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Old 19-09-2019, 06:36   #1
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Compost Head Owners: Would you do it again?

I have a single-head boat that my wife and I plan to take on an open-ended cruise from PNW to Florida. Have done a ton of Internet research but hoping for direct feedback (good and bad) from owners in constant use.

1. Liveaboards - how is it working for full-time use? As your only head?
2. Tropics/Warm weather - still a good choice?
3. When cruising outside US, any issues in replenishing coir/peet?
4. What do you like most about it? Least?
5. Compared to a higher-grade marine toilet (Raritan Elegance, etc.), would you still chose your Compost Head?

Thanks in advance -

Peter
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Old 19-09-2019, 06:48   #2
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Re: Compost Head Owners: Would you do it again?

I work as a broker, and composting toilets are a big turn off for most buyers. It's tough to reinvent the wheel. I'll personally stick with my Raritan marine head.
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Old 19-09-2019, 06:48   #3
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Re: Compost Head Owners: Would you do it again?

Peter, I recommend you read the threads here on CF about composting toilets. They pretty much cover the pros and cons. You'll find that people with them are almost always very satisfied and would never go back to a regular marine toilet. A lot of people who have never used them seem to have opinions though... usually along the lines of not wanting to handle to emptying part. It's not an issue. I've had my Nature's Head for about 6 years and I love it- no smell, no problems, easy to maintain, reliable, nothing to break or leak and you gain a ton of storage when you rip out the old system.

To answer your questions:

1) Works great for 2 people full time. 3 people full time starts to strain the system and you have to dump more frequently. 4 or more is probably not a good idea.
2) They work great in the tropics. No issues.
3) Coconut coir bricks are small and easy to store. Carry a supply and replenish when you find more. Pretty common everywhere in gardening stores. In a pinch, you can always use sawdust, peat or something else until you locate coir.
4) (see above).
5) I would never go back to a regular marine head (of any brand). I love the simplicity, reliability and zero-smell of my composting toilet. No regrets whatsoever.
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Old 19-09-2019, 06:52   #4
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Re: Compost Head Owners: Would you do it again?

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Originally Posted by Lowcountry View Post
I work as a broker, and composting toilets are a big turn off for most buyers. It's tough to reinvent the wheel. I'll personally stick with my Raritan marine head.
Thanks. I've owned Weebles for 20-years and am undergoing a major refit with a near-zero ROI on the expense. Further, she will be our last boat. Resale will be someone else's problem.
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Old 19-09-2019, 06:57   #5
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Re: Compost Head Owners: Would you do it again?

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Peter, I recommend you read the threads here on CF about composting toilets.
Thank you so much. I have read many of the threads, including one from 2015 that stretched for over 26-pages or so with a ton of clutter. Also tough to tell some specific conditions of usage (full-time? tropics?). I was hoping by phrasing this thread to owners such as yourself, I could cull-through the stone-throwers and get honest feedback. My best friend with whom I've done several thousand miles thinks I'm nuts ("ick-factor"), so very familiar with the gut reaction to compost heads.
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Old 19-09-2019, 07:12   #6
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Re: Compost Head Owners: Would you do it again?

We have three heads, two on board. Having started in the Great Lakes, a zero discharge zone, the Airhead was a necessity for extended cruising in much of the Lakes and North Channel. We planned to continue using it as we reached into the Caribbean. There are few (none) places to dump it ashore. The ground is hard stone mostly and locals want nothing to do with your pot of treasure. We found the only place to empty the head is at sea, under way. Messy and dangerous. We did this for a while.

We have two Vac-U-flush heads, one direct out and one with Y and holding tank. Nearly all yachts in the Caribbean pump out direct or hold and gravity drain under way. Most do not use the holding tanks at all. Warm Caribbean water and dense marine activity consumes the discharge amazingly fast. An example is Marin in Martinique. This is a V shaped very long Harbor with little exchange with the open water. Probably about 1500 boats, mostly pumping daily. They have a fertility problem but not a hazardous bacteria problem. The dinghy grows amazing grass is left in the water a few days. The water is very clear.
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Old 19-09-2019, 07:21   #7
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Re: Compost Head Owners: Would you do it again?

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Originally Posted by mvweebles View Post
Thank you so much. I have read many of the threads, including one from 2015 that stretched for over 26-pages or so with a ton of clutter. Also tough to tell some specific conditions of usage (full-time? tropics?). I was hoping by phrasing this thread to owners such as yourself, I could cull-through the stone-throwers and get honest feedback. My best friend with whom I've done several thousand miles thinks I'm nuts ("ick-factor"), so very familiar with the gut reaction to compost heads.
Yes, some of the threads go on for many pages and get a little derailed at times. I suggest you focus on the comments of people who actually use composting toilets. Sadly, the people who have never used one seem to have opinions and all the facts...

Have a look at Mike's posts. He cruises for long periods with 2 aboard on their Rafiki 37. He gives honest advice (pros and cons) based on real experience.

Concerning the "ick-factor", I was also skeptical at first. I knew I wanted to get rid of my marine toilet, but wasn't sure about composting toilets. I read everything on the net, focused on the comments of users (all positive) and bit the bullet, so to speak, and ordered one. With the shipping to Brazil and the 100% tax, it wasn't a decision I took lightly (about USD2k in the end). I was pleasantly surprised the first time I dumped the solids bin. It looked like potting soil and smelled like damp peat. No "ick" at all. Besides, it's not like you have to get your hands in it- you just put a bag over the top and turn it over. You can also dump in the woods (off the path) or at sea (outside the limits). The urine bottle I simply dump over the side (every day or two). Urine is sterile.

If you have any specific questions I can answer, let me know. I'm pretty sure you won't regret buying a composting toilet.
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Old 19-09-2019, 08:03   #8
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Re: Compost Head Owners: Would you do it again?

I have no opinion on whether or not to use a composting head, but I gotta put in my 2 cents here.


https://www.sciencenews.org/blog/gor...ither-rest-you


We have a conventional head and an ElectroScan which kills everything which goes through it. It does use an amp hour each time it's flushed so if you install one, be aware of that.
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Old 19-09-2019, 08:12   #9
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Re: Compost Head Owners: Would you do it again?

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Originally Posted by senormechanico View Post
I have no opinion on whether or not to use a composting head, but I gotta put in my 2 cents here.


https://www.sciencenews.org/blog/gor...ither-rest-you


We have a conventional head and an ElectroScan which kills everything which goes through it. It does use an amp hour each time it's flushed so if you install one, be aware of that.
Urine is more sterile than your skin, hair, saliva or pretty much anything on or in your body. You pollute the water more by swimming than peeing in it. Let's not quibble, but dumping urine overboard is not a big problem.

From the article:

"It’s not clear anymore what body parts are actually sterile. The placenta was long thought to be, but scientists have just learned that’s not true: They found bacteria on the baby’s side of the placenta. There’s also some evidence that babies are born with bacteria already in their guts, which must have gotten through the placenta."

We have (and need) bacteria in our bodies. It's just recently that people have become obsessed with everything being "sterile".
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Old 19-09-2019, 08:19   #10
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Re: Compost Head Owners: Would you do it again?

Would I do it again?

ABSOLUTELY!

But I don’t recommend the 2 most advertised. They try to focus on composting, while desiccating makes it much more easy/workable.

1. 5 years with it as a liveaboard. 15 years without it before.

2. Tropics- all 5 years with it in Hawaii. Does just fine.

3. Replenishing media, it’s too easy to store many years worth, so not a good question really. But I also carry sawdust pellets, which make it that much easier. A little water and you have sawdust. Whatever you use, the secret is to decompress it with water, then allow it to dry out again.

4. What I like most is that I don’t store wet sewage on my boat. That, and no need for pump out stations. I could go on.

It is just such a non-issue. But like so many before me, pulling the trigger was scary. There is a learning curve, and if you don’t get it right, you might have to deal with gnats and whatever other things that people mention. (Gnats are an indication that the moisture in the solids isn’t drying out).

I really tried to keep this short, but i’m just so happy that I no longer deal with wet sewage aboard.
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Old 19-09-2019, 08:31   #11
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Re: Compost Head Owners: Would you do it again?

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But I don’t recommend the 2 most advertised.
Pray tell, your opinion on which ones you like/don't like and why? Do you use it full-time for long stretches? Nature's Head, for example, has a small fan, which would great assist in drying (dessication), no?
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Old 19-09-2019, 08:53   #12
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Re: Compost Head Owners: Would you do it again?

We have a Nature's Head on our Seaward 32RK and think it's great. No smell! What would be our holding tank now gives us an extra 30 gallons of potable water storage.

We had a "C" Head on another boat and liked it as well. Again, no smell and more storage. We use coir for the medium. If I ever get my dream boat (Outbound 46) I'll definitely do composing toilets again!
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Old 19-09-2019, 08:58   #13
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Re: Compost Head Owners: Would you do it again?

The most simple is the C Head. And in the matter of these toilets, I hear so many stories or regrets and/or issues that indicate to me the effort of the others to deal with the “ick factor” that helps to sell people on the idea.

My boat is my home. So i’ll let that answer the “long stretches” question.

I have never gotten around to installing the tiny fan, but I will. That should say something about how non-critical the fan is.
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Old 19-09-2019, 09:10   #14
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Re: Compost Head Owners: Would you do it again?

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It's tough to reinvent the wheel.
I think that wet toilets were once the wheel reinvented.
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Old 19-09-2019, 09:13   #15
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Re: Compost Head Owners: Would you do it again?

I almost hesitate to participate in these threads anymore because of all the poo flinging............

Anyway, not having to find a pump-out station, every seven to ten days, or dump offshore, makes emptying the container just a minor inconvenience. For full time use, it only needs to be done every four to six weeks.

You can get the coir at walmart:
https://www.walmart.com/ip/Expert-Ga...lock/926142788

I have used both peat moss and coir, but prefer the coir. It's less dusty.

I left all of my holding tank connections in place, when it is time to sell the boat, I'll install a marine head and take my composter to my next boat...
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