Boat builders design boats to accommodate boaters’ needs; most with a head and galley. Some are small, but all are fully functioning.
Galleys have running water, cooking stove of one kind or another, frig/ice box and storage so that you can prepare meals and clean up afterwards. Galleys are meant to be used.
Heads are the same. Builders install a marine sink with running water and a toilet connected to a holding tank for the black water that is later pumped out through a fitting on the deck (similar to motor homes). Heads are fully functioning and they also are meant to be used.
Many owners of bowriders and outboards are eagerly waiting to trade up to have a boat with a head and galley, so they don’t have to use facilities elsewhere or wait.
So, why do we hear from boaters around the world that they don’t use their heads?
- Some say it is the “splatter factor”. They say it causes unpleasant odour. There is a simple solution to this problem. Implement the “one knee pee”. Have the guys go down on one knee—the splash is greatly reduced when the source is closer to the bowl. If the boys are too short, get them to sit. If there isn’t room to stand or kneel, have an “everybody sits” rule. More in the article "Head Sense = No Scents and First Mate 101.
- Some don’t like the head odour. Another easy solution. Use Brenda’s method of cleaning—simple, fast and effective. Use spray foam and paper towels. The foam sanitizes and deodorizes and you can wipe clean with paper towels leaving nothing to go into the holding tank. Brenda’s method only takes a couple of minutes with no preparation, no pails, and no clean up afterwards. It is covered in detail in First Mate 101.
- Leaky toilet or plumbing. Simple. Get it fixed ASAP.
- Stink from the Holding Tank – Another easy solution. Pick the method you intend to use and stick to it, to make sure you have the proper balance of waste and treatment. See your choices in the article “Does Your Holding Tank Really Stink?”
- I Don't know when the tank is full.Knowing when your holding tank is full is most difficult if you don’t have a level monitor. Some boats come with one that instantly tells you how full your tank is so you can schedule a pump out. Boats without a monitor or a monitor that no longer works, cause a lot of frustration and guesswork.
The simple solution is to go to your local marina and ask them to install a holding tank level monitor. For those who are handy and want to do it themselves, there are several on the market that you can purchase and install. Then, you can have peace of mind and schedule pump outs to eliminate the worry of reaching the “full” level in the middle of your holiday or the middle of the night or other inopportune times.
Some monitors require drilling holes in the tank, some newer ones have patches that attach to the outside of the holding tank and are wired to the gauge placed in a convenient location. There are even some wireless monitors so you don’t have to run a wire from the gauge to the monitor.
The Practical Sailor site has tested several and have a pdf of their findings. You may find it interesting reading.
Sailmagazine.com has another article of installing one.
Scad Tech has detailed information on their unit tested and recommended by the Practical Sailor.
- It's too much weight to carry around. Easy fix. Pump it more often especially before a long cruise or race. A full tank is only the weight of a small person.
What if you don't use your head?
We talked to a marine service technician who told us that lack of use, creates a mess in the tank. The waste dries and cakes inside the tank like cement and it is very difficult to break it up and clean the tank. "It is better to use it and pump it often" he said.
Whatever the reason is, that you don't use your head, there is an easy fix. We make sure our head is always clean, odor free and useable and, as a result, our head is never a reason for discussion. We use it all the time as the boat builder intended, even when in a marina.
It is only a few dollars to have the boat’s holding tank pumped and the convenience is worth many times the cost of a pumpout or two.
Enjoy the convenience—Use your head!
First Mate 101 - Lots of tips on interior and exterior boat management
Simple solution to holding tank and bowl management