Holding tanks are gross.
There is just no getting around it. Humans, like all other living creatures, produce excrement. This is a fact of life with which we must all deal. On land it’s a little easier. Most of us have bathrooms with plumbing that sends our waste to places where we don’t have to think about it anymore.
On a boat, it goes into a holding tank. This is something much like a septic tank. Except it’s not buried under the ground outside of your home. No, no… In a boat, it’s likely hanging out in a compartment directly under your bed. Awesome.
On our little 26 ft yacht, the set up was exactly such. Let’s also keep in mind that she is 30-something years old, and retains mostly original parts. The holding tank is among those original parts. That’s right folks! Our wonderful little holding tank, while empty and cleaned out, has been the hiding place off and on for all sorts of human waste for over 30 years. And it, unfortunately, was obvious. Perhaps you remember our issue with the camper smell that we thought was our nasty bilge?
“It’s quite pungent. It’s a formidable scent… It stings the nostrils.” (Name the movie quote!)
So among the many boat projects on our list. The removal of the holding tank was near the top.
First we had to remove those hoses. This was probably the most nerve wracking. We follow several blogs. You can see a list of our current favorites in the column on the left side of our page. One of these is Windtraveler, written by Brittany and Scott Meyers of s/v Asante. Brittany had a LOVELY story to share when they had the great pleasure of dealing with their holding tank and hoses on their first boat s/v Rasmus. Click here to read about it. All I can say about our encounter with the hoses is, thank heavens I wasn’t crammed into that locker along side it all, and luckily, we did not encounter any, um… residue.
Next, we had to cut the wooden brace that held it into place in the port V-locker, and then we did a lot of jiggling, twisting and shimmying to get that sucker out of there!
Once out, we took measurements and drew a little diagram. This is so that if/when we sell her in the future, we will be able to order and install a new holding tank for the next owner.
Here it is sitting on the dock next to our slip.
Next it was cleaning time. That locker was NASTY. And the amount of crap and lost items found on a boat when ripping it apart never ceases to amaze me. And with a 34 year old boat, I have to chuckle and wonder how long has this stuff been missing!
It took a lot of patience, Simple Green, and Clorox with Bleach cleaning spray, but the job got done. Note that we donned our awesome blue latex gloves for the entire job!!!
Now that the holding tank is out and the locker has been cleaned we have a ton more room for storing our tool/organizer boxes and things are smelling much better. Now we have to decide whether or not to remove the actual head (toilet) and replace it with a portapotty, or just stick with the bucket method should any emergency of the Nature-Calls type arise.