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Old 24-08-2010, 12:50   #1
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Tip for the Awful Job

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.
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Old 24-08-2010, 12:58   #2
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Ouch.... i'm not looking forward to that..... anyone else got any tips for this?
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Old 24-08-2010, 12:59   #3
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holy S. throw some bleach solution into that bilge.

I don't look forward to this nightmare when it comes around for me.

thanks for the tip

ps. maybe thats why electric heads are good - the ones with the grinders in em
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Old 24-08-2010, 13:00   #4
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I just knew the subject as I read the title.
What else can promote the fear factor in a sailor apart from head trouble?

Im in the process of designing my system for simplicity, where everything is accessable and SIMPLE.
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Old 24-08-2010, 13:01   #5
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What a good idea. Your crew deserves those beers It was a bit lumpy today, I shared the experience but making for Plymouth. Very pleased to tuck in out of the wind.
P.
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Old 24-08-2010, 13:07   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
... The young crew is getting taken out for beers tonight on the quay...
... perhaps my nose is short-circuited after 3 days of the Awful Job.
Just rewards!
Perhaps. Use some bleach, as the Monkey suggests.
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Old 24-08-2010, 13:14   #7
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Well done Dockhead. I had the pleasure of the same job recently when a 'guest' plugged my system--although I couldn't prove it at the time.
Rivers of ****.
He whined about the smell the whole time. Sissy. After about 4 hours of close action I likened the smell to fresh cut turnips. This could be an ancient self-defense coping strategy at work.
This my be one of life's great character building opportunities but I'll pass on another chance. Rivers of **** do that to a guy.
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Old 24-08-2010, 13:31   #8
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Flush your hoses periodically with Muriatic acid. Leave the solutionn sit in the hoses for 6-8 hours to keep the hoses clean and free of calcium deposits (mix acid into water not the other way around).
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Old 24-08-2010, 13:39   #9
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speciald@ocens. - nice tip thanks

Consider a compost head...yes yeseee

Hmmm does anyone know whether this is acceptable internationally, or let me rephrase this...what countries on a RTW might there be issues with a composter?
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Old 24-08-2010, 13:53   #10
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Yuk. When my turn comes I am wearing full chemical suit, rubber gloves and my scuba gear. But thanks for the tip I will keep the "pump out station" in mind.
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Old 24-08-2010, 14:22   #11
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DH, we had a similar experience in the sweltering heat of Guernsey last year. Sent wifey and my sister ashore with my credit card and instructions not to return until tea time. I sat in the shower wearing only a pair of shorts and worked on the beast for the whole day before giving up and buying a new pump and 5 metres of hose. Fellow yachtie helped fit the pipe once I had cleaned the area up using the shower and its pump. He and has wife had a rather nice bottle of French wine for dinner that night which was the least I could offer.

I am now plan to change the hose every five years regardless of condition.

Been watching the weather conditions in the channel today, not sure I would have rounded Portland Bill though. Bramblenet in the Solent gave F7 and the channel bouys higher.

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Old 24-08-2010, 14:34   #12
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the pump and diverter valve came apart? my plan is to make sure the systems are in working order and maintained before they start coming apart.
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Old 24-08-2010, 14:48   #13
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the pump and diverter valve came apart? my plan is to make sure the systems are in working order and maintained before they start coming apart.
The came apart when I took them apart in order to clear any clog out of them.
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Old 24-08-2010, 14:54   #14
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Flush your hoses periodically with Muriatic acid. Leave the solutionn sit in the hoses for 6-8 hours to keep the hoses clean and free of calcium deposits (mix acid into water not the other way around).
Thanks, I think we all know this already.

My procedure is after every cruise I flush both toilets through with fresh water, then add some Harpic (hydrochloric acid) and leave in the lines for a few hours. Then flush through with fresh water before leaving.

The only pleasant thing about my recent sh*t river experience was seeing the pristine inner walls of my discharge hoses. No calcium deposits.
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Old 24-08-2010, 14:59   #15
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What a good idea. Your crew deserves those beers It was a bit lumpy today, I shared the experience but making for Plymouth. Very pleased to tuck in out of the wind.
P.
Were you going East to Plymouth??!! Holy sh*t. That would be some bash. We saw 45+ gusts. The seas were falling over and we had green water on deck a few times. It was magical, though, actually. The sea was so beautiful, such shapes and textures. That raging gale and bright sunshine. We were sailing with just a scrap of Yankee jib up on a dead run and surfing on the waves; we saw 13 knots on the log at one point. We were blasting Mahler in the cockpit, although we don't usually mix saiing with music.
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