Preview: A Composting Head for the Tahiti Ketch EVELYN; A Guest Post by Astra Haldeman

Tahiti Ketch EVELYN

We have used a composting head aboard our 33 foot Tahiti Ketch for about two and a half years—it was one of the first upgrades we made upon our purchase.  It has served us well, and we find ourselves recommending it often.  We’ve lived aboard EVELYN as long as we’ve had her—for two years year-round in Maine and this winter cruisig south—so the composting head has been our primary head and as such we’ve discovered the benefits and challenges of such a system through a variety of seasons and conditions, as well as at sail, at anchor, on the mooring, at the dock, and on the hard during our annual haul out.

. . . sign up to the right to get immediate access to this full post,
plus you'll get 10 of our best videos for free.

Get Free Videos& Learn More Join Now!!for Full Access Members Sign In

Comments, Thoughts or Suggestions?

You can leave a comment or question for OCH and members below. Here are the comments so far…

Leave a Comment

9 Responses So Far to “A Composting Head for the Tahiti Ketch EVELYN; A Guest Post by Astra Haldeman

  • Herve Depow

    Herve Depow says:

    Great article. We planned on installing one in our Alberg 30 but found out that a composting toilet is prohibited in the Canadian Great Lakes where we sail. Although a composting toilet meets the definition of a holding tank under the Canada Shipping Act, it does not under Ontario environmental legislation which requires that a holding tank must be pumped out using a deck fitting. The regulations under the Environmental Protection Act state:

    4. The owner of a pleasure boat in which a toilet or toilets and storage equipment are installed shall ensure that each toilet and the storage equipment are installed so that,
    (a) the toilet and equipment are connected in such a manner that the equipment receives all toilet waste from the toilet;
    (b) equipment designed for the storage of human excrement is provided with a deck fitting and such connecting piping as is necessary for the removal of toilet waste by shore-based pumping equipment;
    (c) no means of removal of toilet waste is provided other than the means mentioned in clause (b);—

    I wonder if any of the states of Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, New York, Pennsylvania or Ohio have similar prohibitions? I also wonder whether the Ontario prohibition is actively enforced as I am aware that some cruising boats on the Canadian Great Lakes have composting toilets?

    • Avatar

      Kimberly Young says:

      I have an Air Head that I use in Michigan. Michigan does not have the same rule as Ontario. I was a bit concerned about the Ontario rule, however, since I would like to cruise in the North Channel. I was told by a woman with an Air Head in Canada that she had never been asked about her composting head by any Canadian authority. I was also told by a Canadian Customs representative that , as a *visitor* to Ontario, my Michigan-registered boat would be fine since the head is legal in Michigan — along the same lines as my Michigan car is legal for visits to Canada. Of course, zero-discharge anywhere in the Great Lakes (US or Canada) is still the primary rule.

  • Avatar

    Christopher Chadbourne says:

    We’ve used an AirHead aboard Sweet and Low, our 40 foot motor cruiser. for the past 4 seasons. We weekend aboard and cruise for a few days at a time, so a couple of charges of compost last us from May through October. Our experience is just as Astra described; we have’t hesitated to recommend them when asked. Our only replacement has been the fan motor… it cost a couple of dollars.

  • Avatar

    Douglas Tate says:

    Guys, thanks for the great discussion on the composting head. My wife and I are restoring a Westsail 42 Ketch and one of the first decisions was to remove the two 35 gallon holding tanks and traditional marine heads. We did this in January in Marion, MA, for obvious reasons!! Anyway, we have chosen the Natures Head and will be installing 2 of them in the boat. While W42 in not a wood boat, we have enough wood on it to enjoy.

    We chose the composting route in order to (1) eliminate sewage from our boat – we did not relish the thought of carrying up to 70 gallon of effluent around; (2) eliminate the miles of sanitary hose that would be needed to accommodate holding tank plumbing on a boat not originally designed for holding tanks; (3) to reduce the number of through hull fittings, and (4) to enable us to live as much “off the grid” as possible and thereby practice a more environmentally responsible footprint.

    The composting units, Natures Head, are a bit larger than a traditional marine head, but the ease of use and what we think is a cleaner lifestyle onboard is wonderful. In the past two years that we spent completely gutting the boat and restoring its good graces, we have seen more people adopting the composting units. So, we believe the after market impact will be neutral at least.

    Thanks so much for the very extensive blog. You did a great job and I look forward to potentially seeing you on the water. Fair Winds and Following Seas!

  • Avatar

    Andy Reynolds says:

    Thanks for sharing this your experience with your composting head. Nice to know there are alternatives between the marine head requiring a through hull fitting, and the cedar bucket. This seems like a pretty happy middle ground.

  • Avatar

    Richard Maldonado says:

    Would you mind mentioning what replacement parts were needed, and if they were defective, worn out, or what caused the need for replacement?

    • Avatar

      Hi Richard,

      Twice we needed to replace the small fan; we believe it was due to moisture corroding the wires. It had run constantly for more than two years before the first replacement was needed, but the second didn’t last as long.

      For the past few months we have also taken extra precautions in rough seas, such as unplugging the fan, and making sure no water can infiltrate the vent.

      The other part replacement was the spider handle used to turn the compost—one of the spokes fell out and we thought we’d weld or glue it, but meanwhile the pressure on the other two caused a second to pop out, so we opted for a full replacement. All of that was covered by our warranty, which was great.

      Independently, we also decided to replace the gasket last year, to make sure the seal was fresh and strong during our trip this winter.

  • Avatar

    Clyde Davis says:

    Many thanks Mrs Haldeman !! Printed notes will be on board.