Do Cuddy Cabins have Bathrooms?


One of the first questions that I had when shopping around for a Cuddy Cabin was whether or not they had a bathroom onboard.

What I found out was a little bit of a letdown, but I had to keep reminding myself that the Cuddy Cabin is like a basic model Swiss Army knife.  It has a lot of basic tools that are great to get you by in a pinch, but if you had the option to have the correct tool you’d pick it over the knife any day.

Most Cuddy Cabin models are equipped with a “head” (toilet). Typically, the head is located below deck in the cuddy between the V-berth. Usually, a cuddy cabin has a portable toilet rather than a dedicated one with dockside pump out.

I was surprised by a few of the things that I found out about this delicate topic when it comes to the Cuddy Cabin style of watercraft.  Keep on reading and I’ll share what I’ve learned below!

What Should I expect from a Cuddy Cabin Bathroom?

Before you get your expectations too high about a Cuddy Cabin bathroom you need to remind yourself that a Cuddy Cabin is designed to deliver the barest of essentials for you and your family.  With that being said, a Cuddy Cabin does not have a dedicated bathroom, or head, per se.

Cuddy cabins typically only have a toilet with which to relieve yourself and the toilet is not located in its own designated room (aka a full marine toilet).  Lacking this dedicated marine toilet, the head on a Cuddy Cabin is typically located below deck between the V-berth and can have a filler cushion placed above it when not in use to expand the width of the berth for sleeping.

Sometimes, however, it is found near the stern of the boat (rear area on the top deck) and serves as extra seating with a cushion mounted above it when not in use.

So if you’re looking for a dedicated room in which to use the toilet, the cuddy cabin is probably not the right choice for you and your family.  If you upgrade to the next class of boat which is the Cabin Cruiser, you’ll likely find an actual marine head and it is usually fitted with a dedicated toilet with dockside pump out along with a fresh water sink and extendable shower head.  

The type of bathroom that you would find in a Cabin Cruiser is reminiscent of the confined bathrooms that you would find in a motorhome or camper.  They’re not a 4-diamond hotel bathroom, but they’re certainly better than a porta potty within the sleeping quarters.

A Dedicated vs. Portable Head

There are two types of toilets that you’ll find on a cuddy cabin. The first one is a dedicated toilet and this simply means that the toilet is fixed in place and has plumbing for the waste tank.  So, before your trip gets underway, you’ll need to fill up the freshwater reserve tank and at the end of your trip you’ll need to visit the dockside pump out station at your Marina or boat launch to empty out your waste tank.

Typically, Cuddies do not come with a dedicated toilet.  But if you’re purchasing your new, a lot of models have it as an optional feature if you’d like to pay for the upgrade.

The second type of toilet that you’ll find on a cuddy cabin would be a portable one, also known as a porta potty.  For some people this may be something that drives them off immediately, but I grew up around porta potties when camping so it’s not that big of a deal for me.  I’m also a little younger so I don’t mind hauling it all around but I might be changing my tune as I get a little bit older.

If you’re not used to what a porta potty is, basically it’s 1 unit with two detachable parts.  The upper part is your freshwater reserve tank for a small flushing action and then the bottom part is the waste collection tank.  

When you’re done with your boating trip you can separate the two pieces, which are sealed to prevent smells and leaks, and you can wheel it or carry it to the nearest regular toilet and flush away your waist.  There’s a little bit more to it than that but that’s for a later section down below.

Which is Better: a Dedicated or a Portable Toilet on my Cuddy Cabin?

Before you get stuck on which one is better before giving it a moment of consideration, it would be best to do a little research on the lakes that you intend on spending the most time at.

If you have a dedicated toilet you need to remember to fill the freshwater tank for flushing before you leave and you need to make sure that your marina or launching area has a pump-out station.  Without a way to fill your tank and empty your tank, you might not be using your toilet at all.

Where a porta potty shines is that it frees you up from being reliant upon the amenities offered by your launch area or marina since the contents can simply be emptied in any standard toilet either at a campground or when you return home.

The downside, of course, with a portable toilet is that it must be emptied by hand versus being able to hook up a hose and have it simply pumped out.

You’ll have to decide what is best for your situation and your tolerance level for dealing with human waste.

How to Deal with Waste from a Porta Potty on my Cuddy?

When it comes to dealing with a porta potty there’s five main things I like to have: latex gloves, face mask, the blue stuff (to dissolve the solids with), safety glasses, and expanded lung capacity for holding your breath!

When it comes to emptying the porta potty, I found that it’s easiest to not do it immediately after your trip is over.  As long as you have prepared well and loaded your waste tank with enough of the blue stuff, you can just let that blue stuff do it’s disintegrating action over the next couple days or weeks and it will literally dissolve all human waste and toilet paper into a blue liquid.

This makes it easier for emptying because you’re not going to have solids splashing out as you’re dumping it and you can just get a steady stream of liquid into the toilet.

Of course, whether you choose to do it while things are still solid or after they turn into a liquid, I recommend when emptying to always wear latex gloves, a face mask, and safety glasses in case there is any splashing up from the toilet.

Hold your breath either way and if you have to breathe make sure to breathe through your mouth which is hopefully protected by a face mask.  Breathing through your mouth will mitigate the gagging reflex from any foul stench that you would get by breathing through your nose.

Is There Enough Room to Use the Head on my Cuddy?

If you’re lucky, you might find enough room to use the head and close the hatch at the same time for privacy.  With some Cuddy Cabins this is the case and with others you will not be able to close the hatch while using the toilet.  Definitely make sure to sit on the toilet before you buy and imagine the “logistics” of the act.

Understandably, this can be a bit frustrating to not be able to close the hatch when relieving yourself. I mean, you have a compartment below deck that should offer privacy, but when you’re doing the most embarrassing of actions your head is popping out of the hatch looking at everyone while your rear end it doing its business.

That’s where curtains and swallowing your pride come into play.  Rigging something up shouldn’t be that difficult after buying some fabric to match your tastes from a local store.  If you really don’t care how it looks you can always get a cheap painters drop cloth and cut it down to size.

What if the Head is Above Deck?

Sometimes you’ll find that the toilet is located above deck. I try to be an optimistic person so when it comes to this situation you got to tell yourself that it’s better to have it above deck than to not have one at all when you have to go.

If your cuddy cabin that you’re looking at has a porta potty above deck there are ways to mitigate the embarrassment of using the toilet.  They make portable pop-up privacy stations, similar to hunting ground blinds, that can easily be deployed within seconds to offer privacy when using the toilet. They often even come with tie down points for the wind.

You can also use a circular cover that hangs down from the supports of the bimini, hard top, or T-top, which are the canopies above the cockpit.

Both are great options you’ll just have to decide which one is best for you.

What if I Want an Actual Marine Toilet on my Cuddy?

If the lack of privacy or dealing with a  porta potty is just not your thing, and you’re looking for an actual Marine toilet with its own door for privacy, you’re going to have to start looking at the next class of boats which would be the Cabin Cruisers.

Basically what separates Cuddy Cabins from Cabin Cruisers is that Cruisers are just a little bit bigger in length but they expand everything below deck.  

Typically, you can stand up in the Cuddy, there will be more room between the V-berth if you’d like to set up a table down there, there might be a limited galley (kitchenette), and there is often a separated toilet from the sleeping quarters.  Sometimes you’ll even have an extra berth on the aft side down below (rear)!

On smaller Cruisers you might find the head located beneath the passenger side console up on the cockpit. Sure, it’s confined, but it offers complete privacy and keeps the smell completely out of the sleeping quarters. Slightly larger Cruisers might have an actual bathroom below deck.

Inside this bathroom you’ll find a toilet fresh water sink and an extendable shower head that can be brought up from the sink as well to get clean as the floor is plumbed out for drainage.

Bob Van Nuck

Bob lives in central Michigan and enjoys running, woodworking, fixing up small engines, and getting out on the water with family, of course!

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