San Francisco in San Francisco City and County, California — The American West (Pacific Coastal)
Sanitation at Sea
The toilets for ordinary sailors were usually located in the front or "head" of the ship and consisted of a series of holes in a plank which allowed for a direct drop into the ocean. From this location came the name "head," which remains a common term for toilets afloat and ashore.
In the later days of sail, toilets moved inboard. This type of system was used aboard Balclutha. For the sailors they were not much more comfortable than the previous design. When the ship plunged into the ocean, a geyser of water would fly up through the drain pipe to discomfort the user. Toilet paper was a little-known luxury on sailing ships. Oakum or other rope fibers were common substitutes. Paddle steamers usually had toilets in the paddle boxes.
Truth to tell, most seamen did not like the indoor toilets and used the bowsprit and supporting stays whenever possible. Even today, on modern yachts, this habit of avoiding marine toilets is one of the major causes of yachtsmen drowning by falling overboard.
Erected by National Park, U.S. Department of the Interior.
Topics. This historical marker Waterways & Vessels.
Location. 37° 48.505′ N, 122° 25.258′ W. Marker is in San Francisco, California, in San Francisco City and County. Marker can be reached from Hyde Street near Jefferson Street, on the right when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 2950 Hyde Street, San Francisco CA 94109, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Hyde Street Pier (a few steps from this marker); San Francisco Bay "Ark" (within shouting distance of this marker); The Tubbs Cordage Building (within shouting distance of this marker); Triple-Expansion Steam Engine (within shouting distance of this marker); Tug Sea Fox (within shouting distance of this marker); Steam Donkey Engine (within shouting distance of this marker); Ferryboat Eureka (within shouting distance of this marker); The Return of the C.A. Thayer (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in San Francisco.
More about this marker. This marker is located near the restrooms of the Hyde Street Pier.
Credits. This page was last revised on August 18, 2020. It was originally submitted on March 9, 2017, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California. This page has been viewed 176 times since then and 7 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on March 9, 2017, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California.