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Monday, January 11, 2016

The mooring ball and the head



My lovely wife and decided to spend another night in Punta Gorda. Why not? The price is right and the winds will be better on Monday. We don't have a set schedule. The marina is packed so we had to move out to a mooring ball. Fortunately, they have a long day dock where we can spend the day and only have to use the mooring at night. That saves us from having to paddle in. They gave us an option for a second night on the mooring ball, but we'll probably head back to the bayou.

The boat is well provisioned. Water tanks are full. Even the composting head has been changed out.

About that composting head: people have asked questions. Here's the thing about bathrooms on boats. There are few perfectly ideal situations. The composting head has a liquid separator. Liquids go in a gallon jug in the front, which can either be poured into a toilet on-shore or duped out at sea. (where allowed)

Solids are well mixed with peat moss. There's a earthy smell when open. It's not unpleasant and certainly doesn't smell like sewage. When it's time to change it out I put my rubber gloves on and dump the inner container into a plastic trash bag. On a land based system it would go in another container to finish composting. On a boat the normal thing to do is to toss it into a dumpster. It's a lot less vile than baby diapers.

What about the boats with regular marine heads and holding tanks? Well . . . marine heads are not like regular house toilets. There's usually something to pump or at least buttons to push. They are also known for plugging up and that's nasty. Then there's the holding tank. That has to be pumped out. Sometimes there's a nice young man at the dock to do it for you, but often a boater is expected to it themselves. That doesn't always go well.

I saw really expensive boats that had pump out accidents and ended up smelling like a sewage plant. They don't put that in the advertising brochures. Over time the hoses to the holding tank get porous and ooze with resulting odor.

Some people just pretend their boat doesn't smell. Maybe they've adapted.

Oh, one more thing. Don't put toilet paper into a marine head. So what does one do with it? Most people have a special little trash container for “used fluffy paper goods.” My lovely wife didn't like the idea of that so came up with a system of her own. She bought a 50 pack of small paper sandwich bags. The tissue goes into the paper bags and are rolled closed. The bags go in a big ziplock plastic bag.

Everyone has to get rid of physical waste. Most people don't think about it. Most of us grew up in a world of flush toilets. The problem just went away. It didn't really. The problem was taken care of by someone else, a huge treatment plant that came with a monthly bill.

Off grid people, be they on the water or on land, have to deal with reality of human waste. On land it might be a septic system and getting that pumped out once in a while. That way someone can use “normal” house fixtures. It might be as simple and primitive as an outhouse. Composting is certainly a less smelly option that that. Outhouses rely on anaerobic bacteria while composting use aerobic bacteria. Outhouse anaerobic bugs are the smelly ones.

One thing about this sort of life, you know where everything comes in. . . and where everything goes out.

-Sixbears

10 comments:

  1. I'm delighted to see that life is treating you and your lovely wife well and that the new yacht is a 'happening thing' for you... Best wishes for 2016 and may the winds be gentle and from the right direction...

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    1. Thank you! We are having a blast. There are worse ways to spend the winter.

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  2. Living a dream still has its' practicalities. Seems you have it all in, uh, platic bags. Good on ya.

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    1. We do what we have to do, but some days there are dolphins and beaches.

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  3. Life doesn't always smell like roses, even on a small boat, a large yacht, or at home.

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    1. We all have to deal with life's unmentionables from time to time. Of course, I mention them. :)

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  4. So I guess it would be a visitor faux paus to do the #1 into somebody's compost toilet? I wondered about that.

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    1. Depends on their system. Some have evaporators and/or drains that take care of liquids from a common tank. Mine separates them, but men must remember to sit instead of stand for it to work right.

      Always polite to ask how the deed is done in their system.

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  5. My only experience with living on small boats was a house boat. It had two heads, and they were just like a house, each had a toilet, shower and sink. But they did have to be pumped out, and that had to be done at a marina. We were at Lake Shasta. You just motored in to the dock, went to the store to shop, and when you came back your propane tanks were refilled, fresh water tanks refilled, and the gray water pumped into disposal tanks. I guess houseboating doesn't have a lot to do with really living on a boat like you do. It's more a tourist thing you do for a week.

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    1. There are people who live on-board and have everything taken care of, but most people have to do at least some things themselves. Of course, you can get anything done if you pay enough money.

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