Before I bought my first boat, I bought a bucket and so delighted was I with my purchase, I bough two more. Now, I must say that one of those buckets became a very close companion as our first cruising boat lacked a head and ‘bucket & chuck it’ was our mantra all the way from England, down the coast of Spain and Portugal, into the Med, the Balearics, North Africa, and our passage to the Caribbean. The bucket never let us down, it was easy to clean, had no seacocks, leaks or odorous smells.
We were delighted to find that while cruising the coast of Portugal other luddites were also cruising without heads and a strange camaraderie sprang up – a kind of reverse ‘us and them’ snobbery. At parties, buckets were compared and one woman was so delighted to meet other ‘bucket and chuck its’ that she spent a whole day at her sewing machine making burgees for us all. That night at the bar she presented the skipper of each ‘headless’ boat with triangular flag on which was painted a golden bucket.
Our boat was small and light and we could use the bucket as a brake. Just toss it over the side and hold on and if the handle held and your arm wasn’t torn from its socket, then it would stop the boat. I put this to the test while sailing into a marina in Brittany. You see, not only did the boat lack a head, it had no engine. The problem came when a gust of wind filled the headsail and we found ourselves roaring down the channel between the pontoon births. I called to my wife to toss the bucket over the side at the very moment she was using it for something else. The resulting crash bent the pulpit and caused an almighty row.
If we caught a fish, it was kept in the bucket.
The bucket fit snuggly in the bilge and made the perfect bailer. Filled with ice, it kept the beers nice and cold.
Once the rubberized bucket began to degrade in the tropical sun, it had the annoying habit of leaving a black ring around your posterior.
Visitors to the boat suddenly lost the urge to go to the toilet when we produced the bucket and a toilet roll.
Turned upside down the bucket made a great drum at a sing-along. I even wore it on my head when caught in the rain.