Tuesday, April 05, 2005


The importance of hygiene aboard a yacht cannot be overstated. Unless a crew can maintain good health it cannot function properly, but how often do we find dirty crockery, cutlery, filthy worktops and disgusting heads (toilets) in boats we visit? Of course, we are never guilty of the same conditions aboard our own yachts.

I must admit that I’ve sailed on friends’ boats which have had appalling hygienic conditions to the extent that I’ve not wanted to drink, eat or go to the toilet. Nothing can be more off-putting when sea conditions are bad. It’s no wonder the crew ends up being seasick.

Why do we accept standards afloat that we would not contemplate at home? Perhaps there’s the excuse that the boat is rolling all over the place or that she’s sailing on her beam ends which makes doing a bit of housework impossible. Then, when we arrive in port we are too tired to attend to some cleaning. Maybe we would prefer to go ashore for a slap-up meal at a restaurant; the advantage being there would be no washing-up afterwards.

There really is no excuse. ‘Cleanliness is next to godliness’, was a saying of my dear Mum, but perhaps she was right? Surely in heaven there is no filth. If we want our boats to be a little bit of heaven, then we should make the effort to do away with muck and grime.

Anything likely to cause ill health through lack of cleanliness is unhygienic, and therefore we should consider keeping our own bodies clean. In that respect, large cruising boats today are usually equipped with at least one shower which has a sump, the contents of which can be dumped when well offshore. Unfortunately, very few UK marinas offer a pumping service for the disposal of unwanted human waste, but some yachts are sensibly fitted with Porta-Potti type toilets, which can be emptied into an ordinary toilet.

Bodily hygiene is important, especially when the crew is confined within a boat’s cabin; therefore every effort should be made to keep ones body clean - including brushing ones teeth twice daily. A yacht’s crew live together in close proximity and bad breath is no fun; smelly feet, pungent armpits and stinking clothes are even worse!

Anyone who sails on my boat for more than a day must attend to his personal cleanliness and be responsible for keeping the boat spick and span. All crew members must share in the washing-up and ensure the boat sparkles.


Porta Potti (1) http://www.leisurefayre.com/websiteb/bwebsite/b2/pricelistsh02/toilets.htm

Porta Potti (2) http://www.jacksons-camping.co.uk/general/toilet.htm

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