3. That Boat's Not Right In the Head

With all the projects on our list, unscheduled repairs drive me batty.  In the middle of summer, Delancey's oven, the last working part of the range, gave up the ghost.  We had not budgeted time or money to replace it, but given that we'll be away for quite awhile without any income at all, we bit the bullet and bought a new one while we still had paychecks.  We love it, by the way.

However, when our marine toilet clogged up, I was kind of relieved.  First of all, I've rebuilt the head a number of times and had the necessary parts kit at hand.  Like a soldier field-stripping a weapon, I can disassemble and reassemble the toilet blindfolded.  The second reason was provided us by cruising veterans Alicia Collins and Brian Nisbett.  Alicia and Brian are friends of our friends Brian and Joe who got us connected and introduced us to them and their excellent cruising blog, The Adventures of Sarabande.  We've been soliciting their helpful advice on such varied topics as pet permissions and SSB vs. Sat Phone ever since.

Sarabande's blog describes a stop on their odyssey, anchored in Deshaies, Guadeloupe, during which their head clogged, as well as all its discharge hoses.  What follows is a blow-by-blow account that perfectly contrasted the idyllic setting with the thoroughly disgusting activity at hand.  If its gonna happen to me, better to address it while still at the dock.

First, I unshipped the toilet and gave it pride of place in the middle of the saloon table.

Then I broke it down and replaced all the gaskets and valve bits with parts from the kit.  Then I ordered another kit so I'd have it around for next time.  There is always a next time.

Here's where I had my surprise.  Just like on Sarabande, the discharge hoses, which had never been replaced in the boat's 31 years, we so full of calcium (We hope it's calcium.  We're calling it calcium.) that their inside diameter was reduced from 1 1/2" to something closer to 3/8".

The Y-valve wasn't any better.  Hmm.  I thought it was a little stiff to turn.

I ripped out the hoses and ordered new.  I disassembled the Y-valve, soaked it in vinegar for a few days, and rebuilt it.  With the hoses out of the way, Deb scrubbed down the hull in the concealed space.  By the following week, we had a working head, new discharge hoses, and a renewed commitment to twist the valves and run vinegar through the system more often.

We now return you to your regularly-scheduled projects.