Full ownership

I don’t set these words down with any sort of pride, but with a simple desire to demonstrate the concept that the skipper of any craft is fully invested in the heads and related plumbing. This has had me worried for some time now because both of our pumpout macerators have demonstrated a fondness for mischief. When one throws the innocently labeled Macerator switch one never knows what will happen and even if it’s working perfectly how would one know? You flip the switch, it makes a racket, did it work? I don’t know. From the sound I think it might have. This is the kind of conversation we have every time. Things like “can you smell anything?” come up a lot too.

Well dear reader, “Fix macerator leak” has been on the list for some time now. There are many reasons why it hasn’t been seen to, I dare say some of which you’ve already thought of. The starboard macerator has been, up till now, my star pump unlike her evil twin the port macerator pump which has leaked, made unholy noises, eaten impeller blades, and simply not done anything at all since we bought Escape Velocity. Other than a small leak the starboard macerator has worked as advertised. Fix macerator leak…it sounds so simple. On inspection I could see that it was loose and missing two studs and fasteners. It’ll have to come out. Four hose clamps, two hoses, two wires, and four mounting screws and its all mine. I can take it out of the impossibly tight confines under the bathroom sink and operate out on the cockpit table. I got as far as the second hose.

The instant that 1-1/2″ hose slipped off the macerator shit was flying everywhere. Walls, ceiling, face, hair, clothes — and I’d like to offer this small piece of advice — if you ever find yourself in a situation where you’re holding a big hose gushing shit never open your mouth to say, “oh shit.”

I’m told that my second mistake was taking my dripping sorry butt through the boat to show Marce how hard I was working. She was initially bemused until she noticed the vile trail of holding tank product behind me. And the smell.

Well, thrill seekers, the Skipper was unceremoniously marched out of the living quarters onto the curiously named sugar scoop to de-poop. This gives Escape Velocity a whole new meaning!


After near retching the 1st mate cheerfully came to grips with what was left of the starboard hull.


I quickly formed a plan that would involve an old macerator that I knew was buried in the back of a cockpit locker. Maybe between the two I could make one worthy of the name.


With bits from this and bits from that your humble servant was able to fashion a macerator that leaked in new and unusual places.

But that’s not the bad news. The bad news was that I had to unplug that python of a hose and get it back on the macerator. A few words to St Jude, patron saint of lost causes and within minutes I was squirting down the guest bathroom again. Not quite as bad this time, after all the holding tank only holds 20 gallons, filled to the brim because the 1st mate thought the holding tanks were starting to smell a little so she topped them up with chemicals and water. I guess I fixed that. Now there’s no doubt about the smell.

Marce spent another hour or two scrubbing up again and sniffing every nook and cranny. It’ll take a few days to get back to normal. And the pump still leaks.


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13 Responses to Full ownership

  1. Welcome to the Club, Jack! I was initiated between Fort Meyers and the Dry Totugas in the spring of 2010!

    Here’s some sage advice that I got from another member of the club: install a valve between the holding tank and the Macerator. This way, if you have to work on the pump, you won’t repeat the excitement of spraying 20 gallons of crap on you and the boat.

    Of course, I and the other club members could have warned you about the perils of the starboard holding tank in advance, but what would be the fun in that!!

    Clark Haley
    Double Wide,
    Manta 40 #37

  2. chelle robinson

    So it seems to me that the most appropriate response to this situation is HOLY SHIT!

  3. Jeff & Carla

    Reading this with tears in my eyes (and a snort or two).
    Thanks for the early morning laugh,

  4. Craig and Mary

    Have had your experiences. Anchoring at Cape Lookout last Spring for a week. Port becomes clogged. Fine, we have another head. We’ll be fine, no way two heads will clog. By mid morning it also becomes clogged. Two heads unusable. Lot’s of disassembly, spraying shit everywhere, 3 inches of brown soup I’m kneeling in. Following repairs, hauling buckets of sea water to wash down the head surfaces and lots of wiping, wiping, wiping, it was determined that a change in TP brands caused this problem. Now both Mary and I have our personalized ziplock bags for the “completed paperwork” and each guest also receives a monogrammed bag for said such purpose. No more head problems since. But we feel so much more like owners of this floating piece of …….. No, wait! That’s our beloved dream boat we’re talking about.
    Thanks for the morning chuckle! The stench eventually goes away…………or you just get used to it.
    Craig and Mary.
    Galileo #66

  5. I always knew you were good, solid down-to-earth people. When my mother wanted to condemn someone who thought themselves very high and mighty, and far above us all, she would say “They act like their shit don’t stink.” or “They think their shit smells like ice cream.” After reading of your adventure, my original opinion of your status corroborated. And may i add what i was thinking as i read through the post? “Ewwwwwwww!:”

  6. Jim

    Suggestion – I encourage you to eliminate the macerator pumps – they are a maintenance headache and totally unneccesary.

    The only time you would use them is when you are outside the three mile limit where it is legal to discharge overboard. There is no requirement to macerate wastes, and there is no environmental benefit, or any other benefit, to macerating wastes. In the open ocean there are creatures much larger than you that poop in the sea.

    Replace the macerator pumps with a hand operated diaphragm pump – a Whale Gusher, for example.

    It will require the purchase of the new pump and hose fittings to install it, but it will be well worth it.

    I am assuming it is necessary to have a pump – some boats have holding tanks located with a discharge in the bottom directly to a large seacock, and no pump is necessary.

    The holding tanks on most boats require a pump for overboard discharge. I realize that the macerator pump may be located where it is hard to reach, and may not be the ideal location for a hand operated pump,- but if it’s not too hard to reach, perhaps a diapragm pump could be located where the macerator is.

    Another better, cheaper idea (especially since you have two holding tanks) –

    buy one large portable diaphragm pump to have available for an emergency, mount it on a board you can stand on and fit it with lightweight hoses long enough to use in an emergency to pump out any part of the boat – pump has a vertical handle on top to operate it while standing up.

    Make up a pump-out kit with a screw fitting for your deck plate for waste (the one you use for pumpouts at the dock), and a camlock connector on a hose to the pump

    When you are at sea and want to empty a holding tank, screw the fitting into the waste deck plate, position the emergency pump on deck and attach the hose with the camlock connector, trail the discharge hose overboard, and happily pump until the holding tank is empty.

    Repeat on the other side of the boat for the other holding tank. Disconnect the inlet hose and drop it over the side into seawater, and pump enough seawater through to rinse out the pump and hose.

    To simplify plumbing and eliminate sources of odors, remove the macerator pumps, seal off the connections to the holding tanks, and put a cap or plug on the hoses to the seacocks.

    Have a burial at sea ceremony for the macerators (unless you can find some unfortunate chap who would like to buy them from you!)

  7. I’m afraid that I’m with Jack on this one. I love the idea of simplifying, but the added equipment described by Jim requires additional storage space (which is always in short supply) and complicates the pump out process. The Macerator pumps can be replaced for about $125 and in my experience, they’ll last about 5-6 years before you start having problems with them. Aboard Double Wide, I think we’ll stick with the macerator configuration…

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