It had to happen. After decades of sailing without ever an experience with the dreaded Clogged Marine
Toilet, it just had to happen. I had guests on board, who were practically born on cruising sailboats, and I didn't think my toilet lecture would be needed. Guess what . . .
They quickly jumped ship, leaving me and a young crew to deal with it. I have read various accounts of dealing with this, and always shuddered. Well, brothers, nothing I read prepared for the hideous awfulness of this job.
What's even much worse, is that it was a job with no end. I could have endured an hour of two of this, with a result at the end of it, but we ended up doing it over and over again over three days.
First the pump came apart, and it was full of sh*t, but it was not clogged. It was impossible to catch all of the crap which came out of it, so it got everywhere, and in the bilges. Oh God. And with no result.
I followed Nigel Calder's advice to simply leave it over night. No joy. No surprise.
So I procured a plumber's snake (no easy job in small ports
in the West Country), and pulled hoses off. Much snaking produced another river of sh*t, likewise uncatchable (although the dinghy
bailer helped a lot and at least reduced the volume of escaped nastiness), but the clog remained.
Then the diverter valve came apart, more snaking, another hideous river, but no joy.
The stench is just about impossible to describe.
Another day went by and I started contemplating just paying ransom to a plumber. We pulled into Poole Harbor today after 50 miles of hard sailing, running hard before a Force 8 gale and surfing on giant waves (we saw 13 knots on the log at one point) and around Portland
Bill. By pure accident
, we got a berth right next to the pumpout station. My young crew had a brilliant idea -- why don't we hook up the pumpout hose to the diverter valve and just suck the clog out? Eureka. The soft rubber end of the pumpout hose fit a flange on the diverter valve. A couple of minutes of sucking and -- whoosh! -- no more clog. We ran a few buckets of soapy fresh water
through it for good measure. What is especially gorgeous is that there was no river of sh*t because the pumpout hose was sucking up every drop.
Anyone try this? It worked great for us. The young crew is getting taken out for beers tonight on the quay.
I washed out the bilges with buckets and buckets of soapy water
. I can't believe it, but they don't seem to stink anymore. Although perhaps my nose is short-circuited after 3 days of the Awful Job.