Tool of the Day…. Jigsaw (and a lot of bleach)

So we made the decision to tear out the traditional marine head and to replace it with a composting toilet. Before you call us crazy, here are our reasons:

No need to find a pump-out

It is illegal to dump toilet waste within three miles of shore, so all waste gets stored in a holding tank until far out to sea or until pumped out at a marina. Our holding tank is small; only about 14 gallons which won’t last long for two people living on a boat full time. We don’t want to be in a beautiful anchorage in some tropical paradise wishing to stay off the grid for days or weeks at a time and feeling the pressure to find a pump-out service.

No maintenance

Even the highest quality marine toilets require a lot of maintenance to keep to hoses clear, the pumps in good working order, and to prevent clogs. When a marine toilet does go wrong, the results are notoriously messy. I’ll leave that to your imagination! In theory, the new generation of composting toilets require some monitoring and periodic emptying, but there are no moving parts to fail. We shall see.


We are really being optimistic, and decided to turn the old holding tank into additional storage for tools. Although it was tempting to seal the whole thing off and pretend it never existed. So we pumped out the contents of the tank, and cut off the top to see what we had to deal with. Keep in mind that this tank lives directly below our bed ……

Hmmmmm….. pretty. Some bailing and scooping was also required to get to the goal of an empty tank. And rinsing, and scrubbing, and sanding (as we have already discussed). All of this was my job, so Mike says I get a pass on emptying the toilet for the next four months. I think it should be six months!

We also pulled all the hoses, and plugged the through-hulls where the hoses used to run.

Every project requires a nearly infinite array of tools and results in a gigantic mess. The boat looked like this 99% of the time while in the yard.

Step #1 of this toilet project was successfully completed when the old toilet was removed, the tank cleaned and painted with a coat of very thick paint, and Mike fabricated a new cover for the additional storage space. Now to select, order, and install the replacement toilet!

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