Its been just over 3 years since Party of Five left the dock in Key West as a family of five. One of my biggest fears was the toilet situation on the boat. In the years of reading and researching prior I was very cognizant that the marine toilet was one of the biggest challenges we may face as a family. Since I wanted to start with a “clean slate” so to speak, I decided the best course of action was to replace everything, except the actual bowl (what the hell can go wrong with a ceramic bowl). So I ordered double of all the other components (2 heads aboard) and installed the parts in Key West. Then shortly after actually splashing the boat, I decided to lock off one head and our family would use only one head on the boat. In my logic, I would have a complete head (toilet, shower, sink, ect) in reserve if the proverbial “shit hit the fan”. While this has worked %99 of the time, there have been a couple of “incidents”. Sigh, anyone that has taken the medication colchicine will understand!
Now after 3 years of living aboard full time with a family of five, those brand new parts are getting to the end of their useful service life. You can imagine that 5 people using a single toilet means there is a pretty big amount of effluent moving through it. A marine toilet is very different than a land toilet in how it operates. You don’t just push a lever and it flushes. No no, its all about pumping. The long and short of it is, that flushing a marine toilet involves working the pumping plunger about 18 times per bathroom visit. So doing the math of 18 pumps/visit times at least 1 visit per day, per person, times 1095 days! Wait for it.. That pump has done 98550 strokes in the last 3 years. Hell, that is more than a 14 year old a year after he discovers internet porn! I was a little worried that after all that pumping we were due for a toilet disaster soon. Since we had guests coming, I decided it was time to pull the trigger and replace the whole pump assembly! Now as luck would have it, there are a bunch of boat shows going on so things are on SUPER sale. Is it wrong to ask you inbound guests to carry a toilet pump? I think not!
Ahh, the old girl. She has flushed many “nice poops” (you have to say that in a “newfie” accent like my friend Michel)!
(For those uninitiated. First you pump in this configuration to “suck” the effluent down. Then you switch that black lever and pump at least 18 times to move the nasties through all the hose with sea water too the appropriate location. Then you switch the lever back and push the T-handle all the way down, twisting it to lock… Job Done!)
The old pump next to the new one. Its funny the T-handle on the old one is all smooth and worn. (P.S. I spared everyone a shot up the barrel of the old one!)
The pump ripped out and waiting for the new pump to be installed. However, we decided if we were going to take this job on we would also replace the “poop hose” (the big hose in the middle). Its crazy, but poop hose never lasts on boats. After about a year it gets an ODOR. You will open a locker or closet that the hose is running through and think “What the hell is that smell”. On Party of Five we are a little odor sensitive and that old hose (1 year old) had just started to stink. No faffing about, just replace it all.
Here is a shot of what we call the “Poop Closet”. Its a closet in Jonah’s cabin that the hoses run through. Here is the old hoses disconnected, but not replaced. Its crazy they look fine, but the odor in the closet is unmistakable. As a test you wrap a rag that has been wetted with HOT water around a hose. Come back in 15 minutes and remove the rag. If the rag stinks, the hoses are SHOT!
Lets hope this girl is up to the task!
The “Poop Closet” with brand new hose. Quincy wasted no time as he was dancing just outside of this shot waiting for me to tighten the last clamp. Ahh… Smells like roses in there now..
Just in case anyone is wondering. This entire job took me just under 3 hours to replace everything (pump, hoses and wash up). Seriously, 3 hours of work in 3 years.. The damn toilet has turned out to be one of the most reliable pieces of kit aboard!
(people will ask.. that black thing is our Y-Valve. It diverts the “fluids” either to our holding tank or direct overboard (yes you read that right).)