Friday, September 6, 2013

Crappy Thoughts

Okay fair warning ... this is my crappy thoughts on a crappy topic ... CRAP!  We all gotta do it.
When I followed the thread of Facebook's group, "Women Who Sail", about thoughts on composting heads I noticed a few comments that got my attention.  A few of the women mentioned the extra storage space they now had on their boat after installing a composting head and removing the holding tank.  Our Catalina 30 has spacious living quarters, but very little storage.  The thought of getting rid of that nasty holding tank and having more storage sounded pretty good.  However, I wasn't too sure about installing a composting head.  Some folks seem to love them, and others hate them.

All of this got me wondering what other option there might be.  A couple of women mentioned the "bucket and chuck it" option when not in a crowded anchorage.  Hey, that sounds alright with me.  I'm all about keeping it simple.  But what about those times when we are in a crowded anchorage?  A few minutes later while still on Facebook, another lady outside of the group happened to post something on her wall that also got my attention ... a picture of the pack of doggie bags she just purchased to "scoop the poop" when walking her dog.  They're biodegradable and thrown in the trash.  Okay, I was just thinking about other options for our head and this pops up.  Perhaps there's something similar for humans?  

I figured I'd post my thoughts to the "Women Who Sail" group ... in a kind of joking way in case they thought I was totally disgusting.  I mentioned that instead of a composting head, why not something along the lines of doggie bags?  One or two women again mentioned the "bucket and chuck it", but most didn't take me seriously.  I guess I'm disgusting.

Anyway, the next day I came across a fellow blogger's post called, How To Shit In A Bucket.  First the doggie bags and now this post ... is somebody trying to tell me something?  Okay, I gotta read this.  I suggest you read the post, but it pretty much sums up how this guy has been using the bucket for years and thinks the holding tanks are what's "gross".  He told the story about a guy that had his holding tank bust on his newly purchased boat due to getting caught in bad weather.  Needless to say, the boat was a mess and the smell was never removed.  He sold the boat at a loss.

The post went on to say that between using the facilities while on land and the bucket while in an isolated area, the only time he needed to use another option was while in a crowded anchorage.  During those times he uses "Wag Bags", which he disposes of in the trash.  "Wag Bags"?  Sounds like doggie bags to me. Maybe I'm on to something.

I looked up the Wag Bags and basically they're the human version of doggie bags, but they also contain "Poo Powder" ... aack! ... to prevent odors and turn everything into a solid.  This powder also allows the bag to be used multiple times before throwing away.  Like the doggie bags, these are biodegradable.  This is exactly the kinda thing I was thinking about!  Evidently, these bags are pretty popular (so they claim) with campers, backpackers and boaters too.  The one thing I didn't like ... the price.  A dozen of these costs $34, and that can add up.

After searching the web for an alternative I found Sani-Bags, which can fit over our boat's toilet and are pretty much the same as Wag Bags but cheaper.  I could buy $200 of these bags for $200.  Since these bags could be used a couple of times, and the bucket and land facilities would also be taken advantage of ... maybe this could be stretched for a year .. year and a half.  After all, I rarely go and my shit doesn't stink either ... well, the first part's true.

I cautiously slipped my idea into a conversation with Ken the other day ... he didn't say much.  I'm gonna take this one slowly, but I'm sure thinking I'd love that extra storage space!

So seriously, I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.  I know my idea isn't the most convenient and perhaps disgusting to some folks, but like "Stormy" said in his blog ... "I can't think of anything more disgusting than hauling around 20 lbs. of crap ... usually under your bed".

Hasta luego ... until then.  Mid-Life Cruising!


S/V Veranda said...

I've installed composting heads on customers boats and I'm not a real big fan. So much of living aboard is already a trade off of conveniences. Taking your morning dump should be as simple as possible. The solids get composted while the liquid is separated. Storing a pail, jug or bucket of urine until I can legally dispose of it would be a major hassle, especially someplace like the Chesapeake Bay. You can't legally dump it anywhere in the watershed.

You're more likely to find a convenient pumpout station than you are to find peat moss within walking distance. Unless you carry it with you.

Bucket and chuck it aficionados are one of the major reasons that places like Marco Island, Florida does everything they can to discourage transient boaters. The Gestapo like tactics of the Florida water cops is based solely on the premise that everyone in a sailboat is shitting in their water.

A tank does take up some space but with a little maintenance it doesn't have to stink.

All that being said, I'd still have a composting head before I'd resort to

Unknown said...

Think about it - poop that is denser then the water, will sink, poop that is less dense will float. This all depends on what ocean and sea you are on, what you ate, water/gas content. That's kinda gross. I suppose maybe better then knowing there is poop in a holding tank WHERE you leave is worse though. eww. I've actually thought of it a bit before.
Whale poop floats, but they are nutrient rich and are the oceans fertilizers unlike human waste which is not a ready fertilizer. It can be but has to be treated first. The carbon in the mulch speeds up the decomposition process, and generates heat. The material reaches 160 plus degrees for 21 days... That's enough to kill all harmful bacteria THen any facility that uses this method has to test the material regularly to be sure the pathogens and dangerous heavy metals are below detectable levels. Our poop is not benign.

Mike M. said...

Very interesting

In all seriousness, I'm still researching what is the best option, too. I seem to like the composting idea, but heard if the solids get wet when they're not supposed to, it is horrendous.

Don't think I'm a fan at all of the bucket method. The pooper bag is interesting...I think the jury is still out on that one.

One last question for Amy (who posted right above me). What are you saying? :-)


John Wanamaker, s/v Emerald Lady said...

Not having a holding tank is going to raise issues with some marinas. Consider, Santa Barbara marina staff come aboard when you check in and require that all the black water valves be set to go to a tank. Not sure how they would deal with not having a tank at all. In my experience they don't have much of a sense of humor and telling them you are using doggie bags may not go over well.

Brian and Erika said...

We have finally give up on the conventional head after >$2000 and 50+ hours of trying. We are halfway through building our custom urine separating desiccator. Will have lots of details when done. If that doesn't work, I imagine bags will be our next stop too.

Seems like most people solve this problem with a conventional head and direct overboard discharge, but I cannot do that, so keep pouring $$ and effort into a better way.

S/V Two Can said...

We removed our marine head when we FIRST bought our boat.

We went with a large (5 gallon holding tank) porta potty and LOVE it. I just don't mind dumping it. It ALWAYS works, ALWAYS.

just sayin'


Erika (aka Ocean Girl) said...

We are in the midst of installing a dry, composting head. We are custom building due to space. Will update you when complete. The composting toilets don't really compost, they dry out. I guess call it a pre compost :-). But seriously, it does not stink!! Put a little KO in the Pee catcher keeps those odors at bay too.
Erika and Brian
s/v Rain Dog

Tammy Swart said...

You know I love you girl... feel like we're friends. But I'm not sure I can ever look you in the face knowing that you're pooping in a bag! You are SO much more woman than I will EVER be, for even considering this... I'm still choking on my drink right now... said...

I do think you'd be wise to have a way to contain waste on board so that parts of the world that require this, like most of the U.S., will let you be there without hassle. I was interested in the composting toilets until I read about one guy's experience with having women on board his boat with a composting head. It didn't work so well on those long passages where you are heeled over and have to make sure all the liquids go in the right place, and the solids go in the right place. I think he may have wanted to toss the thing overboard. Yes, our holding tank also takes us a cabinet that I'd like to use for storage. We would consider putting a flexible holding tank somewhere else that is less conveniently located if we ever replace what's there now. But I would never give up having a holding tank completely. When we are far enough offshore, we pump overboard.

Carolyn said...

Get a few of the Sani-Bags and use them at home (you know, the old try one first approach). I doubt you'll like the experience, having used something similar a number of years ago on an adventure trip. But you may think they're fine and then you can go on to explore the other practical issues people have mentioned here.

Anonymous said...

"Bucket and Chuck It" is disgusting and I certainly hope that you are not seriously contemplating this option. All of the other options are better than polluting our waterways. If you need more storage than find some creative ways to solve your problems a bigger boat! LOL :)

Sandee said...

Find your storage elsewhere. There is nothing worse than a boat that you know is putting their waste overboard. Our boat is a closed system which doesn't allow us to pump our waste overboard. We go to the pump out station on a regular basis. We need to keep our waters as clean as we can. Yes, I'm aware that the fish poop in the water. We shouldn't.

Have a terrific day. :)

Ken n Cheryl said...

Tammy, if I did my business in a bag my butt would still be sitting on the toilet .. LOL!

For those that think "bucket and chuck it" is gross ... we'd only be dumping the urine and disposing of the other in the bags that immediately make it "hard". Also, a lot of cruisers sail out and dump their holding tanks. #2 in the bag attached to the toilet seat and #1 in a big cup is all I need. How many of you ladies had to hover over a public toilet .. not much different. =)

Composting head is not a consideration for us ... just whether or not to keep a holding tank just to store #2.

Think of it this way .. cruisers with babies and diapers keep it onboard till they hit land. Same with these "bags".

Dan N Jaye said...

When we were rafting down the Grand Canyon we learned about separating liquid waste from solid, lessons that came in handy when we lived aboard in a location that didn't have winter pumpouts. Pee first, discreetly overboard, human urine is generally sterile unless you have one of a small number of diseases. Then solids in a bag, more or less dry. Hey, you pick up after your dog, right? Same deal. Sprinkling dry laundry bleach powder in the bag keeps it from smelling and sanitizes until you can dispose of it, in a dumpster on shore if necessary. Not particularly elegant but it worked in the desert in the Grand Canyon and it worked when we were iced into the dock.

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