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Old 25-08-2011, 15:27   #76
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Re: Nature's Head (???) Seriously . . .

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Originally Posted by rebel heart View Post
I should qualify my statements to mean the United States. Pumpouts here are subsidized or paid for outright by tax dollars with the requirement that they be available for free. The US is trying to do everything it can to get people to use holding tanks and pumpouts rather than discharging.
Most of the places I have seen in Florida charge for a pump-out service. Some are free if you are filling up on fuel.
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Old 25-08-2011, 16:46   #77
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Re: Nature's Head (???) Seriously . . .

I guess I should have said I wouldn't be sailing in the U.S. And yes, if I live on the hook, I will be sailing frequently enough to dump offshore. I don't really see the reason for living on a sailboat if you don't sail it. And as far as living off the grid, I wasn't referring to maintenance, I was referring to fuel, docking, services. Not replacement parts. I expect to replace things or have work done. But I also plan to invest in systems that make sense, like renewable power.
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Old 25-08-2011, 20:49   #78
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Re: Nature's Head (???) Seriously . . .

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Most of the places I have seen in Florida charge for a pump-out service. Some are free if you are filling up on fuel.
Are they legit or slightly shady? I'm 99% that any place that got a dime of tax dollars to put the pumpout in needs to offer it for free. The boat-side pumpouts or otherwise super convenient versions obviously have their own fees but here on the west coast the idea of a fee-based pumpout dock is crazy.
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Old 26-08-2011, 07:25   #79
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Re: Nature's Head (???) Seriously . . .

Any marina that gets federal grant money (Clean Vessel Act of 1992 provides up to 75% of the cost) to install pumpout equipment can charge a max of $5 for a pumpout. If they paid for the equipment 100% with their own money they can charge any amount they want to.
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Old 26-08-2011, 07:26   #80
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Re: Nature's Head (???) Seriously . . .

Eric, marinas dont have to use tax dollars to set up their pumpout facilities,some choose to pay for their own so they can charge for the service. Its a SERVICE and not a fun one either and boatowners should not expect to get it for free. Our pumpout is mobile and we have to go to the boat, we have no gas dock and it takes time out of our day when we could be working on billable jobs so why should anyone expect it for free? There is nothing illegitimate or shady about charging for a service.
Of course the way to avoid these charges as you know is to use a composting toilet.
Steve.
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Old 26-08-2011, 07:36   #81
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Re: Nature's Head (???) Seriously . . .

If I unjustly accused you, I apologize...but but even if it was bad design or defective, the problems you describe are not something that should just be endured as "I guess that's the way it's supposed to work."
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Old 26-08-2011, 07:38   #82
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Re: Nature's Head (???) Seriously . . .

I have a couple of questions for those of you that are using composting toilets on a regular basis.
1/ do you use the computer fan that comes with the unit or do you use a self contained solar fan such as the ronstan vent?
2/ if you use the computer fan,are they as unreliable as many claim?
3/ Do you use the coffee filters when doing #2
4/ How well does the bowl shape work at keeping the urine from going down the wrong hole?
5/ Natures Head claims that guys can stand up to pee, is this really practical? It doesnt really look like it to me.Does anyone really do this?
6/ Having used an Airhead or Natures Head on a regular basis what design changes would you make.
Steve.
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Old 26-08-2011, 07:39   #83
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Re: Nature's Head (???) Seriously . . .

Ok, it was more than a couple of questions, sorry.
Steve.
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Old 26-08-2011, 08:06   #84
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Re: Nature's Head (???) Seriously . . .

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Originally Posted by clockwork orange View Post
I have a couple of questions for those of you that are using composting toilets on a regular basis.
1/ do you use the computer fan that comes with the unit or do you use a self contained solar fan such as the ronstan vent?
2/ if you use the computer fan,are they as unreliable as many claim?
3/ Do you use the coffee filters when doing #2
4/ How well does the bowl shape work at keeping the urine from going down the wrong hole?
5/ Natures Head claims that guys can stand up to pee, is this really practical? It doesnt really look like it to me.Does anyone really do this?
6/ Having used an Airhead or Natures Head on a regular basis what design changes would you make.
Steve.
1. We have a solar exhaust fan that has worked for 3 years now. I was going to hook up the computer fan as a backup, but so far I haven't gotten around to running the wires.
2. Don't use it.
3. No, tried the filters once but I don't see the advantage. The hole is in the right place - at least for me. Occasionally I have to wipe up a little bit with a piece of tp, but it's better than a filled coffee filter to deal with.
4. The bowl shape works fine when the toilet is level. If you can, mount it fore and aft to avoid having it tilt backwards. My biggest complaint is that it is hard to hit the right hole when well heeled on a starboard tack. My winter project next year is to hinge the base it sits on to help keep it level.
5. It may not be macho, but I never stand up to pee on a boat. A lesson learned the hard way. I don't think I'd try with the Natures Head even on dry land.
6. We have a Natures Head, the only change I would like to see is a bigger ridge separating the liquid and solids. See question 4.
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Old 26-08-2011, 08:22   #85
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Re: Nature's Head (???) Seriously . . .

Hi Peggie:

I admit, I did get my feathers a little ruffled but thanks for your comments. The unit we installed was a new product so perhaps it had not been fully debugged and has been improved since. The issues were not too extreme but I also did not find it to be a carefree solution. No solution, however, is always carefree and if it was everyone would use that option. Leave it to say that my experience with that has made me reticent to try other products such as a composting head.

I still think a portapotty is a suitable solution for occasional, weekend use but is not viable in a long term, cruising boat. I guess on that point we can agree to disagree...
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Old 26-08-2011, 08:42   #86
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Re: Nature's Head (???) Seriously . . .

islander and ericson had thetford 875 msd units built into their long range cruisers for a few years. these actually work. they can pump overboard and up deck fitting and do not sink boat. they do not stink if you use odorlos in them and clean with pumpout. my ericson has that. i liked it.
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Old 26-08-2011, 08:48   #87
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Re: Nature's Head (???) Seriously . . .

Interesting. Thanks for sharing that.
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Old 26-08-2011, 09:27   #88
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Re: Nature's Head (???) Seriously . . .

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Originally Posted by peghall View Post
[I]
Seriously, an "MSD" (designed to be permanently installed and fitted for pumpout) portapotty can be an excellent alternative to a marine toilet and holding tank. No moving parts to maintain, no plumbing except the pumpout line and vent...and they use so little water that a 5-6 gal. model holds more flushes than 30 gallon tank connected to a manual marine toilet. Or, if you REALLY want to go "uptown" with a self-contained system, check this one out: SeaLand Traveler at Defender
I had an MSD on my Hunter for the past two cruises. I purchased it due to the perceived simplicity and adaptability.

In reality, my experience is that once it's plumbed, it has most of the complexities and problems of a traditional marine head. It should be vented, will have a discharge pump that can fail, has a discharge line that can plug and has the same potential through hull issues any head will have. Even without plumbing it to be pumped overboard, mine was not free of moving parts. There were moving parts in the flushing mechanism and moving parts in water holding tank in the form of a pump to create pressure.

The big disadvantage I found is in the holding tank. It is vented to the bowl on each flush releasing odors. Since it's a top draw pump out system, it's more prone to problems with pump inefficiencies than a system that works with gravity. The fact it can't be pumped dry means there's always sewage on the bottom creating build up and again, more odors.

I'm in the process of replacing my MSD with a much simpler traditional head with a gravity feed system.
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Old 26-08-2011, 09:31   #89
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Smile Re: Nature's Head (???) Seriously . . .

Quote:
Originally Posted by clockwork orange View Post
I have a couple of questions for those of you that are using composting toilets on a regular basis.
1/ do you use the computer fan that comes with the unit or do you use a self contained solar fan such as the ronstan vent? I have mine wired so it always runs 24/7 when the composter is in use, which is most of the time during the year. I have a few spare fans that are cheap enough.
2/ if you use the computer fan,are they as unreliable as many claim? Like above I carry a few spares, but in two years have yet to replace the original. How long do the fans in your computor last?
3/ Do you use the coffee filters when doing #2 Yes, it makes cleaning any thing that misses the hole much easier. Which is rare. Again, I'd prefer to clean a slight smear every now and then than fix a clogged head.
4/ How well does the bowl shape work at keeping the urine from going down the wrong hole? Actually it works pretty well. Every now and then a dribble may go into the wrong hole but I have never had any issues with the system not working as it should as far as the breaking down of material.
5/ Natures Head claims that guys can stand up to pee, is this really practical? It doesnt really look like it to me.Does anyone really do this? Not often on a boat. At least in my boat standing is too awkward because of the space constraints and sitting works best.
6/ Having used an Airhead or Natures Head on a regular basis what design changes would you make. I'd like to have the ability to some how plumb a small fresh water line to the urine container to flush the urine over board. But then I beleive it would change the legality of the head.
Steve.

I said many times before that installing a composting head on my boat was one of the best things I've done. But like any system installed on a boat there are compromises. In my line of work I have the opportunity to be on a lot of boats. Boats from 20' to mega yachts. I beleive there is a cut off point in boat size in which a composting head would be impractical if not just silly. Most of us are not sailing million dollar boats where the only tool in our tool box is a check book. I would venture to say that most people on this board are not that type of cruiser. When a plumbed head system is working it is a pleasure to have. When it fails, like many systems on a boat it seems to fail at the worst time in the worst conditions. Unless the boat and crew are in danger it usually means that the head has to be attended to right then and there. I've been lucky, in all my life I have never been sea sick in any conditions. The curse to that is when things break down in rough seas it is usually me that has to fix them. I don't mind the engine work, electronic work, etc. But one more than once, in fact many times, I was the only one who could do the repairs to the head. The comment that if you broke it you fix it doesn't mean much if the person who broke it hasen't a clue as how to fix it. If it's your boat chances are more than likely you will be the one to fix everything. It's your boat not theirs. Once you get over the idea that any head is really nothing more than a hole you do your business in and not a device that has to pass some social acceptance clause you'll be on your way to a lot less stress with your boats head. Maintenace is different and dumping is different, but a lot less messy if things go wrong. When my holding tank was full and I could not dump right away I had problems if I wasn't near a pump out station. When my composter is full I empty it into a heavy duty contractors bag and place it in a Home Depot five gallon bucket and seal it with a lid and I'm ready to go again (pardon the pun) This takes all of ten minutes to do while under way. Most of us are rarely so far from shore facilities that this practice is rarely if ever needed. When I reach shore I dispose of the garbage bag. Sure there is some recent fresh business in the mix but it is mixed into the older mix and is not a propblem or messy to dispose of at all. Another advantage is unlike a portta pottie there are no chemicals which have an odor themselves. My boat has never ever smelled better since I ripped out all the old plumbing for the old head. There are times when my boat will sit unopened for a few weeks in the Florida summer sun. When I open it up I no longer have that smell I could never get rid of. The wife who at first thought I had lost my mind when I suggested a composting head is now as big a fan of it as I am. She was always more sensitive to the smells. I've had friends on board who, even after instructions and being told not to, have thrown in female products, gobs of TP and even a few Handi wipes. I never even knew about it until I emptied the composter. Had it been done with other systems I would once again be up to my elbows in the unmentionables. One thing that can be an issue is the location of the exhaust. I routed mine under the bridge deck of my Cat. There will be that "smell" by the exhaust for a few minutes right after someone has used the head. I'd highly suggest that the exhaust not be routed on the top deck. Mines worked out great for me except when we are loading the dingy and someone has to go right before we take off. I have used my head for extended crusing without any issue. Only once did I have to use my five gallon bucket to store things for a few days. The peace of mind I now have knowing my old head problems are a thing of the past are worth the funny comments by people who are not in the know make. In fact I have a whole new slew of jokes to tell. The commercial heads like Natures Head and Air Heads are expensive for what they are. But worth every penny to me and a second one is being installed in the other hull this year. Member Brent Swain will sell you plans to make your own a lot less expensive. He also once said a while back, and I agree, that once the Chinese get a hold of the idea they will be a lot less expensive. Like I've said I've worked on many head systems over the years. Another point is many are the cheap ones builders install that give the most troubles. But even the really good expensive ones had me using words that would make any sailor proud. Even if the composter I had a catastrophic failure, which I find hard to see how. I could replace the broken one with a new one in ten minutes. Try that with a cheap Jabsco and hoses.
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Old 26-08-2011, 09:47   #90
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Re: Nature's Head (???) Seriously . . .

Steve,
Pretty much the same answers to your questions as Sluice for my Airhead, except.
1. I use the muffin fan provided by Airhead. It draws less than an amp so I leave it on all the time.
2. It's been running continuously for 3 years. I'm not sure what reliability issues you have heard of. I keep a couple of spares on board. Probably the least expensive boat part I have.
5. Also don't stand to pee. I think Airhead and Nature's Head both claim that will work to not lose the macho market. The Airhead is definitely a gender-neutral toilet. Everyone has to sit to pee.
6. I can't think of any real design changes of significance. Possibly a more efficient agitator to stir the contents.

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