|East Coast Gray on the Ponds, Dec 2014|
Of course, it wasn't that straightforward. We removed all the original pedestal material as it had molded and was stinky. We rebuilt the pedestal with marine polymer material (which was crazy expensive), to give the head enough clearance off the hull that it would not take up the entire compartment. We had to consider seat height and clearance from the sides as well. The resulting compromise was to angle it slightly so that it fit snugly against the hull, and gave more standing room in front of the sink and mirror.
Sparing you all the details, you fill this thing with peat moss and do your business into a trap door, spin the agitator handle and the material breaks down into dirt. This is rated for 2 people to use full time for 30 days before it needs emptied. Since we use the marina bathroom and Michelle works outside the boat, we won't need to empty it that much.
Liquid waste is diverted into the 2.2 gallon tank in the front of the unit. This is easy to remove and empty into any toilet. The only resources the Nature's Head uses is a very low draw of 12v power to run a computer fan that keeps the fumes generated by the composting process vented overboard. I re-purposed one of the light fixtures to provide access to the 12v line. In the picture above left, you can see the vent hose coming from the right side of the unit. We used a hole saw to make a hole in the side of the cabin, put a nice stainless steel louvered vent cover on top of it after sealing it all with LifeCaulk. It turned out pretty nice and we've had no leakage or odor whatsoever. We insulated the hull (not yet covered) before putting in the new pedestal.
While we were just finishing up the project, I emerged from the head compartment and noticed our lights where very dim in the cabin. I went to the engine room to check on the battery charger and found that it was no longer functioning. No lights. Nothing. Looked for fuses, tried everything. It was dead. There wasn't enough juice left to start the engine to charge the batteries, so we powered down everything that ran on the batteries to a single light bulb in whatever cabin we were in, and I went to get a new charger first thing in the morning.
While in the engine room rewiring the batteries to the new charger, I decided I would take the opportunity to remove the factory charger that was long-defunct. This thing was HEAVY, but only on one side. As I was hauling it up on top of a rolling suitcase to dispose of it, it fell off and landed on the back of my leg. It was only a minor cut as I had two layers on, but the impact HURT. Three days later I woke up to a swollen and black and blue ankle! It lasted two weeks. Unfortunately we were traveling a bunch and didn't get any photos. Sorry!
We've also gotten a dehumidifier to help with the "indoor rain" that accompanies winter on sailboats. We found a nice, out of the way spot for it and it can drain right into the sink, so no need to empty the tank!
It hasn't all been cold and dreary! We did get one quick sail in on a very warm day in December. It was very light wind and calm seas, perfect for taking photos!