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Old 09-08-2014, 16:58   #76
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Well if not excessive it will work out its self. If too wet ya just change the medium and start over. Every sysrem has it's issues. Just what ones do you want to deal with. Having used a natures head for 8 months with 2 full time on board we have done the learning curve on all typical situations. We really like our " composter " to the point that I just got finished glassing in th thru-hulls. Only have 2 holes in the bottom of the boat ..... What a nice feeling and it don't smell.
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Old 09-08-2014, 17:37   #77
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Re: Your Experiences with Composting Heads?

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So you don't want to or can't answer then?
To your questions I FIX the head, hose, or joker valve, what's the drama?
What do you do when your bacteria die? Without those friendly bactera you don't have a composting head, you have a box-o-crap, so this is a serious question.

I have spare parts...what do you have? If you don't want to answer fine...but then how will I (and others) learn about these great composting heads if litigitmate questions can't be answered?

(By the way...7yrs of full time living aboard for 4 people and we have never had a failed Joker Valve, Cracked hose, or the like...but maybe as Dirtty Harry Said..."do you feel lucky punk". A fresh water head does make a big differce to maintenance)
We were full time liveboards for almost 20 years. The worst setup we had was the Lectrasan. Seemed as if most people we met up with would just pump through them as they never seemed to work correctly. We never had much trouble with the standard head and holding tank except for the odor and the need to pump out so often. Only problems we've had with the composter were self induced, left it to long before cleaning and got flies. It takes a little while to learn the tricks of the composter but once you have, to us it's the winner. Speaking of boat show specials, what kind of deal are you giving on your watermaker? We've never felt the need for a watermaker until now as my back can't handle the task of hauling water jugs. Your setup to me seems pretty intriguing.
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Old 09-08-2014, 18:09   #78
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Re: Your Experiences with Composting Heads?

There's a discussion on do-it-yourself desiccating heads on SailFar.net.
Go to the forum and search for "The $10-20 (or even free) composting toilet." I'm experimenting with it on my boat, not currently living aboard. I like it. I have lived with conventional heads.
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Old 09-08-2014, 18:16   #79
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Re: Your Experiences with Composting Heads?

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Speaking of boat show specials, what kind of deal are you giving on your watermaker? We've never felt the need for a watermaker until now as my back can't handle the task of hauling water jugs. Your setup to me seems pretty intriguing.
You don't want the boat show special....you want the Cruisers Forum Friend special, which is much better. But my partner would kick the poop out of me (hey had to keep this post poop related) if I posted it on the internet, so shoot me an email and I'll shoot you a manual along with the special pricing.
Rich@cruiserowater.com


and seriously....I think I may give this composting head thing a try. I'll still have another working head on the boat if things go to hell so I'm just out the money and learning curve, but it's 1/3 my partners money and 1/3 the Tax mans money since it's for Company R&D....ha ha ha
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Old 10-08-2014, 06:34   #80
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Re: Your Experiences with Composting Heads?

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So you don't want to or can't answer then?
To your questions I FIX the head, hose, or joker valve, what's the drama?
What do you do when your bacteria die? Without those friendly bactera you don't have a composting head, you have a box-o-crap, so this is a serious question.

I have spare parts...what do you have? If you don't want to answer fine...but then how will I (and others) learn about these great composting heads if litigitmate questions can't be answered?

(By the way...7yrs of full time living aboard for 4 people and we have never had a failed Joker Valve, Cracked hose, or the like...but maybe as Dirtty Harry Said..."do you feel lucky punk". A fresh water head does make a big differce to maintenance)

My point was perhaps too subtle. My point was, I'd fix it, just like you and your head. If you're really asking, and not just using your "questions" as rhetorical barbs, then for your theoretical antibiotic scenario I suppose the ultimate answer would be to simply start a new pile. But as we know, these are mostly dessicators, so active composting is of secondary importance to actual function. I doubt your scenario would create any real change in the operation of the head.
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Old 10-08-2014, 06:56   #81
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Re: Your Experiences with Composting Heads?

Really. If there's a problem with the contents of that box, you just dump out the box. No wrenches, screwdrivers, hose clamps, stuffing glands, or fittings to deal with. No o-rings or gaskets to fail.

We installed a Nature's Head in the hull that had the disintegrating holding tank. I had to get rid of the tank one way or another and decided to get rid of the Baby Blake head at the same time. I was seriously 'headed' for a Lavac with both electric and manual pumps when La Gringa came across discussions of these 'composting/dessicating' heads in a women's sailing group. In post after post she read me similar stories from women who had these on board. Without exception, every single one of them talked about how much better they were than the old sluice heads. This got my attention. There was something that women liked about these heads. That in itself should get your immediate attention. You KNOW how women are about their toilets. And anything that makes momma happier makes the whole boat happier.

And the fresh odor, or total lack of odor in the boat was always mentioned. So rather than buy a Lavac, the two pumps, the new hoses, and a new holding tank, I installed the NH. I kept the other Baby BLake with it's direct discharge in the other hull. I figured that was going to be my backup.

Three months later, I removed the other blake head and hoses and bought a second Nature's Head. So now we have two of them. My thinking is that one of the realities of this setup is that the contents DO smell exactly like freshly turned garden dirt.......after a day or so. Not immediately, of course. So with two of them, now we can just designate one as the 'active' for a few days when the other needs to be emptied and re-provisioned. I think two of these in a boat for just two people is going to be really nice. And we wouldn't worry about having a few guests from time to time.

As for what would happen if some un-educated person barfed all over a Nature's Head... you can release two hand tightened knobs and easily carry the entire head outside to be pressure washed. It only weighs 30 lbs total, is all hard plastic, and separates into two easily handled parts held together with stainless latches. I think that's about the worst thing that could happen. Take it outside and hose it down. Easy.
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Old 10-08-2014, 07:19   #82
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Re: Your Experiences with Composting Heads?

Both boats have airheads. The units will easily handle 4 adults for weeks at a time with the caveat that the solids stay dry, if they start to get wet you add a few cups of compost. We use Coir bricks that can be found in most pet supply stores as reptile bedding, but we order online in bulk at a substantial savings. Also we kept our holding tanks and plumbed a 12 volt liquid pump from the urine tank. Now with the flip of a switch the urine container is emptied to the ships holding tank for pump out later without having to walk down the dock with a container of pee. Because the main tanks don't receive salt water or solids the need to pump-out or dump is at much longer intervals on average once every 10 weeks or so.
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Old 10-08-2014, 10:26   #83
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Re: Your Experiences with Composting Heads?

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Also we kept our holding tanks and plumbed a 12 volt liquid pump from the urine tank. Now with the flip of a switch the urine container is emptied to the ships holding tank for pump out later without having to walk down the dock with a container of pee. .

Having people seeing me dump a container of pee or ANYTHING overboard was always a worry for me, like in getting a visit from the Coast Guard. They take dumping overboard very seriously here in Morro Bay with oyster farms in the back bay (as they should). They nut up when I'm rinsing down the deck with a 5 gal bucket and salt water without soap for heavens sake! With this approach I could bag the "dirt" and drop it in the trash and pump out the liquids....hmmmm....you guys may have won a convert. Thanks for the great advice.
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Old 11-08-2014, 07:18   #84
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Re: Your Experiences with Composting Heads?

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So there I was anchored Mexico listening to the morning VHF net and a Cruiser came on asking if anyone knew where they could buy activated carbon for their Composting head. There wasn't a place in town and they lived for the rest of the summer with what they called a nasty smell in the boat. I didn't have to experience that myself to love my dead simple poop and flush old school head. But on the other hand the Pardeys liked the Bucket and chuck-it method, so there's a craper approach for everyone out there! With 4 people living aboard....I can't imagine a composter even having a chance in keepiing up.

Like almost every discussion, there is a big difference on what works for Living Aboard, Sailing, and then Cruising.
This is what's called a red herring. I've never came across a composting head that called for or needed a carbon filter. I have seen them advertised for standard sesspool based head systems (aka: holding tanks).

A basic understanding of why the odor is not an issue:
- With a holding tank, there is very limited access to oxygen in the hoses and tank. Yes there is a vent but not a lot of air passes in and out and if you are in a relatively calm anchorage, the surface of the liquid creates a secondary barrier to more oxygen. This results in anerobic bacterial growth. A byproduct of thier growth is mercamptors (spelling?), these are what create the nasty odors we are all so fond of. The vent generally allows the worst of them to escape overboard but in hoses and fitting, they can permeate and slowly leach out into the head compartment. You can clean, replace hoses and fittings occasionally, and try to mask the odor with chemicals but it's an ongoing battle to keep the odors at bay.
- With a composting head, you are purposely introducing air and oxygen throughout the solids tank. Thier is a large vent usually with a powered fan to ensure plentiful air/oxygen and since there is no liquid surface, that oxygen can reach throughout the mixture (especially if you give it an occasional stir with the built in mixer). Anerobic bacteria don't survive well in the presense of oxygen and aerobic bacteria take over. They generally have minimal odor associated with them (commonly described as the smell of fresh garden soil).

Unless you do everything right a sesspool based holding system will smell.
Unless you do something very wrong, a composting head will have almost no smell (and even if you really messed up and it does go anerobic, the powered fan will create a negative pressure keeping the odors out of the head compartment).
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Old 11-08-2014, 07:26   #85
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Re: Your Experiences with Composting Heads?

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What happens when a crew member gets sick and has to take a round of antibiotics and it kills all your good bacteria in the head that are eating the waste or heaven forbid you get a case of bottle flu and barff in the composting head?...not that it would ever happen mind you....
First antibiotics won't generally kill off every last bacteria as you imply.
Second, if you somehow got some really powerful antibotics that managed to do that...the drying action will still provide 70-80% of the benefits so there is no rush needed to deal with and in a worst case scenario, simply dump the contents and start over.
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Old 11-08-2014, 07:52   #86
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Re: Your Experiences with Composting Heads?

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getting a visit from the Coast Guard. They take dumping overboard very seriously here in Morro Bay with oyster farms in the back bay (as they should).
From what I've read of other's experience, the USCG loves to see these heads on boats. Simplifies their life. There are no valves to be inspected etc. No pumps to leak or fail. There's no chance of accidental discharge.

You're in California? I'm surprised they don't give you tax credits for composting heads out there, with the water situation. Composting heads don't use, nor do they pollute fresh water supplies. Appeals to some of us old 60's throwbacks, like solar hot water.
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Old 11-08-2014, 07:54   #87
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Re: Your Experiences with Composting Heads?

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Having people seeing me dump a container of pee or ANYTHING overboard was always a worry for me, like in getting a visit from the Coast Guard. They take dumping overboard very seriously here in Morro Bay with oyster farms in the back bay (as they should). They nut up when I'm rinsing down the deck with a 5 gal bucket and salt water without soap for heavens sake! With this approach I could bag the "dirt" and drop it in the trash and pump out the liquids....hmmmm....you guys may have won a convert. Thanks for the great advice.
Why in the world do you put up with that Eco crap? Move over here to the Med or almost anywhere but California.and don't look back. Life's too short to put up with that sort of B.S.
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Old 12-08-2014, 10:10   #88
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Re: Your Experiences with Composting Heads?

This thread is great! Learned a great deal....will be shopping for a "dry" head, try it out before removing the old though...
Thanks again!!
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Old 12-08-2014, 11:14   #89
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Re: Your Experiences with Composting Heads?

Great to hear from liveaboards but interested in hearing about people's off shore experiences. Say you're on a 3 week passage on a port tack/trade wind sailing most of the time. Your head is on the downwind side and you're female. So how're you gonna keep the liquids and solids separate?
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Old 12-08-2014, 11:32   #90
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Re: Your Experiences with Composting Heads?

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Great to hear from liveaboards but interested in hearing about people's off shore experiences. Say you're on a 3 week passage on a port tack/trade wind sailing most of the time. Your head is on the downwind side and you're female. So how're you gonna keep the liquids and solids separate?
If you are less than 10 degrees heel, it should work fine.

You could aways turn for the boat for a minute to level out, do your buisness and get back on track.

If you are bouncing around in a storm at a 30degree heel, I don't think any facility is going to work comfortably.

Also, if you are offshore, you can dump at will because you are offshore, so even if you have issues and it get's wet, it's pretty easy to dump and there is no need to do so immediately. Even if it gets a little wet, you can probably hold off for a week or two before it becomes neccessary to empty it.
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