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Old 04-07-2021, 12:13 PM   #1
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Composting toilets

A surveyor friend is urging me to swap out the heads units on my 1973 GB 36 with composting heads. Anyone have experiences with them?
Thanks,
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Old 04-07-2021, 12:22 PM   #2
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A surveyor friend is urging me to swap out the heads units on my 1973 GB 36 with composting heads. Anyone have experiences with them?
Thanks,
You have a friend who’s a surveyor, and instead of believing him you’re asking total strangers on the internet?
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Old 04-07-2021, 12:45 PM   #3
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There have been several threads specifically about them, others regarding marine sanitation topics where they have been mentioned, if you want to do a search.

I have personally, um...patronized...them on a vessel, and have seen and checked out similar installations in houses, cabins and recreational vehicles. They are an elegant solution IMHO, though not everyone would agree with me. Also, an inexpensive solution to a potential plumbing problem on a boat.

They do require 12 volt DC to drive the small drying fan which operates constantly (with minimal current draw) and venting to the outside somewhere through a hose similar sized to a normal head plumbing hose.

Then there's the whole comfort thing, not only for family and other regular crew, but guests. Here in America we are just not accustomed to putting toilet paper anywhere but in the toilet bowl, and some see their manliness challenged by having to sit down to pee. This can be overcome by open, honest discussion during a passenger pre-trip briefing along with what to do in case of a fire alarm, and other emergency procedures

There's a boat I'm looking at that will need to be partially re-plumbed due to the Puget Sound sanitation regulations. I would put in a composting head instead in a heartbeat. I would commission my young son who has a real talent for art, as well as for mimicking my dry and wry humor, to produce a framed poster to mount above it for educating guests on its use.

Here's a Boating Magazine article I have saved on my computer, looking at some models, though it's now four years old. https://www.boatingmag.com/choosing-...marine-toilet/
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Old 04-07-2021, 12:50 PM   #4
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A good friend of mine has used a composting toilet on his RV (living full time in the RV) for several years. He swears by it (loves it).

Be aware, that in no discharge zones, dumping the urine overboard is technically illegal. It is not illegal to urinate directly overboard, but you could get charged with public nudity . With composting, you will have to store (dump) both the urine and the solids, but apparently the solid do not smell, and even if they do a bit, you could use an air tight container for temporary storage until you could deal with it properly. There is also the issue of storing "used toilet tissue".
Personally, I would not bother, as these heads are a bit pricey, and your boat already has a system that works.
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Old 04-07-2021, 12:52 PM   #5
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Installed composting toilets in mine this winter and started using them a few weeks ago.

Used Natures Heads.

Very happy with losing the extraneous plumbing.
Very happy with eliminating some through hulls.
The toilets are pretty easy to use.
And yep, no smell.
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Old 04-07-2021, 01:03 PM   #6
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I went with a Nature's Head composting head for my refit. I did a ton of research, and pinged a lot of users who are predominantly sailors.

1. Very, very few people who installed one decide to go back. I'd guess under 5%, but that might even be high.

2. There is an "ick" factor that put-off some people. They are rather bold in sharing their opinion. They have long lists of why it's an awful idea, including it's illegal to dump urine overboard. Given I live 20-mins away from the massive toxic waste dump going on right now in Tampa Bay, seems like a non-issue.

3. As far as handing, the waste, urine is more problematic than excrement.

4. Many people feel their conventional head systems are trouble-free. After 30-years of boat ownership, I simply do not agree. Maybe I'm doing something wrong, but I decided a new approach.

5. We chose one because we will rarely have guests. We used to entertain on our boat a lot - up to 15-people aboard for fireworks, trips to Angel Island, etc. Compost head would NOT work for that usage.

Attached is a file I compiled of the responses I got. There are about 50-responses.

Peter

Sept 19 2019 Cruisers Forum Compost Head.pdf
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Old 04-07-2021, 02:14 PM   #7
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Everyone is allowed their own opinions. My wife and I think they’re gross. A show stopper on the last boat I made an offer on and I subtracted $1600 off the purchase price to cover replacement.

My previous vacu-flush was fantastic and I really love RV heads. Don’t like regular electric macerators. Refuse to have a human litter box onboard (composite).

IMO
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Old 04-07-2021, 03:11 PM   #8
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Everyone is allowed their own opinions. My wife and I think they’re gross. A show stopper on the last boat I made an offer on and I subtracted $1600 off the purchase price to cover replacement.

My previous vacu-flush was fantastic and I really love RV heads. Don’t like regular electric macerators. Refuse to have a human litter box onboard (composite).

IMO
Thank you for that informative post concerning the OP's question.

Maybe I should start chiming in about how happy I am with our desiccating head on the dozens and dozens of threads about all the problems people have with their 'normal' marine heads
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Old 04-07-2021, 03:22 PM   #9
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Yes, the urine overboard issue. I have always wondered if there was some way of taking a poll that guaranteed anonymity, what the percentage would be of boaters who dump urine overboard regardless of location. Same as to emptying the tank in an active waterway. My guess is the percentage who do would be a surprising number. We have a rather large tank. Complying is not very inconvenient but folks with small holding tanks may be more challenged.
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Originally Posted by mvweebles View Post
I went with a Nature's Head composting head for my refit. I did a ton of research, and pinged a lot of users who are predominantly sailors.

1. Very, very few people who installed one decide to go back. I'd guess under 5%, but that might even be high.

2. There is an "ick" factor that put-off some people. They are rather bold in sharing their opinion. They have long lists of why it's an awful idea, including it's illegal to dump urine overboard. Given I live 20-mins away from the massive toxic waste dump going on right now in Tampa Bay, seems like a non-issue.

3. As far as handing, the waste, urine is more problematic than excrement.

4. Many people feel their conventional head systems are trouble-free. After 30-years of boat ownership, I simply do not agree. Maybe I'm doing something wrong, but I decided a new approach.

5. We chose one because we will rarely have guests. We used to entertain on our boat a lot - up to 15-people aboard for fireworks, trips to Angel Island, etc. Compost head would NOT work for that usage.

Attached is a file I compiled of the responses I got. There are about 50-responses.

Peter

Attachment 116322
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Old 04-07-2021, 03:22 PM   #10
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We went with an Airhead. No complaints.
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Old 04-07-2021, 03:24 PM   #11
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We have Marina Elegance macerating heads. No problems, ever. Now, vacuflush, maybe yes, plenty of problems. You will never hear of an owner of a Marine Elegance head complaining.
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Thank you for that informative post concerning the OP's question.

Maybe I should start chiming in about how happy I am about our desiccating head on the dozens and dozens of threads about all the problems people have with their 'normal' marine heads
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Old 04-07-2021, 03:25 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by ronobrien View Post
A surveyor friend is urging me to swap out the heads units on my 1973 GB 36 with composting heads. Anyone have experiences with them?
Thanks,
Why is he nudging you towards composting head?

Personally, I think the ultimate setup would be a 2 head boat - one conventional, one composting. As mentioned, composting doesn't work well for a crowd, and there are people like Mako who find the idea repulsive. Having a split head setup would be best of both worlds.

Peter
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Old 04-07-2021, 03:31 PM   #13
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...You will never hear of an owner of a Marine Elegance head complaining.
Never is a strong word...

https://www.google.com/search?client...UTF-8&oe=UTF-8

...and it's connected to through hulls, vents, pump outs, holding tank, hose connections, gaskets, valves, etc...
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Old 04-07-2021, 03:35 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by catalinajack View Post
Yes, the urine overboard issue. I have always wondered if there was some way of taking a poll that guaranteed anonymity, what the percentage would be of boaters who dump urine overboard regardless of location. Same as to emptying the tank in an active waterway. My guess is the percentage who do would be a surprising number. We have a rather large tank. Complying is not very inconvenient but folks with small holding tanks may be more challenged.
I agree - I suspect there is a very large percentage of people who quietly discharge instead of finding a pumpout or venture outside the 3 mile limit.

I have no qualms about urine overboard. The other stuff is a different matter. I realize much of the world does not regulate discharge, but we do. My wife would shoot me if I discharged sewage. Going with a compost head solves that problem, though that was a side benefit, not the main reason. Unlike yourself, my relationship with head systems was rocky and tormented. I didn't cheap-out either: last system was a Groco Model K. Between hoses, tanks, maceration pumps, and head rebuilds, I finally said enough - there has to be a better way. Peggie Hall was generous with her time and I was close to going with an Eleganxe, but in the end, KISS won out.

Peter
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Old 04-07-2021, 03:41 PM   #15
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Why is he nudging you towards composting head?

Personally, I think the ultimate setup would be a 2 head boat - one conventional, one composting. As mentioned, composting doesn't work well for a crowd, and there are people like Mako who find the idea repulsive. Having a split head setup would be best of both worlds.

Peter
For those with 2 heads on their boats, Peter may be on to something, especially if your boat had a relatively small holding tank. Having the second head a composter could extend time between pumpouts?
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Old 04-07-2021, 04:02 PM   #16
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Yes, the urine overboard issue. I have always wondered if there was some way of taking a poll that guaranteed anonymity, what the percentage would be of boaters who dump urine overboard regardless of location. Same as to emptying the tank in an active waterway. My guess is the percentage who do would be a surprising number. We have a rather large tank. Complying is not very inconvenient but folks with small holding tanks may be more challenged.
It doesn't have to go overboard.

We have extra tanks so when at a marina I can simply walk one up to the bathroom along with my trash every few days.

Out on the Straight of Juan de Fuca or on anchor out on the Columbia River ... well the dilution ratio is huge.

Columbia River flow 160,000cfs=12,800,000 gallons per second
vs
1.157x10-5 gallons per second = 2 gallons per 172,800 seconds = 1 gallon per day
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Old 04-07-2021, 04:07 PM   #17
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For those with 2 heads on their boats, Peter may be on to something, especially if your boat had a relatively small holding tank. Having the second head a composter could extend time between pumpouts?
Our holding tank is in the bilge below the galley floor, just a few feet from the forward head. Though it is connected to the aft head as well as the fwd head, we discourage use of the aft head for anything serious, due to the length of the pipe, over 20' and the consequential volume of flush water required to transport the contents of the bowl all that distance is high. The holding tank needs to be emptied 3 or 4 times as often in that event.
When I get serious about upgrading the aft head, I will consider a composting unit. For now, though, it aint broke.
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Old 04-07-2021, 06:12 PM   #18
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Gone with the Wynns did a nice simplified overview of composting toilets several years ago when they were still RVing.

I definitely see the value especially when one has a small black water tank and the existing head uses fresh water!

Jim
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Old 04-07-2021, 10:01 PM   #19
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The Wynn's went composting in their motorhomes, then with their cat sailboat one is composting, what they use, and one is traditional, what their guests use. Below is a link I have plastered in many locations over the years.

The big significant difference between Airhead (what I have) and Nature Head (what the Wynn's have) is lid configuration. With Airhead, the lid et. al. lifts straight up, so to get at the urine tank, its easier with Airhead. With Nature's Head, the lid tilts back, eating into space needed for a head. So Airhead can be almost flush with the back bulkhead, Nature's Head it needs a couple of inches.

When (if) you purchase composting head, order one extra urine container. By the way, like many things in the commercial world, you are lied to, they aren't really composting heads, but more disenchant toilets. The poo goes in, separate from the urine (important), and the materiel (usually coconut coir) sucks out the liquid from the poo. Some of this liquid is held by the coconut coir and the rest goes into the air as vapour and is suck away by the fan which is constantly on. It takes about a year for the poo to actually break down. Watch the video:



PS: More sailboaters use them than power cruisers. This thread is from the cruising forum (sail) and has 394 posts, I'm betting by the time you finish reading all of those you'll be an expert:

https://www.cruisersforum.com/forums...ead-85662.html
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Old 04-07-2021, 10:19 PM   #20
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We have two airheads on our CHB41. I hate holding tanks; my wife has a very sensitive nose and we've never been on a boat with a holding tank that she couldn't sniff out. We have no such problems with the airheads. I know some people think they're gross, and they're not entirely wrong, but it's all relative right? Gross is repairing a macerator pump or a joker valve.

I just got back from a 2 week cruise with myself, my wife, and four kids. I don't know how many times we would have needed to pump out, but it would have been a lot.

I agree the pee tanks are the biggest pain & I've debated either plumbing them to a small holding tank or even (shh...) just routing them directly overboard. I don't feel any worse about doing that than I do peeing overboard. We dump them while in transit most of the time.
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