Head Games

“It was the best of times and it was the worst of times…”

Head and holding tank

This spring I removed my entire head and holding tank system.

I could no longer stand the smell of either stagnant sewage marinating through my hoses or the cloying perfume of the atomic deodorants used to mask the smell. I have replaced hoses before on my previous boat. That didn’t work for long; 9 months tops.

Then I replaced those hoses with the super-duper $8 a foot guaranteed-won’t-stink hoses.

They didn’t work for long; maybe a year.

Installed a vent. Didn’t work. Wrapped them in plastic. Didn’t work.

So, on Wailana, our beloved Express 34, I performed the  dreaded ‘stinkyectomy’ procedure armed with a face mask, goggles, hand sanitizer and a box of Costco nitrile gloves. No one volunteered to be my assistant. During the operation I cursed as sweat dripped down into my eye – that was sweat wasn’t it?

When it was over. I was elated. The patient was saved and the foul malignancy was gone! I took the poop monster to the dump and hurled it over the edge and into the transfer station void with glee!

We researched it’s replacement.  I wanted a composting toilet but I couldn’t make the geometry work in that small space; I’m 6′ 2″ and my big butt just fits as it is. They are also a $1,000 AND you have to drill a large hole in your boat for the vent.

So I found this little beauty – the Portapottie Curve:

Portapottie Curve

Why this one? It all centers around how we use the boat. Racing 50%, day sails 30% and weekend cruising 20%. Our longest cruises have been 4-5 days. The on-board tank holds enough for the 3 of us for about 3 days. By the third day we’re usually ready for a marina anyway. Most everything we do either racing or cruising in the Salish Sea so we’re not doing long offshore legs.


  • Less complexity – fewer hoses, pumps, valves, etc. – less things to maintain or get clogged!
  • Way less stink
  • More sanitary – Wife and daughter approved
  • Less weight
  • Easier to educate guests – flushes sort of like household toilet, sort of
  • Larger seat than the original Jabsco Marine compact head
  • More space available overall
  • Two less through-hull fittings
  • Easy to clean
  • ~$150 plus $30 for the hold down plate.


  • Emptying is a hassle
  • Less holding capacity
  • No ability to easily pump overboard

There are trade offs but so far this has been a huge win. And we all breath easier.


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