The Heads

The Heads: When Josh tells Ses that, “You’ll have to bunk with the other midshipmen, use the same heads as the men.” he is referring to the toilets. On a man of war, the toilets were located on either side of the bow of the ship (its head in a manner of speaking).

Given that the crew were all men, many of them would have simply urinated off the leeward side of the boat or, perhaps if new to the sea, off the windward side on the first time, but never again. This could be the origin of the expression, “Pissing in the wind,” to mean a foolhardy or useless action. But to perform a bowel movement, he would walk to the bow and climb over the rail to squat on a small seat with a hole in it, so that his droppings would fall cleanly overboard without hitting the ship. The seat was thus in clear view of anyone standing on the bowsprit or bows.

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