Guests on board
Something else I thought about as a downside to these. When we have guests it is still as hard or harder to explain how to use these as it was a standard marine head. At least we don’t worry about people putting toilet paper into this one but having to explain that poo and pee go in separate holes and that you have to rinse or clean up after yourself every single time you use it seems to generate a lot of resistance. We now have people we would prefer not to visit us on our boat because of the mess they left behind on the composting head. At its messiest (oh shit I missed the hole) it is still a simple matter of a minute or so to wipe the mess down the open hole to the composting bin and spray with water and wipe down again and then maybe spray a disinfectant if needed. In regular use you just about never need to do this but guests that have different attitudes or lack of ability to use it as described can be a trial.
On the flip side I had plenty of people like that on my “shit” list for messing up my standard marine head by improper use. At least now I don’t have to take shitty plumbing/pumps/hoses apart or rebuild any of it on a semi regular basis. Both then and now if your a guest you need to sit to do your business if you aren’t willing to then you better take your business with you and not share it with us. We have a very low threshold for those that want to stand and urinate. As used the head is always immaculate and odor free. If you treat it like a house toilet it will start to smell like a house toilet with urine spattered around it on the seat, the outside of the unit, the head walls etc. Our attitude is that as a guest and after we explain how it works and why that if you decide to do it your way and leave a mess for us to clean up that it speaks to your respect of and for us. If you don’t respect us then I guess you don’t really need to hang out with us.
right now for the last couple months we have been spending about 3 to 4 days a week on the boat again and the last time we changed the coir was 9 or 10 months ago. We keep talking about doing it as it is time but we have no odor and the stir rod is still fairly easy to turn so every week or two I dump a single cup of extra coir into it and we just keep using it. I find that if usage isn’t keeping it moist enough that it helps to spray a few squirts of water in it once in a while to keep the coir from drying out. If it dries out it tends to clump and then be hard to stir.
Cost comparison and general maintenance
Our standard marine heads cost us on average 120 dollars a year to use between rebuild kits or hoses that needed replacing, chemicals for the holding tank, pumpouts etc.. The composting head once installed I think we have spent about 60 bucks for enough coir for 2 to 2.5 years and maybe 20 bucks on a can of raid and one of the flying insect killer things. This gives us a rough 30 to 40 dollars a year operating cost. Oh and the cost of a trash bag every 6 weeks to 6 months depending on how much we are on the boat to dump the head into when we change it out.
The only maintenance I have done to the unit is that I upgraded the stir rod to a more robust model the manufacture came out with. Not that the old one didn’t work but the new one had a lower profile turn handle that was easier to use. We dumped the head and washed it out and put the new stir rod in. Total time taken was about 20 minutes from pull it out of the boat to put it back in the boat. No grossness, no odor. When we dumped it pretty much everything fell out the only stuff that stuck was on the stainless stir rod and a hose spraying it out got rid of that in a minute or so.
Thoughts on cleaning
We have a one quart or so spray bottle of plain water that we rinse the urine portion of our natures head with every single use. It puts very little water in the holding tank and so far has worked great to keep it clean and odor free on the urine section.As for the composting part, once you have used it a while you good at doing your business into the bin without touching the opening. No clean up needed 5 out of 6 times. Just throw the toilet paper in on top of the poo and close the trap door and turn the mixing handle fully around 4 or 5 times. If you do get a stain we just spray it off with the spray bottle and then wipe the bowl or opening clean as needed. Disinfect as needed. The rotomolded plastic of the natures head is so slick it’s kinda like using a teflon skillet. Nothing really sticks to it. I would never use any abrasive cloth/pad/cleaner ever on the rotomolded units. As soon as you scratch the surface it will start to cling to faecal matter and urine much harder and be that much harder to clean in the future.
I hope that my ramblings help someone out just some of our thoughts on our Natures Head after a couple years.