Enough headroom but no room in the head

Watch a video of my January 2012 sail from Fort Lauderdale to Bimini, Bahamas.

A 6’2″ sailor shops for an offshore sailboat.

So, there I was, sitting on a toilet in front of a woman I’d met just 30 minutes ago. I hope your sea stories start out better than mine, but this really happened yesterday in Rock Hall, Maryland, a quiet, beautiful town with craggy fingers of land jutting out into the Chesapeake Bay. But, back to the toilet.

I was with a yacht broker, looking at a Baba 30. Baba boats have a stellar reputation as strong, solid boats that can take you anywhere, in any condition. A Baba won’t win any races, but its full keel, cutter-rig and traditional design feeds a sailor’s wanderlust, my wanderlust. I saw the online listing for the 30 and arranged to have a look.

The boat did not disappoint. Stepping aboard, I found the cockpit comfortable and secure. The cabin is stout luxury, all teak and brass. This boat is no “plastic fantastic.” And, there was 6’5″ of headroom, rare for boats of this length and an absolute necessity for me. I found the galley, navigation station, salon and berth to be snug but accommodating. Then, I saw the head.

The head is triangular. And tiny. Looking at it, I puzzled. How would I fit? The deck provided just enough space for my feet, so in shutting the door, I brought it to within two inches of my nose. Using my military training, I performed an about face to the sink, with its marble countertop, brass fixtures and glass mirror. Nice, but I was nearly able to fog that mirror with my breath. An oblique to the left, and I was facing the toilet. The necessary trajectory appeared achievable, in theory. Another about face, and I attempted to sit, but my knees jammed on the door. With my thighs at about a 45-degree angle, I could proceed no further without opening the door, which I did.  Then, after sliding the remaining distance, I was fully enthroned and looked up to see my broker with her hand on her chin.

“This is a deal breaker, isn’t it?”

Here’s what I don’t understand, and I’m speaking rhetorically to boat designers. Why would you build a boat big enough for a tall sailor to stand, but not, er, sit? I’ve got Scandinavian blood in me. We’re a tall folk. You think my Aunt Linda is going to use the head when her knees are in the salon with the rest of the family?

So, the Baba is off my list. That’s OK. Later in the day I boarded a Tayana 37 and it fit just fine. Even with the door closed. If you’re thinking about getting a boat, get information online, but don’t overlook the value of being on boats. Charter them, sail with classes, sail with friends, or just walk through the boat yards (not advocating trespassing!). The Internet will help narrow your search, but real life will allow you to make the impressions and opinions you need to choose a boat that’s right for you.


About brucemoody

Live and work in the District of Columbia. I keep a Douglass & McLeod 22 sailboat at Buzzard Point Marina in the Southwest quadrant of Washington, D.C.

Posted on January 30, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Bruce, I bought Jeffs Red D&M. It is now up here in DC. Phil

  2. Douglas Pearce

    Hi Bruce, I too am looking for a sailboat in the 30ft range with at least 6’2′ of standing headroom in the saloon. I would be happy with a coastal cruiser. Since you have out in so much work; any advice? Thank you. Doug Pearce

  3. Bruce,
    Do you still have the Tayana? How do you like it after time has passed?

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