Saturday, December 3, 2011

Heads Up-Part I

Frank recently made a smart trade with one of our live aboard neighbors at the marina.  For a while now, we've been complaining about our electric head and wanting to swap it out for a Lavac manual unit.  We were holding off on buying one because of finances, but as luck would have it, our neighbor was in the market for an electric head (he's got 2 heads, and he wanted one of them to be electric).  It turns out that he had a Lavac unit, the exact one that Frank was considering so it only made sense to make the trade.

Before installing the new toilet, we decided that we needed to replace all of the old, crumbling head hoses.  They were essentially exhaust hoses that were clogged with well.....shit (sorry, I refuse to use the word "poop") and calcified urine.  To illustrate just how badly they were clogged, picture the inside diameter of a 2" hose having mounds of calcified urine clog it so bad that the opening is now around 1/2" in some areas and completely clogged in others.  The job of removing these was, to say the least, REPULSIVE.  It involved using a Shopvac to suck out whatever liquid remained in the hoses to avoid "leakage" all over our bedroom.  The ends were then plugged with paper towels and wrestled from their confines and deposited into doubled up trash bags.  I shamefully admit, I behaved like a complete princess and did not join in the festivities.  In fact, at one point, I was retching so badly that Frank scolded me and told me to "get the hell off the boat and sit in the cockpit" (which I gladly did).  When I finally returned to help, I could only do so with wads of wet paper towels shoved up my nostrils so that the smell wouldn't reactivate my gag reflex.  I don't know how he did it without vomiting, but I can assure you there was a lot of swearing and dry heaving involved.

Look of pure disgust
The cherry on top of this chocolate cake was when Frank went to remove the last hose off of our holding tank, the fitting on the tank broke in half, thus spilling about 10 gallons of liquid shit (that's not even ours) into our bilges.  This happened because when the holding tank was replaced (in Mexico), they fabricated the elbow fitting from a fiberglass tube cut at 45 degree 
angles and merely glassed together with a thin layer of woven cloth.  The force applied was very minimal (he even cut the hose with a blade to facilitate removal), so you can imagine the look of surprise, horror, and inevitable disgust on Frank's face when it tore off in his hand. The glop-glop-glop sound of raw sewage spilling into our bilges accompanied by the smell of pure evil will remain a smear on my fragile mind.  Mind you, we did have the forethought, to have our holding tank pumped out and rinsed 3 times before this, but of course, 10 gallons still managed to remain (and seemingly no less diluted at that).  We had to vacuum out our bilges, fill it with about 1/2 a bottle of Soft Scrub, let it sit.  Vacuum again, and so on and so forth.  Of course, when we went to vacuum this, the Shopvac being just as repulsed as us decided enough was enough, and started spewing its contents from its exhaust (yes, that's right, even our vacuum was puking on us).  Frank, being as lucky and chivalrous as he is, managed to protect our brightwork from the brunt of this with his face.  He even got to taste a little of this goodness, when it sprayed into his mouth.  Yummy...

Moral of the matter how much you prepare for this project, No matter how many other horror stories you hear and how hard you try to avoid it, YOU WILL most definitely end up covered with shit.  This is just the cosmic joke that Poseidon likes to play on boat owners.  There is no way to circumvent it, in fact, it seems the more you try, the worse you'll have it.  So for anyone reading this and contemplating this project, our advice to you is to keep lots of spare paper towels (not the cheap ones....go for the Bounty) handy to wipe up the shit, vomit, piss, and tears from everything around you.  

Broken fitting on holding tank
Notice the thin layer of fiberglass 


  1. Great write-up! Sorry you guys had to go through such a mess though. It's stories like these that have convinced me to go with a composting head.


  2. I have not read much about compost heads, but they avoid problems like this, they sound great!

  3. I shamefully admit that we are giggling at your expense.
    We feel your pain- but it is way funnier when it's not us getting covered in old lincoln logs.

    Great post, thanks for the laugh!