Ask SAIL: What Kind of Marine Toilet?

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WHAT KIND OF MARINE TOILET?

Q: I recently purchased a 1979 Cal 2-25, which has a ceramic head. With all the flexible tubing, the plastic tank and the age of all of it, I question the wisdom of repairing the system. Would replacing the ceramic toilet with a Porta-Potti be a good idea? I’m worried that I’ll end up replacing everything and repairing the rest for a cost greater than buying a good portable toilet. What would your suggestion be?

Richard Magoon, Canyon Lake, TX

DON CASEY REPLIES

Your choice should be dictated by how you use the toilet. If any of your sailing takes you beyond no-discharge zones, then a head capable of direct discharge is by far the better alternative. If you do not need overboard discharge capability, then the choice between a holding tank or portable toilet could hinge on the availability and convenience of pump-out facilities. Pumping out is less unpleasant than hauling a full portable tank ashore. Plus your tank is not going to be welcome in any public bathroom.

I view portable toilets as primarily suitable for sporadic use only—a classier alternative to a bucket when you or your guests cannot wait until getting ashore. For regular use on a boat that often overnights away from a dock, an installed marine toilet is almost always the better choice. Marine toilets are not all equal, but if you have a good one, rebuilding it is likely to be a good course. Blocked hoses can be cleaned by removing and flexing to break up wall deposits. They need not be replaced unless they have become permeable, which is evidenced by transferred smell when wiped with a hot, wet cloth. Plastic tanks last forever unless cracked.

Got a question for our experts? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.com

March 2016

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