Well, the headline is definitely a bit over the edge, but most certainly not a clickbait. I sincerely want to address this delicate topic in a serious manner. Well, personal hygiene is a big thing on sailing yachts, especially when crew members are aboard who might not be all too familiar with sailing. The lack of full-sized amenities especially on smaller boats like mine might be a problem. Many people have – highly skeptical, I might add – asked me about the Beneteau First 27 SE bathroom: “Isn´t it all too small?” “You cannot relax and do your business there, can´t you?” “Impossible!”, to name just three of the most used phrases.
The great small bathroom on the Beneteau First 27 SE
During my maiden voyage with GEKKO I of course as well had the chance to thoroughly test the Seascape-concept of the small toilet aboard my boat and, to start with a résumé, I love it! I mean it: The bathroom toilet aboard the small Seascape 27 is pure bliss. Let´s start with the facts.
The boat comes with an RM 69 standard pumping toilet with “Sealock” system. I have never seen this product used by any other boat in my life (which are unanimously equipped with Jabsco) but quality-wise I´d say that this product ranges at the mid-range. It´s a fairly light system, skipping a ceramic bowl for a simple plastic one. The boat also comes equipped with a wastewater holding tank. Sea-valves are of good quality (Truvativ) and I cannot say anything bad about the installation. On the First 27 SE/Seascape 27 the head is situated between two front bulkheads separating the fore cabin from the salon.
The resulting compartment is of admittedly small size, if seen out of context. But the utilization of this less than 1 metre wide part of the boat is incredible: Ingenious 2-part folding doors made of lightweight leather-upholstered material, will close to fore cabin in the front and to the salon in the back. A firm closing is maintained by magnets which are laminated into the bulkheads and the doors as well. In this, the compartment, when in use, becomes tightly sealed off from the rest of the boat (hence the rest of the crew) and a very, very protected private space is created.
Best experience: Spacious, relaxing and clean
I´ve tested it numerous times (although sailing single handed I checked for this “closed” style setup) and when you sit down on the toilet you really get a nice, cozy, protected feel: Ready to let go, relax and do your business. I am sure that this will comfort all those sailing mates who might have a problem of sharing this business with their mates. This is a real sealed off space: And within the biggest plus in comfort to the smaller sister of the 27, the First 24 which cannot offer such a treat, instead, sailors have to share a port-a-potty in the open salon.
Sitting on the toilet is perfectly placed: I never knocked my head to the roofing or the bulkheads and I found the position very relaxing. In addition, your feet are placed in the middle of the section and you are facing directly the Gennaker-stowage compartment (which on the Aluminium version of the First 27 can be replaced by a small galley. This will be of importance later, by the way. But it gets even better than this: The view!
Directly overhead is the main escape hatch and feeding window for the Gennaker. When sitting there a very impressive view on the fore sail or the Gennaker is provided. Given sea state and weather allows it, you may even open the hatch, have a full stream of fresh air (and thus ventilation) in the bathroom and enjoy an even better view. When I sailed, I regularly got up whilst doing business, took a roundsight lookout (utilizing the B&G autopilot remote control for optional course corrections) and resumed the activity. I love it!
Only downside: No tap and no sink
Well, among all these good news, which there are many regarding this particular boat, there are some downsides as well. First and foremost, there is no tap and no sink in the bathroom. It´s just a toilet. So no way to wash your hands afterwards: On GEKKO this is resolved by having moist tissues at hand all time to have a clean and sanitary alternative. Sailors ordering the First 27 with the cruising-optimized aluminum rigging can replace the Gennaker stowage with a small sink, which than handily comes with a fresh water tank and a sink.
Either way, do not reject the First 27 SE toilet. It might look small and unpractical, but it indeed is the opposite. Even if getting undressed and seated is a bit tricky due to the fact that the boat does not offer standing height, once seated, you can be sure to being able to relax and let nature go her way smoothly. The WC was a big thing for me and a must-have for any new boat I was looking at. Seascape´s solution is, I´d say, the best and most comfortable setup possible in an 8 metre sailboat.
You might also be interested in reading these articles:
Electric toilets and why I love them
A completely new head for my (old) boat