Coming to a Head: Holding Tank or Portable?

Milagros

Member II
Hi All,
My '76 E27 is still equipped with what I assume in the original Raritan marine head which discharges directly overboard. Since we sail in SF bay this puts us in the quite literally uncomfortable position of having to "hold it" or run afoul of environmental regulations. My inclination is to rip the whole thing out and replace it with a portable cassette-type head, but before I do that I wanted to hear if anyone thinks I might be better served installing a holding tank and pump out port, and how much of a pain it is to do.

My marina has a free and conveniently located pump out, as well as facilities where I can easily dump a portable toilet tank. We use the boat mostly for day sailing but enjoy the occasional overnight to several day excursion.

We got the boat last fall, so we've had a very limited number of guests aboard, making this an easy problem to ignore. Now we're hoping to have more friends out and I can only imagine the righteous scolding my father (a serious sailor and a leader in the Coast Guard Auxiliary) will give me if I don't have this sorted by the time he visits in July...

Thanks!
Ian
 

1911tex

Sustaining Member
I'll give you my thoughts. I have a new model Raritan with a holding tank...only for use with #1 only "sitting" for everyone.
I have a separate Dometic 976 (5 gallon) Sanipottie positioned in the shower area for #2 only. Had this setup for a couple of years...no odors, no smell.

Pumping #1 only overboard with your Raritan marine head should not a problem. The Dometic is very easily dumped in a marina pump out.

Until you decide what to do, make your current Raritan for #1 use only and get a Dometic 976 for #2.
 

gadangit

Member III
In the early days of our boat we used a portable toilet. It was surprisingly easy and "clean" to pull out the tank, or what ever the process was, and take it to be dumped out. So if you want to defer the final solution a bit further out, I can concur with Tex above.
 

G Kiba

Member III
In my E27. I went with the porta-pottie. One of the best decisions I made.
Now I have a full marine head with all the hoses, valves, through hulls, capacity sensors and such and find myself at the pump out way to often. We try to use the facilities on shore as much as possible too. One of my rules with either head is #1 ok. #2 only in an emergencies.
 

jtsai

Member II
My two daughters went on numerous sailing trips with me on trailerable boats with 2.5 gallon portable toilet. With 1 grown man and 2 little girls, it has to be emptied every night. I got lazy one evening and did not empty it before bed time, VERY bad decision. Hauling to facility to empty the waste tank is not pleasant but doable. The 5 gallon unit will last longer, carrying the full waste tank to facility will be a work out. Some potty comes with pump outlet which is nice. Is compost head an option?
 

Alan Gomes

Contributing Partner
I have an MSD porta potty. The MSD has plumbing so I can dump the built-in 5 gallon tank overboard with a macerator pump when I'm outside the 3-mile limit. I could also use it as a traditional porta potty and remove it if I wanted to, but I never need to.

I've seen no downside whatsoever and a number of advantages to it. For one, its effective capacity is significantly more than even the 15 gallon conventional tank I had on my previous 30 footer. This is because the porta potty uses almost no flush water. Second, it requires no maintenance whatever: no joker valves, no pump rebuilds, no nuthin'. Utterly reliable. It also frees up the space where you would have put a conventional holding tank; you can now use that to store other things.

One caveat: With my Thetford 550p, at least, the plastic hold-down brackets were totally inadequate. I replaced them with metal brackets that hold it securely in place. You don't want a tank full of 5 gallons of "stuff" flying around when sailing in brisk conditions!
 

Milagros

Member II
Thanks all. Seems like the porta-potty route is the clear winner here. Looking forward to a fun weekend project. :)
 

G Kiba

Member III
I had this one. Worked great but you really want to wax the slider that you pull to flush. I usually did this when cleaning it. A little carnuba cleaning wax on the slider and on the pull rod will keep it working great for years. If you don’t, it gets harder to pull and eventually the handle pulls off. That’s the only trick I had. Nice product, good mounting system.

 

Milagros

Member II
I had this one. Worked great but you really want to wax the slider that you pull to flush. I usually did this when cleaning it. A little carnuba cleaning wax on the slider and on the pull rod will keep it working great for years. If you don’t, it gets harder to pull and eventually the handle pulls off. That’s the only trick I had. Nice product, good mounting system.

That seems like the ticket. Am I right in understanding that I will be able to use a pump out to empty it? That would really be ideal for me because the pump out in my marina is just across from my slip.
 

G Kiba

Member III
I never used a pump out on the portable? I suppose it would work if you have it connected to a deck fittings but it would be overkill. The pump outs I have used are pretty high suction and empty my 12 gallon tank faster than I could ever fill with a hose. The Dometic unit has a good built in handle and a closing vent to makes carrying almost uneventful. Don't forget to close it!
 

Alan Gomes

Contributing Partner
That seems like the ticket. Am I right in understanding that I will be able to use a pump out to empty it? That would really be ideal for me because the pump out in my marina is just across from my slip.
You would plumb an MSD porta potti exactly as you would a conventional head. It has a connection for the output hose and a vent line, just as a holding tank would. The sole difference is that in this case the holding tank is integrated into the toilet itself. Otherwise, it all works the same and has no effect on the hoses involved.

On my own installation, I did not bother hooking it up to my deck pumpout fitting because I never use dock pumpouts. I do frequent trips to Catalina Island and always dump three miles offshore on the way home from my trips. I do have the deck fitting for it and could hook it up, but the hose run is very tight behind the cabinetry and saw no need to install it granting that I'd never use it anyway. But that has nothing at all to do with the fact that it's a porta potti vs. a conventional tank.
 

gabriel

Live free or die hard
Check mounting area if going with portable head.

I replaced my clogged up marine head with a portable head but it is longer than a standard head and doesnt fit right due to the flare of the hull. using it while sitting down is literally “edge of your seat”.

the space was really designed around a standard raritan ph head, at least on my boat e25cb.
 

Alan Gomes

Contributing Partner
Check mounting area if going with portable head.

I replaced my clogged up marine head with a portable head but it is longer than a standard head and doesnt fit right due to the flare of the hull. using it while sitting down is literally “edge of your seat”.

the space was really designed around a standard raritan ph head, at least on my boat e25cb.
Certainly this is good advice and applies to most things you are installing on a boat--whether it's a head, sails, stuffing box packing, or what have you. Always measure it first and assume nothing.

On my E26-2, my Thetford 550p MSD porta potti is slightly deeper than a conventional head, but it still fit just fine on the platform.
 

Milagros

Member II
Easy install for the Dometic 975. Seems solid but I have yet to take it for a "test drive". Perfectly sized. Another drawback of the old raritan was that the bowl was so close to the door that it was hard to sit down and close the door. Without all the pumping apparatus I was able to move the whole thing outboard and get some more room!

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