Friday, April 3, 2009

The Never Mentioned Aspects of Cruising And Neat Skies

There are a lot of nice web sites/blogs out there that share a lot of great stuff about small boats, building them, cruising in them, competitions, and the list goes on. Steve and I have enjoyed many of them over the past years, and for me, some of the great adventures I read about fueled my desire to go cruising with Steve. However, there is one set of topics that no one ever seems to mention, but everyone has to partake in. In fact, you see the adventure shows on TV, see great adventures in the movies, yet no discussion or even a hint of what has to be the most obvious non-discussable aspect of human activity. Yes, going potty and staying non-smelly. I know, gross. But knowing what to do, where and how to do it can make daily life more enjoyable, especially in the outdoors.

When Steve and I first started talking about cruising, the thought of the daily routine never really came to mind. But when we laid out all the gear we were going to take on his garage floor, I noticed a portable potty.

That's the potty right in front of Steve. Notice the roll of toilet paper in the bottom left.

"So Steve", I said, "why do we need one of these?" pointing to the potty. "Well", he replied, "Just because it's called the Outer Banks doesn't mean you can just pull up to any beach and make a deposit". "Most of the beaches are protected wildlife areas and dumping is frowned upon". You have to be somewhat self contained, if you know what I mean. Well that solved part of the logistical problem, the where you do it. (The how was easy once you learned a few technical operating procedures, plus our own native knowledge developed over years of experience.) But how do two people on a 17 foot boat, at anchor, settle the daily call? That worked out well, too.

The potty is stowed up under the forward deck during cruising operations. At night we needed to move most of the stuff stowed under the forward deck so we had room for our sleeping gear and our feet. This meant putting the potty on the cockpit floor aft of the thwart and facing the stern. In our sleeping bags, we faced forward. So, one could use the potty in complete privacy, sort of, while the other stayed in the bag or worked on rolling up the sleeping gear. We generally had the boom tent up during these moments so no problem with Peeping Toms, but who would peep is beyond me.

Early morning business completed! Ah the open air!

Now there are a few things I have learned about outdoor nature calls. And while these are things I learned camping, they apply in every situation I can think of. First, bring plenty of paper, and keep it protected in zip lock storage bags. Wet toilet paper is a real trip and moral killer. I mean you just can't get a usable piece if it's wet, it falls apart in you hands, not to mention it is no longer absorbent. We kept the paper sealed in zip lock bags and in a water tight storage compartment handy to where the toilet was set up. It was always fresh and ready to go, as were we. Another important supply to bring are baby wipes. I know, it sounds weird, but these are indispensable in keeping things fresh and tidy. A sore bottom is nobody's friend. You'll have no chaffing if you follow this advise. They are also good for wiping down the rest of the body. Freshness is as freshness does.

Now, after a number of hot and humid days, there may appear to be dead things hidden in the boat. Don't be alarmed, it is just a little hygiene problem that some soap can't fix right up. I always bring along some Campsuds I get at REI. As the manufacture says:

This all-purpose, biodegradable soap in a compact bottle works in hot, cold or salt water to wash just about anything.

Anything includes you! Steve and I had been out for a few days when we lost all the wind. It was hot and the humidity started to climb. Perfect weather for Mr. Stinko to appear. As the day wore on we found a great place to anchor and rest up. The water on Pamlico Sound was like a mirror. Steve said he was going to take a swim, I was thinking maybe I wouldn't. Steve said that I really should and that I should be real friendly with the Campsuds, and a good rinsing after wouldn't hurt either. What could he mean? Anyway we did go swimming.

Ah, death to Mr. Stinko. Really great, calm water.

Bruce, watch how easy it is to get back in the boat.

Well after about thirty minutes of floating around, I had one of the bumpers, it was time to get back in the boat. Steve had thrown a knotted line over the side to help climb back aboard. With a few heave hos he scrambled back on deck. My turn. Now clean and refreshed I felt I could do anything! Except get back in the boat. What a struggle. After much effort and with Steve's assistance, after he stopped laughing, I managed to get in. The biggest problem was the shape of the hull that Steve talked about in his last post. I would swing back under the hull towards the water making it harder to pull myself back in. (Steve has since fixed this problem with a rope ladder over the stern.) Well, once again peace and order returned to Spartina. We had cleared the air and were ready for more adventure.

Finally, one of the best things about cruising is the sky. (Besides keeping fresh and clean and all pipes in good working order that is.) We had some magnificant ones on our cruise, especially a sunset while we were on the ferry to Cape Hatteras on our way home.

One of the best sunsets I have ever seen.

Looks like a painting. Great shot Steve.

Sunrise and morning glass off at the Swash.

Sunset off Raccoon Island.

Afternoon Sky over Wainwright Island

It is only a couple months until we head out again on another cruise. As we continue to plan out the trip, the excitement grows as we look forward to more great skies and seas, secure in the knowledge we will be fresh and ready to meet people where ever we go.



SandyBottom said...

A great posting, and kudos to you for bringing up the topic. You didn't mention what you do with the "used" porta potty. A great product is the Wag Bag, more properly known as a waste alleviation and gelling bag, the purpose of the device is to provide a sanitary way to dispose of human waste when there is not a running toilet available. Can be used in a porta potty, or bucket.

Steve said...

We use a Sealand Sanipottie Portable Toilet, I think it is the smaller of the two they make, aboard Spartina. On cruises we typically stop at marinas every 3 or 4 days and empty the contents properly at the marina. I've gone as long as six days before I had the opportunity to empty it and had no problems. The toilet uses the blue liquid deodorant (but I will check in to the products you mention). I've got to say that I am very happy with the system. It really is a no muss, no fuss and absolutely no smell solution (one thing we do to eliminate any chance of smell is a quick spray of citrus based cleaner in the bowl each time it is used). It fits perfectly in front of the mast under the foredeck, as Bruce describes and sits between the aft cockpit seats almost as if they were designed with that in mind.
Bruce, I agree with SandyBottom, great topic. I wouldn't have brought it up myself. I am glad you did.