An Unusual Topic
I know this is a strange topic for a blog. If you are part of any of the sailing groups on Facebook, you know this is a hot topic. Women go on for days about what to do with toilet paper and how to go to the bathroom onboard. I am going to be writing about options others have discussed on the forum. Yes, a little crude at times.
Types of Bathroom Systems
Some larger sailboats have a storage tank that needs to be emptied at a marina. The cost is minimal at about $10.00. If you are going to be doing a crossing and have a small storage tank, this will be an issue. With this type of system you have to worry about wipes and toilet paper clogging the plumbing. When it comes to the job of cleaning out the plumbing, I am going to be very busy that whole day.
Others have composting toilets that you don’t have to deal with very often. The downside of these toilets is the smell, especially if you are not living aboard. The odor builds up when the boat is closed up for any extended time. So if you are a weekend sailor, your might not want to install this type. Or you might need clothes pins for your nose or maybe stock in Glade plug ins.
Our boat is smaller so we have a portable camping type toilet. It holds about 5 gallons of waste. This type needs to be emptied quite often. Toilet paper is a problem because it fills up the tank quickly. Women are also a problem because we use the bathroom more than men. But then again men don’t want to sail without women so it is a catch 22.
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You also want to pay attention when you buy the holding tank chemical packs. You want to be sure to get the ones that specify they contain an enzyme or waste digester. If you get the little packets called deodorizers they will not help break down the waste. They will only make the waste smell better.
What To Do With the Toilet Paper
Many have suggested that you don’t put your paper in the toilet. They suggest that you put it in a Ziploc bag and throw it away. Others, use bathroom wipes and put them in Ziploc bags. Never put the wipes in any onboard toilet. They will NEVER break down.
I have to admit I don’t have a problem with the plastic bags idea. What is the difference. I change my grandchildren and throw their diapers and wipes in the garbage. Then again I am from the generation that used cloth diapers. Not a pretty picture.
When we retire to Georgia and sail for weeks on end putting our TP in plastic bag will more than likely be the plan for us. But until then I will throw it in the toilet. Our longest trips right now are 5 or 6 days. Our onboard toilet can handle that.
The TP Test
Some have suggested that all toilet paper breaks down. Well I tried the experiment below. I am here to tell you this is not true. Our home is also in the country with a septic tank so I found this experiment interesting.
I purchased a package of each of the following toilet papers:
- Camp-Chem in the camping section of Wal-Mart
- Scot Rapid Dissolve RV paper in RV section of Wal-Mart
- Scot One ply (this was suggested as a good alternative to camping tp)
- Angel Soft
- Great Value the Wal-Mart brand (note to self hurts the behind)
The experiment was to put one piece of each in a cup and add really warm water. Wait and see which dissolved the best. Full disclosure the Great Value was still pretty much whole the next morning. So not only is it scratchy, it doesn’t dissolve at all. You will empty it out of your toilet pretty much in the same condition your put it in there.
The moral of this story is that if you are really concerned about your toilet paper breaking down then you should use the camping toilet paper. It started to break down almost immediately.
There are things that other women are doing on board to remedy this problem. I hope you find these useful and somewhat comical. I will admit I have used some of these while kayaking and camping.
So let’s talk off shore long distance sailing trips and crossings. You can’t risk filling up your head while in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. The easiest ways to prevent this are:
- Not putting toilet paper in it
- Nothing but solid matter goes in. ( I was trying to reference poop nicely)
- Using another means while under sail on long voyages. ( I am not here yet. I am not even close.) In my family I was the only girl and I had older brothers. Can you spell princess? Well, this royalty, does not go poop in a bucket and throw it overboard.
The Yellow Stuff
Many of the women on the sailing forum use other methods to get rid of the yellow stuff.
I do own one of these and mostly use it while kayaking. In the Great Lakes a crossing may take 4-8 hours. You can’t just flip the kayak and go. The water is too cold and the waves make it harder to re-enter. With a Freshette, I can move to the front of the seat and use this device with an empty water bottle. All while under my kayak skirt so nobody sees. When we get where we are paddling, I get rid of it.
Other women use this as a stand up device over the side of the boat. Some even use an empty milk jug with a lid. I have used it while hiking. Because of the way it is made there is no need to lower your pants, so nobody can tell what you are doing.
Hint: I have tried to use one of the devices called a Go-Girl. I like my shoes too much to use that one. It is so flimsy it goes all over the place. The Freshette has a nice tube so you can use it with a bottle or aim it away from your feet if hiking. It is also stiff enough not to collapse.
For me this option is too expensive. I have used these on camping trips. There is no way you will convince me to leave the safety of my tent to pee in bear country after dark.
I also keep them in the car for those times when the grandchildren just can’t wait. Plus, they are great when you live in Illinois and get caught in a blizzard. My brother was once stuck on RT 80 for 10 hours after a blizzard with accidents closed it.
Travel Johns are disposal urinals that contain the same gel as in diapers. When the urine hits the gel it expands and hardens. It can’t spill and you just throw it away.
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If you are just a weekend sailor you can get away with using camping toilet paper with a portable toilet. What you do with your toilet paper, well that is between you and whoever has to empty the toilet.