Live Free 2 Sail Fast

Installing a Composting Toilet on a Sailboat: For Dummies Like Me

As I alluded to on Monday, we took the plunge, and bought and installed our first composting toilet on our cruising sailboat, Tulum 5.  

Why did we make the decision to buy, install and use a composting toilet on our cruising sailboat?  

We’ve been thinking through changing out our toilets since buying the boat, for a variety of reasons.  Like other cruisers and boaters, I was concerned about the fact the our brand of toilets needed valuable power to run and smelled MUCH better when we were running fresh water through them (we have two).  We do have an option on Tulum to run salt through them, but fresh water smells better.  I was also concerned because although we have a 3-way valve on the boat; if we’re ever in a port we have to get our tanks pumped (at a cost of course).  Here in our Marina, this involves either moving the boat every week (we have two girls and two adults living on the boat full-time) or getting both our tanks cleaned once a week by a service.  We opted for option #2, which involves a $ cost…of course.  A composting toilet involves nearly no electricity (small amount for the vent fan but it’s not needed if you rig the right passive vent), involves no water at all, has few moving parts and is easy to dump and restart when needed.  Most major brands of composting heads are Coast Guard legal (meaning they’re just fine on boats) and…..best of all….there’s little to no smell.  Smells from our toilet, lines and holding tank have been an issue.  Although the holding tank looks fairly new and in good shape, it often wafts an unspeakable odor.  We’ve checked the vents, tightened the hoses, put in the right tank deodorant and done what the experts tell us to defray the smells, to no avail.  I’m not that penitent  about this decision to move on from a traditional boat head to the reality of a composting system.  Lastly, the Airhead Composting Head sits higher than the tiny toilets on our boat.  I love sitting down and not eating my knees when I’m sitting…and I’m a pretty short guy.  Lastly, why did we choose an Airhead over other brands?  I researched the other brands online for several weeks, but I liked the gentlemen I talked to on the phone with Airhead when I called.  He answered all my dumb questions and was thorough with me in all the details.  He knew his stuff and was proud of the product.  That’s who I wanted to buy from and we did. 

What about the install, doesn’t it take a lot of work and expense to get that done?  

Nope, the install wasn’t that bad.  I’m no mechanical, construction or electrical guru (at all) and I knocked it out in less than half a day.  But….this was after the minor electrical work was performed by Cedillo Marine (619-496-4116) to get minor power to the out vent fan (or you can use a passive vent) which took less than an hour.  Honestly, this is an install most folks on boats should be able to do themselves and Airhead provided good directions with decent pictures.  If I can do this….you can do this. (more…)

ReBlog: Shipyard Vid: Install of Our New Composting Head — Have Wind Will Travel

I’ve been working on projects non-stop in anticipation of some down time while we’re visiting my brother and his family and attending the Pacific Sail and Powerboat Show (soon).  I also know we’ll be heading to Catalina Island over spring break for a bit of a shakedown cruise, gotta knock out a few things first.  So this morning I’m adding more detail to the “Boat” page on LF2SF.  I’m also super excited to have one more of my milestones knocked out for cruising, which is adding composting toilets to Tulum and getting rid of the electric, freshwater toilets we have currently.  I’m halfway there, one toilet installed and one to go.  I’ll bring you more about the install on Wednesday.  In the meantime, you gotta go look at the “Have Wind Will Travel” website with photos and video of their own install.  Make sure to check out the site and consider following them.   

(more…)

Saturday Sailboat Musings

I’m up early Saturday morning as usual because Quincy the Dog needed to go out, and when a Great Dane won’t let you sleep, there’s no ways of it you can avoid taking her for her walk. I used to just be able to open a glass door from my room at home and kick her out into the backyard, but here I’ve got to walk her and will continue to do so until November. When November comes, we’ll have to start taking her to shore 2-3 times a day for her walk and runs whenever we’re sitting in a harbor. It was a long week but I’m not sure why. I was in my 3rd class in a series at TRLMI, called Marine Electrical Systems. The course runs from 6pm to 9pm and after a day of work, it often turned into long days. I’m glad I took it, but there was alot of theory and equations. My days are filled with working on the boat and doing boat related projects, which I love to do + picking up and dropping off kids and dog. This week I was able to tour and photograph a 41′ Formosa Yankee Clipper built in 1980 in Taiwan. She was very similar to the boat I grew up on and brought back lots of memories. She’s on Sailboat Listings and will soon be available through a broker, but I’ll bring that to you in a separate story Mon or Weds. I also needed to get the Check Stays down from Tulum’s masts (so I could get them to the rigger for updating), so I rigged up my pulley’s and went up the mast for some adventure. Tulum’s Main Mast is 65′, so the second spreader is well off the ground:

Tulum’s Main with the check stay already taken off. It goes to the 2nd spreader on this main mast and to the top of the mizzen mast.

Here’s the connection at the second spreader that you have to manipulate to get the wire Check Stays off:

Shackles that have to be undone mechanically and by hand, with seizing wire that must be cut beforehand.
Tulum 5, from the second spreader.
And two Check Stays, off the mast and into the Riggers.

Next time up the mast, I’ll bring my track lube and my anti-corrosion spray for the metal parts, plus I’ll start the laborious task of getting mast steps back onto the mast. The frustrating part about this for me is that there’s tons of open mast step holes all over the mast (that’s how I’m getting water in the boat from the rain) and I finally found the mast step that matches those holes exactly. However, that specific mast step is priced at $20.65 per step, as opposed to the steps I can afford at $8.56 at the same store. Both steps are aluminum, but the more expensive one is also larger, meaning it would take fewer steps to get them up the mast. Very frustrating for me. So I let out a big sigh and bought a rivet gun. I’m gonna tackle that project myself and rivet the new steps on with holes I drill as much as I have to-

Ok, we’re changing up the website, we’ve turned on Patreon and I’ve started messing with my new video camera to try to start getting the editing and filming started. We’re gonna streamline our look a bit and try to professionalize the site a bit more. If you’re reading, keep it up. If you’re visiting, cool, thanks.

Boatyard Haulout Projects and Goals- What did we actually get done? :

Several of my previous posts discussed goals and lists of things that I envisioned getting done while in the boatyard- some by the professional staff and some by me. The original links to those projects are at the bottom of this post but I’ve cut and pasted the actual lists, with what we did and didn’t get done…some of it being a pipe dream I didn’t have time to actually finish. Here goes:

Boatyard:

  • Bottom (hull) properly cleaned and prepped by the boatyard and at least three coats of paint added to stressed areas and two coats added to most other areas. Done
  • Book Shelves installed in master berth and salon and shelving for storage installed in cabinet where the washer/dryer used to reside. Done
  • Have the Rudder dropped and inspected.  New seals and gaskets installed.  Figure out the reasons for minor water ingress up the rudder tube.. Done
  • Propeller Shaft- either install a Dripless Seal (SureSeal Shaft Seal System) or confirm that the packing gland can be re-packed and proper tension can be maintained on the current shaft nuts.(yeah yeah,,,ha ha)- Done
  • Take out the faucet in the forward cabin head and install a fresh water foot pump.  (so my girls can’t leave the water running and drip all the fresh water out of the boat).- Not Done
  • Have the main bilge pumps safety checked and fix as needed. Done by Subcontractor but NOT DONE CORRECTLY!
  • Change the current gray water setup to a 3-way valve so it can run out of the boat vice into a large grey water tank.  Empty the tank and clean it.- Not Done
  • Close and seal the extra through-hulls on the boat.  Unfreeze struck through hulls and handles. Done

To Be Done by Me:

  • Using the templates I have, cut and install the new sound/heat barriers in the bilge spaces under the galley floors. Done
  • Install new heat/sound barrier in the engine room. Not Done
  • Take off heat shield material on engine exhaust piping and install new heat shield and heat shield tape. Not Done
  • Find out where the lower coolant drain is- drain and change engine coolant. Not Done
  • Find out where the engine thermostat is- change it (make sure you buy extra thermostats). Not Done
  • Drain and Change Engine Oil. Not Done
  • Figure out how to get into the space and change the impeller (take existing impeller kit and buy two more prior to changing it). Not Done
  • Change the primary Fuel Filter (canister)- at the boatyard we’re right next to a large Marine store- get extra canisters. Not Done
  • Change the primary Oil Filter (canister)- at the boatyard we’re next to a large Marine Store- get extra canisters. Not Done
  • Pick up Main Sheet (getting a new one made) and reattach to the main.  Take off the mizzen Main Sheet and have a new one made. Done
  • Install new speakers in the cockpit, stern boxes and main salon. Not Done

Many of the goals above that were mine to do in the boatyard simply didn’t get done because I didn’t understand several things about the yard. I had assumed I’d be able to do engine work while hauled out, but the yard didn’t have any available facilities for waste/oil disposal or would have charged me by the gallon. I think that’s crazy, but that’s their policy. Weird, since my own marina encourages us to use a free shoreside waste disposal area and it’s free. I also couldn’t do as much engine work as I would have liked just due to the guys working in or near the engine room. For at least three days, someone worked on the getting the shaft seal undone and repacked and then there was the whole job of getting multiple through hulls drilled out of the engine room compartment. The yard then had to grind them, epoxy them, fiberglass the holes and paint, which took another several days. I basically wrote off those projects and determined I would do them back here at the marina. So that’s my list and I’ll write more detailed posts with pictures about several of these jobs as I go. What you won’t see if any write-ups about folks who didn’t do an excellent job. Just won’t waste my typing time with folks who didn’t do the job right or finish the job to my satisfaction.

Touring a Cheoy Lee “Pedric” 36

Part of the fun of a boatyard is getting to see lots of different boats, really up close and personally.  So when my friend (and broker) called and asked if I wanted to come check out a composting head on a really unique boat, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.  I had seen composting heads before and am already sold on them, but the boat is a diamond in the rough and a unique piece of classic plastic.  The Cheoy Lee “Pedric” 36 was built in 1985 (perhaps only in 1985) in Taiwan, carries lots of water and fuel for her size and this particular boat comes with multiple surprise additions.  As soon as I went onboard, I could see she was a diamond in the rough, being brought back to life by my friend and broker, who’s determined to give the next owner the best boat possible.  With a composting head, barbecue, dinghy, outboard motor and watermaker; this boat will make a single sailor or cruising couple really happy when she finds her forever owner. (more…)

Prepping for Haul-Out, Thoughts On My Own Projects

http://livefree2sailfast.com/2019/03/02/haul-out-and-yard-work-on-the-horizon-for-tulum-v

After I published the project list (above) I had discussed with the boatyard, I started thinking through everything I would work on while Tulum was out of the water.  This is in addition to getting the kids fed and to/from school every day (Quincy will be in the kennel and Michelle is on business in Japan for two weeks).  As I went down the list, it became longer and longer and there’s no way I’ll finish while she’s out of the water.  So I just decided to think through it during this post, knowing what tools and supplies are on the boat – while having to think through what I need to get out of the dockbox.  Here goes:

  • Using the templates I have, cut and install the new sound/heat barriers in the bilge spaces under the galley floors.
  • Install new heat/sound barrier in the engine room.
  • Take off heat shield material on engine exhaust piping and install new heat shield and heat shield tape.
  • Find out where the lower coolant drain is- drain and change engine coolant.
  • Find out where the engine thermostat is- change it (make sure you buy extra thermostats).
  • Drain and Change Engine Oil.
  • Figure out how to get into the space and change the impeller (take existing impeller kit and buy two more prior to changing it).
  • Change the primary Fuel Filter (canister)- at the boatyard we’re right next to a large Marine store- get extra canisters.
  • Change the primary Oil Filter (canister)- at the boatyard we’re next to a large Marine Store- get extra canisters.
  • Pick up Main Sheet (getting a new one made) and reattach to the main.  Take off the mizzen Main Sheet and have a new one made.
  • Install new speakers in the cockpit, stern boxes and main salon.  Run the wires and install Amp and Stereo Face.

Should be an interesting haul-out, as most of the week looks like we’re going to get rain.  This means I can’t do the deck sealing and I can’t start the varnish nightmare, so I’ll focus on the projects above.  Should keep me busy.  It I get through even half the list, I’ll be impressed.

 

For Dummies like Me: Jerking out the Boat Washer/Dryer

I get a bit stir crazy in rain and overcast weather and we had a lot in February and it’s gonna happen all next week.  The last time in February we had an entire week of rain and wind, I decided to knock out one of my long-standing projects from my long project list…and jerk out the Bendix washer/dryer combo that’s been resident on the boat since we bought her.  It’s worked fine, but we never used it.  I decided to take out this perfectly good functioning appliance because I didn’t think it was needed on our boat: It’s took up valuable cabinet space,  it takes fresh water to run and it takes 110v power to work, which means we would need the generator in order to run the appliance.  I’m simply downsizing and simplifying as many of the systems as possible, cause I’m not the greatest mechanic or electrician.  Here’s what I started with:

 

 

Here’s my progression (more…)

Multi-Year Coast Guard Vessel Documentation is now available

The Coast Guard has just allowed folks to start renewing their Coast Guard Documentation for multiple years vice one year at a time….which is a recent change.  Attached to this email is a document that gives you contact info and you can also learn about it online at the Coast Guard website.

Multi-Year Documentation

Credit for getting me this info goes to Mr. Jimi Laughery, as I had no idea about this change either.  Thanks Jimi-

Sporadic posts but life continues-

Gotta apologize, as the posts have been a bit sporadic these last couple weeks as life has been busy but we keep going.  Hotwife had a hip operation so it’s been a week of having the kids on the boat with her elsewhere; then when she as able to get back on the boat on crutches I needed to take her to appointments for most of the next week.  So I missed my usual writing schedule and missed some of the work I needed to do around the boat as well.  With hotwife back on the boat, things have settled down a bit.  Take a look at Quincy, she won’t even move now when crutches go over her:  But it’s been a productive couple of weeks regardless.  Hotwife and Pirate Kate attended the Women’s Sailing Convention last weekend, I was able to determine the cause of my broken bilge pump and I’m getting it changed out with a new one, I finished my Small Boat Diesel Engine Course and we’ve set solid dates in March to haul Tulum 5 out of the water for a bunch of repairs and upgrades.

We’re looking to do the following while T-5 is hauled out:  three coats of bottom paint, drop and inspect the rudder and it’s bearings, have a dripless seal installed on our shaft, have a freshwater foot pump installed in our front head, have a saltwater foot pump installed in the galley, have the gray water flow changed from our 50-gallon (below the water line) tank to direct overboard and possibly remove the tank, unfreeze all the throughhull handles and fiberglass over throughhulls we don’t use and clean and paint the main bilge.  But this also gives me strict deadlines to get the washer/dryer taken out and if I’m going to put in a composting head…I’d like to get it done before the haul out.

So we have a bit to do.

We’re a family who got a good deal on a great boat and now have to dedicate the time to fix systems and give her the TLC needed to prep her for cruising.  We’re doing just that.  We’ll start our YouTube Channel in June and post every one of our complete free video travel logs on this blog.  We’ll also continue to post with mongo lots of pictures as we go along. If you want to read it all and share in the action, please think about following us and continue to follow us as we go.

Waterhorse Charters.com and TRLMI

Good Morning Everyone, it’s been a crazy long week and more to come next week.  This whole week I’ve been working on the boat (of course) but I’ve also been going to night classes at Training Resources Limited Maritime Institute (TRLMI) for a Diesel Engine Maintenance Course.  YES, I’m still trying to improve my weak mechanical skills and since I have a firm grasp on my own failings, I already know that I’m not the greatest at mechanical stuff…..and the high jump!  As a bonus this afternoon, we were allowed to go on a field trip to check out the engines on Captain Zach’s Newton 46 dive boat.  Zach is one of the students in the class and owns Waterhorse Charters and Dive Shop (in San Diego).  Because San Diego has a large sunken warship (Yukon) just off the coast, Waterhorse Charters specializes in taking folks out there who come to train for thier PADI or other Wreck Dive Certification.  The boat is spotless, has more than required safety gear and his engines are in great shape.  I was pretty impressed, cause I’ve been on some pretty janky dive boats in a couple of places, but Captain Zach knows his stuff and has a Master’s License to prove it.  Me and him sat in class for a couple of weeks in January 2017 at the (then) Maritime Institute for our Masters License Training, but Maritime Institute has since become TRLMI.  I get to wander around the San Diego Sunroad Boatshow tomorrow and then finish up my last Engine Class tomorrow afternoon as well…too much fun.  I’m getting LOTS of stuff knocked out on the boat and the next two weeks will be huge weeks for the boat.  Next week I have someone coming on the boat to look over my spinnakers with me.  Pretty excited, as I don’t have much spinnaker time and every second counts for good experience.  In order to shore up some of my weaker points and stop paying ripoff prices for work I can probably do, I’ve also signed up for a week of class for Outboard Engine Maintenance in February and another week of class for Onboard Electrical Systems in March.  If you’re interested in these skill sets, TRLMI offers the classes and has a world-class training facility where you’ll get hands-on + instructors who are willing to take the time to explain crucial details along with real world experience.  If you want these skills, highly recommend you sign-up for a class somewhere and improve yourself.

I’ll do another couple of posts with more detailed info and pics on Waterhorse Charters, TRLMI and the boat show.

http://livefree2sailfast.com/2017/01/15/100-ton-captains-course/

http://livefree2sailfast.com/2017/01/22/successful-captains-license-class/

So the above reasons are why I missed Wednesday’s post, but I’m working hard to stay with it.  Today was another painting with bilge paint day on the boat before I went on the field trip and I’m gonna have to throw a second coat on tomorrow, then be done with that portion of the paint project.  I’ll have some pictures of before and after to awe you with my painting skills and the nastiness of the areas painted….you’ll see we’re making slow progress.  Next week it’s into the engine room all week to clean the engine, change the coolant and the oil and then attempt to get to the impeller to change it.  My engine is literally put in backwards because of the velvet drive and V drive operation…so getting to the critical bits of it is literally painful boat yoga for midget’s and my kids won’t go into those spaces.  I try to bribe them, pay them and threaten them but they will won’t go into those impossible to get to engine spaces so I have to do it….next week. Ok, still got paint on my hands so I have to clean up- see ya-