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Old 05-10-2019, 12:13 PM   #1
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How many people have Composting Heads on their Trawler?

Curious how many people on this forum have composting heads. We had an Airhead on our last sailboat and loved it. This week I pulled our leaking Jabsco quiet flush electric system out and ordered an Airhead for our trawler. No more motors, hoses, switches, smell, winterizing, or pump outs!
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Old 05-10-2019, 12:55 PM   #2
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I had a composting on my Camano. I loved it. You never have to have a pump out.
I now have 3 vacuum flush toilets on my Viking and thinking about replacing one of them with a compost toilet.
Carolyn from Maryland
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Old 05-10-2019, 03:03 PM   #3
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Don't own one, but my good friend has one on his RV and loves it.
However, on a boat, I have read on this forum (I forget where exactly) that installing one may have a negative impact when you decide to sell your boat (both in price and desirability)??
I also wonder about storing (or disposing of) urine on board. I would assume that pouring urine overboard in a no discharge zone (and getting caught) could result in fines? The entire Puget Sound in Washington State is a no discharge zone, and even treated sewage is not allowed to be discharged.
Just some thoughts (or concerns) on this subject.
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Old 05-10-2019, 03:35 PM   #4
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I could definately see where the installation of a composting toilet might make it harder to sell a boat, as most folks expect to see a "normal" flush toilet.

That said, I could see real value in pulling out the the old head and replacing it with a composting toilet. Not only could one be on the hook longer without a waste tank to pump, but one could pull possibly pull the waste tank and install a second fresh water tank.

Most of the folks with the bigger boats (who don't have the tank limit concerns) will usually "pooh-pooh" the idea of having a composting toilet, but it really can open up the cruising opportunities in a smaller boat.

I, too, wonder what you do with the urine. I think the pouring it into a container and dumping it overboard is considered the same as pumping from a tank. Peeing overboard wouldn't violate the discharge rules, but that potentially has its own set of problems as well!

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Old 05-10-2019, 04:43 PM   #5
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We just bought our Trawler. One head replaced with a composter so far. The other once hopefully will be done soon.

Looking forward to the day I can rip out the holding tank. It is between my engines so makes engine work harder and cleaning/painting the bilge impossible.
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Old 05-10-2019, 05:17 PM   #6
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Got a Natures Head for the Albin after decades of cruising with a sanipotty. BIG IMPROVEMENT! Boat came to us with a flush marine toilet and holding tank, both not installed. Did not bother with them.
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Old 05-10-2019, 07:15 PM   #7
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I bought my new old boat last summer, in refit right now. The boat head system was so old there were no holding tanks, but still an odor if the sea water wasn't flushed for a while. I am now the proud owner of an Airhead, the best choice if your head area is tight as the top section doesn't tilt like a Nature's Head requiring more space. Where I purchased the toilet from also includes a second tank so you can rotate without issues.
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Old 05-10-2019, 07:15 PM   #8
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I’m definitely putting one in our new boat. They are superior. I’ve lived with the nature’s head in an RV and while it’s a nice unit, the next one I do will not have a stirring rod setup like that, because that precludes the use of bags and I want to use bags this time. So I’m going to build my own, using bags for the solids and a pee diverter that routes to a holding tank that has a pump. I’d be curious what enforcement would have to say about discharging pee, if it’s allowed or not, but I have a feeling that they wouldn’t mind that at all.
Side note: it turns out that adding sugar to the pee tank totally eliminates any bad smells. We have been using this method and it works amazingly.
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Old 05-10-2019, 08:20 PM   #9
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We have an Airhead aboard our live-aboard. Empty every two weeks (two people). No smell, easy cleaning. Major improvement over holding tank. Highly recommend.
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Old 05-10-2019, 08:45 PM   #10
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We have a frugal / penny pinching ($150.00 Canadian) Separett Privy 500 over a bucket (with clever Rube Goldberg manual desiccating medium agitating system) as a 'proof of concept' before chucking real money on a fancier device. Had it over a year now and won't be putting in a flusher again.
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Old 05-11-2019, 04:29 PM   #11
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I had one on my Morgan 41 Out Island and I recently built an off-grid cabin with a Natures Head. This will be my first upgrade once we close on a trawler.
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Old 05-11-2019, 05:08 PM   #12
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We have a frugal / penny pinching ($150.00 Canadian) Separett Privy 500 over a bucket (with clever Rube Goldberg manual desiccating medium agitating system) as a 'proof of concept' before chucking real money on a fancier device. Had it over a year now and won't be putting in a flusher again.
Tastefully enclosed within a built-in toilet height, vented to the outside, cabinet of course.
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Old 05-11-2019, 06:06 PM   #13
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I’d be curious what enforcement would have to say about discharging pee, if it’s allowed or not, but I have a feeling that they wouldn’t mind that at all.
It is entirely illegal to discharge any non-treated sewage, including urine, within 3 miles of shore. Furthermore, many areas are Non-Discharge Zones that preclude discharging even treated sewage, regardless of how well it is treated.

Being on the river in Portland, you will need a Type III MSD. This holds all sewage for appropriate disposal on shore. For a composting head, this means that both solids and liquids will need to be stored for later disposal. When you are inspected, you will need to demonstrate that you have and are using the capability to do so.

If you are caught emptying a bucket of urine overboard, there are all kinds of agencies that will not have much of a sense of humor about it.
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Old 05-11-2019, 07:11 PM   #14
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It is entirely illegal to discharge any non-treated sewage, including urine, within 3 miles of shore. Furthermore, many areas are Non-Discharge Zones that preclude discharging even treated sewage, regardless of how well it is treated.

Being on the river in Portland, you will need a Type III MSD. This holds all sewage for appropriate disposal on shore. For a composting head, this means that both solids and liquids will need to be stored for later disposal. When you are inspected, you will need to demonstrate that you have and are using the capability to do so.

If you are caught emptying a bucket of urine overboard, there are all kinds of agencies that will not have much of a sense of humor about it.
Not surprising I guess. Does that include shower water too?
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Old 05-11-2019, 07:27 PM   #15
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I'd like to hear from those that didn't like it... And why.

I've heard good things about them, but I always read both sides for any product or story etc. Genuinely curious about the ups and downs...
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Old 05-11-2019, 07:32 PM   #16
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Not surprising I guess. Does that include shower water too?

Not yet. However, I have heard rumors of a couple marinas in BC that prohibit gray water discharge. So far, gray water discharge is not prohibited in NDZs but that could change. I hope not but regulations are sometimes neither rational or consistent.
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Old 05-11-2019, 07:44 PM   #17
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I'd like to hear from those that didn't like it... And why.

I've heard good things about them, but I always read both sides for any product or story etc. Genuinely curious about the ups and downs...
There is some attention needed to make sure urine containers don't overflow and to empty/refill desiccating material, but it's a welcome task compared to having a non operating head on a trip with family and friends, days away from any marina.

I know, I know...with regular maintenance a traditional flushing head, yada-yada-yada. Ours stopped working because of what a previous owner had done, and was hidden behind a cabinet wall.

There are no pump outs on BC's north coast; everybody is allowed to pump out their holding tanks mid channel on outgoing tides. A low population base, many long narrow channels, and big tidal flows factor into this policy. We like to stay anchored in one location for a week or more, so prefer not having to pull anchor to empty the holding tank and feel good about not flushing into the pristine places we love.
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Old 05-13-2019, 08:53 AM   #18
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As with most things there is a learning curve with composting heads. It took us a whole season to experience the "joys" of having one. Probably the biggest chore is a daily emptying of the urine container. If you drink lots of fluids, two adults can fill the tank in a day. Once you have your routine down it isn't bad. The other thing that can happen is flying insects. If you forget to close the lid after every use, little gnat like flies will get into the main tank and breed. One day you will wake up to hundreds of these small flies in the bathroom. Mixing some diatamacious earth (used in pool filters) into your compost and mixing will stop the problem. Once you have gone through this experience one time you will be very good about keeping the lid closed. For us, the pros far outweigh the cons.
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Old 05-13-2019, 11:43 AM   #19
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"If you are caught emptying a bucket of urine overboard, there are all kinds of agencies that will not have much of a sense of humor about it."

Perhaps , although I thought whizzing over the side was not regulated,,yet
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Old 05-13-2019, 12:38 PM   #20
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I think you have to be in the water to get away with that. I doubt anyone in the marina would approve of you stepping onto your swimstep, unzipping and letting go.

I once read that 7 out of 10 drowned fishermen in BC had their zippers down.......
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