Dirty Jobs

Yesterday was dedicated to a little boat maintenance. We re-secured a hose in the port bilge that had been lying on the floor of the bilge since we bought Beatitude. We also cleaned out our port and starboard bow lockers. In doing so we found our 55 lb Storm Anchor. I had been wondering where that was! I’m still missing our secondary anchor. I’ll have to dive into more lockers to find that, I guess.

But, the primary task of the day was to repair our two starboard heads. (Who needs three bathrooms on a 42′ sailboat anyway!) Both of them had been leaking the contents of the holding tank back into the toilet. The smell nearly drove my wife crazy! Every time we walked back on to the boat for the first time, I could count on a “Yuck!” (or some similar exclamation of disgust). It didn’t bother me nearly as bad. I believe my smelling faculties have been severely damaged by years of working in an environment in which it is not at all unusual for the air to be infused with the smell of feces and urine. Anyway, a trip to West Marine secured the necessary parts and, in the meantime, lightened the load in my back pocket considerably. (If you’ve ever been to West Marine, you know what I mean.)

Squeezed into starboard aft head

Squeezed into starboard aft head

My faithful assistant who was so graciously willing to get her hands a little dirty.  As  is obvious, her work environment has not had the same malodorous ambiance as mine.

My faithful assistant who was so graciously willing to get her hands a little dirty. As is obvious, her work environment has not had the same malodorous ambiance as mine.

On to the task itself… I was hoping that I would only need to replace the base valve gasket and the joker valve to fix the problem. Fortunately, I was correct (at least for now) and after disassembling the pump portion from the rest of the head, removing both base valve gaskets and joker valves (by the way, the latter valves are aptly named since, obviously, the joke is on the boat owner), replacing those same valves, and reassembling the head – the toilets now seem to be working properly. I hesitate to sound overly optimistic about their continued success at this point, but, 24 hours out and all is well.

(I skipped over the nasty part about all the contents of several feet of hose connecting the head to the holding tank flowing back into the room once the head was disassembled. Fun, fun!)

Disassembly with the base head gasket partially visible in my hand

Disassembly with the base head gasket partially visible in my hand

Cleaning up after my mess.  (I'm very good at making them by the way).

Cleaning up after my mess. (I’m very good at making them by the way).

Yesterday, the toilets… Tomorrow, the world! (Or at least the next thing which breaks on the boat.) Actually, I’ve got a couple of leaking hatches I’ve got to figure out how to repair.

A change of pace to end this mess (no pun intended).  The U.S.S. Constitution (Old Ironsides) which we toured in Boston recently.  By the way, I was told their heads were holes in the deck - easier to maintain.

A change of pace to end this mess (no pun intended). The U.S.S. Constitution (Old Ironsides) which we toured in Boston recently. By the way, I was told their heads were holes in the deck – easier to maintain.

4 thoughts on “Dirty Jobs

  1. Thanks for sharing not ONLY the wonderful reasons to have a catamaran…but the yukky jobs too (I think-ha) THANKS for not going into detail of the nasty mess you had-ha I’m sure the good will out weigh the bad. Hopefully I won’t need to use a clothes pin on my nose when I come in July 🙂 ILY

  2. Don’t know much about the head on a sail boat but I have several Motor home stories involving the operation and maintenance of the black water system. Nearly caused an environmental incident by an irrigation canal in California.
    Was very thankful for Clorox.

  3. HI Justin,

    We’ll have to share stories in person some time! Does my memory serve me correct in thinking that you have a sailboat as well?

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