The disposal of poo is quite a concern when you live on or sail a boat. Get a group of sailors together and the talk inevitably turns to toilets. Sea toilets are great, when you at sea. But they eventually break down and every sailor has a tale to tell and stories of the infamous ‘bucket it and chuck it’ situation. Pete’s tale involves being in the middle of the Irish Sea and getting caught short in a squall – I will leave the rest to your imagination! Anyway back to the barge. We live in a creek just off the mouth of the river Blackwater. Our original opinions were: a sea toilet or macerating toilet with holding tank or a portaloo. The first meant finding somewhere to pump out. There are no regulations at present about pumping out into tidal water, but it was not something we wanted to do. The second option involved the use of some quite nasty chemicals. And then we had a brainwave: a compost toilet. I did quite a bit of research and found a posh one that we really liked.
It cost about £650, but this was still considerably cheaper than installing a macerator toilet and holding tank. It has a blue cover that swings back when you sit down, but means that the contents of the loo are not on show! Basically it works by separating the liquid from the solids. The liquid mixes with all our grey water and goes over board, whilst the solids stay in a bucket below the seat. There is a small extractor fan that ensures there is no smell (in fact less than a normal toilet). Wee toilet paper goes in a bin, but poo paper goes into the bucket to help dry it out and break it up. When the bucket is full, it gets a lid and goes on deck to compost down. The eventual compost unfortunately cannot be used directly on to the allotment, but can be used around the fruit trees etc. we have been using the toilet for about 6 months now and are really impressed with it. Any male visitors are always given instructions to sit on the toilet as their aim is not usually good enough for the small ‘wee’ area (we don’t tell them that bit though it would be a challenge to most men!!). I think that compost toilets have to be the way forward, especially in these days of water conservation. We are so impressed that we will be installing one on our sailing yacht. (Oh and the yellow inside the bowl is a trick of light not staining on the toilet!!!)