Stressful Day Cruising, Still Beats Any Day at Work!

I just love fixing things in exotic places!  Over the years, our trusty reliable but 16 year old Raritan PHII head and holding tank system has performed flawlessly.  But over the last year, we’ve had some calcium build-up minor annoyances – like the discharge line calcifying and having to be replaced last year — ugh, messy, stinky job.   But all systems on a boat require maintenance & our hoses should have been preventatively replaced.   We should not have waited until it was urgent!

Anchored in the 10,000 Islands/Everglades National Park – out of touch with civilization – we discovered the head was leaking.   Probably just a routine maintenance issue, like not replacing the joker valve for a couple of years.  David disassembled it & replaced the joker valve.  But the leak persisted, not bad & just sea water so we put an old plastic container underneath it & didn’t give it another thought – delayed until we explored the 10,000 Islands.

Three days later, I awoke before o-dark-thirty — the time we had decided to leave to sail further south to the Little Shark River.  The pump decides to totally lock up…  not good.  But we’ve had it happen before & it was an airlock, simple to fix, so we decided to sail on & fix it when we were anchored late that afternoon at Little Shark River.

Great plan, but no joy. To our total dismay, the sanitation hose between the head & the holding tank appears to be totally calcified and clogged.  Talk about a cruiser’s worse nightmare.  We disconnected it, and tried to use a plumbing snake to clean it out enough to continue using it.   The day before St Patrick’s Day, our luck had run out!

Then we discovered that the pump housing had actually cracked, most likely from the force of trying to force crap through a clogged sanitation hose.

The situation quickly went from bad to worse.  So the hose is clogged, the pump housing cracked … and to top it off, when we were cleaning the fitting between the sanitation hose and the pump housing, one of the pieces went swimming (my fault).  So now we’re really screwed.  But luckily we’re sailing to Marathon where we can have parts shipped in if they’re not available locally.

Since the old hose is clogged, we decided to duck tape the ends to try and limit the amount of “residue” that escaped while we were freeing the hose from behind the cabinetry. Note that this is NOT sanitation hose, but it was what was in the boat when we bought it in 2001 and it’s never had a problem, so we’ve never replaced it … until now…

Marathon — we finally get the old sanitation hose out — why boat builders wedge this stuff in behind cabinets where you cannot possibly access it for replacement is still beyond me, but we’ve had the boat long enough that it’s not a surprise, just a frustration.  Literally 3 hours later, we finally have the old hose out of the boat — and the mess thoroughly cleaned up with lots & lots of clorox.

We also attached a feed line so we could feed the new hose back through behind the cabinets, but this approach failed miserably. We ended up punching a hole in the end of this hose – there was no extra room for the line through the holes. With the new hose, we just ran the feeder line through the hose & pulled it through.

Did I mention that in the process, we managed to jar a pressure water hose to the shower loose and all of a sudden were sprayed with clean shower water?  Guess it was trying to tell us something. I’m sure that after this is all done, the surprise shower will be humorous … at the time, not so much.  A new gasket solved that issue.

Here’s the infamous shower pressure water connection that deluged us with water while we were removing the old very grubby hose — ironic and very funny … now, after the fact. I guess it figured we needed a good rinse.

Off we go to Home Depot & West Marine to get replacement parts… hey, we got our walk/exercise in, so we’ve now accomplished more in one day than we anticipated!  Back aboard, it took about an hour, with a line attached to thread the new sanitation hose back through the holes, make sure the fitting into the holding tank wasn’t clogged & reconnect.

Hint – a plumber told David to add a bit of vaseline to the connection point before putting on the new hose & it will slide on that much more secure. Not sure if this is true or not, but it worked for us.

Then David hooked back up the Raritan PHII.  The bottom line is, it works, but between the cracked pump housing and the part that I inadvertently bounced overboard, we were still leaking, fairly seriously.

So tomorrow, we’re replacing the whole dang thing with a Raritan PHII complete pump assembly – what are the chances the Marathon West Marine would just happen to have one on hand?   🙂  Problem solved as of mid-day & we have our head back!   WooHoo!

Speak Your Mind