Plumbing on a small sailboat like the Fritter is pretty simple stuff. Usually a big water tank in the bow with a fill fitting on the deck. Then water hose running aft to the galley sink and the head. Depending on how fancy the boat, water is pumped either by hand or by electric pump. And in some cases, some vessels have a hookup to screw in a hose directly from a water faucet on the shore, and have real water pressure. Again, it all depends on the configuration of said vessel. Larger sailboats have more intricate plumbing, smaller ones, much simpler.
One quick note: If by chance you are hooked up to shore water there are some drawbacks. Like an rv, your on board boat fitting will need a pressure regulator. Otherwise, the water pressure buildup could blow out pipes, fittings, fill the boat with water, and leave you with a major water bill at the end of the month…and a boat on the bottom.
One other quick tip: if you are replumbing a boat never use rigid pipe like copper or PVC. Always use good flexible hose. All that banging around on the high seas will crack and bend pipe quickly. There are plenty of easy to work with flexible hose that will do the job more better.
As for the Fritter, my water system is non usable at this time. The water tank has a big hole on the side and who knows what is inside it. The hoses are rotted away, the sink faucet in the head is long gone, and the galley sink faucet is also shot. So, I keep it simple, I use a gallon jug, fill it up at the slip faucet when needed, and leave it at that. I’m not quite sure how I want to set up a new water system on the boat yet, if I ever get that far. Most likely it will be nothing more than a 5 or ten gallon tank under the galley sink with a hose to a manual pump and maybe some sort of easy fill on deck. I don’t need anything in the head and hot water is no more difficult than filling one of these bags and leaving it out in the sun for a few hours. And you may notice that the bag also doubles as an easy to use shower if needed. Currently, it’s not needed.
As it happens, the Fritter is not equipped with a shower in the head. Some sailboats do have showers, most of which on a vessel this size are simply a shower head with electric pump inside the room that houses the toilet and sink. The water drains off into the bilge and over the side when the bilge is drained out. More sophisticated boats may have a drain to a holding tank but for the most part, shower water is nothing more than fresh water, with some soap and whatever disgusting things have washed off your body. I could probably make a shower work on the Fritter. There is room in the head and all I would need is a drain but it’s not a high priority right now. Instead I use the marina facilities.
This particular marina has a nice bathhouse set up. A centrally located building with men’s and wimmen’s showers, toilets, sinks, and an adjacent laundry room. In the men’s there are 2 regular shower stalls and one handicapped. They are cleaned every day and unless you get in behind a long line of people, there is plenty of hot water. But, there are some very minor downsides, not the least of which is all these high maintenance men we have living and visiting the marina. Let me splain’.
I gave up soaps and shampoos about a year ago. I was reading about how many people were getting by without all those overpriced smelly chemicals and simply showering with little more than water. So I tried it, and haven’t looked back since. When I had real long hair in my biker days, I had to use shampoo to keep my ever thinning mop from getting too tangled up. I naturally used soap as well. I would constantly break out like a 12 year old hitting puberty, no matter what soap or shampoo I switched too. Finally, after I had cut my hair short again, I tried not using shampoo. Result, no change. My brown-quickly-changing-to-silver locks looked and felt exactly the same. The dandruff that I was plagued with vanished. So I tried not using soap. Just rubbing my skin with bare water. Result, my skin cleared up, felt just as clean, and didn’t smell like a downtown whorehouse. So, I haven’t used soap or shampoo since. I do keep some deodorant on hand, I’m not French you know, but as far as I can tell, I smell the same, I’m just as clean, and I don’t have the skin of teenager.
The point of all this is now, when I go to take a shower, I walk in with just a towel, a shower takes all of five minutes, dry off, done. Get all hot and sweaty later in the day, or come back after being on the water, repeat, done. Not so much with some of these other prima donnas that come through here.
More than a few times I have managed to hit a rush hour at the shower stalls. Some of the guys here walk in with a bag full of shit that is more than all my possessions combined. Towels, washrags, loofas, back scrubbers, pre shower, pre shave, after shave, cologne, hair gel, and I always thought the wimmen were guilty of this sort of thing. More goddamn stuff to make you look pretty and the funny part of it is, after all that cleaning, scraping, shaving, combing, brushing, and Darwin knows what else, two minutes after they walk out of the shower and into the heat, they are just as hot and sweaty as when they went in.
All that crap has to cost some serious money and many a time, bits and pieces are left behind. A cake of soap used once here, a discarded brush there. Get in a shower right after one of these delicate flowers has just left and it’s like taking a shower in a Victoria’s Secret. It’s more funny than it is a nuisance. You hear these same men, big burly tough guys up north, bitch, moan, whine, and snivel about the heat and humidity. Me? I just smile, stand under the water for 5 minutes, get just as clean, and I’m ready to face the tropical weather. At least the showers are nice and clean.
So, anyways, if you are looking at living on a boat, the shower is something you will need to consider. Will you need a shower on board? If so, how sophisticated to you need it? Will you need a hot water heater of some sort? Or can you tough it out with a black bag and the sun. And just how clean and smelly do you need to be? You are living on a boat. It’s all salty and wet and stuff. Those fancy smellies that they advertise on tv ain’t gonna do you much good. And besides, you can find better things to spend money on than a bottle of unpronounceable chemicals that may do very strange things to your hair, skin, and innards.
Try your hand at going soap and shampoo free. See how it works for you. You might be pleasantly surprised at the results. And as for you guys who think you need all that crap to look pretty? Drop the smellies, grow a beard, grab yerself a fishin’ shirt, some cargo shorts, and keep a good quality towel around. It’s Key West for chrissake’s. That’s all you need.