The owner of a marina/yard in Staten Island once blessed me with this nugget of wisdom: "If you don't actually get some enjoyment out of maintenance—working with your hands—then you're going to have a rough time owning a boat."
I have found a good amount of truth to that. As Angie and I learn more about our beloved Confianza and get more skilled with maintaining her, we can feel that sense of pride and accomplishment growing.
Cleaning Blackwater Clogs is the Worst Job on a Boat
There is always that one job that is just not going to brighten our day--blackwater/head clogs. I can vividly remember the smell of my clothes after the last time I took apart a Jabsco Y valve. I strongly believe that there is no worse job on a boat.
Achieving *0* Head Clogs
For 3 years running we had at least 2 clogs per year. Confianza has 3 heads, and what can only described as miles of valves, pumps, tanks, toilets, etc that are part of the system. So there's a lot to go wrong.
For the past two years, I am happy to report: *0* clogs. None at all.
Ready for this?
The Simple Answer to a Horrible Problem - a Sign!
It's not some fancy toilet upgrade, nor the latest and greatest sanitation lines, nor the perfect line runs, nor some combination of vinegar, hopes, and dreams.
The answer is....a sign. Yep, a sign. ...Just a sign.
Angie finally got fed up with every toilet clog ruining my whole day and decided to do something about it. She drew up a little sign in MS Word that had the instructions for operating the toilet, an image of a toilet paper roll with only two squares, numbered "1, 2," and the following message:
"These toilets clog easily! Do not flush tampons, pads, wipes, goldfish, or anything but a small bit of toilet paper."
And the clogs...stopped!
So What Did We Learn About Head Clogs?
It was our our guests that were causing all the [bleep] [bleep]in' clogs! We were pulling our hair out and being so careful with our own usage. We tried some 20 odd other remedies from the experts. And then apparently some guest would inevitably use way too much paper and clog the whole dang thing up!
Before the sign, we even used work in a "toilet rules talk" as part of the safety briefing that we give to every new passenger, but no luck there. All it took was Angie's genius little sign.
If you don't have many guests on your boat, your mileage may vary, obviously. But since we adopted the sign, clogs have been completely eliminated.
That's not to say that after the clogging stopped I haven't been on a mission to reinvent the whole sanitation system on Confianza for other reasons. Mainly, it's been smelly sanitation lines. That, and we just dislike manual toilets, especially in the middle of the night.
I have been working on a comprehensive post of the whole system, products, installation, and all research that went along with it. It's going to be a long one. And it was the inspiration to take short break and make this separate post about the real clog elimination hero, the sign! Will post an update here when the long form article is complete with a link.
Update! Confianza Sanitation System Reimagined: