Archive for May, 2021

We Bought A Toilet

comments ( 0 )
May 19, 2021 posted by admin

May 19, 2021

Often when I’m doing work on boats and their toilets, it’s a gross and disgusting activity.  I can’t tell you how many “Poo” stories I have from around the world.  My Intermediate Cruising students can tell you about some of my poo stories I’ve shared with them. This story is the cleanest toilet story I have ever had. 

Our new boat came with a portapottie.  Something you would see in a tiny little camper with a self contained holding tank right underneath it.  Then, to empty the tank you would carry it to a toilet and dump it.  Boating on fresh water doesn’t allow this.  The environmental pollutions act does not allow portapotties where there is an option to dump overboard into the lake.  For the last 25 years our Thunderbird had a portapottie.  The plastic wrap is still on it.  My Mini didn’t even have a portapottie as she was purely intended for the ocean.  Most IMOCA 60s don’t have a portapottie.  They and the Minis have a labelled bucket.  There is even a story from right before my first ocean race in the Mini with me sitting on a bucket in a marine chandlery….bouncing up and down the aisles simulating life at sea.  Well, with the new boat comes a glorious new upgrade.  We are getting a toilet.  It’s a proper marine head with a holding tank.  Every racer out there just cringed and cried “too heavy”! They aren’t wrong.  Life is full of compromises.  I have chosen this compromise. 

Now for the cleanest toilet story.  Usually these stories are of fixing clogs.  This is the installation.  Marine heads need to have some key factors.  They need to draw water in to flush the bowl.  They need to empty their contents into the tank and have the choice to send it overboard with a Y valve.  They also need to have the ability to evacuate their holding tank contents to a shoreside pumpout facility.  Not a simple task to decide where to put and how to run all the plumbing and keep it tidy.

This is the space.  To the left in the picture is the keel trunk.  To the right is the shelf.  That’s it….ain’t no cruising boat.  You can see there is a little space for a portapottie that I have already removed. 

This is the head.  Yes, there is a lid to come as well.  The goal is to fit the head in the box space and all the plumbing and holding tank in the shelf.

Fortunately, there is an assigned spot in the hull for the through hull fittings.  This hull is built in a sandwich composite with vinylester.  To maintain the integrity of the composite, the manufacturer builds flat spots of solid glass for mounting through hull fittings.  On our boat, these are located directly under and slightly forward of the sink.  Let’s cut out the space for the tank to drop in and then see about getting those through hull fittings underneath it.

The picture on the left is the cutout to be able to drop the tank in and then the tank in rough position.  To the right is the space where the tank will sit and underneath you can see where I have drilled the first of two holes for the through hull fittings.  The trick is to line up the plumbing for the tank and be able to install the fittings without being able to see them because they are hidden underneath.  A veritable jigsaw puzzle.

Then there is the toilet.  The toilet mount base is not the same span as the original mounting blocks.  With a little rejig and repurpose of some marine plywood, a base is formed.  I’ll probably replace this with something lighter but for now….this was in my shop. 

Next the plumbing coming off of the toilet needs to get fitted.  No Diane…the toilet doesn’t go there!  Oh my ahahahahah!  However there was a constant back and forth with all of the pipes and the toilet to see about fit and measures.  Again, racers are adding up the weight!  If you look carefully, I have also sketched the pattern for the plumbing right on the bulkhead.  All of these pipes are going to be visible and need to fit and be securely mounted to the bulkhead. 

Bit by bit the hoses get pushed on.  They are a very tight fit…ironically with the exception of the giant pipe that comes off of the toilet.  This pipe is the conveyor of the “soup”.  It was an easy fit….practically slipped right on!  This will not end well.  Looks pretty good though.  We have the longest pipe on the left that goes up to the vented loop.  Normally on a cruising boat this would be hidden behind a false bulkhead or cabinet or something.  The vented loop prevents backflow when healed over.  Then the pipe travels downward to the black Y valve.  There are two lower pipes coming off of it.  The one to the left goes straight down to the sea and a giant Through Hull.  The one on the right goes straight into the tank.  This way, when I am on the lake, I can isolate the “soup” to go to the tank.  But when its ocean racing time I can isolate everything to go overboard.  To the far right you can see a straight pipe going up to deck level.  This is where the shoreside pumps out the contents of the tank.  The braided hose is the vent for the hose…still to be connected to the little vent in the hull to the right of the pumpout hose.  Last thing we need is for the tank to suffer pressure complications.  I have stories….they are not pretty! 

Once all the hoses are in place and clamped..its time to test.  No, not by sitting!  By pouring a little water in the tank and pumping it through the system.  OH CRAP, remember that connection that sliped on easily?  Piddles water everywhere!  Fortunately its just water though.  A little shop vac work and time to reset the clamps.  Not an easy job.  After several heating and tightenings of the clamp I finally get the clamp tight enough to stop the leak.  There may have been some swearing involved……but now she is water tight.

There is still a little tidying up to be done, a few screws to go in….and fiddles to be installed on the lid to cover up the tank, but yes……we have a toilet!

On to the next project…autopilot tiller arm!


New Boat Jobs

comments ( 0 )
May 2, 2021 posted by admin

You may have all read that Paul and I have partnered with my friend Sheila to purchase a new boat. You will remember Sheila from the Mini days. She was a fantastic indispensible part of my team back then and is looking to do some sailing again! So we decided to buy a 2018 L30.

This new boat has a brilliant program ahead of her. For now we will call her L. Naming will come but boats have many superstitions including announcing the name before the name is on the boat.

Please allow me to introduce you to L.

Her mission in life is to do some offshore racing and teaching. If the stars align, she will be the class boat at the 2024 Olympics for the proposed mixed double handed offshore class. However, that proposed event is looking less and less likely these days. If I can’t get to the Olympics with this boat I can at least get back into some exciting offshore racing! Let’s wait and see what happens there.

Meanwhile, let’s get this offshore boat ready to do some racing! L was built in Europe. That means that her AC electrical system is 240volt 50Hz. Its the 50Hz that is the critical item. Supplying only 120 volts rather than 240 volts is fairly indifferent, however if there are already “fixtures” on the boat that use AC and 50 Hz (cycles) they will literally go up in smoke.

Fortunately, there is very little on L to start with when it comes to electrical. Out goes the battery charger,

shorepower outlet, electrical plugs and anything else that looks “miffy”. Oh heck, let’s just pull the whole panel and reorganize the DC side while we are at it.

Then in goes a new charger, shorepower outlets, AC plugs and a bunch more electrical stuff. Next up, some wiring for the mast, a fuel cell for recharging power while sailing and some new VHF wiring throughout! Don’t worry….these wires won’t be hanging when I am done…but the tidy up happens when it is all finished 🙂 Meanwhile, we have AC charging and an active DC panel ready for some new lights and Raymarine electronics.