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Composting Head 1 Year Update

Well it’s now 14 months or so since we installed the Natures Head on Valkyr. I have had several people ask me for an update on our experiences with it,so here it goes. Overall we are extremely happy with the change from a standard marine head and holding tank to a composting head. Both me and my wife would do it over in the blink of an eye.

Positives for us include

  • Overall total lack of odor.
  • Ease of changing the composting mix.
  • Regaining the use of two compartments under the v-berth and space in the port side v-berth hanging closet.
  • Ease of Maintenance and totally removing or putting the unit back in place.
  • Ease of initial installation compared to a standard marine head
  • 90% less maintenance than a standard head and what maintenance you do end up doing is much less nasty.

BB&T (Branch Banking and Trust) institutes a 10 dollar a month fee on checking accounts

Recently I received a letter from BB&T where I have had the same accounts for well over a decade. They informed me that if my balances fall below 1500 dollars a month they will be charging me a 10 dollar service fee. It is a rare month in the last few years that I have a balance of more than a few hundred dollars in my personal account. So it leaves me feeling as if I am being penalised 120 dollars a year in the future for being poor. I will be expressing my opinion in person soon but for now I have sent the below letter to their customer service department through the online banking interface after receiving the same letter there that I did in the mail. Is it any wonder that we view the banks and credit card companys with such distrust anymore when at every chance they have they turn the screws on us a little more. I love how they can arbitrarily change the the type of account that I signed up for. Add fee’s, raise the fee’s, change the terms of the contract that I signed when I got the account…. grrrrr… I am not a happy camper right now.

A Different Kind of Burger

I have been wanting to try and make a vegetarian hamburger for a while and last night decided it was time to experiment. I was very pleased with the results. I have to say that both I and my wife enjoyed the resulting vegetarian hamburgers as much as real hamburgers.

Having never done this before I searched online for veggie burger recipes. I didn’t have all the ingredients that any of the recipes had in them so I just sort of winged it by taking a little here and a little there out of several recipes. Though this is vegetarian it can’t be considered vegan as there is one egg used in its making.

Interesting political video from 1948

Composting head ramblings

somebody on a forum was commenting about how they didn’t feel comfortable with a composting head due to if the boat every turned upside down that stuff could come out of it and make a mess.. I’m dubious as to the logic of this argument against a composting head but here is my answer to that as well as addressing someones concerns about the cost of the commercial units.

On mine it is bolted to the floor and the top part latches to the bottom that is bolted to the floor. There is a flap that secures the solid waste tank at the top. It is spring loaded and holds itself shut when your not using it. I don’t see the unit letting the compost fall out. Upside down there would be the possibility of the urine leaking back out. However if it was totally full that would be just at or over 2 gallons of urine no more. If it was that huge of a deal I could see how to modify our system to use a small tank for urine with a line running to it with a valve on it. However it would also call for all the plumbing of a normal holding tank to either pump the urine off the boat or discharge it overboard. Though more complex it would also allow with say a 10 gallon tank a pump out schedule or overboard outside the 3 mile limit of of say 20 to 25 day intervals for two people.

Rant on Technology, Government, Ethics and Mores, and Modern Life

I am finding in my life that some of the newer generation materials and products are starting to simplify. They are reducing the amount of resources, complexity and production steps it takes to do a job. The technology behind them is maturing technology with decades of development that are gradually looking to save costs by making simpler products that do more than the older more complex version for less.

The new synthetic line that is being used in the standing rigging in sailboats is one example. One hundred years ago you still saw rope rigging with deadeys and lashings holding up the masts. With technology came lines made of steel and then stainless steel, that were smaller and lighter. It was much stronger and lasted for decades between replacing it as opposed to a life span of a few years to just months. It’s downside is that there were a lot of special fittings that needed special tools to maintain it and usually you needed a rigger to work on it. It wasn’t simple. Today we are back to fiber lines being used with deadeyes and lashings again. Only this time they are stronger by a factor of three or more than the stainless steel lines, eight times lighter. We have gone through the technological life cycle from better but more complex to much better and back to much more simple to use.

Nature’s Head install on Valkyr

We installed the “Natures Head” composting toilet this past weekend. It fits perfectly side to side (read “it is a tight fit”) to get it in the head compartment you take the top section off the bottom section. This is just a matter of unclipping two clips, one on either side of the unit and then sliding the top section left 3 inches or so as you lift it up to disengage the rear hinge. At that point both pieces will easily fit through either of the head doors.

Here is a few picture of the two stainless angle pieces that hold the unit to the floor. The first shows how we marked where to set the mounts. We put the head in place and them made sure that we had room on either side for the crank to turn on the right without hitting the wall and the latch on the left side of the unit to open as well as being able to slide the top to the left when pulling it off the hinge when removing it. Once it was spaced right we took a pencil and just drew a line around the backside of the angle pieces to mark where they went.

Painting the laminate countertops in Valkyr

We are heading to Valkyr this evening to spend the night.. We are going to try some special laminate paint on one of the laminated counter tops to see what we think of a color change from the original brown laminate to an ivory color. We were looking at replacing the laminate with a lighter laminate but this paint looks pretty good on the demo we saw at home depot and only cost $20 for enough that we should be able to do all the laminate surfaces in the boat with it. We figure that since we planned on replacing the laminate anyway that there is no downside to spending $20 dollars to test out just painting it with this new product. We will let everyone know how it turns out. Scott Ok we got the salon table painted the other day when we stayed on the boat. I’m not sure I would want to do this again while staying on the boat. This is some nasty stuff and you should probably/definitely use a respirator when painting it. However it looks really good. I haven’t been back to the boat yet to see it after it is fully dry but Zsanic says it is doing awesome. She spent the night on the boat last night and got to use it. Sailor the cat ignoring us :) Standard wood pattern factory laminate.. ho hum…

How to clean and get rid of odors on a boat

Here is a post about boat  and head odor that I put up on the downeasteryachts.com website forums in a conversation of how to get rid of lingering odors on boats.

We got into this on valkyr this past week… it was so much worse than just old plumbing. We found a leak in the system that raw sewage had been leaking out of for many many moons.. It was a hazmat style operation to scoop the shit out of the little compartment under the aft end of the vberth where that built in seat is. We found that a decent painting respirator from lowes works wonders for getting up close and personal with shit. After scooping it out and then cleaning the respirator does wonders when you paint the bilge areas :) After cleaning out the leakage we came back the next day and cut out and removed the head, all hoses, fittings and the holding tank. We then did a single rough clean and rinse of the compartment the leakage was in and the big v-berth compartment that the holding tank had been in.

Stories of s/v Valkier, DE38: All the shit that accumulates #2 by Scott Carle

Last week we got a lot done on the boat but also ran into some issues with the plumbing which led to engine issues that led to anchoring issues.  See <a http://www.scottcarle.com/wordpress/?p=848 for all the details.

Today I worked up my courage and headed back to the boat to deal once and for all with the malodorous mess that Valkyr’s head system had become. The first thing on was the respirator (this respirator worked great. No odor got through it and when I got to the clorox phase it totally filtered the chlorine out also). After the respirator came the industrial rubber chemical gloves and a dozen 3 mil contractor garbage bags. The next three tools that  I used removing everything were one largish flat bladed screwdriver, one set of vise grips and a pair of straight edged shears. The screw driver for hose clamps and prying, the vise grips for holding the nuts on the screws that the pump was mounted with while I unscrewed them, and the shears for cutting through hoses if needed.

s/v Valkyr: Bilge pump

This is a blurb I wrote a few months ago and had saved as a draft. I forgot that I hadn’t published it. So a bit late but here it is.

The reason we went up to the boat for the last few days was to clean her up a bit and get the bilge pump working again. A few months ago the bilge pump had come on continuously and for some reason couldn’t be turned off. I’m not sure that Angela even knew it was the bilge pump as it is a really nice diaphragm unit that sits up in the back of the engine compartment and doesn’t really look like a what you would think a standard bilge pump would. It ran for a day or two before she found out where the noise was coming from. It’s pretty quiet when running dry. Finally she just cut the power line to it to get it to turn off. I think what happened is that the automatic switch went bad or the control panel for it went bad and left it running.

s/v Valkyr: Hawse Pipe Repair

Another project that needed immediate attention was the port hawse pipe on Valkyr. I was walking up to her on the dock and just happened to notice that the hawse pipe was about to fall off. So I pulled it all the way off. I thought some of the rest of you would be interested in how the sides of the boat here are designed. It is hollow up in there.

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