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Old 06-23-2008, 05:33 AM   #1
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I have a hand pumped heads aboard Obelix, 32 hartley rorc. I want to take it out and replace with a porta potty as to instal a holding tank looks to be more trouble and expense than necessary. The thought of so many litres of poop sloshing about gives me the creeps. I've read about composting toilets and think they would be ideal on a weekend boat but a lifeaboard situation I doubt composting would occur as not enough time. So porta potty seems reasonable, can dump over the side when well offshore, a civilised bucket, and a holding tank when closer in that is easily taken ashore for disposal. What say you learned cruisers, am I mad or does this idea have merit?

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Old 06-25-2008, 02:20 PM   #2
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I have a hand pumped heads aboard Obelix, 32 hartley rorc. I want to take it out and replace with a porta potty as to instal a holding tank looks to be more trouble and expense than necessary. The thought of so many litres of poop sloshing about gives me the creeps. I've read about composting toilets and think they would be ideal on a weekend boat but a lifeaboard situation I doubt composting would occur as not enough time. So porta potty seems reasonable, can dump over the side when well offshore, a civilised bucket, and a holding tank when closer in that is easily taken ashore for disposal. What say you learned cruisers, am I mad or does this idea have merit?

cheers

Pete
There's still poo sloshing around but now you've got to find a place to hand-carry it off the boat and find a good, legal, appropriate place to dump it--sometimes taking it off in your dingy if you're anchored? Seems to be a system unlikely to work while cruising, IMHO. As an aside, here in the USA, its illegal in many places to dump waste FROM A TOILET overboard, but yet it is NOT illegal in the same places to use a bucket and dump it overboard. Strange laws we have...

We have a Skipper II head that direct discharges and (while refitting the boat) at the last minute we decided NOT to put in a holding tank, but instead to purchase an "Airhead" composting toilet. We've heard many good things about the particular composting toilet from cruiser and weekend sailors alike. In our case, the head compartment is quite large (with wasted space that we were going to use for a large holding tank) and we will actually be keeping the Skipper II for use when underway and using the composting head while in port or anchored. We haven't re-launched yet, so can't tell you how the Airhead works yet. If it doesn't work in a way that we find acceptable, we'll still put in a holding tank--but hate holding tanks and their associated maintenance.

You can read some info about the Airhead written by a cruising couple who've been using an Airhead for at least 3 years here: link
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Old 06-27-2008, 04:40 AM   #3
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Oops, I thought I should clarify on the Skipper toilet. Its my understanding that the only way (in USA) that one can actually keep a direct discharge head is in a boat built before 1980 and with a toilet that was installed before 1980. In our case, both are true. In most cases, this wouldn't be true and a holding tank (even tiny) would have to be installed even if the intent is to direct discharge on passage.
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Old 06-27-2008, 07:59 AM   #4
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Thank you Redbopeep, appreciate your time. I do like the idea of a composting head and have looked into the Airhead. Looks like a good system, especially for someone using the boat mainly on the weekends. I wonder about emptying this system around town because in a liveaboard situation its unlikey the matter has all decomposed. What do you do? Ask someone if you can bury it in their garden?

The matter in these also isn't sloshing about ,I guess, so much better in that regard. But still they need to be emptied which is the same problem we have with the porta potty.

Now I believe the matter in a porta potty becomes liquid and one simply takes it to a toilet and pour it in, flush and away you go. The matter apparently, according to Thetford's blurb, dosn't smell bad if using their products.

Of course the composting toilet gives the soil back the nutrients taken and therefore I think the system we all should be using at home. If only someone could invent a foolproof composting toilet system where one simply presses a button like a flush.

To me, the porta potty system is expensive. Sure cheaper initially but then one has to continue with the ,enzymes? And they seem quite expensive. Could well be that the Airhead is cheaper in the long run. Emptying the porta potty at sea shouldn't be a problem and when anchored off near town an very early trip in to the nearest public toilet.

Now I believe porta potty's are acceptable to US authorities as an holding tank. If that is true then surely both airhead and porta potty are better than holding tanks. Honestly , the thought of the mess if something happened to the tank.... would ruin the boat surely. Quite a risk to run and unnecessary.
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Old 06-27-2008, 10:05 PM   #5
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Thank you Redbopeep, appreciate your time. I do like the idea of a composting head and have looked into the Airhead. Looks like a good system, especially for someone using the boat mainly on the weekends. I wonder about emptying this system around town because in a liveaboard situation its unlikey the matter has all decomposed. What do you do? Ask someone if you can bury it in their garden?

The matter in these also isn't sloshing about ,I guess, so much better in that regard. But still they need to be emptied which is the same problem we have with the porta potty.

Now I believe the matter in a porta potty becomes liquid and one simply takes it to a toilet and pour it in, flush and away you go. The matter apparently, according to Thetford's blurb, dosn't smell bad if using their products.

Of course the composting toilet gives the soil back the nutrients taken and therefore I think the system we all should be using at home. If only someone could invent a foolproof composting toilet system where one simply presses a button like a flush.

To me, the porta potty system is expensive. Sure cheaper initially but then one has to continue with the ,enzymes? And they seem quite expensive. Could well be that the Airhead is cheaper in the long run. Emptying the porta potty at sea shouldn't be a problem and when anchored off near town an very early trip in to the nearest public toilet.

Now I believe porta potty's are acceptable to US authorities as an holding tank. If that is true then surely both airhead and porta potty are better than holding tanks. Honestly , the thought of the mess if something happened to the tank.... would ruin the boat surely. Quite a risk to run and unnecessary.
I've dealt with portapotties in many situations and would NEVER have one on my boat. Not an option for us. I'd rather use the "poo-bags" that the Pardeys use .

Do go to the Sarana website--they are a couple who are cruising using the Airhead successfully. So, it does work for cruisers/liveaboards, not just weekenders. We will be living aboard and cruising with the Airhead as well. I've heard that cruisers simply dump the fully composted matter at sea if they don't have a place to put it while traveling. I've also heard of cruisers who have a larger crew so they end up bagging the partially "done" compost in the black contractor bags, placing it (secured) on deck, shake/turn the bag until its "done" (a couple weeks) and then they can dump it. Finally, one can simply dump the partially composted waste in the garbage (yucky, but think about all those diapers, etc in the garbage...).

If you have the money for a little more expensive system, you might consider a Microphor system. It separates the liquids from the solids through a series of redwood weirs, the solids compost in the system and then are flushed away with the liquids over time. Its a nifty system. In no discharge zones, the liquid has to be held (in a holding tank) but elsewhere you can direct discharge. You only have to replace the redwood part of the tank every few years so its no-fuss.

Best of luck.
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Old 07-09-2008, 05:07 PM   #6
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There is another interesting system on the market here in Northern Europe, developed by a german company, (www.cactus-00.com/)!

It is a system with plastic bags that fits on a special tiolet seat and you can mount this seat to your normal seawater head. In case of use you put this bag equipped with a solid rim on your toilet seat, do your business and after that you add a portion of moisture absorbant salt to take up the moisture. After that you close the bag with an airtight lid and in most countries you are now allowed to dispose the bag with the regular garbage, because it is not wet garbage.

This company also sells special toilet units that look like porta pottis, if you choose to give up your sea water head.

Our boat is so old that we did not have to install a holding tank and with this system we kept our sea water head, and we use the bags while for example anchoring in ecologically sensitive waters like the Baltic Sea.

We did not ever thing of installing a porta potti because it often happens that it is not allowed to dispose the content of porta pottis into the public sewage system. Reason: smaller sewer treatment plants can't cope with this mass of chemistry, harming the fauna of the plants...

The big advantage of these bags is that there is nothing on board that smells, that has to be composted , or chemicals that can spill. Very simple, nothing to maintain, just grab a bag, use it and dispose it with the regular garbage!

You just need the room to store those plastic bags with the lids. You buy ten bags in a unit. They are quite bulky but they are very light. We always keep 20 to 30 bags aboard, stowed away somewhere in the very ends of the boat where anything heavier would spoil the trim.

This company's internet site is in german language only. Click on "Cactus", then you see the available toilets and the boxes with the plastic bags, moisture absorbers and absorbing toilet paper. For some reason they don't show the toilet seat fitting to nomal sea water heads in their product list.

In case of language problems just contact me!

Uwe

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Old 07-16-2008, 11:25 PM   #7
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Oops, I thought I should clarify on the Skipper toilet. Its my understanding that the only way (in USA) that one can actually keep a direct discharge head is in a boat built before 1980 and with a toilet that was installed before 1980. In our case, both are true. In most cases, this wouldn't be true and a holding tank (even tiny) would have to be installed even if the intent is to direct discharge on passage.
Actually the 1980 date has to do with the certification of type 1 MSD, e.g. ElectroSan's and their use. But in USA inland and coastal waters all boats currently in use - - no matter when they were built - - you must have a "lock-able" holding tank system or completely remove any MSD and it plumbing and use a bucket or an "eco-toilet" (e.g. composting toilet) - something that has no connection whatsoever thru plumbing to the outside water.

The two salient points is that almost all waters inside the USA are "no-discharge" which means holding tanks and pump out stations and in the "sensitive" patrolled areas they required that additionally a "lock" be installed on any "Y-Valve" that would allow direct discharge over the side.

The bucket or "butt over the stern" are legal but anything bolted down and attached to plumbing leading to a discharge thruhull must have a holding tank with a lockable shutoff to prevent accidental discharge.

Outside USA waters, anything, anyway you want works fine.
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Old 07-17-2008, 07:20 PM   #8
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Actually the 1980 date has to do with the certification of type 1 MSD, e.g. ElectroSan's and their use. But in USA inland and coastal waters all boats currently in use - - no matter when they were built - - you must have a "lock-able" holding tank system or completely remove any MSD and it plumbing and use a bucket or an "eco-toilet" (e.g. composting toilet) - something that has no connection whatsoever thru plumbing to the outside water.

The two salient points is that almost all waters inside the USA are "no-discharge" which means holding tanks and pump out stations and in the "sensitive" patrolled areas they required that additionally a "lock" be installed on any "Y-Valve" that would allow direct discharge over the side.

The bucket or "butt over the stern" are legal but anything bolted down and attached to plumbing leading to a discharge thruhull must have a holding tank with a lockable shutoff to prevent accidental discharge.

Outside USA waters, anything, anyway you want works fine.
In the case of a system with "direct discharge" from a toilet or holding tank "lockable" can simply be removing the handle from the closed seacock on a system--this includes from a direct discharge that was installed prior to the 1980 date. However that whole "direct discharge" w/o holding tank can't be in a boat/system installed after 1980. That was my point. You can actually see a "legal" direct discharge toilet sitting in a boat without a holding tank at all. Of course, it must be "locked" while in no-discharge zone. It is legal to be there in the boat if installed prior to 1980 but it is not legal to USE it in a no discharge zone and it must be "locked" so it can't be used while in the no discharge zone.

My worry was that someone who had a boat or toilet built/installed after 1980 would think it was legal to install a new system w/o holding tank because it IS legal to have such a system (locked in no discharge zone) if it was installed prior to 1980. You can't use it in a no discharge zone but you can HAVE it in the boat (locked while in no discharge zone) if it was installed prior to 1980.

I'm saying the same thing several times to make it clear.
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Old 07-18-2008, 11:29 PM   #9
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Months ago we installed a Nature's Head composting toilet and it has worked wonderfully. If you are legally far enough offshore you can dump it overboard just as you would a porta-potty. The liquid side fills up fast, but is easily emptied down any land-based toilet when near land, and even easier anywhere else. We would have nothing else!

David & Brenda

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Old 07-19-2008, 04:23 AM   #10
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Yes,the Nature's Head and AirHead seem to be the same toilet--only difference I can see is in the seat itself. Glad to hear it works well for you, too.
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Old 08-23-2008, 10:12 PM   #11
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Just thought I'd post that we've been using our Airhead toilet onboard the boat since we moved aboard on 8/1 (while in the boatyard, still!). We only use it at night (rather than take the long walk to the boatyard toilet in pitch dark). We're very happy with it.
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