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Captain makes the rules.

I draw the line at Vegans. :)
 

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We like the little compressed bricks of coir. A year's supply fits in a shoebox. And as we have been installing pretty cypress tongue and groove paneling, we have quite a supply of pleasant smelling sawdust and shavings, which I scoop up from under the saw table and put in gallon ziplock bags. Two of those last us for weeks.
Hauling a gallon jug of urine up to the bathroom at the marina isn't that hard. I wouldn't dream of dumping a jug of sterile urine overboard, any more than I could imagine someone more conveniently plumbed taking a perfectly legal leak over the lee rail. My gallon of recycled iced tea usually goes on my own azaleas, and they appreciate the nitrogen.
Switching to a composter was one of the best head decisions I ever made. I would never consider going back to a traditional head. I use the material from under old moss covered logs as a composting agent ,in a cloth bag made from the leg of old jeans, which I dry behind my stove. As there is plenty around here,, there is no need to carry much. Definitely no mess problem with it. A table spoon of dry swiimming pool bleach eliminates any odour.
 

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I can see I shall have to rework my welcome-aboard briefing to one more in line with my increasingly curmudgeonly personality. /rant. So there! :D
FWIW, my doormats say "Go Away." The one for the boat is in coconut fiber, and the one for the house in cypress slats which a fella in Florida builds and then routes out cute sayings like 'Go Away.'
 

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We have the Airhead and I would never, ever give it up. Never!!

We bought two urine containers, so we have a fresh one to replace the one that needs emptied. Which we take to the Bathhouse and empty. Before installing the empty container, I put 1 tsp of sugar in the urine bowl which cuts down on odor. As there is none.

The composting portion..we've only stayed on the boat long enough last year that we had to only empty it once, at the end of the season. This year we will be on the boat more of a full time basis. So we'll see how long it takes the two of us to use it and fill it. Although, I always use it, my hubs likes to walk up to the bathhouse to use their facilities in the morning, so we may get a longer time before having to empty it.

JMHO and for what its worth. :)
 

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Ameila, fwiw, gluten, sugar, fish, seafood, can actually kill some of your guests. Gluten and sugar do it slowly, through a wide range of autoimmune diseases (celiac disease, true wheat allergy, triggers a wide range of serious autoimmune diseases, the list is growing) and Type 2 diabetes, which among other things can destroy your retinas. Both can cause slow and unnecessary death from a variety of conditions that hadn't been related to the causes until a decade or so ago.

Fish and sugar are actually kinder, they tend to kill immediately from anaphylactic shock, but if you're lucky, someone has an epipen on board.

Crap in the bucket? No one really wants to bother changing baby diapers while they're having dinner, either. Not even the proud parents.
 

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Hello! What a strange and hostile response! When I was a child, I was taught to eat what I took on my plate, to politely and quietly decline what I could not eat, and never ever to make an issue of it, under any circumstances. That is so not done these days. Everybody is a prima donna, entitled to dictate and pass judgment on the menu. As a result, despite the fact that I used to like to cook and entertain, I don't give many formal dinner parties anymore, because I simply cannot keep up. It is just too confusing to plan a lovely menu that will accommodate everybody's whims and fashionable sensitivities. Who will or won't eat what, and who will feel as if the menu needs their personal prior approval? I am too old to prepare a different main course for every guest to cater to their needs. When I first began to entertain, if you couldn't eat shrimp, you didn't. If you were on a diet, you passed the plate on by, or just took a tiny taste.

Flexibility, gracious appreciation, and willingness to accede to the customs of the home--or boat-- in which one finds oneself seem to be hopelessly out of fashion. I equated this personal-preference-as-diktat to the need to design the head and its infrastructure to accommodate some hypothetically hyperfastidious guest's hypothetical head hangups. What an odd leap that we somehow discuss bathrooms at the table. We don't, and if you do, you may be excused from the table. :roll eyes:

Furthermore, even if your head and your foul holding tank makes your whole boat smell like a poorly kept privy, I wouldn't dream of mentioning it, or making a scene. Doesn't seem like too much to ask the same courtesy in return. I might suggest, though, that if you are so repulsed by my desiccating head, that you take care to go in a more acceptable facility before boarding my vessel.
 

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Hostile?
OK, call it that. Your post sounded quite dismissive of a number of serious problems. I'm not talking about the prima donnas who insist that they won't drink Coke they only drink Pepsi, I'm talking about guests who may have serious dietary issues, and it sounds like you're saying "TFB" if your menu poisons them.

Take it or leave it? No, if I'm having guests at home or afloat, I make reasonable accommodations. They can't specify the cut of meat but if I knew they were vegans, I sure as hell wouldn't tell them "Tonight's dinner is steak, eat it or go hungry." And if they had peanut allergies, I sure as hell wouldn't tell them "Lunch is PBJs, if you don't like it call out for your own pizza."

Now if you want some real head worries, find one of the WW2 submarines that is open for display and tours and read the extensive instructions showing how to operate the head (while submerged) without sinking the boat, or blowing the sewage tank back into it.

If all you have is a Turkish Toilet, great, but you might want to let the guests know ahead of time. Or, at least hand them a Sears catalogue before you send them in.

Food allergies and digestive disorders can be major life issues, dismissing them outright is like saying you'll undo the whole ADA, ban wheelchairs from public spaces, and set the world back fifty years on "accommodation" for folks with real handicaps. Which these are.
 

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Hello! What a strange and hostile response! When I was a child, I was taught to eat what I took on my plate, to politely and quietly decline what I could not eat, and never ever to make an issue of it, under any circumstances. That is so not done these days. Everybody is a prima donna, entitled to dictate and pass judgment on the menu. As a result, despite the fact that I used to like to cook and entertain, I don't give many formal dinner parties anymore, because I simply cannot keep up. It is just too confusing to plan a lovely menu that will accommodate everybody's whims and fashionable sensitivities. Who will or won't eat what, and who will feel as if the menu needs their personal prior approval? I am too old to prepare a different main course for every guest to cater to their needs. When I first began to entertain, if you couldn't eat shrimp, you didn't. If you were on a diet, you passed the plate on by, or just took a tiny taste.

Flexibility, gracious appreciation, and willingness to accede to the customs of the home--or boat-- in which one finds oneself seem to be hopelessly out of fashion. I equated this personal-preference-as-diktat to the need to design the head and its infrastructure to accommodate some hypothetically hyperfastidious guest's hypothetical head hangups. What an odd leap that we somehow discuss bathrooms at the table. We don't, and if you do, you may be excused from the table. :roll eyes:

Furthermore, even if your head and your foul holding tank makes your whole boat smell like a poorly kept privy, I wouldn't dream of mentioning it, or making a scene. Doesn't seem like too much to ask the same courtesy in return. I might suggest, though, that if you are so repulsed by my desiccating head, that you take care to go in a more acceptable facility before boarding my vessel.
THANK YOU ! ! Well said. Bravo

You home is your castle. While in other people's castle's show some respect.
 

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wienie, I know the book you mean just can't remember the name of it.

The author did all his research, picked the "separating" head, and then wound up at one point with 2? 4? women crew on the boat. Apparently the head he chose just didn't properly separate the urine stream from women, resulting in a huge wet mess in the "dry" section that promptly slopped out of the bowl when they were heeled.

At least, that was his conclusion.
And not only that he had some crew compliance issues and some of the women refused to use the head the way it was designed.
It was effectively sabotage in that case.
 

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Hostile?
OK, call it that. Your post sounded quite dismissive of a number of serious problems. I'm not talking about the prima donnas who insist that they won't drink Coke they only drink Pepsi, I'm talking about guests who may have serious dietary issues, and it sounds like you're saying "TFB" if your menu poisons them.

Take it or leave it? No, if I'm having guests at home or afloat, I make reasonable accommodations. They can't specify the cut of meat but if I knew they were vegans, I sure as hell wouldn't tell them "Tonight's dinner is steak, eat it or go hungry." And if they had peanut allergies, I sure as hell wouldn't tell them "Lunch is PBJs, if you don't like it call out for your own pizza."

Now if you want some real head worries, find one of the WW2 submarines that is open for display and tours and read the extensive instructions showing how to operate the head (while submerged) without sinking the boat, or blowing the sewage tank back into it.

If all you have is a Turkish Toilet, great, but you might want to let the guests know ahead of time. Or, at least hand them a Sears catalogue before you send them in.

Food allergies and digestive disorders can be major life issues, dismissing them outright is like saying you'll undo the whole ADA, ban wheelchairs from public spaces, and set the world back fifty years on "accommodation" for folks with real handicaps. Which these are.
You must be a lawyer.
 

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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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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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.....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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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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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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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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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.

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 :eek:.
 

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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 :eek:.
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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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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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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