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Old 09-09-2016, 05:57   #1
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Liveaboard toilet options

Good day all,
A newby question...
We are preparing to move on to a 40 ft Bayliner and are considering toilet options. Both heads are in need of updating and or replacing, and I'm looking for some impute on which is best for 2 adults.

Option 1. Stick with the manual pump toilets. Our tanks need replacing as well.
Option 2. Electric flush, with a black water treatment system. Expensive, but looks like low maintenance.
Option 3. Composting toilet. More affordable, green, and the ability to close off a couple of thruhulls is appealing.

We would love your thoughts
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Old 09-09-2016, 08:03   #2
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Re: Liveaboard toilet options

There's an option 1A. Electric flush head with freshwater supply. Not ax expensive as doing all that AND adding a treatment system. OTOH, you'll want to consider the size of the holding tank (treatment system or not, 'cause there are "No Discharge Zones/NDZs).


The two most commonly recommended models in the US seem to be the Raritan Marine Elegance and the Jabsco Quiet Flush. We have the latter, works fine.


There's also an option 1B: Vacuflush, without or without treatment system. We've had one of those before, worked fine.


"Low maintenance" on a treatment system is a relative idea. It's a system. It'll need maintenance. Maybe not onerous, but periodic, anyway. A holding tank can also need some maintenance from time to time, but it's reasonably minimal. Combining holding tank maintenance (remember NDZs) and treatment system maintenance is more than just holding tank maintenance alone. Not necessarily bad, just pointing out that it'd be more maintenance than a holding tank alone.


-Chris
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Old 09-09-2016, 10:56   #3
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Re: Liveaboard toilet options

At the least go composting for one of them.
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Old 09-09-2016, 11:11   #4
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Re: Liveaboard toilet options

Composting is good but you have to use it differently to the other ones and it's a bit more effort. Pro is that any mishaps tend to be 1000% less gross and easier to clean up.

Some people like them, some don't (I love mine)
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Old 09-09-2016, 11:15   #5
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Re: Liveaboard toilet options

If installing complete systems here is an idea as stated go composting with one of them and plumb the urine diverter to either the internal collection tank or the ships main holding tank by installing a Y valve. Thereby eliminating at least one thru hull fitting . ( if both are converted to composting you eliminate at least 3 thru hulls. ) if you don't install a new holding tank you reclaim the space as storage. IMO complete replacement costs and ongoing maintance costs I would recommend the composting heads .
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Old 09-09-2016, 13:37   #6
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Re: Liveaboard toilet options

We have been using an Air Head composting toilet for 6 years while fulltime cruising liveaboards. When we first got it our son still lived at home so there were 3 of us using it. We've never had a problem with it and completely love it. In fact, when we bought a smaller boat to play around in for a few year in the States, the first thing we did was rip out the traditional marine head, fiberglass the thru hull shut and install our Air Head, then sold the Air Head with the little boat and bought ANOTHER one to take back to our "real" boat (i.e. home). Here's a piece I wrote for Good Old Boat Mag about our take on it: Simply Sailing Online
It's the best improvement we've made to our traveling home in 15 years!
I will warn you that you will hear some negatives about composting toilets, generally from people who don't have much experience with them. Their biggest problem with it is often the name. No, the last "deposit" does not have time to compost before you empty the solids container, BUT since it separates liquids from solids, composting DOES begin on the first deposits (made as much as 6 weeks earlier, full time use for 2 people) and there is NO smell other than a slight earthy smell, like the forest after it rains. NOTHING like a holding tank at all! Obviously, I'm biased, but I think you'll find that those of us who have one LOVE it and those who don't love it generally have no experience with them. That tells you something right there. Just saying.
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Old 09-09-2016, 13:37   #7

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Re: Liveaboard toilet options

The Vacuflush does have the advantage of being, well, Superman. You just can't kill it. So it is worth looking into what the entire system will entail and if that's a reasonable option for you. If you have lots of power, or will be on shorepower most of the time, do also look at the Incinolet. This stainless steel creation literally incinerates the waste, leaving you with just a handful of sterile ash--no holding tank or plumbing needed. The choice of Alaskan fishing fleets and others. But when it comes to conventional systems, you may also find that even "treated" waste cannot be dumped, so a generous holding tank may be worth considering. There are also actually no composting toilets. Composting takes about 90 days, so you'd have to take the bucket and leave it someplace for 90 days to compost, unused. What are miscalled composting toilets are really "desiccating" toilets, and as long as you remember that you will be emptying a bucket of sewage, or (un)sanitary waste, that's something that can work too. Assuming you have a place where you are allowed to dump it, since it is still a biohazard. They all have pros and cons, take a couple of hours to look into each and see which appeals to you. Having two of the same head can be an advantage: Less spares to carry, less tricks to teach any guests on board.
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Old 09-09-2016, 14:35   #8
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Re: Liveaboard toilet options

Ditto what Simple Sailing said. Went with a Nature's Head. One of the best upgrades we've made. Works great for two adults full time.
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Old 10-09-2016, 04:25   #9
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Re: Liveaboard toilet options

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Originally Posted by Simply Sailing View Post
No, the last "deposit" does not have time to compost before you empty the solids container, BUT since it separates liquids from solids, composting DOES begin on the first deposits (made as much as 6 weeks earlier, full time use for 2 people) and there is NO smell other than a slight earthy smell, like the forest after it rains. NOTHING like a holding tank at all!

Usually, if there's a detectable odor from a holding tank... there's something wrong with the fittings, possibly the hoses, maybe the tank itself (longer shot)...

IOW, it's prob'ly broke, needs fixin'. It's not the "technology" that's at fault.

-Chris
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Old 10-09-2016, 08:58   #10
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Re: Liveaboard toilet options

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Originally Posted by Trmundinger View Post
Good day all,
A newby question...
We are preparing to move on to a 40 ft Bayliner and are considering toilet options. Both heads are in need of updating and or replacing, and I'm looking for some impute on which is best for 2 adults.

Option 1. Stick with the manual pump toilets. Our tanks need replacing as well.
Option 2. Electric flush, with a black water treatment system. Expensive, but looks like low maintenance.
Option 3. Composting toilet. More affordable, green, and the ability to close off a couple of thruhulls is appealing.

We would love your thoughts
Welcome to the forum, Trmundinger.

You are asking about something we all have had to ponder at one time or another.

Your decisions will be influenced by how you use your boat and where, as well as your personal preferences.

We also have two heads, and they both came with Lavac heads. [Highly regarded flush toilets.]

We are currently cruising/living on the Inside Passage of Alaska and Canada, where pump-out stations are few and far between, and the logistics of getting 3 miles offshore can be equally inconvenient. [When the tanks are full, the alternatives are few...]

Therefore, we replaced one of the fully functional Lavacs with a Nature's Head desiccating/composting toilet. We are in year two and love it. Interestingly, so have our guests- even though they have access to a flushing toilet as well... [There are more details in our blog post on this topic if you are interested...]

I think you may find if you have to tear everything out of both heads, you might also be $ ahead with a composting marine toilet- especially if you count your time...

And I can think of better things to store on the boat besides gallons of liquid effluvia just waiting for a chance to escape their containment...

Best wishes deciding what is best for your needs.

Cheers! Bill
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Old 10-09-2016, 16:52   #11
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Re: Liveaboard toilet options

Waste basket and plastic grocery bags for poopin', designate a sink to pee in. Works out easy enough on paper

I have a manual head and holding tank under the v-berth. Everything is only a couple years old, so no smells. Simple and cheap
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Old 12-09-2016, 11:07   #12
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Re: Liveaboard toilet options

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Originally Posted by ranger42c View Post
Usually, if there's a detectable odor from a holding tank... there's something wrong with the fittings, possibly the hoses, maybe the tank itself (longer shot)...

IOW, it's prob'ly broke, needs fixin'. It's not the "technology" that's at fault.

-Chris
People who have holding tanks who say they don't smell remind me of smokers who think they can cover up the odor by brushing their teeth or putting on perfume. It's usually only the non-smoker (and non-holding tank owners) who can smell them both. Not saying that it's not because there's an issue, I'm just saying that if that is the case, then every boat I've been on or near with a holding tank has had an issue.
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Old 12-09-2016, 11:38   #13
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Re: Liveaboard toilet options

I use an Incinolet. No plumbing, but needs venting via plastic pipe. No turd buckets, just grey ash. Too much paper, women's products, no problem. At the dock it costs about 7˘ a flush. Otherwise either my inverter or generator provides the power. No issues in 5 years.
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Old 12-09-2016, 19:43   #14
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Re: Liveaboard toilet options

According to their website ( incinolet) incinerator takes one and a half to one and three quarter hours and uses one kilowatt per cycle. But it can still be used during the cycle. for those with large generators that are running a lot sounds like a plan but for most people I think the Airhead which is the only compact( that I know) composter that's Coast Guard approved would be the best bet
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Old 12-09-2016, 19:56   #15
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Re: Liveaboard toilet options

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Originally Posted by sparrowhawk1 View Post
According to their website ( incinolet) incinerator takes one and a half to one and three quarter hours and uses one kilowatt per cycle. But it can still be used during the cycle. for those with large generators that are running a lot sounds like a plan but for most people I think the Airhead which is the only compact( that I know) composter that's Coast Guard approved would be the best bet

Nature's Head is (according to their website): "USCG Certified! The Nature’s Head composting toilet meets all “No Discharge” regulations and is a U.S Coast Guard Approved type III marine head."
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