Monday, July 8, 2013

The Head

I have been meaning to give a tour of the boat but other things keep getting in the way. I finally have time to do it and since my current area of expertise on board is the head (toilet/bathroom), I figured it could be the first post!
This is a warning! If you don’t want to hear about the plumbing on Aquabat, for whatever reason, stop reading now!

This is our toilet.

& open!

It is responsible for two and 1/2 of the 17 through-hulls that are below the deck on Aquabat (I'll get to the half soon...).

There are sea-cocks on each opening that allow them to be closed to the water outside if necessary. One of the through-hulls is an exit from the toilet via the holding tank & macerator pump, the other one allows sewage to go directly out to sea. The rules are different in many places around the world but in Australia it is illegal for us to release sewage within 12 nautical miles (nm) of shore or in inland lakes. In the US, I believe it is illegal within 3 nautical miles. It is illegal to dump plastics anywhere.

There is also a sea-water intake that has a cover/filter on it to make sure we don’t pull in any seaweed, fish, or other thing undesirables.This is where the "1/2" comes in, because this intake is shared with the galley sink as well.

Pump set to "dry"
To use our toilet, we need to flip this switch over to the “full” image and give a few pumps to draw some water in from the outside through the water intake and prime the bowl.

We go about our business and then flip the switch back over to the “dry” image and pump the head dry. It is important that when the head is not in use the switch is in the "dry" position to prevent us from taking on water. We do not put toilet paper into our system as it increases the likelihood of a clog. The use of heavy-duty drain cleaners & plungers is destructive to marine heads which leaves us the only option of taking apart the pipes to clear a blockage, which neither of us has any desire to do. Boat rule - you clog it, you fix it! 

If we are out to sea, this waste can go straight overboard out the through-hull. End of story.  If we are not, then it goes into this holding tank that lives beneath one of our floorboards.

 The bathroom sink and shower also drain into the holding tank. This coincidentally is also why we don’t really use them as we feel it would unnecessarily fill it up. Given our current situation where we have no ability to empty it, We use showers in the boat yard and the galley sink in their place to prevent filling up the holding tank unnecessarily. We also have a solar shower which we will use when we are at sea. In addition to the standard taps on the sink, there is also a foot pump which is for sea-water intake, should we need it. The shower works by filling the sink with the water that you want for your shower (the ultimate in temperature regulation). Water is then drawn from the sink to the shower head itself. The head as a whole is made to be relatively water proof so that you can just shut the door and shower and not worry about anything getting wet. There was a shower curtain up when we got the boat, I imagine to protect whatever items are in the shelves but given we rarely plan on using we haven't put it back up yet.

If we are too close to shore then everything just sits in the holding tank until we are able to have it drained or until we are at least 12 nm off shore and are able to release it ourselves. If we release it ourselves, then it must first go through a macerator pump to ensure that smaller particles are released. 

Waste then goes overboard, out through one of the through-hulls and disintegrates in the ocean!

And that's it! Let me know if you have any questions. More to come on the rest of the boat soon!


  1. Replies
    1. We haven't actually succeeded in using one yet! By the time we get around to showering in the evening, it's cold again! We need to work on our timing!

    2. shoot! well I'm sure you'll come to love them