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If it Were Easy, I’d Have Nothing to Write About

Poor EW. He was just trying to be nice to me.

We bought a sun shower before we left Maine, envisioning the warm showers after snorkeling and swimming. That worked great until we reached Antigua in April our first year out, when the Caribbean sun worked with the sun shower to spray painfully hot water onto our salt drenched bodies. It would get so hot, that blisters formed on the fiberglass cabin top under the sun shower. That’s too hot. Still, we kept the sun shower on deck, sitting on top of a piece of plastic grating. We rarely used it, and one day EW discovered that the shower was empty as the sun had succeeded in destroying the plastic.

So, no showers on deck. New sailboats have exterior freshwater hot and cold water spigots. EW has talked about installing one (it’s in the box), but that would spray only cold water. Hmmm. We have a wonderful separate shower in the aft head, but the forward head is one of those shower-in-the-head-get-everything-wet showers. The head sole (floor) is a teak grate over a drain, and the toilet paper sits in a covered holder, designed to keep the paper dry while one showers. We never shower in that head.

I do, however use the shower to fill buckets, wash my hair at the sink, and stuff like that. The shower hung on a hook and had a flexible hose that wasn’t very long. It barely reached out the port light. I could wash my feet on deck, or partially fill our large buckets – but I would have to cant them to the side in order to aim the nozzle.

That’s the background. I’m not going to ask EW to run the piping to provide a hot and cold fresh water shower on the back deck – but that would be the perfect resolution. EW came up with a wonderful alternative – that’s the “being nice to me part”.

“Hey,” he said. “We have that extra deck wash down hose. I can install that in the forward head instead of the shower hose. That would reach out the port light and we could rinse off and shower on deck.”

Washing on deck isn’t simply a luxury. It’s a way to get the salt water and sand off our bodies and swim suits so that we don’t bring it below.

I was delighted. “Perfect! And I could fill laundry buckets.”

That was a number of weeks (months?) ago.


So, here we were in St. Martin/Sint Maarten where one can purchase nearly anything fairly reasonably. The first windless Saturday was “Repair Sails Day” for which EW had to help me take down the sails, position the sewing machine, and leave me alone. I had I told him that while were in this cruising provisioning/repair nirvana, I’d like him to 1) install the promised hose and 2) finally replace my clothesline. (Some of you will remember that he “stole” half of my clothes line for the six hour trek to the falls in Grenada.)

EW decided that he’d head off to ACE hardware and get the adaptors he needed to secure the hose to the hot and cold shower apparatus. I sewed. He returned, singing the praises of this amazing hardware store, showering me with a new clothes line and a pack of clothespins, and began his minor, no-big-deal plumbing job.

Remember, this project was his idea. I am not to blame.

I had positioned myself on the foredeck to repair the jib, and rumblings and grumblings from the forward head would float up through the hatch. Evidently things weren’t going smoothly, but I had no intention of getting involved. I was trying to thread a needle while standing on my head, and knew he could take care of himself. A while later, he asked whether I’d need to move the machine soon, because he had to go back to ACE. His timing was excellent, so he helped me set up in the cockpit to repair the mainsail, and then he was off again.

“Wait until you see this!” he exclaimed, upon returning.

“This” was a hose adaptor packet. In order to get one hose adapter, he had to purchase a blister pack with two nifty nozzles. One for cleaning and one for showering. Cool. I was done sewing and began picking up my mess and restoring the boat to order. More rumblings and grumblings and one huge outburst directed my attention to the forward head. This easy job? The one that was inspired by the extra wash down hose? It won’t work with that 3/8” hose because he can only find a clamp for 1/2” hose. He wasn’t happy.P5080216

He tried soap and heating the hose, clamping it on to the connector and hooking it up. That is when I entered the head and saw this:

I laughed.

A lot.

It started as a whoop, then veered into full-blown, gut-busting, guffaws. I mean really? This tower of fixtures is his idea of plumbing? (Can you see the drops of water where the 3/8” hose in the 1/2” clamp leaked the first, second, and third times?)



He went back to ACE to get a fifteen feet of hose, and returned with the only one they had – 25 feet long. He doesn’t want to cut it. Really.


Fine. He knew that the tower of fixtures looked like H E double P5080212hockey sticks, but thought 25 feet of hose would “make the head look bad,” and suggested that I would “disassemble it when you aren’t using it.”

“I don’t THINK so.” I replied indignantly. This whole thing was to make my life EASIER. There is nothing “easier” about assembling this contraption when I want water.”

Right now, it looks like this:

Do you like the screwdriver holding the hose to the former shower fixture? I don’t. Almost stabbed myself in the foot with it when it fell down as I was un-wrapping the hose. EW doesn’t want to drill any more holes into the wall. I said, “Fine. Remove the shower fixture holder, cover it with some sort of face plate – teak would be nice – and I’ll put a hook on it for the hose.”

He objected to that, at first, being still unsure of how the hose would look in the head. I laughed again – “Compared to this?” I waved my hand toward his plumbing tower. “I don’t think I’ll worry about it,”

We still are using the screwdriver for a holder. I’ve only mentioned it once in two weeks. However, I’ve used the hose when doing laundry week and it made the task much easier, so I’m happy.

I told him so, sayingP5080211, “Thank you for working so hard to make this work, Sweetie.”

La Luna. For me, the moon. Even if it looks like .. well.. this.

NOTE: See that dainty little white hose and nozzle on the counter to the left of the sink? That’s the old shower hose. It barely reached through the port light. Ugly wins, or, in this case, function over form.





New to Harts at Sea? I've written a book -- The Harts At Sea Sailing to Windward -- about our first year of cruising, from Maine to Grenada. It's available on Kindle (or Kindle for PC or Kindle for Apple) for only $2.99. No Kindle? You can download Kindle for PC or Kindle for Mac at no cost. 


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