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Delibe

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first of all thank you to everyone who responded to my enquiry about buying through a broker. It was very helpful.

 

So sorry to revisit a well worn topic, but...

 

1) If you are continuous cruising how practical is a cassette toilet? I reckon from my caravan experience to empty every 4-5 days (more frequent if I have hubby aboard!) So I would have to plan to be near an Elsan point rather regularly. 

 

2) I am soon to view a boat that has a pump out toilet - can anyone advise me the best way to have its holding tank checked?

 

3) and no I am not considering a compost loo until the CRT has been able to sort out the dumping problems.

 

Thanks in advance.

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On many / most canals you will pass a sanitary station at least once per day. If you are actually cruising for several hours per day you could even pass 2 or 3, although some canals are better served than others - I have read that London only has one tap and one sanitary station for some 5000 boats.

 

It is generally the NBTA (No Boats Move Anywhere) that like to have holding tanks as it means they only need to move once every 8 weeks.

A cassette is the best, most convenient (and cheapest no charge to empty) type of toilet

 

Regarding checking the pump-out tank, there are so many variables from location and accesability to materials it is made from.

 

Some boats actually use the hull as the walls of the tank, and the only time you know there is a problem when you start to get seepage in the bottom of the boat.

Some tanks are 'free-standing' steel fabrications and are a little easier to view, but the corrosion tends to be from the inside, so you only start to see a problem developing as it starts to perforate and the 'walls' get damp.

Some tanks are HD Polyethylene and are probably the 'safest' regarding reataining the contents.

 

There are different toilet types that feed into a holding tank and can vary from a dump-thru (where the toilet sits on top of the tank, and when you open the flap its drops straight into the tank), to macerator toilets where the toilet contents are mashed up (like in a food processor) and sucked or blown down a pipe into the tank.

The more complicated the system the easier it is to go wrong and to get blocked.

 

The other thing to consider is water consumption, a 'dump-thru uses minimal water, whiclt a macerator can use many litres per flush - consider your fresh water tank size, or look to have the flush water picked up from the canal.

Edited by Alan de Enfield
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2 hours ago, booke23 said:

Agree with all the above. Remember you can have multiple cassettes to give you much longer intervals between visiting Elsan’s if you want. 

DOH! I never thought of that, what a numpty!! though it seems that there are more Elsans than I had thought.

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2 minutes ago, Jane Cartridge said:

DOH! I never thought of that, what a numpty!! though it seems that there are more Elsans than I had thought.

The disposal points do tend to get blocked a bit more often nower days for some reason.

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2 hours ago, Alan de Enfield said:

Some tanks are 'free-standing' steel fabrications and are a little easier to view, but the corrosion tends to be from the inside, so you only start to see a problem developing as it starts to perforate and the 'walls' get damp.

Or when the top of the tank has corroded to wafer thin, and is no longer able to support your weight when you sit on the dump-through toilet mounted on the top of the tank...

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Our narrowboat had a cassette, we had a spare but very rarely needed to use it as we passed an Elsan at least every other day.

We now own a Dutch barge which has two macerator toilets feeding a black water tank. So far we only have had problems with the Tankwatch system which measures the level in the tank but previous owners have virtually had to rebuild the system due to problems, not helped because the boat is in Europe which does lack pump out facilities.

A cassette system is simple, virtually nothing to go wrong and free to empty unlike a holding tank, if I could I'd replace the toilets in the barge with cassettes but unfortunately Europe does not have Elsan facilities either.

A tip, do not swim in European rivers or canals I'm sure you can work out why!

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2 hours ago, Alan de Enfield said:

macerator toilets where the toilet contents are mashed up (like in a food processor) and sucked or blown down a pipe into the tank.

 

An old plumber told me many years ago that there are no situations in which making sewage go from low to high pressure is an improvement.   

 

He had only once in his career worked on a blockage in a  small bore macerator system in a basement, and that was both the first and last time he took such a job.  As I recall, the phrase "short sharp shower" cropped up ...

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With regret, I've decided to install a cassette toilet in place of my current separating toilet. 

 

I'm currently pondering various methods that might prolong the length of time I can use it in between visits to the elsan points.

 

This concern arises because I prefer to cruise more slowly than I think many people do, and this slow pace means I do not get to elsan points every day, or every other day. 

 

Here is a current example: I visited Calveley services on I think 20 Oct, and moved up (slowly) to within a mile or two of Chester.

I have since been spending time visiting friends and family.

 

The problem is that between Calveley and my current location there are no facilities other than those in marinas, which (if available) will incur a charge. There is a water tap about a mile further on towards Chester, which I used by turning the boat around a little short of it, and then reversing back towards it (because I didn't want to go through the Chester locks on this occasion).

But there are no rubbish or elsan facilities there.

 

The distance back to the nearest elsan point at Calveley is about ten miles as the crow flies, and probably 13 miles worth of canal- which includes half a dozen locks. As a single hander that's a fair old cruise, and its a distance I would prefer to cover in 2 days. We're not in a race, after all.  

 

The thing is that you are going to find yourself in this situation occasionally- you find a nice mooring place and for whatever reason, you want to stay the full 14 days allowed.

But the nearest facilities are say two days cruising away (and there are similar situations on the Llangollen canal, I found).  And it might already be a day or two since you last passed an elsan point. 

In my case, its been 2 weeks and 4 days since I was close to an elsan point, and having the separating toilet has been very convenient as its allowed me to stay moored in a lovely spot close to a great town with friends and family within easy reach.

If I had been on a 4 day limit between elsan visits, I would have had to get to chester from Calveley within a single day, spend two days here, and then do a very long cruise back to Calveley on the 4th day. . 

 

Now I must be clear- it is my particular and very slow travel speed that creates this situation, but it is a pace that I very much enjoy, and having the separating toilet gives me that flexibility. 

I would give some serious thought to the pump out option, if you intend to cruise slowly and stay for 10-14 days as I do. 

 

But as the future of separating toilets is still not 100% decided, I'm not spending lots of cash on a pumpout.

My own solution is to get a cassette toilet, plus two spare cassettes, which should allow me ten days between elsan visits. 

 

I'm also thinking about other methods- such as using a separate container for urine- which will reduce the overall volume of waste going into the toilet each day, and should thus extend the time between elsan visits if needed. 

 

I can't imagine how boaters with cassette toilets cope on the Llangollen, with the only elsans at Whitchurch and Ellesmere, and Llangollen itself. You could do the canal at a pace that gets you between those in less than a week, of course, but wheres the fun in that? 

I spent 6 months on the Llan this year, and being able to moor in lovely quiet spots for several days at a time made the cruise much more enjoyable.

But its true that if you cruise at a faster pace (and if you have a crew member to help you get through locks and  bridges more quickly, you could visit an elsan every 2 or 3 days. 

 

 

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2 minutes ago, Tony1 said:

 

With regret, I've decided to install a cassette toilet in place of my current separating toilet. 

 

I'm currently pondering various methods that might prolong the length of time I can use it in between visits to the elsan points.

 

 

A couple of spare cassettes and a barrow. 

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2 minutes ago, ditchcrawler said:

A couple of spare cassettes and a barrow. 

 

Two spare cassettes are already part of my plan, as explained above.

 

What I'm wondering is whether there are further tricks or tips that could be employed to make the cassettes last longer. 

 

Edited by Tony1
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1 minute ago, Tony1 said:

 

Two spare cassettes are already part of my plan, as explained above.

 

What I'm wondering is whether there are further tricks or tips that could be employed to make the cassettes last longer. 

 

Yes, frequent pubs, major supermarkets etc, etc. Personally, I have a sea toilet that gives me at least 28 person days between pumpouts. According to the guage, which I don't trust, I think I could have pushed it to about 35 days. Not a livèaboard so I could always go home. Home marina £8, on the move I've paid up to £18. Stacked up against general costs it's well worth it in my opinion. 

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Trent and Mersey canal Shardlow: 224 incidents last year where raw sewage was discharged into the canal.

 

I remember watching the turds go by while I was painting the roof during the lockdowns.

 

If you run out of cassettes ask Severn Trent for advice.

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5 minutes ago, Slim said:

Yes, frequent pubs, major supermarkets etc, etc. Personally, I have a sea toilet that gives me at least 28 person days between pumpouts. According to the guage, which I don't trust, I think I could have pushed it to about 35 days. Not a livèaboard so I could always go home. Home marina £8, on the move I've paid up to £18. Stacked up against general costs it's well worth it in my opinion. 

 

So what kind of reaction have you had from the bar staff when you walk in towing a cassette and start heading for the toilets? Do they not object? 

 

 

5 minutes ago, PaulD said:

Trent and Mersey canal Shardlow: 224 incidents last year where raw sewage was discharged into the canal.

 

I remember watching the turds go by while I was painting the roof during the lockdowns.

 

If you run out of cassettes ask Severn Trent for advice.

 

So the water companies are pumping raw sewage into the canals?

 

I thought they were only doing this just recently, only into the sea, and only because they had no option, what with no longer being able to get supplies of the required chemicals? 

 

 

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6 minutes ago, Tony1 said:

 

 

 

So the water companies are pumping raw sewage into the canals?

 

I thought they were only doing this just recently, only into the sea, and only because they had no option, what with no longer being able to get supplies of the required chemicals? 

 

 

Article in the Derby Evening Telegraph:

 

  20 Derbyshire rivers which had raw sewage pumped into them last year - Derbyshire Live (derbytelegraph.co.uk)

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28 minutes ago, Tony1 said:

I thought they were only doing this just recently, only into the sea, and only because they had no option, what with no longer being able to get supplies of the required chemicals? 

 

And, in the real world every sewage works outlet consists of a high content of untreated sewage (and may of them empty directly into the canals and rivers)

The one I have most experience of is Stoke Bardolph ( as we were based on the Trent for several years), when ever you pass you always see :

 

1) A scum on the water

2) Large numbers of sea birds and ducks swimming around enjoying the 'easy pickings'.

 

 

Exclusive: water firms discharged raw sewage into England's rivers 200,000 times in 2019

The analysis reveals untreated human waste was released into streams and rivers for more than 1.5m hours in 2019.

 

“People think our rivers should be fit to swim in but they don’t realise it is legal to discharge untreated raw sewage into our rivers.”

 

Exclusive: water firms discharged raw sewage into England's rivers 200,000 times in 2019 | Rivers | The Guardian

 

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1 hour ago, Tony1 said:

 

Two spare cassettes are already part of my plan, as explained above.

 

What I'm wondering is whether there are further tricks or tips that could be employed to make the cassettes last longer. 

 

 

If you are prepared to carry several poo suitcases around with you, fine. We prefer to store the stuff out kf site, out of mind and dispose of it in one go every not all that often.

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1 hour ago, Tony1 said:

 

Two spare cassettes are already part of my plan, as explained above.

 

 

I didn't see that but that alone would up your capacity to 12 days, I wont ask what you are doing with your 30lt of urine that you produce in 14 days

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2 minutes ago, Machpoint005 said:

 

If you are prepared to carry several poo suitcases around with you, fine. We prefer to store the stuff out kf site, out of mind and dispose of it in one go every not all that often.

 

I thought my opinion of cassette toilets was clear from my earlier post- but in case it did not come across clearly I will restate it- I loathe them. 

 

And if cost were not a factor, I would have a pump out toilet installed tomorrow (although I would add that I'm not sure there is that huge a difference between several small 'suitcases' of waste, versus one very large 'suitcase' that is placed under your bed. The principle involved is not that different- it seems to me to be a matter of dimensions). 

 

But cost is a factor- a very big factor. And as I explained above, I feel that the future of separating toilets is not yet 100% clear.

I feel that in the longer term, CRT will recognise the environmental advantages of separating toilets, and will find the money to provide suitable composting bins. 

 

So my adoption of a cassette toilet is something that I fervently hope will be a temporary measure, until separating toilets are fully catered for by CRT

If I knew for sure that separating toilets were banned for the next 15 years, I might give serious thought to a pump out. 

1 minute ago, ditchcrawler said:

I didn't see that but that alone would up your capacity to 12 days, I wont ask what you are doing with your 30lt of urine that you produce in 14 days

 

No, best not

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23 minutes ago, Tony1 said:

although I would add that I'm not sure there is that huge a difference between several small 'suitcases' of waste, versus one very large 'suitcase' that is placed under your bed.

The latter is fully sealed internally, and has the emptying connection outside the boat, and the actual emptying is normally done by someone else. The former have to be manhandled individually by you, and the more you have, the more chance that one of them might have a leaky seal...

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23 minutes ago, David Mack said:

The latter is fully sealed internally, and has the emptying connection outside the boat, and the actual emptying is normally done by someone else. The former have to be manhandled individually by you, and the more you have, the more chance that one of them might have a leaky seal...

 

I appear to find myself in the odd position of being invited to argue in favour of cassette toilets versus pump outs, when my ideal preference from those two would actually be a pump out.

 

At the risk of reigniting the whole debate of pump out vs cassette, which feels as if it has been raging since the time of King Alfred, I will say that a leaking 20 litre cassette is a much, much less horrific problem to deal with than a leak in a 100 litre tank full of faeces, or within its associated pipework.

And on my travels so far, I've not seen a CRT pump out that was manned- so I'm not sure that everyone's experience will be that it is normally done by somebody else. 

I personally would happily pay a few quid not to have to deal with it, but there are many who for whatever reason do the pump out themselves.

 

My view- and I will say based on very limited knowledge- is that pump outs are a brilliant solution, but only until they start to leak or have some other problem.

At that point they have the potential to turn into a disgusting nightmare. 

 

But with that said, neither system would be my ideal preference, to be honest, so I'm not majorly inclined to defend either.

 

 

 

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3 boats. 

 

One boat has a cassette toilet, one boat a household toilet on a holding tank (how nice) and the other I fitted a Lavac sea toilet with a small holding tank close to it. 

 

Of the three the household toilet is the best but it requires regular pumpouts and uses a lot of water. 

 

The Lavac is pretty good.

 

When I was travelling a lot I had elsan bucket then a Thetford 365. Does the job. 

 

I heard that there are problems with a lot of the CRT facilities perhaps partly because of people in motorhomes using the disposal hoppers thereby adding to the overall useage. So it could be unsatisfactory. 

 

Another approach is to keep a pumpout system and additionally have a cassette toilet. They don't take up much space and can be a useful insurance. And when boating a lot and passing the facilities regularly you can use that system to save on pumpout costs. 

 

Another one I have been working on is the "out of shite out of mind" instant-freeze GPS guided compressed air mortar disposal system for which an app is under development. 

 

This is a single use single disposal arrangement with automatic high preseure briquetting and freezing.  A multidirectional mortar with a range of approximately 1800 metres in reasonable weather conditions gives flexibility. 

 

Has potential me thinks. 

One of the problems in the design phase is working out what to use as a binder. 

 

 

 

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