The subject of Boat toilets (or Heads – just so the reader realises that I do have some Nautical knowledge) is the source of much discussion and consternation. Never a word is spoken when they’re working, however the moment they don’t it suddenly becomes a ‘Blue Job’ (a Boy job) and is almost instantly elevated to that of ‘Skippers Job’ (on this occasion that’s me with both hats!) whose knowledge on these matters is suddenly unquestionable – that’s not to say that advice from the ‘Pink Job’ department doesn’t lose its normal traffic flow.
Anyhow, it may come as a shock that boat heads discharge straight into the sea. We are encouraged not to use them close to shore but please learn from these words – “Never go for a swim in a Marina” if you get my drift. Being a large-ish vessel, Le Jouannet has two heads, one of which goes directly out to sea, the other passing through a 40 litre holding tank which can be shut off – some countries insist on holding ‘you know what’ for pumping out later so that it doesn’t enter their crystal clear waters. This tank is normally left in a state of ‘free flow’ (appropriate words for this subject).
So now we can start todays story. A few days ago a certain ‘whiff’ developed around the boat which was the sort of ‘whiff’ that when discovered in a crowded elevator you would like it known it wasn’t you.
Our investigations took us to the holding tank which, although was still in ‘free flow’, had become, shall we say, constipated. This was now an undeniable super ‘Blue Job’ as the ‘Pink Job’ department was seen distancing herself from the boat. The simple solution was to get it pumped out, however both Ramsgate and Dover’s pump out facilities were as broken down as the North Korean / USA disarmament peace process talks.
Historically, I may have mentioned the eminent Mr Hearsey of Fairview Sailing. An oracle of a man when it comes to boat maintenance and someone who has had his hands, with my blessing, all over our boat on many an occasion. Following a short conversation consisting of the following golden nuggets of advice : – “Take your watch off”; “You’ll need a few things you can throw away after”; “Agitate” and “Be in a position to move quick”, I prepared myself both mentally and physically in giving Le Jouannet a basic Colonic Irrigation treatment. This entailed lying on the pontoon and lowering a large portion of my body into the water and inserting my arm so far inside Le Jouannet that even James Herriot would have been proud.
Unlike a London clinic this procedure was conducted without the need for mood lighting or whale music but a garden hose pipe with a good pressure of very cold water – operated wonderfully by the Pink Job ‘operative’ from a safe distance of some 10 metres to the rear – sporting a full chemical Nato suit. After several failed attempts (and a few hours later) we found the best approach was to stop being gentle, shove the pipe in good and hard, get a good bore of water going, wait to hear a back flow and gurgling then move out of the area with all alacrity as you may recall I did indicate the Tanks holding capacity.
Boats, as you may be aware, are all referred to as ‘She’ and it is fair to say that, post procedure, she seemed to have a more relaxed aura about her with her line of buoyancy sitting slightly higher in the water. I was then allowed to have a long shower…..
The picture that accompanies this report is a statue from the Basilique D’Notre-Dame, Boulogne which gives me the solace that I wasn’t the first person to do this.