So a little roundup of what’s been happening lately. First off, the weather has been great and I really miss not sailing Satori even in the frigid waters of Puget Sound on a rainy fall day. I’ve decided to wait until I replace the muffler before taking her out again because of the amount of water and carbon that leaks from the exhaust system so that leaves me to focus on more live-aboard tasks like upgrading the entire bathroom. I pull all of the trim, stripped the paint and old wood stain, varnished and painted again with a little more to do. I also painted the countertop and removed the old faucet and pulled the sink to replace the drain system from thru-hull to drain fitting. Finally, the entire toilet and holding tank including all of the fittings and hoses have been replaced with all new components. I chose the Thedford Easy Fit Eco as my new head, bought a 10 gallon holding tank to replace the old 5-gallon tank and a new Whale MK-5 sanitary pump so I can manually pump the holding tank when offshore. The main reason for the upgrade is because the old bathroom had some serious leakage and odor problems. I suspect the entire system was original from the 70’s and if I’m planning on living aboard for any amount of time with a crew then the bathroom will need to be able to handle plenty of use. Even the shower is getting an overhaul so I can either shower in the bathroom or later I can install plumbing in the cockpit so I can shower outside of the boat as well.
The last couple of weeks I’ve been spending any free time preparing to install all new components and placed an order for everything (minus hoses, clamps, pipes, holding tank and toilet). While waiting for the delivery I worked diligently to get the toilet platform and cabinet refinished so I can install the toilet and not have to go back and finish the job later. I drilled new holes for the plumbing and electrical and varnished with only a final coat in the high-wear area of the floor left. On Friday the delivery arrived and right after work I began installing the toilet, holding tank and plumbing.
Friday night I stayed up very late to make serious headway and ended up leaving Satori around 4am. Right when I was about to leave the marina I noticed a lot of emergency vehicles gathering at the boat launch parking lot. At first it seemed like a big fire and ambulance party because of the sheer number of vehicles. It seemed like all of the North Seattle departments had congregated there only to later realize there was an actual emergency. Apparently some folks were out sailing during the middle of the night and someone fell overboard. Another person went into the water to retrieve the other person and both people were unable to get out of the water. Three more on board were not able to pull either persons aboard either. Later the event turned out to be all over the news.
For the vent hose from the holding tank I decided to experiment with a loop that runs from the tank to a carbon filter and then up to the deck level with a loop and then out the thru-hull bulkhead fitting. I’m not sure how this will work but the goal is to keep water from getting into the carbon filter if Satori ever heels far enough to hit the thru-hull by putting the vent loop as high as possible to keep the water out. I wish I would have turned the hose barb up when I replaced the bulkhead fitting but I can always simply add a three-way valve that allows me to drain the water out right below the bulkhead fitting. I’m pleased with the manual pump out pump placement as well. The handle is removable which makes the entire locker usable which is quite contrary to the locker next to it. With all of the new parts, I had to find a place to install the water pump and Whale pump, plus the carbon filter. The locker above the holding tank seemed like the best choice. It can be used to store toilet paper and tank chemicals so no big deal.
Saturday I did another run for parts before starting the project and later realized that I needed a few more hose clamps and 1″ to 3/4″ reducers for the water strainer. After a final installation of the strainer and some preliminary testing of the pump and macerator and I was ready to flush. The first try pulled fresh saltwater into the strainer and then up and over the vented loop into the toilet. Success! The toilet flushed with no issue. I also checked the manual pump-out system and it worked just fine. My only wish is that it pulled further from the bottom of the tank but no big deal. I’d rather have a little left on the bottom than have a hole leaking from the bottom of the tank and I can always do an annual tank cleaning by flushing out the tank several times to reduce build-up over time.
I made a goal to replace the toilet in a month from removing the old parts to the new install (minus a little more brightwork). My initial blog entry was on October, 19th so that puts me only 3 days past a month. Not bad for having a full-time job but I must admit that my social life has suffered quite a bit. At least I can go poo in my own sailboat and push a couple of buttons to flush. Pretty cool.
It’s amazing how much thought has gone into a marine sanitary holding tank. There is a local marine sanitation supply company in Seattle who I can buy a custom tank with all of the fittings preinstalled but they seem to be uninterested in helping me figure out how to go about fitting a new tank. I finally decided to do it without any help, except what the internet can provide. Mind you, the internet has taught me quite a bit about DIY holding tanks. So I broke down and bought a new 10 gallon tank without any fittings. I also bought two pump out kits to prevent having a ‘Y’ valve in the system. So what’s involved in building your own tank? Well back when Satori had her first holding tank installed the tanks used bulkhead fittings. Now a-days we can use Uniseal fittings and PVC pipe fittings to get a clean seal without having to use bulkheads. This eliminates having a 6″ hole for the sole purpose of threading the bulkhead backs from the inside of the tank. The result is a clean seal and a low-profile attachment for compact storage.
The first step was to place the holding tank into the locker and create the platform to hold the tank steady. Then once the location is determined, I marked the location of the pump out and input fittings. In the event the entire assembly is too high, I can now just simply cut away some of the plywood bottom of the counter top for a perfect fit. At the time of writing this, the fittings look to fit perfectly (knock on wood).
Once I determined the center marks for the drill bit in the hole saw, I can start drilling each hole. I used a little water and made sure that the drill did not heat the plastic too much to prevent any deformation. I cut three 3″ holes for a 2″ PVC fitting and then another 1 1/4″ hole for a 3/4″ PVC fitting.
Next was to get the pump out kit assembled correctly and prepared for installation. The key to the assembly is to make sure the seal is attached when gluing the PVC fittings together. When I measured the depth of the tank, the instructions stated to take 6″ from the pipe when cutting to fit. I think 5 1/2″ would have been a better fit. If you’re doing the same thing, make sure to cut long at first, then cut again. You’ll want the tip of the fitting at the bottom to barely touch the bottom of the tank as the actual bottom of the tube will still be sitting 3/4″ off the bottom. Mine is more like 1 1/2″ off the bottom so there will always be a little left when pumping out. No big deal.
When I was imagining the vent fitting, I made a mistake with buying the proper assembly. I decided to buy a nylon elbow barb fitting and then a 3/4″ threaded collar to PVC fitting. This ended up much too tall to fit into the locker so I’m going to scratch that setup and buy new fittings to make it much lower profile. Once the vent fitting is installed, the tank is ready to be installed with sanitation hoses and secured for offshore sailing.
This morning I just ordered the rest of the components for this project. Today I’m also buying the toilet to begin drilling the holes through the floor for the toilet plumbing. I still have more wood finishing to do before I can install the toilet but I’m starting to see the end of the project more clearly. Until the other components arrive, I can focus on finishing the wood and counter top. I set a goal to complete this project before December and as long as the mail-order delivery is next week I think it’s very possible.
I spent a little time today on the sink, pulling silicon sealant and removing the drain. The drain seemed to have been leaking so I’m getting all new fixtures and sealant. The holding tank arrives next week for the head so I can start working on the countertop fixtures. I’ve ordered a nice combination shower and faucet from Skandvik. I wasn’t able to find this model anywhere online so it had to be custom ordered. Upon taking apart the sink drain fittings, one part crumbled when I torqued on it. Luckily nothing is needed from the old fixture when reinstalling.
I’m also on the third coat of varnish for the bathroom trim. My friend Ryan Davey shot some photos of the progress today and was also responsible for the first two coats of varnish on the trim. I’ve never used varnish before but from what I’ve read about some ideas on varnishing wood I think I get it. The first coat was penetrating epoxy which filled the wood at a deeper level than the varnish can reach. A mix of 2/3 varnish to 1/3 varnish thinner coat gets applied to a cleaned surface. After drying, sand down the bumps and create a lightly textured surface for the next coat. Apply the next coat of either 5/6 varnish to 1/6 thinner or 100 percent varnish. Let dry and then check to see if there are voids. If so, repeat the same process of sanding and coating until voids are mostly if not completely gone. I chose high-gloss Epifanes Gloss clear spar varnish and a two-part penetrating epoxy from Restor-It.