boatbuilding: the head (toilet)

"Yacht toilet? Sani-Loo or holding tank?"

"Where do I start?"

The thoughts of smell, sewerage and blockages soon come to mind and no matter how many ideas you come up with to exclude one from maintaining "The Loo", the fact is that you are going to get your hands dirty some day.

The thoughts here were simple, get the widest base which in the long run will improve stability and securing to the floor when compared to the smaller bases and some of the stories floating around.

Secondly, get the whole lot automated. In today’s world, these systems have been well designed and improved on and are now very reliable.

For the extra few dollars, this also provides that little bit extra padding (so to speak) and keeps the law on our side.

In summary, waste is sent directly overboard, or via a selector to the holding tank.

We have chosen this way for:
- Simplistic installation,
- KISS (Keep it simple Sailor) right up our ally, and
- Compliance with the new State Sewerage Treatment Regulations.

sailboat head

treated waste:

Risk verse reward…how well can you prepare?
With the ever strengthening regulations in Australia and in an effort to maintain the pristine areas that we wish to sail, we needed to stay abreast of the law or face the legal consequences that could force us to sell.

Using this as our benchmark, we drew a line-in-the-sand and we have to work forward from here. This is our slant on the treatment of sewerage from our vessel and not that of the designer, maritime services or any other legal body.

Also, sewerage discussed here is classed as waste from our toilet and not gray waste from the vanity or galley.

Our main cruising ground is expected to be the Australian east coast and for the uninitiated, this contains an ever growing labyrinth of sewerage discharge regulations, mainly no-discharge zones.

Outside these zones, boat harbours or marinas, or certain distances from an aquaculture facility, you may discharge or pump out untreated sewage.

All toilets have to be fitted with a macerator to help speed up the breakdown process, and this is now law in Queensland, Australia.

Added to this are three grades of treatment, A (best grade) to C (the least favourable grade).

These are discussed in more detail through the Queensland Government: Home, Environment, Sewerage site. We have chosen to go with Grade C, which at time of writing meant:

In Smooth Waters, no discharge within 926 metres (0.5 of a nautical mile) of any of the following:
a) a person in the water
b) aquaculture fisheries resources
c) a reef.

Would strongly suggest a good read of your States own requirements.

snapshot video

saniloo waste treatment

The trick with this unit is proactive maintenance, this system worked extremely well. All that was needed was chlorine (purchased from pool shops).

drawing of water system and feshwater overview

The catamaran water system carries three types of water - saltwater, freshwater (drinkable) and freshwater (non-drinkable).

The saltwater outlets include:
1. The toilet (in the vanity area),
2. Deck-wash (in the vanity area), and
3. Desalinator (forward starboard hull).

Freshwater outlets include:
1. The shower (in vanity area),
2. Outside shower (starboard aft hull),
3. Vanity wash basin (non-drinkable), and
4. Galley sinks (drinkable and non-drinkable).

A Sailing Catamaran Building Project has more expanded information on this topic with many more photos.

One pressure pump, serving all freshwater outlets, hot water system and filtered water. Simple, yet extremely effective.

catamaran lower bridgedeck video

sailboat plumbing

aft saltwater inlet

We have chosen to place a single saltwater inlet for the toilet under the shower floor, where access is easy and other 'wet area' components are stationed.

From there, the saltwater goes through a Marelon Seacock (ball valve) to a tee, one side to the toilet and the other to the deckwash.

We have had tremendous trouble here as no one seems to make a 'skin-fitting+90 degree elbow' (in bronze) that will hug the floor. They all protrude some distance from the skin fitting making the area required very deep.

We have chosen to use high pressure PVC pipe in this area as the floor area will be glued and screwed and we can't afford to pull this up in the event of a plastic pipe replacement.

The only access here will be via the ' shower access door ', a simple piece of resined ply.

Being below waterline, this section of the hull has been glassed as its going to get wet from the shower waste, saltwater inlet maintenance and a point for the removable speed-transducer.

This area was also prewired to allow the insertion of our first automatic bilge. Its job being two-fold, to remove shower ater and act as an emergency bilge, whether on the yacht or while away.

plumbing snapshots

watermaker automation

Watermaker automation unit. To the left is the carbon filter to remove chlorine during the auto-flush cycle. To the right is the system accumulator to prevent water pressure surging.

marine schenker watermaker

Rebuilt Schenker 12v DC watermaker. To the left is the low pressure pump. Not shown but underneath are two water filters to filter saltwater prior to entering the watermaker.

marine gas install

Single tap for dual sink. We changed the selectors to permit filtered tank water for drinking on one side and normal cold water on the other. For hot water, we used the kettle.

marine plumbing filter

Two below sink filters, 1 and 5 micron for filtering freshwater.

marine plumbing pumps

In the wet area of the shower toilet are all the system water pumps. Top pump was the saltwater pump and filter for external deckwash. The lower pump is the yachts only freshwater pump for cold and hot gas water systems.

marine shower

The main shower with a single on/off tap. The temperature is modulated to a set temperature, saving the 'testing' of water before showers.

marine plumbing

Internal ball-valve system for selecting the various freshwater tanks.

marine gas install

Dual gas bottle system with selector valve. Situated here too is an electronic auto-shutoff valve in the event of internal gas leak detection or over-tilt protection.

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