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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I just purchased sailboat that came with a marine head. At this point, I will primarily be a day sailor with the occasional weekend trip. This is my first boat and I like having a head on the boat, but I have heard a lot of horror stories about marine heads.
What are peoples thoughts regarding keeping the head or replacing it with porta potty.
 

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James,

What size boat? My first boat was a 22 footer with a head. It was old enough that the waste flushed overboard, which is now illegal within U.S. waters. I pulled the head and had the marina glass over the hole. I put a porta potty on board but never used it.

In some cases it might be practical, in some cases it might be better to leave it. Our current boat has a marine head and it isn't rocket science to fix it. Rather easy, as we found out.
 

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If the head has a holding tank and it works then I wouldn't fix it . I bet it runs on sea water, so it will smell . To help out with that pour in fresh after you are done with the boat for awhile . My first boat had a port a poti , It was a pain because I had to take it off the boat to empty . They have them now plumbed so you can put in a deck pump out .
 

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If the head works I would leave it, maintain it, and use it. Unless there are other compelling reasons to switch, such as no or few pump out services, needing to extend your range, or wanting to save money, etc., then I'd use the head you've got.

I installed a composting head, and love it, but there's nothing wrong with a properly maintained standard marine head.
 

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Donna,
It is a 22 foot Columbia. The "holding tank" is a bag of some kind (no vent).
Oh boy! You are gonna want to get rid of that bladder holding tank. That was never a good idea. You want your holding tank to have ventilation. You also want to make it out of something that will not burst under relatively low pressure. Get a poly tank to replace the bladder. Keep the head and have a 5 gal bucket with seat on hand as a spare.
 

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Donna,
It is a 22 foot Columbia. The "holding tank" is a bag of some kind (no vent).
Oh. No experience with those.

I'd have to think carefully about how I wanted to use the boat as well as how long I expected to keep it before going to the next boat.

Investing in a proper tank with ventilation and a pump out fitting, well, I'd have to think hard about that investment. You'd also lose some storage.
 
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Tim,
I never thought about the bladder rupturing!! I have no idea how old it is and the previous owners did not keep good records on maintenance/upgrades. Upgrading the head just got bumped up the priority list. My wife and kids are troopers, but not cleaning sewage out of the bilge troopers!
Thanks for the spare idea.
 

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Donna,
It is a 22 foot Columbia. The "holding tank" is a bag of some kind (no vent).
OK, I change my recommendation. I'd change that baby out. On a 22-footer you probably only have space for a porta potty. Better than a bladder I would think. If you're planning to keep this boat for a long time I'd seriously look at some sort of composting head. Natures and Air head will be too large. Perhaps C-Head, but you could probably build one yourself to fit.

... but this is only if you're planning to keep this boat for a long time.
 

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On a small boat, a porta potti is infinitely easier than a "marine head". When my 28' had a marine head, I spent more time fixing it than all other systems combined. Replaced it with a porta-potti and life became so much easier.
Of course, some ppl think its not a real "cruising boat" unless it has a "real marine head" but I just cruise and ignore em.
 

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On a small boat, a porta potti is infinitely easier than a "marine head". When my 28' had a marine head, I spent more time fixing it than all other systems combined. Replaced it with a porta-potti and life became so much easier.
Of course, some ppl think its not a real "cruising boat" unless it has a "real marine head" but I just cruise and ignore em.
I have both now one time I got inspected and had to move all kinds of stuff to prove the marine head was not being used in inland waters I now have my porta pot under the rear of my vee birth Highly visible and they see it from the cockpit and don't even venture below decks anymore. Porta pot is easy to prove sewage compliance and better than a plastic bag/bladder also
 

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My vintage 1966 no doubt at one time had a head. When I purchased her a year ago she had a PP but the model with a 5 gal tank. I think it is like a 970 model. I even plumbed it with a deck fitting so that about once every couple months I pull up to the pump-out dock and they suck it dry. I love having the benefit of a head with the simplicity of a PP.
 

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Our boat (Catalina 25) came with a marine head. Some of the places we sail do not have pump out service. I removed the head and installed a PP with two tanks-one on top for fresh water and the lower one for waste. We can spend six days on the boat before emptying. Works well for us. I did keep the marine head incase next owner wants it.
 

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I just dislike emptying a PP and many marinas forbid you to do so into their bathrooms. Further, the toxic chemicals are bad all around. No need for them in a holding tank. This is a great bible on how to care for a holding tank.

Get Rid of Boat Odors: A Boat Owner's Guide to Marine Sanitation Systems and Other Sources of Aggravation and Odor: Peggie Hall: 9781892399151: Amazon.com: [email protected]@[email protected]@http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/[email protected]@[email protected]@51c0oAGGw1L
 
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Having had both potti and now a holding tank, I'm looking to replace the holding tank with a potti and/or a compost/desiccation system. Hate, detest, the holding tank (and I'm on a 40' boat)
 

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We bought our boat last year and replaced the marine head with a portapotti (our first choice was a composting/desiccating head, but there wasn't enough space for one). We spent weekends on the boat and two weeks in September and didn't regret our decision once.

When we were trying to decide whether to do it, I read a post that pointed out that the most expensive repair with a portapotti that you'll ever have is $120 to replace it. While we didn't make our decision based on that statement, I still thought it was a great point.
 

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My vintage 1966 no doubt at one time had a head. When I purchased her a year ago she had a PP but the model with a 5 gal tank. I think it is like a 970 model. I even plumbed it with a deck fitting so that about once every couple months I pull up to the pump-out dock and they suck it dry. I love having the benefit of a head with the simplicity of a PP.
We did the same thing in our '72 P26. It had a smelly bladder holding tank and a non-working HeadMate in it when we bought it. Ripped all of it out and replaced it with a Portapotti 550P MSD. It's plumbed to the original pumpout fitting AND vented. No smell, reclaimed a storage locker where the smelly bladder used to be, and, although we've never had the need to find out if it was true, it's supposedly good for almost 60 flushes between pumpouts.

Yeah, it's plastic feeling and doesn't have that "This is a serious piece of expensive marine equipment" feel or look, but it works, it's simple, it doesn't smell, and it saved space. Winning.

Barry
 

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We had a marine head on our Alberg 30 and added a Porta-potty when we headed south to Mexico thinking we were in compliance with US regs. Wrong. First time we were boarded I confidently pointed out that the portable unit was stored on top of the fixed head and the thru-hulls were shut off. Not acceptable! The reason given was that the crew could easily move the portable unit and just use the fixed head. We discussed the options with the very young US Coast Guard lads and were informed that our set up would be acceptable if the discharge thru-hull was locked and the key in the skippers pocket. Yup, not allowed to give the key to my wife!!! The boarding report was sent in and we were eventually informed that we got off with a $2000 suspended fine provided no further infractions for 5 years. To avoid future pucker factor I drilled a small hole in the thru-hull handle and made up a short wire lanyard / padlock arrangement to secure the valve in the off position. We made sure that the key was in my pocket whenever we were within the 3 mile limit and we felt there was any chance of being boarded again. We never were and my wife still chuckles over my "control" over the situation.
 
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