Struggling with the Evils of Marine Toilets
09 December 2010
Marine toilets are a necessary evil. They may be necessary but I hate them. I actually enjoy maintaining our 46 foot Durbeck cutter APOLIMA. Finding, solving and fixing problems gives me a feeling of accomplishment and pride in her. But marine toilets are the worst contraptions to work on. I think Murphy is in full swing where toilets are concerned.
One of my earliest memories about the ugliness of working on toilets in a boat was about 32 years ago. We had recently launched our new Maple Leaf 48 and were sailing down the Fraser River headed for a weekend in the Gulf Islands with my wife and our four children and a couple of guests. My daughter came up and mentioned that she couldn't get the forward toilet to flush.
On investigating, it was true, this Expensive 'high quality' toilet was indeed plugged and of course it had to have a bowel movement involved. The boat was running downstream in the Fraser River with the tide and current and against a breeze which was building so she was pitching a bit. I started to take things apart to find the blockage and got further into this stinky mess until finally I had the output hose off and found that it was clogged solid with bacon grease and peas.
By this time I was feeling decidedly seasick what with the wild pitching of the boat, the smell and me with my head down reaching into almost inaccessible access spaces. When I mentioned the cause of the problem to my wife, she said that she had read where it was beneficial to pour a little oil into the toilet occasionally to lubricate the workings. During breakfast, faced with a good bit of bacon grease in the frying pan and some left over cooked peas she had decided that the head pump needed lubricating. Enough said.
Perhaps Francis Herreschoff had it right -- a Cedar Bucket.