I recently had the “pleasure” of partaking in a week-long ocean race. Once onboard we had a skippers briefing, the skipper ended the meeting with “On an important note, nothing that hasn’t been through your body should go down the head. If you block it, you clear it!” I was quietly smug as I had owned a portable travel bidet for some time. No mucking about with used toilet paper in nappy bags and I had the added bonus of feeling clean and fresh down below without using wipes. None of the crew had heard about bidets for boaters.
There is no job less appetising than fixing a blocked boat toilet. Marine toilets can block for two main reasons, a build-up of calcium in the pipes or just simply a blockage of too much stuff not being able to move through the pipes. Although marine toilet paper breaks down quickly, it can still get caught on the calcification that builds up in the pipe. The pipe aperture gets even smaller and before you know it you’ve got a completely blocked marine head. However, the option of bidets for boaters has been extremely limited, until now.
The Issue with Marine Toilet Tissue
Even the cheapest marine and RV toilet paper is designed to break down quickly, contain fewer chemicals and more importantly fewer micro-plastics. However, pumping solids with enough paper to do the job, through an aperture of around 2 inches is asking for trouble. The inevitable scale and deposits that build up in the pipework are brilliant at catching pieces of undissolved TP. This soon starts to narrow the channel through which everything moves, until the pipe gets completely blocked.
How to Avoid Blocking a Marine Toilet
I think it’s fair to say the majority of the western world has been bought up to clean themselves with toilet paper. Changing habits of a lifetime and cleaning yourself with water could be difficult – until you try it! We all feel clean and fresh after a shower, so why not give your bottom the same treatment and use a Bidet spray.
Joker valves in pump-action toilets or blades in macerators are designed to deal with soft, water-soluble solids and admittedly, marine toilet tissue is designed to break down quickly. However, when mixed with waste it can soon become a thick wad and a force to be reckoned with when passing through valves and pipework.
I would go as far as to say, every boat owner who only allows poo through the loo has never had to unblock the toilet!
Advantages of using a Bidet on a Boat
Space is always at a premium in the head and sometimes there can be little room to manoeuvre. Using a bidet or bum gun (as they are sometimes known), is a simple operation. It avoids all that twisting and shuffling that happens when space is limited.
- No toilet paper blockages.
- Fewer microplastics in the ocean.
- Save money by buying less TP.
- Easier mobility in the head.
- Use less wet wipes.
- A more comfortable day sitting down.
- Prolong the life of the joker valve or macerator pump.
bidets for boaters
How do the portable bidets work?
The bidet is made up of two parts, a pump and a water reservoir. The reservoir is filled with the desired temperature of water, then attached to the pump unit. Unfold the nozzle, reach behind you or between your legs from the front, point the nozzle and press the button. In case you are wondering, at no point should the nozzle touch your body.
By using either the high or low-pressure button, the spray then delivers a soft but effective stream of water to clean, well, where the sun doesn’t shine! Sadly, these bidets do not come with a warm air dryer as with the home models, so you may need to use a couple of squares of TP to pat the area dry but as this is just removing water excess, the paper can go straight in the bin.
Portable bidets charge via USB or 2 x AAA batteries, depending on the chosen model. The water reservoir size can vary from between 100 to 240 ml capacity dependant on the chosen model.
Bidets for Boats
Installing a permanent bidet on a boat
If you would like to install a permanent bidet on your boat. This can simply be done by adapting a home bidet spray hose T valve to the water feed of your basin.
How to Unblock a Calcified Marine Toilet and Keep it Running Smoothly
Calcified deposits can build up in pipes and valves over a period of time due to calcium and uric acid crystals. Unfortunately, over time this is inevitable. However, with some monthly maintenance, you can keep these deposits at bay and your marine head running smoothly.
Time needed: 1 hour.
How to unblock a calcified marine toilet
- Remove Calcified Deposits.
If you have found a build-up of mineral deposits in the pipes and valves, Fill the toilet bowl with water then carefully pour 2 cups / 500ml of 10% solution of muriatic acid into the toilet bowl. Take care when using acid.
- Pump Through System.
Once fizzing in the bowl has stopped slowly pump until the toilet bowl is empty.
- Dissolve Deposits
Allow the liquid to sit in the pipe system for approximately ten minutes to dissolve the mineral deposits.
- Flush System.
Fill and discharge clean water through the complete system, twice. Approximately 40 pumps.
- How to Maintain the Marine Toilet
Pour approximately 1 pint or 600 ml of white vinegar into the toilet bowl. Pump the lever twice and wait 5 minutes, this will allow the vinegar to break down the scale build-up. Continue with 2 pumps and a waiting period of 5 minutes until the vinegar has worked its way through the whole system. Uric acid crystals can build-up quickly so ensure urine is pumped all the way through the system, especially if leaving the boat for long periods.
- Flush System
Fill and discharge clean water through the complete system, once. Approximately 20 pumps.