The Poop on Portable Heads
April 21, 2017
A modest pleasure boat doesn't usually have all the comforts of home. It's easy enough to add a cooler in lieu of a refrigerator to keep food, drink, and bait chilled, but if a boat isn't equipped with plumbing, installing a head can seem a daunting project. Jumping overboard to answer the call of nature isn't always practical, not to mention responsible, and little boaters' potty needs are unpredictable. Installing a portable head is an investment that will repay you with comfort and peace of mind - and no plumbing required. The most basic portable heads are entirely self-contained and resemble a box when closed. They have two reservoirs, one for flushing water and one for waste, and have instructions for use printed on the inside of the lid. Besides rinsing water, porta-potties require special chemicals to deodorize and treat waste; these are easy to find at a camping or sporting goods store. When you're back at the dock, it's easy to detach the holding tank from the toilet and empty it with the marina pumpout or into a regular toilet (not into the lake or ocean, please!). Porta-potties are a good choice for camping and hunting, too. For boats that have water lines but no "blackwater" system, choose a flush toilet with an attached holding tank. With a ceramic bowl, this toilet is more like a home commode than portable toilets. It uses your boat's freshwater system to flush, consuming less than one pint of water per flush. A privacy enclosure preserves modesty and prevents awkward moments on small boats. It's a good place to change into or out of swimwear, too. Our do-it-yourself friends will find it easy to make a custom privacy enclosure with marine-grade material and a home sewing machine. Hem the edges with strong thread and a heavy-duty needle. Add ties to the top edge to hang it from the boat top, and install a zipper or more ties to hold it closed. For boats without tops, a creative boater can rig up a frame from lightweight PVC pipe to support a curtain, or consider adding a bimini top with an attached enclosure for an all-in-one solution to privacy and weather issues. With a roll of toilet paper, moist towelettes for washing hands, and a small wastebasket for non-flushable items, you've got a bathroom! You'll enjoy boating with this most basic of comforts aboard.