Skip to main content
Updated:
Original:

Ask SAIL: What Kind of Marine Toilet?

Author:
Old-Potty-boat

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

Related

SailingAwards

VIDEO: World Sailing Awards 2021

Alec Wilkinson and Hannah White host the World Sailing Awards and announce the Rolex World Sailor of the Year and 11th Hour Racing Sustainability Award.  December 2021 ...read more

02-RV-WHY

Cruising: Miracle On Ice

I was preparing some tea just before heading topside for my watch. Even though it was summertime, the tea was not iced—it was hot. That’s because our boat was in the High Arctic. We were trying to complete a westbound transit of the treacherous Northwest Passage. If we ...read more

Hanse_460_Bilder_Web_Exterior_0003-promo

New Monohulls: Hallberg-Rassy 400 & Hanse 460

For all the consolidation in the boatbuilding world in recent years, there remains plenty of variety out there, as can be seen in these two new monohulls. The products of two very different boatbuilders offer two very different takes on performance-cruising, even as they also ...read more

Waterlines

The Power of Sails

I suppose it isn’t merely a coincidence that I’ve made significant changes to the sailplans of the last three cruising boats I’ve owned. The first project was the biggest. My old Golden Hind 31, Sophie, had lots of charm and character, but her sloop rig was laughably small. ...read more

01-LEAD-BahiaCobre

Charter the Sea of Cortez

Chartering and the notion of going “off the beaten path” may sound self-contradictory. Charter companies tend to put bases where demand is high and they can turn a profit, so if you’re lucky enough to find an outfit and a destination that gets away from the typical—say yes. To ...read more

22D6FB6F-AA49-4784-A3A8-960F5A7CE330

Cruising: Anchoring Skills

Watching charterers make a run for the last mooring in a cove is fun—and weird. I always wonder why so many would rather try to catch a mooring than drop the hook. Maybe charterers don’t trust their anchoring skills, but it’s harder to drive up and grab a buoy than most people ...read more

BD-TJV21_Malama_063

11th Hour Breakdown in the TJV

11th Hour Racing’s Mālama kicked off the second week of the Transat Jaques Vabre with keel problems, forcing co-skippers Charlie Enright and Pascal Bidégorry to adjust for a more conservative approach to the race’s remaining 2000 miles. “We’ve been dealing with a lot of ...read more

2021-rolex-y-of-y-email-graphic

Rolex Nominations Open

Award season is upon us, and US Sailing is looking for the next Yachtsman and Yachtswoman of the Year. Established in 1961 by US Sailing and sponsored by Rolex since 1980, the annual Rolex Yachtsman and Yachtswoman of the Year awards recognize individual male and female sailors ...read more