Heads, you lose …..

[Story also in Afrikaans @]

I found sailing to be a rather interesting learning school.

For instance, did you know that the toilet on a yacht is called the “heads”?  And the heads are not “downstairs”, but “down below”, in yacht speak.  Also, it is not “down under”, as this is where Australia is.  This means that you do not announce that you are going for a wee in the toilet.  No, much more exotic than that. 

“I’d say, ol’ chap, just going down below to use the heads, I say”.  

So I thought I better learn how to use this appliance.  Well, I know how to use it, but I mean, what to do after I’ve used it, understand.  OK, so I ask the skipper to give me proper instructions on how to flush the heads.  The instructions went something like the following.

“You flip this little lever to the left, open the sea cocks, and pump. Then you flip the little lever to the right, pump again, and close the sea cocks.” 

Goodness me, I’ve heard of tennis elbows and sea man’s feet, but sea cocks sound rather serious.  No, I get told, it’s not a medical condition; it’s the swivel faucets to be found in the plumbing around the heads.

Now you need to understand that I’m not the handy kind of guy.  It takes some time for me to assimilate instructions such as these.   So OK, the lever that gets flipped to the left, is that now if facing forward or backwards?  No, when looking forward, I’m instructed.  Ag, never mind what direction you’re facing, it goes to the portside.  OK, good, but which lever is it that we are actually talking about in the first place……?

The final instructions:  when done, make sure both sea cocks are closed.  

OK, so now I’ve got the basic terminology.  Lever to the left, pump 15 times.  Lever to the right, pump 15 times.

And all I wanted to know is how to flush the toilet!




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