In the cruising life, there are a few things you don’t want to hear your kid say. While, ‘I shot Timmy with the spear gun,’ would be the worst, it only barely outranks, ‘I can’t make the toilet flush’ in terms of crisis status. Even then it might be a toss up, given in some places hospital care is usually easier (and cheaper) to obtain than boat parts.
Our head (marine talk for toilet) is pretty much the cheapest, simplest version on the market. It’s easy to service and comes with its own handy rebuild kit. It’s also been virtually problem free for the entire time we’ve owned the boat (although there was that holding tank issue). But considering this is the week for plumbing setbacks (I’m talking about the brand-new leaking water tank that I’m ignoring) it wasn’t too surprising when Maia informed us that our toilet had also packed it in.
Marine heads are, by reputation, shitty pieces of crap. And pretty much every boat owner has at least one story about an exploding holding tank or seriously backed up hose that led to a gag worthy incident (followed by a long hot shower with bleach). Everyone has a recipe for maintaining smooth and regular function (when talking about toilets folks, bad jokes are mandatory)—but even with liberal doses of vinegar and oil things can still go to hell.
Ours didn’t really go to hell though until after Evan finished the repair. Just as he was tightening the final screw that holds the pump together he heard a suspicious crack--the result of a screw fitting breaking off inside the pump housing. Now the thing leaks, and we need a new pump—a relatively easy to replace item that is found in any West Marine, but not, it seems, locally.
When Evan asked about ordering one he was told it would take two, maybe three, maybe more weeks. That’s a long time to hold it for.
Many modern boats have two heads—something that often struck me as redundant, especially because I can only think of a very small number of people who actually use their second one. Most have transformed the space into a closet, or pantry, or in one case, an office. The benefit I’m now realizing is in the redundancy. We had just about every spare part you might want for a head, except for the pump housing itself. Carrying an entire housing just seemed excessive—but if we carried around an entire spare head? Problem solved...