Tuesday, October 19, 2010

An "Electric Head" makes everyone happy.

After 6 months of clogs and pipes crusting solid with calcium crystals. We made the jump to an electric toilet. NOTE : Our kids do not pump the 21 times to get all the waste out of our nine feet pipes (7 pumps per yard) so we had more smelly problems than I care to mention.

It's not so bad clearing pipes on the dock, but like everything the head is a cramped space and scraping calcium deposits from the fittings is not fun.

We did learn the secret to avoiding calcium build up in your pipes, which is what happens with salt water flushing pee. (Place a cup of white vinegar in the toilet and hand pump half way through the out take hose and let sit overnight.) There is a problem with this however, the vinegar strips away the lubricant from the manual pump. The result is a sound something like the mating call of a moose, who tends to call 21 times at all ours of the night. But, for a family of five it was no solution at all. We later found out that you need to follow the next day with olive oil... that's the thing with advice, it tends to be incomplete and it all began to sound like a recipe for endless complications.

So,.. the advice of old sea dogs is always have a manual pump toilet, because there are no electrical parts that will fail. But, the advice from our cursing friends with families on board is to upgrade to an electric toilet, keep a spare pump on hand and keep your family happy. Especially the Captain who usually gets the job of dismantling a blocked toilet. ( Doreen just informed me she unclogged it once).

Again, everything and we mean everything, on a boat is crammed into the smallest space, and is installed by a builder with neurosurgeon skills and tools to match. So what was an easy replacement idea, quickly became an game of twister.

With Odessa on "the hard" and no hatches open (everything was hurricane ready)... the temperature inside the head is over 100 degrees... free sauna anyone?

Once we had taken out the old toilet and hardware carefully noting the order of removal (yeah right), we realized that the base had been installed when the boat was built and it was now impossible to get it back together the same way. We had shoved our arms into impossible places, made "new and improved" tools to reach those impossible to reach nuts, but putting the new hardware back would require gripping the nuts with a deft touch.... simply impossible.

Zip-ties are your best friend.

So with a bit of a redesign and help from Peter (the fabricator) we finally get everything back together... looking nice. But that led to the next challenge... re routing the hoses and pipes, making it perfect and most importantly, functional. More twister, scraped knuckles and a whole lot of pulling and shoving, and finally the satisfaction of pressing a little button "swoosh" a power flush, sort of like the ones on an airplane... so, now we shouldn't have the 10 t 15 moose calls at all hours, and more importantly, no pulling pipes and smashing them on the dock while our neighbors look on in horror.

The final result and yes, your legs do dangle a bit while seated, but that's to keep the bowl above the waterline... even when healed over. A foot pedestal and some grab rails are the next "Head" project.

If it breaks down while we're at sea, then its going to be a bucket, or over the side if you're good enough without going MOB (man overboard).

Even though 9 times out of 10 the old tried and true methods are best... sometimes modernized equipment does solve the problems that have been around since man took his first sail... and even then you always need a back-up system for everything... enter the bucket.


  1. fun and informative - that photo of you and Alan should be framed - i love it. Just like being 'at home'
    ME Kash....

  2. JUST GET A PORTA POTTY...anyone who uses a frikin marine head is a RETARD...all it is is a JOKE FROM GOD played on you..people plug em up, kids don't use em corrently..woman clog em up with stuff they know they shouldn't and the guy alway's has to deal with it...the hoses smell..this GIANT TANK OF CRAP on your boat is rediculous.
    buy a 5 gallon porta potty and be done with it. piss in a cup and throw it overboard...sneak a turd overboard here and there and just have a porta potty for looks