Interesting enough, I always had issue with toilet onboard. As far as I can recall. Or maybe they always had issue with me, it’s always a question of perspective. No wonder I had a bucket for years on the last boats.
If you do not own a boat yet, or not living aboard, you would probably wonder why I talk about this subject. Believe me, once on a boat for a certain period of time, this high-tech, well needed confort piece of equipment give you stories (And smell) you won’t forget. Cooking onboard can be quite an adventure with the boat rolling and dancing in everyway possible. Fixing a head, with hoses filled with some wonderful mixture is quite on the “mission impossible task”. Offshore sailing is a piece of cake after this, and even Rambo won’t look like a tough guy.
Why did I’ve started all this particular subject you may say?! Well, because I had issue with mine for the last 3 months (since I left pretty much). After 2 rebuild of the pump, changing all the hoses, 4 impellers, chemical products, rebuild of the toilet, and wonderful stories of splashing and cleaning. I can finally say (Crossing my fingers, knocking on wood, and sacrificing a goat to every gods) it is now fully working.
I’ve mastered the entire plumbing system on the boat, and can even do it without gagging now! Talk about impressive right? What was the issues (With a S) ?.
Well let’s see, it’s all started with a strange overflowing. Never constant and surprising. At anchorage it never really happen often, but once in a while the toilet will fill itself up with the delightful tastiness produce of humans. There is nothing as rewarding then a beautiful day of sailing, we feel great, happy, free, then at the end of the day, we discover the toilet filled and the movement of the boat made it go everywhere outside of it. We never stay outside for long period while sailing after that!
This issue happenned when winterising the boat, I’ve use an antifreeze from the local Marina. This Antifreeze made all valves of the head “Inflate”, so never sealing properly. A complete rebuild of the head was needed. Lesson learned.
Second issue was the pumping out. It never worked right, tried in several marinas, sometime it would, sometime it wouldn’t. I was starting to write down what I was eating during those weeks see if it wasn’t me. Suspect spirits and all kinds of mysterious rocket science around this. As I am often offshore and away from the coast, I do have a pump onboard to discharge at sea when out. As I had often issue with Marinas, that what I was doing (Well trying). The pump was a Jabsco, which as the worst reviews everywhere on the internet. It was leaking often, properler giving up (Which changing required some gloves and lot’s of towels), and it just seemed wrong. Once a while it work, other time it didn’t.
After a few rebuild, I had enough. I decided to change the pump and bought a better one. With diaphram so no more Impeller to change with a description saying “Indestructible”, that’s good enough for me. Installed the entire thing after quite an investment (275$), and as I was getting paranoid changed all hoses and fittings. First try, everything worked. Few weeks later, nothing worked.
Suddenly Eureka, I had a flash (And after hours of research). The boat stayed on the hard for 6 years before I bought it. There was a “crust” at the bottom of the tank, and while emptying, sometime, a “chunk” was getting removed and blocking the entire system.
After some talking with the local guy at the hardware store (Nothing better than talking about old crust from a holding tank to a random guy.), he suggested me a green product filled with Enzyme called “Marine Digest it”. They multiply in the tank, “eating” my human production without me doing anything. After a week, everything emptied and now I am free of all trouble.
Isn’t what cruising is all about?