Two of our projects this winter involve remodeling both head compartments onboard. The forward head is located where most boats would have a vee-berth, as you can imagine when at sea the motion that far forward when sitting on the head is at best a mild roller coaster ride, when it is really rough more like trying to go 8 seconds on a Bull at the National Finals Rodeo!
So the forward head has been ripped out and tossed in the dumpster and the area where the head was bolted down will become our new chain locker. This will allow us to move the anchor chain 4′ further aft and 3
‘ lower than it currently is, that should improve the buoyancy in the bow. We will also be able to add another 100′ of chain (we currently have 200’) as we will have more room to stow it and with the weight further aft the extra chain won’t hurt Malaya’s sailing qualities.
At the forward end of the Quarter Cabin, underneath a nice little seat, was our second head. No one who cared, like Florida Fish and Game or the Coast Guard, ever knew it was there, which was good as the seacock wasn’t locked and it didn’t have a holding tank. In the 9 years I’ve owned Malaya we have never even used it for anything other than a place to pile up stuff we probably didn’t even need to have onboard to begin with.
Now this Quarter Cabin head has also been ripped out, literally, along with the sub-floor that was built to level the area for the head, reveling some nasty wet wood, fortunately teak so no rot, a little mold and lots of dirt. Into this space we will be installing a Natures Head Composting toilet. But first the area needs a little work.
We will likely have to reinstall a little platform for the new head to sit on, but first we will clean up, sand and seal the deck area and paint the bulkheads surrounding the toilet glossy white so they will be easy to clean, the area will also appear bigger and brighter once painted. Then we will install the new toilet.
For now we are letting the area dry out, the black wood you can see in the pic is not rotted, turning black
is what happens to teak that sits in water for too long, once dry and sanded it will return to looking like teak. I was a little surprised the bulkhead wood behind the teak wasn’t rotten but we seem to have escaped that problem this time around.
Composting toilet; When composting toilets started showing up on boats I was a bit sceptical as to how well they would work but after seeing how well they have worked for several friends I am sold on the concept. Some folks will argue they are more work than a traditional head and holding tank but I will beg to differ.
First off, yes we will have to empty a pee bucket once a week or so and empty the solids container once a month but when cruising coastwise or at anchor in a US harbor we were constantly on the lookout for someplace to empty the holding tank every week. On top of that I would have to replace the joker valve on average of every 6 months and we all know the nasty mess that little chore creates (a much bigger mess than dumping composte into a plastic bag). Then at least once a year the pump seals and valves needed replacing and that was another $85.00 parts kit.
Cost wise,a composting head, such as Natures Head, is no more expensive than the cost of a good quality traditional head, actually cheaper if you are installing a new head complete with two seacocks, thru-hulls and hose. They are also cheaper than the cost of installing a holding tank on an existing head. A composting toilet does requires the purchase of Peat Moss or Coconut husk fiber but a years supply of compost materials is less than the cost of a rebuild kit or even just a joker valve, add in the cost of pump outs and a traditional head is considerably more expensive to operate on an annual basis.