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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance > composting toilet-should we do it
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Thread: composting toilet-should we do it Reply to Thread
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Topic Review (Newest First)
02-25-2014 07:51 PM
Dean101
Re: composting toilet-should we do it

I wouldn't say I was all that worried about it so much as just curious. I plan on eventually doing some long distance passages and the ability to secure any opening lids seem fairly important to me. I will have no problem scrubbing feces off the overhead should I ever find myself in conditions so bad that my boat rolls and I live through it. As they say, s#!t happens. I just think a knockdown is much more likely than a rollover and I was curious as to how well these types of heads hold in the crap in a 90 to 100 degree knockdown. Much like how well will the closures on my cabinets keep the dishes where they're suppose to be in the same situation.
02-23-2014 08:59 PM
bobmcgov
Re: composting toilet-should we do it

Quote:
Originally Posted by Multihullgirl View Post
I wondered the same thing as bobmcgov until I saw this video. Note the underside of the lid, with its tube which slips into the neck of the jug. The crank framework would hold the bucket. The thing would be to make sure the lid would latch, something easily added if you need it.
Nah, it wuz Dean who worried about spillage. In my personal experience, any near-death experience (like having your boat wholly inverted) tends to leave one sanguine about earthy chores like wiping feces off the ceiling. You might even grin as you shovel up the mess. Cuz you are aware at a cellular level that this is you, alive, cleaning up poop, and isn't today a glorious day for poop cleaning?

One of the happiest mornings ever was spent gathering a couple dozen pieces of aluminum climbing gear that had scattered all over the talus field when the gear bag burst upon being hammer-thrown thirty yards from the tent in the midst of the kind of epic mountain thunderstorm CGI people wish they could replicate. The metal bits were visibly glowing and making popping noises before I chucked 'em; those were three hours I really did not expect to see the other side of.

Playing "find the camming devices" next morning felt a rare privilege. And yeah, a lid latch will solve any question of ballistic turds.
02-23-2014 08:53 PM
bratzcpa
Re: composting toilet-should we do it

Getting back to the original poster . . . we installed a Natures Head in our Catalina 27 before our two-month live aboard trip in the Bahamas.

Bottom line - it worked GREAT. A few bits of strangeness to get used to: guys gotta sit down to pee (hey, we are actually able to do this), remember to empty the pee bucket before it's 100% full.

Absolutely no smell on board.

We had to "change" to new peat moss after about a month and a half of full time aboard living (two adults).

This was a HUGE improvement over the messing around with vacuum extracting the tank, leaking pipes, plugged macerator pump, and the smell permeating the plumbing (after a few years).

They seem ridiculously expensive, but well built and solid. Good quality stainless fittings.

We are very pleased with this solution - would absolutely do again.

~markb
02-23-2014 04:10 PM
Multihullgirl
Re: composting toilet-should we do it

I wondered the same thing as bobmcgov until I saw this video. Note the underside of the lid, with its tube which slips into the neck of the jug. The crank framework would hold the bucket. The thing would be to make sure the lid would latch, something easily added if you need it.

02-23-2014 02:49 PM
MikeOReilly
Re: composting toilet-should we do it

Quote:
Originally Posted by miatapaul View Post
This is one of the things that worried me about the C-Head. It looks like even in rough weather the top could lift up and let the bucket and jug jostle around.
Agreed, although I bet you could find a way to secure things down with a CH. I do know NH would be perfectly secure since it consists of only two rotomolded pieces that are snapped together with hefty latches. I gather AH is similar.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bobmcgov View Post
Hey Mike -- good list. To 'Disadvantages: Composter" you might add seat height & footprint. Most are around 19" -- 4 to 5" taller than your standard marine head. On older boats, smaller boats, or boats with rounded bilges, it can be challenging to fit a composter w/out your head bumping the ceiling. Also, because they are essentially a bucket, they have less cutaway at the pedestal base than many marine heads & may bump against the curved hull. I see C-Head is offering new designs with the corners clipped, plus one to accommodate the platform of the Mac26. We may need to custom fab one using a shorter 4 gallon bucket due to limited headroom, with pee bottle off to the side for more ankle space.
Yes, good point Bob. I believe the AH and CH have a few different sized options. NH is one size. On our boat it fit fine, but I bet it would be quite the squeeze on a 26-footer. You should post some pics if you get one installed.
02-23-2014 02:06 PM
miatapaul
Re: composting toilet-should we do it

Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeOReilly View Post
On our NH (can't speak for the others for certain), the main compartment is sealed, with hefty locking snaps. The trap door would be closed by gravity if it got over on its side. I think the only way you'd get spillage the whole thing came unbolted from the floor during a rollover.
This is one of the things that worried me about the C-Head. It looks like even in rough weather the top could lift up and let the bucket and jug jostle around.
02-23-2014 01:24 PM
Multihullgirl
Re: composting toilet-should we do it

Looked at the Airhead at the boat show. I should think that it would be pretty well sealed against spillage, what with its gasketed seat and cover and latched-down containers.
02-23-2014 11:33 AM
MikeOReilly
Re: composting toilet-should we do it

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dean101 View Post
Regarding the spillage, I was more curious as to the risk of the solid waste spilling. I assumed the liquids would spill. Do you think the hinged covers would pretty much keep the solids contained or at least help to minimize spillage?
On our NH (can't speak for the others for certain), the main compartment is sealed, with hefty locking snaps. The trap door would be closed by gravity if it got over on its side. I think the only way you'd get spillage the whole thing came unbolted from the floor during a rollover.
02-23-2014 11:29 AM
bobmcgov
Re: composting toilet-should we do it

Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeOReilly View Post
It's amazing the amount of psychic energy we all seem to put into this question. I say sh!t and let sh!t. As with most things in sailing and cruising, there is rarely only one right answer. Both styles of marine heads have advantages and disadvantages. Both work just fine, and neither have to smell if maintained properly. Being someone who has actually had and used both systems, my observations are:

Standard head
Advantages:
  • Works similar to a land head (although there is a wide range here).
  • Allows the owner/users a little more distance from their excrements (assuming someone else does all the pump out and maintenance work).
  • Likely already installed on any boat.
  • Individual parts are relatively inexpensive.
  • Can easily pump directly overboard when offshore (assuming Y-valve installation).
Disadvantages:
  • Capacity limited to holding tank size. Must use land-based pump-out facilities, or head off-shore to manage.
  • Higher operating cost due to need for pump outs (can be mitigated by going off-shore)
  • Complexity of system (toilet, pumps, macerators, intake water, outflow hoses, thru-hulls, holding tank, vent...).
  • Higher maintenance costs (due to complexity).
  • Occupies significant space, especially on smaller boats.
  • System failures can be very bad since sewage is stored in liquid slurry form, not to mention thru-hull failure.
Composting head
Advantages:
  • Unit is self-contained -- very simple.
  • Small space demands (no holding tank, no hoses).
  • High capacity limits.
  • No need for pump out facilities.
  • No thru-hulls to maintain.
  • No water usage.
  • Low operating cost (coir, some sugar, perhaps some plastic bags).
Disadvantages:
  • Looks and feels more different than a land-based head (highly subjective).
  • Must be slightly more intimate with your excrements when using (can see the pee bottle, must hand-crank the agitator).
  • Pee bottle must be emptied frequently.
  • Feces container harder to empty.
  • Males must sit (could be considered an advantage).
  • Higher initial cost (for some systems).
  • Long-term usage best limited to two, perhaps three crew size.

There are probably some points I've missed, but I hope this will be helpful for anyone coming to this thread with the actual question: "Composting toilet-should we do it?"
Hey Mike -- good list. To 'Disadvantages: Composter" you might add seat height & footprint. Most are around 19" -- 4 to 5" taller than your standard marine head. On older boats, smaller boats, or boats with rounded bilges, it can be challenging to fit a composter w/out your head bumping the ceiling. Also, because they are essentially a bucket, they have less cutaway at the pedestal base than many marine heads & may bump against the curved hull. I see C-Head is offering new designs with the corners clipped, plus one to accommodate the platform of the Mac26. We may need to custom fab one using a shorter 4 gallon bucket due to limited headroom, with pee bottle off to the side for more ankle space.
02-23-2014 11:14 AM
tjvanginkel
Re: composting toilet-should we do it

I believe the c-head would spill its dry contents in a rollover, but unlikely in a knockdown. I don't think it would be hard to add some sort of latch to help prevent that if you were anticipating sailing into rough seas.
I can't speak to AH and NH but it would appear that the hatches would mitigate spillage in a rollover.
Howver that is a rather extreme and unlikely for most scenario.........
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