Yesterday I posted this picture of my husband’s latest boat project. It will make life easier for us and harder for Honey.
Did you guess what it is?
Our New Euphemism
Some call it a composting toilet. Others call it a desiccating head.
I’ll call it what Dr. Seuss called it—a euphemism.
You might wonder why we needed a new euphemism when we had a perfectly fine
marine head, er euphemism, that’s currently sitting out in the cockpit.
And no, it’s not just so we can scare off snobby boat people who worry that they’ve docked next to hillbillies.
I won’t repeat my I’d Rather Poop Like A Dog post that recounted a disgusting sewage disaster our fourth day on the boat. But if you want to know what happened, you’ll have to click the link.
Go ahead. I. Dare. You.
For those with little curiosity or weak stomachs, I’ll just tell you that our old euphemism pumped waste into a holding tank.
A holding tank that only holds twelve gallons before needing to be pumped out. A holding tank that will start to seep sewage out the top after about three days. And here’s the kicker: a holding tank that sits under my side of the bed.
Believe me, it was a good incentive to look at a new type of euphemism.
But Pamela, you’ve been on the boat over six months now. Why did it take you so long to deal with this issue?
Sailing In January
We left Maryland for Florida in November 2015.
Thanks to mechanical failures and other mishaps, we failed to leave Virginia until nearly February (pssst, that link goes to my husband’s blog, Bimini Dreams; we should probably rename it Virginia Nightmares).
Because it was freaking cold to be sailing in an open cockpit (we actually broke ice leaving Virginia), we decided to stop in a marina every night.
Marinas are great.
Honey got to walk off the boat to relieve herself in real grass. We got access to shore power so we could plug a space heater in overnight instead of worrying about being poisoned by our propane heater.
Most importantly, marinas have their own euphemisms with hot showers.
Sure, we sometimes had to walk over a half mile from our slip to the closest euphemism building (just think of that the next time you complain about waking up in the middle of the night having to pee). But we only contributed to the holding tank when we were underway.
I kept a note on the door to mark every use so we knew when to pump out.
But you know what’s not so great about marinas? They charge a boat our size anywhere from $40 to $80 each night just to dock. Off-season.
It’s considerably more in desirable locations or in summer.
That’s the fee to tie your boat to a slip and walk to a shared
bathroom, er euphemism.
Makes you appreciate those small rural motels where, for the same amount, they also wash your sheets, bring you clean towels, and provide heat and air conditioning.
The euphemism? It’s a few steps from the bed. And there’s no combination lock on the door.
Luckily, we have a new plan for the boat. One that will save us lots of money.
Sailing In Summer
Sailing in summer is pleasant. It’s lovely. Who wouldn’t want to sit in an open cockpit on a 75°F/23°C enjoying the cool breeze?
When we finish traveling for the day, we won’t need to use a space heater. So we can anchor when it’s time to sleep.
Anchoring has its own issues.
You have to check your anchor often to make sure it’s holding you in place.
But most of all, you need to beside your euphemism won’t overflow when you’re away from a marina for more than three days.
How will we do that? By installing a composting
head, er euphemism.
Warning: if you prefer not to know anything about handling human waste on a boat, please stop now. Come back on another day when I’m writing about something less disgusting. Like maggot sandwiches. Or deep-fried butter.
Building A Euphemism
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There are companies that make composting heads for homes, boats, and RVs. We looked carefully at the Air Head, Nature’s Head, and C-Head before realizing that none of the three would fit in our tiny head compartment.
In fact, someone who owned the exact same boat as us built their own composting
head, er euphemism, for the same reason. And if they could do it, I knew Mike could do it.
Me? I can’t hammer a nail without losing at least two fingers.
I have to say that on board, our waste will never fully compost. We don’t have enough room to keep it with us for long enough for that to happen.
People who have these devices in homes, however, can shovel out the dried waste and spread it on a flower garden where it will continue to compost.
So really, it’s not a composting euphemism. It’s a desiccating euphemism.
But if the many people we’ve met who have them aren’t lying, we should have an easy and smell-free way to deal with waste for longer than three days.
Here’s how it works.
The euphemism has a diverter instead of a bowl. This carries liquid waste forward into a bottle.
Solid waste drops through a larger opening into a waiting bin. The bin contains a drying medium. Some use peat. We’ll be using coconut coir.
Every time someone makes a deposit in the euphemism, they will add a scoop of coir.
When we land in a marina, we can take the dried, solid waste to a dumpster. And dump liquid waste in a toilet or other facility.
Will Honey Use The Euphemism
My ideal would be if we could train Honey to use the euphemism too. But given how tight it is, that’s probably expecting too much.
For now, we’ll continue to take Honey to shore in the dinghy when we anchor out.
That’s the part that’s harder for Honey.
Instead of stepping onto a dock from her ramp, we’ll be lowering her with a block and tackle into the dinghy using her Ruffwear Doubleback Harness to keep her secure while she’s dangling from the boom.
We will plan anchorage spots that are near a boat ramp or other places that will be easy to land a small boat.
But the tricky part is always getting Honey out of the big boat (Meander) and into the little boat (Mini Mea).
If we’re planning to land on a dock in the near future, we’ll bag her waste like usual and tie it down on the deck until we find a trash can.
On trips where we won’t be hitting a marina for a few days, we’ll practice Leave No Trace principles and bury Honey’s waste well away from the waterway.
We could possibly dump her waste into the euphemism as well. Of course, that will only fill it faster and force us to go ashore to dump it.
For now, that’s our plan.
It’s All About Poop
You can’t know a dog lover without eventually talking about poop.
Either we’re complaining about people who don’t clean it up or worrying about the color of texture of our pup’s.
The same thing happens with cruising sailors.
I can’t tell you how many times we’ve gotten into very specific conversations (often around a dinner table; funny how it happens that way) about dealing with waste.
I recently read somewhere that couples who are able to discuss digestive processes with each other have longer lasting marriages.
If that’s true, I’m looking forward to my 70th wedding anniversary. Because we’ve had enough highly personal conversations about all kinds of sh*t, literally, to guarantee this marriage won’t end before we each hit our 90s.
Your Turn: Okay, that was disgusting. Do you have any more palatable questions about cruising with Honey that we can answer in a future post?