As I have read on numerous blogs, websites and forums, it seems to be a reoccurring theme. Things on boats break and at some point there are some stinky problems. After getting the items on the survey list for insurance repaired or replaced I decided to tackle another project. This time it was to try and identify an odd smell on the boat. Yes of course I’m talking about a smell from the head (marine toilet). The previous owners had replaced some hoses but only the easy to get to ones.
Our marine head is plumbed like this:
The hose from intake to head was replaced, but the most important hose from head to holding tank was not. It was in poor condition. I was old, most likely original from 1997 and developed some seeping spots which is not good. Likewise the hoses from the holding tank to pump out and holding tank to overboard discharge were also original. On top of that the tank vent was clogged and allowed any odors to back flow into the boat rather than overboard. We have not been using the head onboard yet as we did not want to add to the mess, literally.
I spent a few hours measuring hose sizes and lengths so to hopefully get the job done as fast as possible with as few trips to West Marine as possible. I also noticed that when the head was flushed, some small sea critters were also coming in with the sea water so I decided I wanted to install a sea strainer to filter them out and keep them from decaying in the head adding to the smell.
I started with cleaning the holding tank vent and you are lucky that I cannot post smells, phew that was horrible. I know we needed to register for the pump out service that comes once a week to the marina and I wanted to be ready for them and get the system as clean as poo can get so I took the water hose and filled the head and tank full of fresh water. The pump out boat came and now we were ready to start.
Off to West Marine I went. Gathering all the supplies I needed and then back to the boat. I figured there would be a small amount of ‘stuff’ still in the hoses and I didn’t want that pouring into the boat. I decided to take our shop vac and swap the hose on it to the blower side. Carefully disconnected the head discharge hose and blew the rest of the ‘stuff’ into the holding tank, I hoped. Stuffed the end of the hoses with paper towels and began removal and replacement. With the hoses in the head (bathroom area) replaced and sea stainer installed now it was time to replace the hoses at the holding tank.
The holding tank is in the starboard (right side) cockpit locker (outside seats with steering wheel). You have to remove everything that is stored in there and lift up an access hatch cover. This exposes a small 1 1/2′ by 2′ opening.
This is not big enough to work in. There has to be another way, and yes I found that way. I had to remove our bed from the aft berth (back bedroom), take apart the wall and remove the wall. After that disconnect the hoses and pull the tank of poo into our bedroom. If there ever was a time to be careful not to spill anything, now was that time.
I thought that was the hard part, but I was wrong. The hard part was removing the old hose through this tiny cavity that was barely big enough for my arm to fit into and the hose just barely within reach.
While this area looks really big in the photo, let me assure you it is not. Thankfully there were no messy incidents thus getting to spare you of any nasty details. After several failed attempts and bruises and cuts and bending in all sorts of ways that hurt, I finally got the old hose out and new hoses ran and plumbed. No mess made, bedroom spared and everything finally put back together. Smells are gone and life is good. Reward is some relaxing downtime.