Emergency Boat Head Toilet Flushing Drills

Emergency Boat Head Toilet Flushing Drills, Emergency Boat Head Toilet Flushing Drills

Emergency Boat Head Toilet Flushing Drills

There’s nothing worse than a clogged head on a boat. Nothing. Let’s talk about prevention, then some cures. Prevention – nothing goes in the head unless you’ve eaten it, or it’s really thin paper. Point guests toward the diagrams, and get really descriptive about what is not to be flushed. Now for the solutions when you do experience flushing problems.

Emergency Boat Head Toilet Flushing Drills, Emergency Boat Head Toilet Flushing Drills

Situation: The large one

If you find you have solid wastes so large that you are pretty sure it will clog the head, remove it. Dry pump the toilet to evacuate all the water, wrap a great deal of toilet paper around the item, and get it out of there. Throw it overboard, quadruple wrap it in trash bags, whatever. (Hey – I see people picking up warm soft dog poop all the time. You can too.) If you know it won’t go down – don’t even try it. 

Emergency Boat Head Toilet Flushing Drills, Emergency Boat Head Toilet Flushing Drills

Situation: The dry one

You know your body and your normal functions. If your excrement tends to always be dry, then plan ahead. When you first approach the toilet, take a bit of time to “wet” the bowl thoroughly. Make the sides of the toilet slippery, get plenty of water in there. Do your business, then pump vigorously. Be sure to pump more than ten times – you want those solid wastes to reach the holding tank. Solids that stop halfway, dry out, and remain for a day may cause a big blockage.

Emergency Boat Head Toilet Flushing Drills, Emergency Boat Head Toilet Flushing Drills

Situation: The one that won’t go down

Creative solution here is to make an “X” with toilet paper. You want the “X” to cover the solid wastes, but also to touch the sides of the toilet by two squares on each side. One is not enough. Three is too many. Just like wraps on the winch.

Anyway – as you flush; the water will drag the toilet paper down, creating a parachute that captures the waste and carries it down the tube with the paper. 

Emergency Boat Head Toilet Flushing Drills, Emergency Boat Head Toilet Flushing Drills

Situation: A large volume

Some people call this a “courtesy flush. “ I don’t know what it’s called, but if you have to deposit a great deal of solid waste, consider pausing between deposits and flushing thoroughly.

Do half your business, flush, then the second half. 

Emergency Boat Head Toilet Flushing Drills, Emergency Boat Head Toilet Flushing Drills

Situation: Middle of the night

If you are on a boat with others, many cruisers approve of not flushing liquids in the middle of the night to avoid waking the rest of the crew.

However, if you are on a delivery and need others to stand watch, or need someone to get up to stand anchor watch; go ahead and flush. 

For your crew; you will need to come up with the policy for solids in the middle of the night – to flush or not to flush. 

Emergency Boat Head Toilet Flushing Drills, Emergency Boat Head Toilet Flushing Drills

When All Else Fails

You will have to tell me if this really works. In a recent American Sailing webinar I led, a couple of the viewers swore that you can use an air horn to blast things through.

I have no idea. And I’m not sure exactly what happens when you “blast” in the bowl. Not sure I want to find out, but I sure do want to know if you have tried this.

Please leave your comments below!

Emergency Boat Head Toilet Flushing Drills, Emergency Boat Head Toilet Flushing Drills

Cautions: 

Store nothing small above the toilet. If you are using those shelves above the toilet for some small toiletries; place them in mesh bags. I have a sail/dive friend who was on a sailboat live aboard dive trip. Someone left red fingernail polish on the shelf, and somehow it got into the toilet. Someone had to “bust it up” in the lines to make it go through, and the captain got red nail polish all over her wetsuit and was displeased. Apparently, on dive liveaboards, the crew sometimes observes from below to make sure people are flushing long enough. 

Emergency Boat Head Toilet Flushing Drills, Emergency Boat Head Toilet Flushing Drills

Swimmers

Another caution; if you are away from land and set for direct overboard, but maybe anchored in the islands… If you are going to use the head; check to see if anyone is snorkeling at that time. If they are, the code message is “Can you please go check the anchor.” That means they need to swim toward the bow – and check the anchor as long as they are down there. The solid wastes will be carried astern. 

Emergency Boat Head Toilet Flushing Drills, Emergency Boat Head Toilet Flushing Drills

Emergency Boat Head Toilet Flushing Drills Checklist

  • Nothing in the toilet but bodily wastes and very thin toilet paper
  • Read the directions
  • Dip large wastes out and dispose of overboard or in the trash
  • Wet the bowl before dry deposits
  • Make a toilet paper “X” 
  • Deposit only half, flush between
  • Establish nighttime procedures
  • Store nothing small above the toilet
  • Warn snorkelers before flushing
  • Air horn possibility
Emergency Boat Head Toilet Flushing Drills, Emergency Boat Head Toilet Flushing Drills

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  • Girls That Scuba – members discount card for all things diving.
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