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Old 04-07-2015, 08:39   #1
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Composting heads for long term Cruising?

Are composting heads practical for long term cruising for a crew of 2? On average, how often does the solid need emptying? What, and how much material (peat?) needs to be stowed for a 6 month cruise? And finally, Airhead or Nature's Head?
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Old 04-07-2015, 21:56   #2
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Re: Composting heads for long term Cruising?

Well, the thing is... outside the US everybody just pumps directly overboard. So... no need for a holding tank anyway.
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Old 04-07-2015, 22:46   #3
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Re: Composting heads for long term Cruising?

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Are composting heads practical for long term cruising for a crew of 2? On average, how often does the solid need emptying? What, and how much material (peat?) needs to be stowed for a 6 month cruise? And finally, Airhead or Nature's Head?
Hi westsailwill.
We can get a month out of a coir fibre brick (compressed fibre from gardening store here in Australia ) so 6 bricks would cover you haven't used peat for years, we have used our natureshead for 5 years no complaints.

Happy travels.
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Old 05-07-2015, 00:47   #4
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Re: Composting heads for long term Cruising?

I saw the Airhead at the boat show, it looked to be very well constructed.

Why do you feel that you need to change out your present head? If it stinks, just change the hoses for the newer more stink resistant type and you're good to go for another 5-10 years.
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Old 05-07-2015, 08:57   #5
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Re: Composting heads for long term Cruising?

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Are composting heads practical for long term cruising for a crew of 2? On average, how often does the solid need emptying? What, and how much material (peat?) needs to be stowed for a 6 month cruise? And finally, Airhead or Nature's Head?
The answer is yes they are practical. You'll get a lot of flamers bad mouthing them but not from anyone who's actually had one. Do a thread search. There are a bunch on composting heads. I recommend you check out the C-Head.

C-Head portable composting toilets
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Old 05-07-2015, 09:08   #6
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Re: Composting heads for long term Cruising?

A number of threads on this westsailwill. Answer is definitely yes. We have a Nature's Head, but Air Head seems almost identical. C-Head also appears to be a good option. It has smaller holding volumes, but also has the advantage of using non-proprietary bottles.

The two of us get about four to five weeks before we need to dump. One coir brick per cycle. Can store 6-months of compressed coir in about the same space as a normal size bucket.
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Old 05-07-2015, 09:31   #7
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Re: Composting heads for long term Cruising?

Been living onboard full-time with an Airhead since 2008. By myself I get 6-7 weeks before the compost bin needs to be emptied. With another person onboard the bin is full in about 4 weeks.

IMO, both the Airhead and Natures Head are quality products and work well. Your choice will be driven by cost and installation ease. They have different foot prints, which you need to take into account.
Friends have a C-head on a small catamaran and are satisfied with it. However they only use that boat for 1-2 week cruises and are not live aboards.

My reason for converting to a composting (actually desiccating) head was the difficulty in fitting a holding tank of reasonable capacity. I had a Lectrasan at the time, which is illegal in much of the US east coast waters. I always bypassed the Lectrasan so my set up was illegal everywhere in the USA. I became very motivated to replace the overboard flushing toilet when my discharge hose became clogged halfway between Bermuda and the Chesapeake. Clearing sewage hoses dockside is very unpleasant. Words cannot describe having to do that underway, off-shore.

The only drawback I have experienced with a composting head is the occasional infestation with fruit flies or gnats. The lid on the toilet must seal tightly to keep them out, but eventually they will get in if you are cruising tropical or semi-tropical waters (I'm currently in Florida). The only solution then is to sterilize all components, including the vent hose, with boiling water.

John

My experience with the Airhead is documented here: Composting Toilet
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Old 05-07-2015, 10:02   #8
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Re: Composting heads for long term Cruising?

I've had a c-head for about 6 months now and love it.

Would just add they are deeper than standard toilets so keep that in mind with the potential install. Depending on your arrangement, you may need to do a bit of jockeying to fit one.

C-head provides the dimensions for a cardboard mockup on their website which came in handy for me, fitting one on a 27'.
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Old 05-07-2015, 10:13   #9
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Re: Composting heads for long term Cruising?

Apparently, those without a sense of smell have traditional holding tank systems that don't smell. I've yet to come across a holding tank system that didn't smell.


We switched to natures head back in 2008 and it has been a great option. We get 4-5weeks on the solids tank with 2 of us.


I would give c-head a look if we were doing it now (didn't come out until after we bought). I like the 5 gal bucket with makes disposal a bit easier (not that the natures head is a problem).
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Old 05-07-2015, 10:53   #10
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Re: Composting heads for long term Cruising?

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Are composting heads practical for long term cruising for a crew of 2? On average, how often does the solid need emptying? What, and how much material (peat?) needs to be stowed for a 6 month cruise? And finally, Airhead or Nature's Head?
Fish like their food fresh... Get it over the side as soon as practicable......
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Old 05-07-2015, 10:58   #11
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Re: Composting heads for long term Cruising?

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Fish like their food fresh... Get it over the side as soon as practicable......
Absolutely! Bring back the poop deck!
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Old 05-07-2015, 11:27   #12
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Re: Composting heads for long term Cruising?

We got a C head, last two weeks with 2 cruising. We use cedar cat litter, cedar saw dust not ordinary cat litter that is abrasive. Smells great even after use! Friends gave us a bag of saw dust used for drilling fluid. We now have enough sawdust in 1 gallon bags to last for years.
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Old 05-07-2015, 11:35   #13
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Re: Composting heads for long term Cruising?

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Are composting heads practical for long term cruising for a crew of 2? On average, how often does the solid need emptying? What, and how much material (peat?) needs to be stowed for a 6 month cruise? And finally, Airhead or Nature's Head?
We bought a Natures Head at a boat show earlier this year with that intent. Since it isn't installed yet we have no first hand experience to offer [yet] but intend to install it in the forward head soon.

As to stowing peat, we opted for coconut coir and decided Beats Peat [US$16 including shipping from Amazon] makes sense for us. It is really 4, 1" thick square foot tiles of coir, each of which are easily broken into 4-6 smaller blocks. One of these broken blocks is enough for a single charge. 14 months worth for 2 adults fits in a small grocery bag... [as long as we keep it dry!]

Cheers!
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Old 05-07-2015, 15:59   #14
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Re: Composting heads for long term Cruising?

Thanks to all on the great advice. We will definitely be installing a composting head. Storage for the peat bricks doesn't seem to be much of an issue, and 4 or 5 weeks before empties isn't a problem.
Currently we are using a perfectly efficient standard plumbed system (Raritan PH II, "no stink" sanitation hoses, and an 18 gallon holding tank) that we flush using only fresh water. This system has worked fine for several years now without being overly offensive. Biggest advantages of a composting head to us is not having to worry about pumpouts, fresh water use, and the huge amount of extra storage now being taken up by the holding tank, discharge pump, a multitude of hoses and Y-Valves, and the elimination of a thru hull fitting. We talking about a lot of space here. K.I.S.S.
It looks as though we are leaning towards the Nature's Head. The Airhead seems like a perfectly good unit, but most of the real positive feedback we are getting from here, as well as outside sources, is sending us in that direction. Any pro's or con's on these 2 brands would be appreciated.
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Old 05-07-2015, 17:23   #15
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Re: Composting heads for long term Cruising?

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Absolutely! Bring back the poop deck!
Yes, "poop deck" + "swim ladder" = worlds largest bidet (obviously only for calm conditions - and certainly not advisable for solo skipper). But for rougher seas or when moored/anchored, composting does seem "the cats meow" (if not it's litter box).
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