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Old 13-09-2015, 13:23   #31
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Re: Composting Head when heeling

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The more I read here, the more I love my ElectroScan.

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Those are no longer acceptable in a larger and larger swath of the USA. Previously you could use them in the Chesapeake but now the areas where they are not allowed to be used has grown. The laws are very specific... no black water, treated or untreated, is to be pumped over.
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Old 13-09-2015, 13:30   #32
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Re: Composting Head when heeling

nob, FYI, when you have a holding tank, you are carrying around with you at all times fermenting s**t. Sometimes vent lines clog. Sometimes hoses crack. Lots yucky can happen with them, too. it's just part of life.

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Old 13-09-2015, 13:33   #33
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Re: Composting Head when heeling

Well if you are parked in a marina you don't have to jump in the water and take a dump! The marina will have a bathroom!

I don't know what to say, you guys crack me up. I don't know how I've managed to own several sailboats and go on one cruise that lasted five months, less than aloof of you guys, but stil something. Yet somehow I have managed to not go on the boat.

Maybe I have just been hanging out too close to civilization.

Back to the composting head, if I didn't know better I would think this thread and the other one about them were joke threads. The other one talks about having problems with flies! Can't you at least see how maybe having rotting, barely contained poo, that has flies buzzing around it, isn't such a great idea?

No, you know, now that I think about it, while I didn't use it, my girlfriend came with me out to some wilderness spots for three weeks, and she used the head go both. Those chemicals you put in there really work well. They really do.

And don't cite examples of what appears to be a wooden holding tank that was original from the boat forty years ago. Get one like the photo I attached. A big solid plastic one.

I realize with any boat system, things can go wrong, but isn't a new holding tank and hoses, a whole new system, wouldn't that be pretty trouble free for a while to come?

Are you trying to be earth friendly or what? What is the appeal of a composting head?
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Old 13-09-2015, 14:16   #34
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Re: Composting Head when heeling

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Are you trying to be earth friendly or what? What is the appeal of a composting head?
they work, dont smell and are easy to clean up after.
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Old 13-09-2015, 14:50   #35
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Re: Composting Head when heeling

You went on a "cruise" for five months and never crapped in your head? Marina hopping is not my style of cruising, but if that's how you butter your toast, so be it.

I'll give you a list of the reasons I think a composting head is superior than a traditional one, but since you don't actually need a head, I'd say your best option is to simply go without.

Benefits:
  • Recovery of significant amount of space, especially on smallish boats. No need for all that plumbing, valves and a holding tank. In the space that used to house our holding tank I now carry two inflatable kayaks, along with our drifter and some miscellaneous tools.
  • Freedom from pumpouts. We cruise for months at a time in wilderness areas, and we do use our head. Our holding tank was the most limiting factor for how long we could be away from a dock. Now, with a composting head, I can be away from a dock for months.
  • Simplicity. There's very little that can go wrong with our Nature's Head. Keep the coir mixed and the air flowing and very little can go wrong.
  • Security. I've been able to reduce the number of holes in my boat by not pumping overboard (y-valve) and not needing water for flushing. Fewer holes is a good thing for a sailboat.
  • Safety. Standard marine heads are source of constant challenge for boaters. They require vigilant maintenance, with the consequences of failure being rather nasty, to put it mildly. The consequences of failure with a composting head might be some flies and the need to restart the pile early.
Note, I did not say anything about being environmentally friendly. I think both systems can be environmentally acceptable, and both can be terrible. That's not the reason to go composting.

Most of my boating life has been spent with a standard marine head. I had few problems with my previous system (a Skipper's Head II and 25 gallon holding tank), and I don't think there is anything wrong with this set up. I just think that a composting head is better IF your permanent crew compliment is two.
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Old 13-09-2015, 15:35   #36
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Re: Composting Head when heeling

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Originally Posted by northoceanbeach View Post
That is so disgusting. I had to use the pump out for the first time to pump out the grey water that the previous owner of my boat forgot to empty, but the hose to suck it out some gross stuff in it from before and it got on deck a little. I'm pretty much a sissy who it comes to these things, the composting head seems so Damn fowl I can't even begin to describe.

If you have to go number two on your boat, and I personally never have, but if you do, what's wrong with the t fitting that either pumps overboard or into a regular holding tank? Haven't people been using holding tanks with success for years? I know with urine and the fluid you add to break it down and kill the smell. It's not too bad.
Having a functioning head on a boat is a good idea, because when you need it, you need it. Or perhaps a member of your crew or a guest will.

I have been on two voyages where the head crapped out. In one case, it was the only head on the boat and it was a simple clog that was cleared so the head became useable again after a few hours. A problem that nobody wants to fix. It can be messy but usually the mess is confined to the head/toilet and a hose.

In another case, the entire head compartment was filled with gallons of the sewage and a HUGE mess that oozed out into the salon under the door. It was horrible smelling, slippery, disgusting, etc. Major problem that nobody wanted to fix.

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While I have not owned a compositing head, everything I read about them from people who actually do own them is positive. So, my own choice is to put one on my future boat, because of their advantages (see Mike's post).

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You asked something like: Why would anyone want to have a decomposing bucket of poo on their boat?

Well, I see it very differently. A typical holding tank is 20 or more gallons of slurry (feces plus urine plus salt water plus possibly some chemicals). It is foul stuff. This may surprise you, but some boats keep that big tank almost full of the stuff and may not pump it out for weeks or longer.

In many sailboats, that holding tank may be located under the berth adjacent to the head. So, I really don't like the idea of sleeping in my berth with my head (and nose) just a few inches above or away from the large tank of smelly stuff in a holding tank.

YMMV.
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Old 13-09-2015, 15:49   #37
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Re: Composting Head when heeling

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Originally Posted by northoceanbeach View Post
Are you trying to be earth friendly or what? What is the appeal of a composting head?
For some people, like those the tiny houses, this is an appealing part of having a composting head. No matter what deposits are made into a regular toilet, there is a lot of water used to move that out. Going with a composting head saves many gallons of water annually. If the deposits really are going to be composted on land, then the material can be reused for planting.

This isn't necessarily MY reason for going with a composting head, but it's something to think about for why others may get one.

The reasons Mike mentioned sum it up quite nicely too. With a traditional head, you'd have to make special stops just to empty the sewage that gets collected, or head out off shore far enough to dump overboard.
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Old 13-09-2015, 17:34   #38
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Re: Composting Head when heeling

I'm experimenting with a simple DIY dry head on my boat, not living aboard yet. I found out about the concept on SailFar.net. Search for "the $10-20 or even free composting head." I like it so far - no plumbing, no through-hulls, no sloshing tank of liquid sewage, little or no odor, little or no insect problem, no pumping, little or no cost. I've lived with conventional heads; I prefer dry. If someone prefers the other kind, so be it!
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Old 13-09-2015, 17:56   #39
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Re: Composting Head when heeling

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and guests will need some basic instruction, although this is true for standard marine heads as well.
Mike, that's gotta be the first time I've seen someone state that. Unless you've done so before.

Most of the time all we hear is how hard it is for non-sailors to "use" a marine head.

Gee, turn it on, turn it off. If your guests can't work a light bulb...

Just kiddin'
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Old 14-09-2015, 02:27   #40
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Re: Composting Head when heeling

Well on my five month cruise I think I only stayed in a marina one day out of fifteen at most.

Ok I wot argue with you guys about you choice of toilet. It's just not appealing to me.
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Old 14-09-2015, 08:36   #41
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Re: Composting Head when heeling

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Well on my five month cruise I think I only stayed in a marina one day out of fifteen at most.

Ok I wot argue with you guys about you choice of toilet. It's just not appealing to me.
Don't consider it an argument or take it personally, this is one of the subjects that excites cruisers to a frenzy. Like bees in a hive beating wings, temperatures rise and that's one method we use to communicate.

A composting head for me is a consideration but just here on the east coast USA. Honestly though, our holding/head tank has been one of our least troublesome systems on the boat. We had one issue where the former owner had connected two pieces of vent hose together using duct tape and every time we would flush it would fill the cabin with nasty air.

After fixing that we only occasionally have issues pumping out - running some water down the pumpout hose usually fixes that and I am toying with putting in a "service port" like houses have for their sewer.

However, being able to remove all the hoses would certainly open up some storage space in the bilge. However, it turns out that we really don't need much more storage space than we already have.

I was just curious as to how the pee stream changes based upon the angle of heel.
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Old 14-09-2015, 12:35   #42
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Re: Composting Head when heeling

A 'normal' marine head that is correctly working with non-permated hose is slightly less 'gross' than a composting head, until it breaks. Then they are orders of magnitude more gross.

First thing I did when i got the boat was rip out the old head and put in a Nature's Head. Doesn't smell, dead easy to use, not carrying around 20 gallons of corrosive slurry.
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Old 14-09-2015, 13:07   #43
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Re: Composting Head when heeling

Good, that's how people talk on the forum, I'm not offended, I'll participate.

Then be freaking honest, the only reason you would need an expensive waste management system is if you were doing extensive cruising, but if you scoff at marinas, and I don't blame you, and you are out cruising, then get a regular head and as soon as you go pump overboard like the rest of the world. I realize it's gross and wrong in a marina, but this isn't the derelict boat liveaboards forum, this is the cruising forum, and if you are cruising most of the time you are out there and why not just use a regular head and pump overboard. Then you have no waste at all.

Also, don't poop on your boat. Unless you are out to sea on an ocean passage, and the. I think that is a separate discussion for where to go, but it's certainly getting pumped overboard if you do use your head. But if you're not on an ocean passage, you go to shore and do fun things right? So go when you go to shore. If it's a nature island, go camping style, if it's civilized than they have toilets. Problem solved. No need for rotting filth attracting flies on your boat. We can be cruisers, but let's have some class.
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Old 14-09-2015, 14:18   #44
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Re: Composting Head when heeling

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Good, that's how people talk on the forum, I'm not offended, I'll participate.

Then be freaking honest, the only reason you would need an expensive waste management system is if you were doing extensive cruising, but if you scoff at marinas, and I don't blame you, and you are out cruising, then get a regular head and as soon as you go pump overboard like the rest of the world. I realize it's gross and wrong in a marina, but this isn't the derelict boat liveaboards forum, this is the cruising forum, and if you are cruising most of the time you are out there and why not just use a regular head and pump overboard. Then you have no waste at all.

Also, don't poop on your boat. Unless you are out to sea on an ocean passage, and the. I think that is a separate discussion for where to go, but it's certainly getting pumped overboard if you do use your head. But if you're not on an ocean passage, you go to shore and do fun things right? So go when you go to shore. If it's a nature island, go camping style, if it's civilized than they have toilets. Problem solved. No need for rotting filth attracting flies on your boat. We can be cruisers, but let's have some class.
Seriously - how could you not poop on your boat? That is kinda silly. What if I have IBS?
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Old 14-09-2015, 15:29   #45
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Re: Composting Head when heeling

In fairness, as a newish liveaboard one of the first skills I've developed is controlled pooping. This has become kind of a joke among my friends who live in houses as I vanish into their bathroom within a few minutes of arriving.

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No need for rotting filth attracting flies on your boat. We can be cruisers, but let's have some class.
I really really don't think you get how these heads work. Nothing is rotting, at all. There is far less smell than a traditional head (I'd go as far to say mine is odor free)
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