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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance
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  #1  
Old 06-27-2013
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Marine Head

Help! We have an old Cal 25 and can't quite figure out how and where to connect the head. There is only one tank, up by the sink, we think that's for fresh water. Are we missing a tank? Should we remove the old head and install a porta-potty?
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Old 06-28-2013
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Re: Marine Head

Classic question. You'll get many different suggestions, including from the composting head crowd. Personally, I find porta-potties and composting heads to be a bit tough to take.

My objection to porta-potties probably comes from the PTSD of having to clean the one we had on the boat when I was a kid. However, my more rational objection is all the nuclear chemicals that must be used and then dumped into the environment somewhere. If you are only going to use the head to pee on a day sail and dump and clean it every day, you could avoid these chemicals and it becomes a better option.

Composters do have their place. I just find them a bit gross. I mean, you are taking a dump on top of the last guy's dump. I could get over it, for the right circumstance, but have no illusion that 99% of my guests would not or could not deal with it.

That only leaves a holding tank. These need to be large enough to flush enough water to fully evacuate the waste line between the head and tank or the line will begin to stink. This will differ by design, but expect it will take at least one full gallon of clean water to push the constantly mixing and dilluting waste out of the line. When a holding tank is properly vented and you religiously avoid putting anything in them other than TP and waste, they will not cause odor on the boat, have no chemicals and can be dumped overboard where permitted.

So, when you say "old head", what do you actually have now?
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Old 06-28-2013
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Re: Marine Head

Thanks for your excellent answer! I think we've got it figured out now. A friend told us that we can pull up to a marina and our holding tank can get cleaned out for $5. What a relief. I had pictured taking the holding tank back and forth to empty via dinghy, lol! Now that I think our head is actually hooked up correctly we may actually allow our guests to use it!
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Old 06-28-2013
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Re: Marine Head

Many older boats were not built with holding tanks , they just discharged overboard . Since those times no discharge zones have been established. So like Minnewaska stated you have to make a choice on what type of head you want to install. If you choose to stick with a flush head there are also vacuum flush systems that require much less water to flush and less room to install, but they do come at a price.
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Old 06-28-2013
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Re: Marine Head

The information re: availabilty of pump out facilites is only relevant if it applies to your situation. If you have a head and really don't have a holding tank, that's a good indication you have a system that's antiquated and illegal in most area's.

In the waters I sail, I have to keep my overboard discharge capablity disabled. In my case I have both the Y valve and macerator through hull locked off with cable ties so there is no possible way I could accidently discharge overboard.

You really need to trace the plumbing of your system and figure out what you have. If the head is plumbed straight overboard you have a problem.
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Old 06-30-2013
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Re: Marine Head

thanks again. We would never discharge waste into the water. we have traced our line and it is set up to the holding tank, thank God! We are all set now. appreciate all the help.
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Old 06-30-2013
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Re: Marine Head

Quote:
Originally Posted by sgemski View Post
thanks again. We would never discharge waste into the water......
That's good, if you're in a no-discharge area. If you're not, there is absolutely no harm being done to discharge a few gallons of human waste overboard in open water. I assure you that marine animals are way ahead on that one. Just don't do it in contained waters, which are almost always NDZ anyway.
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Old 06-30-2013
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Re: Marine Head

Quote:
Originally Posted by sgemski View Post
thanks again. We would never discharge waste into the water. we have traced our line and it is set up to the holding tank, thank God! We are all set now. appreciate all the help.
The easiest way to acquire knowledge of boats systems is to get down on ones hands and knees (or stomach) with a flashlight and maybe a mirror or digital camera and crawl around poking your head and hand into all the nooks and crannies. Never know what you'll find. When I bought my boat 15 years ago, I found the prior owner's 'girlie mags' stashed away in a remote corner under the quarter berth.
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