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post #71 of 88 Old 02-23-2014
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Re: composting toilet-should we do it

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.....some hypothetically hyperfastidious guest's hypothetical head hangups......
1. My friends are not hypothetical.

2. It's a cultural norm to use flush toilets, where waste "goes away", it's not fastidious.

You have the right to run your boat as you wish. We prefer a more welcoming and comfortable environment for people of all tastes. Yes, I will cook vegetarian and gluten-free. I have done both aboard, at least by insuring there is enough of everything else they can eat. They would each get sick if they ate steak or bread. Their digestive systems are no longer accustom. The guest composter hangup is simply an issue that is fair for people to consider, but can dismiss if they choose. Depends on the guest you invite.

Perhaps the annoyance or anger that is often shown in response to raising this issue is from perceiving a criticism of choosing a composter. That is not my intent, I'm only attempting to offer considerations. If there is a system I am critical over, its the porta potty, due to the toxic chemicals that are required. However, even then, I understand their use when space is too limited for another solution.


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post #72 of 88 Old 02-23-2014
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Re: composting toilet-should we do it

To my knowledge, no one has ever left my table hungry, and I am fairly certain that in many decades of feeding the multitude I haven't yet poisoned anybody. You may conclude thereby, that I offer sufficient variety that everyone can find something that suits. I just get tired of being berated by sanctimonious, self-absorbed folk who feel it their duty to lecture me on their preferences, and exhort me to do things their (obviously superior) way.

I am grateful to say we have never had anyone refuse a boating invitation because our head didn't meet their snooty standards. Nobody has confessed to revulsion, concern, or confusion as to its use. Must be because here in the uncultured South, we ain't got no standards. Or maybe people around here have better manners. Either way, it works for me.
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Re: composting toilet-should we do it

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Originally Posted by amelia View Post
.....sanctimonious, self-absorbed folk

....snooty standards.....

.....maybe people around here have better manners.....
One of the sanctimonious, self-absorbed folk with snooty standards aboard my ship is my daughter. She has been diagnosed with a digestive disorder that causes her to have to strictly manage her diet.

So, I would say you completely lack manners. You seem pretty angry that anyone offers a different perspective than yours.


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post #74 of 88 Old 02-23-2014
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Re: composting toilet-should we do it

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?"

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post #75 of 88 Old 02-23-2014
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Re: composting toilet-should we do it

I've only had a holding tank and a portapotty, but my experience and research concurs with O'Reilly's assessment, with the one addition of: holding tank spill containment differentials. Holding tanks generally spill into the bilge, which is far more difficult to completely clean, nooks and crannies and such. Of course one can fabricate for that.
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Re: composting toilet-should we do it

Is there any danger of "spillage" in the event of a knockdown? Also, on long passages, how do you plan on the amount of absorbant material needed to keep the head functional? It seems that if you run out of peat or whatever, the head could become problematic.
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Re: composting toilet-should we do it

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Is there any danger of "spillage" in the event of a knockdown? Also, on long passages, how do you plan on the amount of absorbant material needed to keep the head functional? It seems that if you run out of peat or whatever, the head could become problematic.
I'd expect the pee bottle would spill some of its contents in the event of a serious knockdown (more than 90-degrees). It would mostly end up in the main compartment though. Of course, if this were to happen, then a bit of pee in the head is likely low on the problem list .

I use coir (compressed coconut husk) bricks. They are brick-size, and we use about 1.5 per month, full-time use for two people. I carry six months worth of material in an volume the size of a medium-sized bucket. You can use just about any dry absorbent material. I've heard of people using dried leaves, sawdust, peat, of course. Even mosses. You'd have to work hard to have a problem running out.

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Originally Posted by Multihullgirl View Post
I've only had a holding tank and a portapotty, but my experience and research concurs with O'Reilly's assessment, with the one addition of: holding tank spill containment differentials. Holding tanks generally spill into the bilge, which is far more difficult to completely clean, nooks and crannies and such. Of course one can fabricate for that.
Yes, perhaps I should have been more emphatic about this point. System failures can be very, VERY bad with standard marine heads. Even dealing with the seemingly common joker-valve clog can result in emotional scars that live for years .
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Last edited by MikeOReilly; 02-23-2014 at 10:41 AM.
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Re: composting toilet-should we do it

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Originally Posted by MikeOReilly View Post
I'd expect the pee bottle would spill some of its contents in the event of a serious knockdown (more than 90-degrees). It would mostly end up in the main compartment though. Of course, if this were to happen, then a bit of pee in the head is likely low on the problem list .

I use coir (compressed coconut husk) bricks. They are brick-size, and we use about 1.5 per month, full-time use for two people. I carry six months worth of material in an volume the size of a medium-sized bucket. You can use just about any dry absorbent material. I've heard of people using dried leaves, sawdust, peat, of course. Even mosses. You'd have to work hard to have a problem running out.



Yes, perhaps I should have been more emphatic about this point. System failures can be very, VERY bad with standard marine heads. Even dealing with the seemingly common joker-valve clog can result in emotional scars that live for years .
Sounds like it would be easy to plan accordingly for passages with only a relatively short period of experience in how many bricks you use. I'm guessing you could find a suitable material to restock pretty much anywhere in the world if the only specification is being dry and absorbent.

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?
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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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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.

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