In keeping with this past weeks bathroom humor, I thought I might describe one of the other routines that one has to endure while living aboard especially in the winter in Canada: water and waste management.
If you want have water available at the sink and if you want to be able to use the John in the middle of the night, you will have to figure out a way of filling the water tank and emptying the holding tank. Once every 7 to 10 days I haul in about 20 gallons of water and haul out about 17 gallons of waste. I use the two wheel cart supplied by the marina and fill the water tank using two five gallon jugs. I fill them in the laundry room and drain them into the deck fill hole to fill the tank. Others at the marina here run out water hoses to fill their tanks, but I believe that they have much bigger tanks. Its Ok filling a 20 gallon tank by hand, I don’t want to imagine filling a 200 gallon tank.
The waste is another issue. We decided to keep our head working for the winter. Other live aboards here do not – they use the marina rest room exclusively. That means, in the middle of the night, in the middle of a snow storm, they have to troop out to the bathroom. Not for me. We use the head for liquid waste only so that limits some of the odours.
Our boat originally came with only a deck mounted pump out hole. This is no use in the winter as we do not have a pump to pump it out there, nor do we have any way of collecting it on deck even if we could. Instead, I installed a diverter switch and a hand pump on the side wall of the head that allows me to pump out the holding tank by hand into a jug. I then lug the jug up to the restroom in the marina and pour it down the toilets. It takes four trips to empty the tank completely (5 gallon jug loads at a time).
Here is a picture of my set up. As you can see, the diverter switch on the left allows me to switch between the deck pump out and the hand pump. The hand pump is attached to about a 4 foot hose that I put into the jug and then pump the handle. This type of pump will pump solid waste as well as liquid so, if we ever have need, we can use it for that as well. We add waste tank deodorizer stuff to the toilet every couple of days to keep away odours which also helps during the pump out. With fans running there is very little smell during the procedure although I usually still have A. and the boy go off for a walk while I take care of business. The first time I did this, I really wondered to myself about why I was in the situation where I had to haul crap by hand, but now it is just one of the things that has to be done to live the life we live. It doesn’t bother me a bit now.