bottom of the page and switch flags!

    • Carolyn Shearlock
      Posted at 03 October 2014 Reply

      Thanks so much!

  • Ted Reshetiloff
    Posted at 04 October 2014 Reply

    Ugh my sympathies to all living aboard on the hard!

  • Louise
    Posted at 07 October 2014 Reply

    I’m a little confused. If you’re only going to be on the hard for a couple days, say for bottom painting, why wouldn’t you just use the boat toilet and pump out after you’re splashed?

    For a long haul out, this is great advice. And for something in between, we try to use the boatyard bathroom as much as possible during the day, and save our tank capacity for the middle of the night.

    • Carolyn Shearlock
      Posted at 07 October 2014 Reply

      Our head uses sea water to flush, even into the holding tank. So if we’re not in the water, we can’t flush at all.

      • Louise
        Posted at 09 October 2014 Reply

        Ah, now that makes sense! I forgot that many systems use raw water to flush.

  • Jane Gammons
    Posted at 08 October 2014 Reply

    We had a male friend use
    A pee bottle on our way to Bermuda, not only did he nt have to get up, thus not disturbing others, he used it to keep his feet warm.

  • Susie Burall
    Posted at 09 October 2014 Reply

    Our tap in the heads doubles up as a shower so I use it to flush the heads into the holding tank at night.

  • Terry D
    Posted at 12 October 2014 Reply

    Im a get up in the night group too !!! … I sorted the problem after buying a John/Jane bottle as used by pilots flying small aircraft … It is uni/sex bottle equipped with leakproof inter-changeable heads. They can be purchased from online aircraft/pilot suppliers and some camping outlets.

  • Van Den Broeck Rita
    Posted at 23 January 2017 Reply

    simple,youse a bucket,attache a hook on a thin rope,you can let it down,and go after it with free hands

  • Tony Gariepy
    Posted at 23 January 2017 Reply

    When ya gotta go…

  • Sean Nelson Riley
    Posted at 23 January 2017 Reply

    Attach a hose to the end of a vuvuleza and run it to the loo… or bury the end abiut 1m under ground :-0 … perfect for #1s. . Much better use than that terrible sound they make… remember soccer world cup 2010

  • Ian Kelly
    Posted at 23 January 2017 Reply

    or you could use a bucket with a lid on

  • Doug Treff
    Posted at 24 January 2017 Reply

    As long as you don’t accidentally grab that Nalgene bottle filled with “apple juice” in the morning. LoL

  • Wiley Ford
    Posted at 11 August 2017 Reply

    Carolyn, do you have any middle age un-wed sisters? It’s odd to believe but live aboard boating women like yourself are extremely difficult to come by in Southern California.

    • Carolyn Shearlock
      Posted at 11 August 2017 Reply

      Sorry, no sisters period. Seriously, it’s hard to find someone who wants — really embraces — the boating lifestyle, male or female. It’s not an easy life and many don’t like it. Keep looking and enjoying the boat!

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