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erdagte 02-14-2005 07:24 AM

Onboard shower
I''m a brand new boat owner and working professional (full time on land). There''s one small issue I''d like to solve if/when I move on to my sailboat: the shower.

Sure there''s the marina and the gym, but is there a way to rig this on board? The aft head faucet has a hose and there''s a drain in the deck, but no separate shower stall, so I imagine water would spray eveywhere.

Can anyone describe a good shower setup? Any issues with the tanks? The heater? Any "non-water friendly" things I should be watchful for (wallpaper, electric outlets)?


BTW, there''s no issue when cruisin (I''m not bashful) - only when I''ve got a 9 am meeting with big wigs.

WHOOSH 02-14-2005 08:19 AM

Onboard shower
Tee, here are a few things to consider:

How much mildew and condensation will you generate when showering? You don''t tell us where you are: big difference between Seattle and Miami, for example. You can deal with this if it''s a problem (e.g. use a dehumidifier) but it''s something to think about.

Where does the grey water drain? Apparently, into the bilge. Ugh... That''s going to be a big source of stink and growth. If you have a shower pan in one of the heads (you seem to suggest that), but it doesn''t lead to a separate shower sump (with its own pump), you should buy one. You can purchase a complete, off the shelf & self-contained unit from e.g. PAR/Jabsco and plumb it in for not much money. You need to send the stuff overboard.

Boats with two heads (again, that sounds like yours) will often set up one head for showering (full shower curtain, all the way around) and fall back on the other head for the balance of bodily functions. This won''t eliminate any mold/mildew issues for the head with the shower; it will minimize them.

Can you get water aboard all winter long? If in cold climates, dock water lines are sometimes drained to protect them. Not good to run out of shower water, not be able to make coffee AND no way to fill the tanks.

You do have a reliabile source of hot water, right?


Billpjr 02-25-2005 04:00 AM

Onboard shower
Save yourself a lot of hassle...when you don''t feel like walking up to the showers just learn to do sponge baths. Get hot water in a bowl and sit on the head to wash up. Do your hair in the sink.

FalconEddie 02-25-2005 04:43 AM

Onboard shower
Okay, this is easy, and there is only one answer: You want showers on board? Set up for it - it''s easy.

First, all things in the head need to be secured and set-up for water. Toilet paper is mounted inside the sink cabinet door. Sink cabinet door needs to shed water instead of allowing it in. Health needs are stored in a watertight medicine cabinet, preferably with a nice mirror. Counters and and all other things in the head need to be kept clean and clear, and towels are stored in a dry, safe place, not neccesarily in the head. Keep cleaning supplies that are safe geting wet under the sink. Make sure any drawers are safe from water. If you have an outlet, make sure it is a ground fault interupter and that there is nothing plugged into it. Plug in your electric razor or hair dryer when you need them, then stow them. The GFI outlet can handle the shower activity as long as water is not deliberately sprayed right into it.

Now, next thing is water in - water out. If you need to get a good water heater, get one. A good marine one, and don''t scrimp when you find the good one you want. You will LOVE it EVERY morning. Also, make sure your fresh water pump is up to the task. These also can be pricey, but you can learn a lot at a boat show. Finally, a good shower drain and sump pump will take care of the water out thing, and they are fairly inexpensive.

Each morning, after showering and getting shaved and dressed, take the used towel and wiped down the entire head. It only takes a minute and brings you news of any areas that need maintanence or special work to make them smoother or more waterproof. Make sure you leave the head all sparkling shiny and clean. If you need to, spray a little Febreeze or something in there. You don''t want any nose-wrinkling smells to hit you in the face when you come home. Especially if you bring a friend home for a drink and a look around your new home.

It will not take much time or money to get your boat shower perfectly suited to your needs, and you will, at the same time, adjust your ''wants'' to suit what the limitations of marine heads can provide.

Johnno 05-10-2005 11:57 PM

Onboard shower

I would read all the responses carefully because there is something of value in all of them.

My comment is a general one based on years of experience. Call me old fashioned but showers (at the least the sort people are normally familiar with) are not for sailors. The water and vapour causes more problems on board than the joy(?) it gives you and it is far more convenient when you are moored at a marina to use their facilities. Believe me the pleasure of a good hot shower on land can be soooooo pleasurably sometimes.

Otherwise use alcohol wipes and try as we say here in Australia a "pommy shower" or an armputs and crutch wash occasionally. It works believe me - I don''t like being convered in salt, sweat or grime any more than the next guy.

Trying to live on a boat AND do the professional bit is a pretty big ask. I am a professional too but there is no way I would be able to manage that lifestyle while living on a boat. A house boat maybe but I''m not into them.

So just maybe you are expecting too much and sometimes some lifestyles just don''t mix. The issue really is not about a shower but the difficulty of what you are trying to do. There''s plenty of people on my marina who work but no one as a professional.

I think you are expecting too much of a modest yacht to combine the two lifestyles. You will note though that there is an assumption there - it would be be an issue on a big boat. So for the early morning conferences with the "big wigs" use the marina facilities and keep up what you are doing now for the rest of the time. Either that or get a bigger boat and if you have read any other of my posts you will know that I don''t recommend bigger boats for their own sake.


radpin 03-28-2006 03:31 AM

I tried to do it, and it was rough. Your coworkers are pulling up looking like a million bucks, and you look like you rolled out of the attic.

Ironing on a boat? Yeah, right.
Lots of pressed clothes? Psshh.
Not having everything smell like boat? lol

And the shower thing doesn't make it much easier either. I've messed around with various shower systems, but the one I'm going to try next will consist of a 5 gallon solar shower srapped on deck above the head. I'm going to lead the line through the portlight (make it easy on myself; if it works, I'll run it through the dorade or something). Figure it should be warm enough, on most days, by 3 in the afternoon or so.

So even though there's a good solution, you have a limited window of when to work with it.

The backup approach will be the bug sprayer bottles larry and lin style with some kettle warmed up water added to normal temperature. That should work for the lesser than wonderful weather.

In regards to the statements slamming showers as a land joy that has no place on a ship considering its shortcomings, I'd just like to say that we all have the things that make us happy in this world. The same person who might be telling you that a shower is absurd might have an ssb radio that someone else might find is overkill.

If a shower is something that will add to your happiness and sailing joy, as it does mine, make sure you set it up right.

In regards to the moisture, that is a problem. But it can be mitigated to some degree by wiping down, not making a mess in the first place by spraying everywhere, and perhaps even taking your showers seated or sitting down on the grate. It's hard to balance anyway while standing and holding a shower head in one hand.

And beyond that, just install some extra vents. If you have a dorade box for bad weather and a 24hour solar vent panel for the majority of the workload, you'll have a decent air flow going on. One step further you can try to mount a cabin heater on the opposite bulkhead wall. Then you can even punch a small hole (big enough for a pc fan, for example), that can draw air in from the warm and dry cabin heater area into the head.

Like I said, people can make fun of you for getting elaborate, but like I said they have their own quirky habits, which of course make perfect and reasonable sense to them.

AlainPOIRAUD 03-28-2006 09:10 AM

Any issues with the tanks? The heater? Any "non-water friendly" things I should be watchful for (wallpaper, electric outlets)?
We have been living full time aboard during 13 years.. and we always enjoy to have a shower onboard..
The water heater was a 20 liters one (far enough for two) and using either the calories for the water cooled engine or the 220 volts electric resistance.. either from the quay (seldom) or from the diesel genset. and we had a pressure water pump too..

we also had a stainless steel tank under the shower with an automatic pump.

The shower walls (wall paper!) where of Red cedar wood.. no risks with the water..

I can't imagine living without a good shower on board..

hellosailor 04-11-2006 04:26 PM

Moisture control is the big issue. One head usually becomes a shower room, which also will do double-duty as the drip locker for foul wx gear.

You'll want to remake that head so it is a "smooth" as possible, fewer corners and textures and nooks to hold water. If the trim is wood, reline it with Formica or other plastic trim and seal the corners with appropriate trim, using "bathroom" grade sealants which have arsenic or other anti-mildew agents in them. Cracks & corners are your enemy, anything that gives mildew a chance to establish a foothold will.

Install a solar powered vent fan in that head, so that there is always air being EXTRACTED out of it and out of the boat. That will make the biggest difference in keeping it dry and mildew-free. After a shower, don't towel down the walls (the towel has skin & oils, aka mildew food, on it) but use a rubber squeegee to wipe down the surfaces. And finally, a bottle of after-shower-spray (any brand) which helps ensure the moisture runs down quickly and has some anti-mildew properties as well. That stuff REALLY makes a difference.

If you can also install a louver or wicker vent in the lower section of the head door, in a way that the shower won't spray OUT, that also helps the ventilation. If not, get a door latch that allows the door to be latched "ajar" so it remains cracked open without banging around.

TalbotUK 04-12-2006 11:17 AM

I constructed a shower in my boat a couple of years ago. I dont have any problems with mildew so far, or of smell. I dont have any problems with damp either - you just need to do a decent job and eliminate any problems like those as a part of the design process.

Hot water - where are you going to get enough water at the right temperature and sufficient pressure to make a shower work

this may need an increase in cold water tankage
I heat mine through a gas water heater
the standard hot water system provides enough pressure, and I vary the temp by actually varying the water temperature on the heater.

shower enclosure. My heads is big enough for a domestic shower curtain rail and for a standard nylon curtain to protect the rest of the heads (especially the loo paper). I sited this underneath a mushroom vent which I insist is open during showering to minimise condensation problems. The floor was a GRP moulding with a large wooden cut out for access to the stop cocks. I sealed the wood in having cut out a circular panel which I filled with a large dinghy access panel, and also fitted a domestic plastic shower drain with U bend. On top of the wood and surrounding deck, I installed a plastic grating material designed for swimming pool floors. On top of this (cause the grating was uncomfortable) I installed a caravan padded shower base material (v nice it is too).

Draining the water. I have already mentioned the standard shower drain and U bend, beneath this and in the bilge I installed a proper Johnson shower sump
and tapped into the wash basin outlet to pump out the grey water.

result a more than adequate shower at a minimal cost using a standard home shower spray (adjustable in height) and with as much space to soap and rinse as in a normal shower at home. After the shower I need to pass a couple of jugs of clean water through the drain to remove dirty residue (and stop subsequent smells) and also hang up the grating and shower base to dry underneath.

I can then move into the main dressing area, where I have an eberspacher (=espar) outlet to dress in comfort. (all this in a 29 ft boat (ok it is a cat))

TrueBlue 04-12-2006 11:40 AM

Nice looking shower sump TalbotUK

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