Day 25 – Bucket & chuck it, the glamorous life!


Ok…it’s dirty business but it’s very much part of ocean rowing life and someone has to talk about it…
For most of you, ablutions are a quick and easy part of your day, yet for us, they are a talking point and integral part of our existence out here on Doris.
If you don’t know how it’s done, here’s a brief insight and if this is more information than you would have hoped for, I apologise in advance.
We have a couple of buckets (a red one and a black one) and then there is the over the side option favoured by some.
There is not much left to the imagination of how the ‘bucket and chuck it’ system works as it is fairly self explanatory. Care must always be taken when ‘chucking’ as splash back would not be ideal and neither would be losing the bucket over the side once you are cleaning it of its contents!

A No. 1
Whether we are drinking a lot of water or not, a No. 1 always seems to be part of the routine that begins as soon as one comes off from the 2 hour shift rowing or just before we begin a shift.
This happens in the red bucket.
The bucket is either placed in the footwell in the aft cabin on days when the sea state is rough and out on deck if the conditions are more favourable. Some may choose the over the side option if conditions allow.
Things to watch out for:
1. Ensure no items are near the bucket and can fall in if using the footwell (eg socks)
2. Ensure it is safe to quickly empty the contents of the bucket over the side without getting splashed by waves or allowing water into the aft cabin
3. Ensure you are drinking enough fluid as hydration is very distinguishable by the colour of the wee in the bucket.
4. When going over the side, chose your time wisely, especially in large swell. Not only could you get a bum splash but you could also get a proper soaking as you are in a venerable position that doesn’t afford much manoeuvrability.

A No. 2
A No. 2 on the other hand is a constant source of mystery now that we are on our strange diet of freeze dried food, protein and snack packs. This happens in the black bucket. An amount of sea water always needs to be placed in the bucket before proceedings begin. This helps with the cleaning process.
Due to the change in life rhythm and diet we have found there are a variety of No.2 options.
Types of No. 2:
1. The emergency No. 2 that comes on very suddenly and can result in a quick sit off the side of the boat if mid row.
2. The accidental No. 2 that is just that…accidental. Not expected and for that reason could prove to be a little problematic if on a bucket and no water has been added but fine if you’re hanging over the side.
3. The daily No. 2 (intermittent for some)
A normal bowel movement
Things to watch out for:
1. As this bucket is usually always used outside the biggest thing to watch is the wave splash.
2. Ensure that all paper does indeed go into the bucket and not fly back out to land on the deck of the boat or on a nearby rower for that matter.
3. If you do not alert other rowers to the fact that you are doing a No. 2 one of the rowers may well shout out to the other rower that they have spotted something nearby in the water. They would then observe closely to find out what their new unidentified spot was.

*The bonus of using the black bucket is that there is never any danger of blocking the toilet.

This is one of those taboo subjects that no one likes talking about but out here it is the source of great amusement.
Increased fart frequency (particularly on the oars) appears to be another side effect of the wonderful change of diet of expedition food and our snack pack contents including dried fruit. It’s just a part of life out here and we’ve been getting to know each other so well that we can distinguish each other by our farts. That is all of us expect Ems – you see Ems seems to be a secret farter!! So far no-one has heard the fart of Emma yet she assures us that she does in fact do it!?!

Types of fart of Doris:
1. Silent but deadly. Again fairly self explanatory. 2. All talk no action/smell. This is the very loud yet non smelling type.
Toilet paper needs to be rationed as running out would be highly disappointing yet is fairly probable if we keep travelling at this speed! This is a little distressing!

For all those that are wondering, we have a separate grey bucket for the purposes of washing ourselves and clothes.
I have seen some special and unique toilets in my time, but I have to say, 6/7 months of this is going to be an experience that will end up etched in my memories forever.
One thing I can say for sure is that this is a loo with a pretty spectacular view x

Nats x



  1. Jim Andrews says:

    A very in depth explanation there thank you. I have asked a couple of times without finding out, so could someone tell me how much water you are carrying on Doris, there is obviously limited space for storage hence your concerns about loo paper so I am intrigued as to the quantities of food stuffs and water you are able to carry? Is there a danger of running short of vital supplies? Love reading your daily updates. Stay safe. XX

  2. JG says:

    That’s cleared up the last of mysteries then – well done and hats off to Emma the silent one. I had a friend who was adept at that too. He would drop one beside some innocent unsuspecting soul and then quickly slip away leviung the poor victim to deal with all the accusatory staring. Libraries were his favourite venue. The subject of dealing with human excreta is always a fascinating one because there is so much of it and it has to be disposed of. In desert country communities it is often left out in the sun to dry and turn to dust. Medieval castles had chutes that dumped everything in the moat – an added disincentive for attackers. The monks had the most efficient systems in their abbey reredorters. A stream ran beneath the seats and carried all away – not much fun for the folk living downstream. Even now dhows have a box that overhangs the stern withy a seat in it and this method had been used in seagoing ships since time immemorial. In your situation I would never use a bucket – always over the side (taking the obvious precautions about wind and wave of course) When you have run out of paper use sea water and salt water soap.Ideally you need a bowl that fits the top of the bucket – just sit on it and wash as in bidet. Fascinating reading your blogs – thank you.

  3. Dale says:

    love your stories ladies. I’m sure you’ll be friends for life after these experiences!

    So in awe of you all (I’m sure that pun has been used before but still, it’s true!)

    Keep strong and keep smiling x

  4. Anja says:

    Greatly amusing and totally part of basic human existence – wherever on the earth you are! You are all amazing.

  5. Jan R says:

    For some reason I knew Nat would bring up the topic 🙂

    …but I am sure it is a big topic there, because it’s already a big topic when you go camping…

    It’s great seeing you make some additional progress, maintaining your sense of good humor, and we all hope for better winds for you (and declining swells).

    I share my concern for the water supply as well. How do you deal with that?

    All the best, and thanks for sharing this great adventure with all of us! xxx


  6. Haha.. Great blog!

    Reminds me a little, of being on a felucca….

    Will pray for u all that the loo paper holds out til the next port… Good luck with ur buckets…

    Hugs n luck, enjoy the starlight 🙂

    Love n light,


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