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DreamCatcher's Head/Holding tank repair

Sunday - October 25, 2015Views: 977Taken at Jacksonville, FL
Photos of installed composting head, removal of holding tank and 3 new storage areas created.

I purchased DreamCatcher in 1996, and have never been happy with the holding tank arrangement for the aft head. With 20-25 feet of hose to pump to the forward holding tank, it was next to impossible to pump enough to clear the hose properly. Since most of our sailing was in areas where it was not necessary to use the holding tank, it was only a minor problem. Since returning from my circumnavigation in 2002, it had became a much larger problem. Having done the miserable job of replacing that hose once I swore I would sell her before doing it again, but fate had something worse in mind. Recently I found the seldom used holding tank had corroded through and needed removal and replacement. I decided since it was going to be another less than pleasurable job, I might as well take care of multiple problems at once while waiting out the 2011 hurricane season in Jacksonville, FL.

I first replaced the aft head with a Natureshead composting toilet, removed 25 feet of hose and then removed the 24 " x 24 " x 48 " aluminum holding tank in pieces thru the 10" x 16" floor board opening. Definitely NOT a job to ever be done twice by a sane person, but the price was right. I spent approximately $250 for new tools (reciprocating saw, oscillating saw, various blades) to go along with a jig saw, drill, vise grips and Dremel I already had. I spent 2-6 hours per day for six or seven days hanging upside down wearing a respirator. The good news is it's out and I was able to sell the aluminum and various copper and stainless steel I had on board to a recycler for $56. While recovering and planning a shelf that I will install to support an 18.5 gallon flexible holding tank ( approx. $300 ) for use with forward head, I decided I would also replace the vent hose, macerator hose and deck pump out hose. As always, nothing is easy thanks to boat builders never thinking anyone will ever repair or replace anything. To make a long story short, you must first dismantle most of the master state room closet, take out the wood floor and saw out part of the fiberglass sub-flooring to get at spot where all the hoses were tie wrapped together during building, never to be accessible again. The removal of the wood cover on top of the closet to allow access to below deck hose clamps was a relative pleasure until I needed a contortionist (my sweet wife) to replace hoses and clamps. The best surprise was finding three new storage areas now with access through the closet floor, the largest one is aft, which now holds 50 ft of chain, the fluke of our 90 # Luke storm anchor, 18 ' 1" hose and 7 ' of 1 1/12" hose. It is always good to be able to add weight to the port side of an IP since most have a tendency to list to starboard . We haven't decided what to put in two smaller areas below and forward of closet. The modified floor now only needs three screws removed to get in - of course you need to empty the closet first, but Gina usually feels sorry for me by then and puts it all back while I begin Happy Hour. Lots of work but definitely beats the expense of having it professionally done.
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