SailNet Community

SailNet Community (
-   Gear & Maintenance (
-   -   Any C-Head Users? (

Minnewaska 01-11-2013 08:41 PM

Re: Any C-Head Users?
Tell me more about NC pumpout recording. Is this an intercoastal thing? How far offshore must you be to dump overboard? Since State's were only granted rights out to 3nm, I wouldnt' think they could regulate beyond.

Personally, I agree with banning the treat and dump process. Its the toxic chemicals that people add to their tanks that makes them bad for the environment. However, they are fully unnecessary and counter productive. Treat with aerobic culture and keep anything you didn't eat out of your holding tank. Then it should be able to be dumped in reasonably flushed waterways, not confined harbors.

amelia 01-11-2013 09:47 PM

Re: Any C-Head Users?
I haven't investigated it, to be honest, since I first hit the overhead about the high-handed way The Busybodies That Know What's Best For Us All snuck the bill through without a public comment period. Since then, I gather parts of it were put on hold pending 'investigation' when it became clear that our substantial number of snowbirds would bypass NC altogether, provisioning in Virginia and South Carolina instead, staying three miles out, rather than risking adding their harmless and infinitesimal amounts of treated waste to our hog farm runoff, our untreated municipal sewage overflows, and other far more significant sources of nitrogen additions. Not to mention that the politicians had a heck of a time getting Pampers to stay on Pelicans and porpoises. Typical swallowing of lucrative agricultural camels and straining at political feel-good gnats, and I got no patience with it. But, to answer your question, I believe 3 miles out you can dump whatever you please, and assume it will not poison the innocent children cavorting on our beaches.
The chlorine is formed through electrolysis that renders holding tank discharge harmless, is quite chemically unstable, and either rapidly evaporates or combines to form half of the NaCl in our coastal water, can hardly be alarming enough to desecrate our otherwise perfect paradise, right? Especially when you consider that most of our day trippers don't have a head at all, nor do many of our watermen and duck hunters. Most cruisers and sportfishers have a holding tank sloshing with poisonous nastiness, and a few of those are scofflaws who will open the discharge valve as soon as they don't see a badge-toting reason not to. The ones with a treat-and-dump system have invested in doing the job right, and the manufacturers certify the system as ecologically responsible. The log? if you have a holding tank, that stupid law mandated that everybody with one had to maintain a log, with pump out dates and locations. Mostly to be enforced in popular areas like Beaufort, where tickets and fines form a nice revenue stream. Nobody would dream of hastily falsifying one upon seeing blue lights approaching, right?
That is a lot more than you want to know, but for a while there, it was one of my hot buttons, which, as it happened, saved us well more than a thousand dollars,and a lot of aggravation and complicated apparatus to maintain. It's an ill wind, indeed, that blows no good.

hellosailor 01-11-2013 10:31 PM

Re: Any C-Head Users?
It would be interesting to see the text of the NC laws you ar referring to, since even a composting(not really) head is still a permanently installed marine head, so technically whatever you are holding the sewage in might still be a holding tank!

Then too there's the interesting question of where you empty the not-quite-composted sewage, which is still sanitary waste and runs afoul (no pun intended) of municipal laws in many places.

I applaude the comcept, but I'm still not sold on it. And I'd rather use a wastebasket with lid than chopsticks.

amelia 01-12-2013 12:30 AM

Re: Any C-Head Users?
Actually, the C-Head is not officially "installed." It is a portable toilet, and thus not subject to the strictures of installed heads. And what I do with the partially composted stuff is apparently nobody's business but mine, so long as I am decent enough not to toss it overboard, which is all the regulation covers. The manufacturer suggests putting a non-removable lid on the full 5gallon bucket and chucking it in the dumpster. I haven't yet crossed that bridge, so I'm not sure. The idea of hiding a wire receptacle behnd the azaleas in the back 40 has a theoretical appeal, but we lack the experience to make that call just yet. Some people just put soiled diapers, doggy pickup bags, and used kitty litter out on the street with the trash, to contaminate the landfill. Imagine that. Odd what people choose to make an issue of, especially when they have no first-hand experience. You apparently save soiled wet toilet paper in what would seem to be an inevitably soggy, smelly trash can, and I leave mine in the coconut fiber where it is odorless and soon dry. Whatever makes you happy. As I previously and inconveniently noted, I will no longer feel inclined to remove excess dried TP once we are emptying the collection container more regularly, but that isn't as much fun to ridicule, is it?
I feel no need to try to sell this product. I was merely responding to a question I took to be an honest request for my opinion. There would seem to be a reason sailors obsess over waste handling to such a peculiar degree. I would postulate that it is because the usual methods don't work very well. My own sailing experience supports that hypothesis. Those who get tired of the plumbing problems and expense may find this thing sells itself, eventually. Many, perhaps most,will not. It's no skin off my nose either way. I have watched the lineup at our town's pumpout facility many a hot summer day, and don't envy anyone that task. Nor do I wish to be downwind. I surely wish you the joy of it, but I'm sure you will excuse my decision to choose otherwise.

sww914 01-12-2013 01:05 AM

Re: Any C-Head Users?
We've been using our C-Head full time, 3 people, for over 6 months. Extremely happy with it. Never a problem or any bothersome smell if 2 simple rules are followed.
Us guys must sit. Sorry.
Add dry peat moss type stuff with each poo, just a hand full.
We put the TP in a bag and throw it in the trash once a week, not a big deal especially in Mexico where that's what everybody does everywhere anyway.
My wife wrote it up on our blog here- Landfall Voyages » Day 10: The **** Diaries, Golden Showers and ****

amelia 01-12-2013 04:02 AM

Re: Any C-Head Users?
what a wonderful romp through random entries in your blog. You can't imagine how cheered I was to read of your satisfaction with the C-Head. Love the writing!! Thanks!

Minnewaska 01-12-2013 06:28 AM

Re: Any C-Head Users?
One place I would use a composter is in a camp cabin, where I could not put down a septic field and there were no municipal services. Perfect use of one. Outhouses are a pain to manage, have to be relocated occasionally and are sometimes dangerous to walk to in the dark.

Glad to see people like them on their boats, but they do take some cultural adaptation, that's all. Some are okay with it, other aren't. Agreed, no skin off anyone's nose.

I will repeat, however, there is absolutely zero good reason for a holding tank to smell up the boat. I wouldn't want to stick my hand down into the holding tank, but neither would I stick my hand into the composter.

Bears $hit in the woods and whales $hit in the sea. Humans do too. Pollution is all about dilution.

tjvanginkel 02-27-2013 12:51 PM

Re: Any C-Head Users?
I will chime in as another satisfied c-head user. We have had our c-head in full time use for the last three weeks only so not too much experience yet. Ours is currently set up at our land home, replacing an different style of composting toilet that we had been using for 4 years. The one being replaced was not designed for marine use so I will not go into its many shortcomings. And it has many!
We have not set up the ventilation system on our c-head yet as there has actually been no need. It really does not smell. We keep a small spray bottle with a mild vinegar solution to spritz the inlet after a liquid deposit.
Some of our TP is thrown into a garbage bag but the more heavily soiled ones go into the head. This works for us. Minimizing the amount of TP in the bucket definately helps it not to fill too fast. And with two adults using it full time we are emptying the bucket once a week as the manufacturer suggested.
We did alot of research on the marine composting (not really composting ) heads. We wished to comply with the no discharge law now in effect in our province and also be a better neighbour in other countries. Plus I don't really want to go swimming in my poo! With our small (31 foot double ender) cruising sailboat we did not really have space for a holding tank and it would have to custom made $$$$. So our options were fairly limited.
We settled on the c-head due in main part to the fact that it is by far the simplest to empty. Open the top and lift out the jug or the bucket! We could not imagine dismantling the natures head or airhead in our very confined head compartment and after dealing with our old toilet we knew exactly how horrible things could get.....
So far the simplicity of emptying it fars outweighs the more frequent requirement to do so. I also love the fact that if there is some sort of leak or spill it will be contained within the base.
We have placed an order for a second one that we will use at home and will be moving the current one to our boat. Perhaps we will get around to setting up the ventilation fan......

amelia 02-20-2014 11:19 PM

Re: Any C-Head Users?
Dear Multihullgirl, I apologize for the public reply to a PM, but I still have not amassed sufficient posts to be permitted the privilege of a private reply to your nice note, and my lengthy reply vanished, as did, apparently, the last attempt to post all that here. Argggghh.

So, more briefly, we remain well pleased. Make that VERY well pleased.

Admittedly we still haven't given the thing a lengthy midsummer hearty-party workout, but with our relatively light usage, it is just fine. We are able to smugly report that our $&@#, indeed, don't stink, at least not after a good stir. The male of the species has been gratifyingly cooperative in agreeing to sit the heck down, dammit, which makes the entire system work perfectly as advertised. There is a jar of cypress shavings or coir nearby for users to add to the poop bucket as they deem necessary for extra desiccation, and the vent hose out the bulkhead provides all the ventilation, a very slight draft, necessary.
And at the risk of grossing out the squeamish among us, (avert your eyes, guys) I admit that we are at present, given our proximity to real plumbing, approaching the waste disposal question as if the bucket were the world's most odor-free litter box. A cat box scoop, a plastic grocery bag, and those dry lumps and scraps of TP whoosh right away at the end of our trip, or whenever we get around to thinking of it, maybe weeks later. The urine gets dumped daily. Don't ask;).

No evil beasties, no chemicals to buy, no salt to store, no maintenance beyond the obvious. I don't know what a flapper valve looks like or how to operate a pumpout. And I am pleased. As a result, natch, so is my husband!

FirstPet02 08-21-2018 12:49 AM

Re: Any C-Head Users?
Here's my version of the good (mostly), the bad and the ugly on the C-Head. After one season of actually having the C-Head wedged in beside the marine head on our Catalina 27 we had enough use to decide to remove the marine head and commit to the C-Head. We are summer-only boaters in the Pacific Northwest where humidity is not a problem. We have not installed the vent hose. We have tried the following media: 1) Animal bedding (which I think is likely of mixed softwoods and not the thin shavings Sandy describes on the C-Head web site). 2) Peat moss. 3) Coarse coconut coir. 4) Softwood pellets (Sandy calls them equine pellets). 5) Hardwood pellets, the kind used in pellet stoves.

The winners for my sensitive nose are the pellets with the hardwood having a slight edge over the softwood. They are cheap, readily available, compact and the least odiferous. That said, I have found that we are dumping the solid waste receptacle about every 4 days with just 2 persons using it. Maybe my keen nose is the reason. Maybe it's the lack of a vent hose. None of the other media smelled acceptable to me though, like Sandy says, it's not the most offensive odour you will ever encounter. And peat moss is also really messy. And they are much bulkier. And I had to prep them at home and bag them up. Too much work.

But...dumping it is a dream compared to the Porta Potti we had wedged in beside the old marine head prior. It's fast and I don't even get my hands dirty. I mostly use the outhouses in the local marine parks for this and, believe me, for that procedure it's the outhouse that stinks, not the C-Head. And it takes far less time. I don't bother to clean out the solid waste receptacle until the end of our trip, just re-charge it with new pellets and water. I find there is no odour for the first 2 days then just a slight odour during use for the next couple of days. So we open the hatch on the ceiling above during use. And, truth told, after a contribution to the solid waste receptacle I like to stand and replace the little inner lid then proceed with my clean up. That's just me. My husband does it the old fashioned way. (It's a Catalina 27 - no bathroom door, just a curtain, so no real difference from the marine head there!) I bought 4 cheapo cereal containers from a dollar store and each holds one charge of pellets. On arrival at the boat I pour them in, add 2 cups of water and churn then churn again in 30 min to 1 hour and it's ready to go.

The first season only I did find a bit of urine odour. Now I use a small squirt of water after use followed by a quick spritz with a vinegar solution - 1 part vinegar to 2 parts water. (I don't think my husband ever bothers to do this little procedure.) I try to keep the vinegar out of the solid waste container. After dumping the liquid waste I rinse the jugs with about 1/2 cup water and then a bit of the vinegar solution. I think over time we have improved our aim and, between that and the vinegar, I no longer smell it unless the jug has been sitting unused for a week or two. So it helps to let the jugs dry out when we are not on board. A few sugar cubes into a stinky jug seems to also fix this but I don't have to use sugar if we are using the C-Head regularly. If there is no outhouse/toilet around I cap the jugs and dump later. We seem to produce the best part of 1 jug of liquid waste per day. Paper goes into a separate receptacle. One last thing on personal note. (Squeamish people, stop reading now.) Women of a certain age may not have the world's most controlled urinary stream. There are times (read - when my bladder's really full) when I find it helpful to place a strip of toilet paper across the opening of the solid waste container to catch those stray bits of pee.

If there's no outhouse I bag the solid waste and it goes in the garbage. I won't lie. This has been the one thing where I've made a real mess more than once. I suggest you perfect your procedure somewhere other than the cockpit! I also suggest using a large garbage bag. Pulling a plastic bag over the bucket and inverting the whole thing did not work well for me. The bag slid all over the place. Bottom line: dump in a controlled fashion over something with a large opening. (Edit: This summer I plan to try dumping into paper grocery bags upon arrival at our marina at the end of our trips, the only timse I have to actually bag it.)

We did experience some user error. One evening we forgot to swap out the full urine jug and used it over night and in the morning it was apparent the jug had overflowed. Oooops. The overflow was fully contained in the "box". It is now part of my routine to replace it every evening. I like to put an empty jug in when are underway and have had no trouble with waves/heeling causing a problem. We have never had any trouble with insects and we've used it for the last 3 summers. I'm assume the fact that we dump it regularly helps. They've been hot summers so anything I said about odour applies to hot days. The cooler it is, the less of any odour I detect. But I do sleep in the bow with MY head very close to the C-Head head and my husband calls me the Super Sniffer and odour was my most important consideration before purchase and...…..overall we are VERY pleased with C-Head and have zero regrets. Just be willing to give it some time and try different things until you find what works for you.

All times are GMT -4. The time now is 06:16 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
vBulletin Security provided by vBSecurity v2.2.2 (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2019 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.
User Alert System provided by Advanced User Tagging v3.1.0 (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2019 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.
(c) LLC 2000-2012

For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome