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Composting Head in a Sailboat Update!

Airhead in our CSY 33

Airhead in our CSY 33

We installed a Airhead Composting toilet on our CSY 33 a few years ago and until recently we really only used it intermittently and mainly for long weekends.  It has been almost 4 years since we installed the unit and over 6 weeks of full time living aboard our sailboat with a child that we have needed to empty the head.

We have the Airhead model composting toilet and it’s been a great toilet for us.  Some of the great features include small footprint (larger than a normal marine toilet) ease to separate the liquids container for dumping, simple mechanical operation, a you can hardly tell that it’s a marine head by the smell.

I decided to install a Nicro 24hour solar vent to ventilate the composting head instead of the little 12v computer style fan that was included in the kit.  Several years later with no problems, the battery has died and it REALLY smells at night.  West Marine wanted $22 for a replacement but Radio Shack had a pair of NiCad “C” size 1.2v batteries for sale for about $8.  We’ll see how long they last, but atleast I have a spare!

Nature's Head Composting Toilet

Nature's Head Composting Toilet

If I had the room I think I would install a Nature’s Head Composting Toilet next time.  The size of the bowl is about the same size as a normal bathroom seat, which makes it a  little more comfortable to do your business.  I’m not a BIG guy, but a little more square footage in the seat department would be nice.  In our CSY 33, there really wasn’t any room for a bigger toilet.  The normal marine toilet sits on a small pedestal that is no bigger than about 8″ square and all the mechanics happen on the side of the toilet.  As a result, they are typically shorter and mounted on a step up.  We had to build a platform to hold the Composting Head and allow enough room for your feet to “properly support” the exercise.

Cleaning the solids part wasn’t that big of a deal.  If you’ve ever done any landscaping and spread fertilizer- it’s about the same.  The only ‘icky’ part is knowing it’s YOUR fertilizer.

Urine is sterile and there are no chemicals added to the composting head.  We have to manually dump the urine pot about every two days.  I am considering (on the sly) of adding a threaded insert into the liquids pot and having a manual pump to empty the liquids instead of having to haul it through the boat every two days, rain or shine.  I have searched the net and there are regulations on the solid waste dumping but nothing on urine specifically.

Compared with the problem we had with a holding tank, hoses getting clogged, thru-hulls, macerator pumps, and the awful smell under our bed from the methane gas, I will take a composting toilet any day aboard a boat.  Not everyone is convinced of the value of a composting toilet, but if you want a bullet proof design, simple installation, virtually no maintenance, and easy care- choose a composting toilet!

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