October 22, 2013 – A Dirty Job

Actually, I don’t think “dirty” covers it.  I need another word.  Stick with me and you’ll see what I mean.  Delve into our head for a moment, will you?


Yes, that one.  The throne.  The John.  The almighty porcelain God on our boat.  Also the one that had decided to stop keeping the shizz in the holding tank where it belongs, but, rather, let it flow back up in the bowl.  Some God!

photo (27)

Sad but true.  And, unfortunately for us, it meant we were going to have to crack her open and replace her ailing parts.  I decided to call in a specialist.

Rowe 4

I got a job for you Mike!

With Rowe on board, we donned our special dirty-job apparel,


and set to work.  Now, let me teach you a little something about the shizz system on our boat.  Here’s a birds-eye view of the layout on our boat:

Boat layout

Here’s where the shizz goes:

Boat layout 2

Real fancy.  And, let’s just appreciate, for a moment, the rockin’ 70’s Hinterhoeller ad where I got this fancy layout:

Hinterhoeller Ad

That is one fine-looking skipper ladies.  I’ll bet if you rub his pot belly, it brings good luck.

Hinterhoeller Ad

“Hey Velma.  It’s tough standing here at the helm.  Why don’t you give my calf a good rub while I hold the wheel.”

That was fun, but back to the shizz.  This is the suction tube:


So, let’s think about it.  If the suction tube wasn’t holding the shizz back in the holding tank, then where do you think it was holding it?  Anyone?  Anyone?  In the tube!  We had a big black tube full of shizz that we had to take off to replace it.  Someone had to clean out the tube before we could remove it.

Rowe said “NOOO!!!”

Rowe 2

So guess who the job fell to?  That’s right.  The first mate.  I said “How?”

And, Phillip handed me the shop vac.

I hope you’re putting two and two together by now.  Yes, that’s it.  We did what you’re thinking.  We took the shop vac,


stuck it in the toilet,


and sucked the shizz out.  And, I wish this was some kind of interactive blog, or a scratch-and-sniff, at least, because I don’t think words can express the glorious smell that emanated from our boat that day.  And, as if this job could get any funner, after the sucking was done, then where do you think shizz was?  Yep!  In the shop vac!  Someone then had to clean that out.

Rowe said:




Damn you Rowe!!

So … I cleaned out the shop vac.  (And, do, please, try to imagine the gentle care with which I carried that sloshing thing through the galley, up the companionway stairs, out of the cockpit and up to the dock.  I kept imagining the little plastic clamps that held the tank on were going to break and shizz would dump everywhere.  Please, do try to vividly imagine!)

With the shop vac purged and the tube cleaned out, we set to work on wrestling that thing off the head, which actually turned out to be a monstrous chore.  What did Phillip akin it to?  Oh yeah.  Like wrestling an anaconda in an airplane bathroom.  Something like that.  And, I’ll have you know despite the suction wonders of the shop vac, we weren’t able to get all of the shizz out, so some of it was still oozing out while we were twisting and grappling with that stupid hose.


And, I’ll have you further know that yanking and pulling on a ripped, wire-threaded hose is NOT a good way to keep your flimsy, paper-thin vinyl gloves intact.  It was inevitable:


“Take that Rowe.  You big Nancy!”


I told you it was a dirty job.  But, while it seemed the dirty part was over, the hardest certainly was not.  It took Phillip and I about two hours to maneuver, tug, pull and curse that damn hose out through the vberth.  Phillip was stationed in the bathroom trying to push and shove it through the hole in the cabinet under the sink:


While I was wedged under the mattress in the vberth trying to pull it out on my end:


“Push harder!!”

It was quite the chore.  But, we finally got her out!


And, there’s a reason we have a rag shoved in the end.  You don’t want any spillage!

After that, it really was a piece of cake.  We replaced all of the rubber parts,


gave her nice wipe-down, and


cleaned up the last of the shizz,



Then put her back together, and voila!


And, the new suction tube:

Head 2

was super sucky in the best kind of way.  Everything went right from the toilet to the tank.  Sccchllooop!  And stayed there!

And, to prove it, I filmed the dumbest video ever to memorialize our monumental feat.


View HERE.

Superstar is right!  We had just accomplished the dirtiest job ever, and documented the whole thing for your viewing pleasure.  What does Rowe know about entertainment?  Despite his lackluster performance, I let Rowe stay, though.  Well, because, let’s face it. 

Rowe 3

The man looks good clean.  Am I right, ladies?

11 thoughts on “October 22, 2013 – A Dirty Job

  • Don’t forget to check your holding tank vent as well if you haven’t already. Anything from a “shizz” plug (as you put it) to a mud dauber making itself at home in the vent line will restrict air flow through the vent. That will mean that pumping the head will be like using a bicycle pump on your holding tank, and stuff that you never want to see again will find its way back to the bowl due to the built up pressure. A good sign of a plugged vent line is if your toilet bubbles and gurgles while you’re having your holding tank pumped out.

  • Ahhhhhh. Marine Sanitation Devices (MSDs as we professional mariners like to call ’em) The myriad of methods they can amass into a mess. With the valves and the vents and the lines and the tank. Hmmm, the tank. So, what material is your holding tank made out of? Hmmm, did you check it while the boat was in the yard? Hmmm, what condition is it in??? The hose fix is a pretty crappy job, but doing the tank yank is probably tops on the list of scatological unpleasantries. I’m getting hepatitis just thinking about it. Gravity, with its just let stuff flow down hill attitude, passes it’s contents into the bilges and parts soon to be known from there. Murphy’s rules: 1) holding tanks will normally rupture on the bottom where they cannot be easily examined; 2) If they rupture on the top, you will soon be caught in a storm with 10 foot seas long enough to empty contents of said tank; 3) the tank will rupture with any collision or impact to the port bow of your vessel. “Whew!, only a paint scratch where the fender didn’t keep the boat off the dock” said Annie. Check again bright eyes! Ya know, it seems you never really get that smell out of the vessel once you’ve had this encounter. I can’t walk on a boat without that reminiscent smell seemingly wafting up from the little nooks and crannies around the head, and from the bilges giving that tell tale sign of maritime plumbing gone bad. It just seems to stick like some fecal bonding agent. Like pooh glue. There are two schools of thought on MSDs: 1) Use them like the Dugars use condoms, and pump that tank like they vote in Chicago: early and often (and preferably three miles out while on a long reach). There are a ton of maintenance issues that are a pain in the arse with keeping up a boat, but there’s only one that smells like it too!

  • Oh, cool, I didn’t realize it was going to put the entire cover and listing on here, (sorry!) all I posted was the URL. I am so totally going to plug my book in the future!

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