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Narrowboats & Canal Boats

OVERVIEW OF TOILETS ON
NARROWBOATS & CANAL BOATS



Welcome to The Fit Out Pontoons' section on canal boat toilet systems.

In these chapters you will find a comprehensive guide to the different types available and their management.

This is one of those highly emotive topics with regards to canal boat ownership. Any chat on the towpath or outside the sanitary station will reveal that owners fall into distinct “camps” on the subject of loos & their management.

We suppose that this is due in part to the fact that whatever system you have, you will need to become fairly well acquainted with its operation and shortcomings. This is something no land lubber ever really has to deal with in a normal domestic situation, unless employed as a plumber or sanitation worker!

Due to the nature of boats and environmental regulations, human waste has to be stored on board. Full stop. A form of holding tank where the waste is stored is common to all types and it is this method of storage and disposal that divides owners.

In this section we hope to be able to advise you on which system is the best suited to your needs.
As an overview, we will say that the days of galvanised buckets and gazunders are, for most, long gone (the chamber pot that “gaz’under” the bed in case you’re wondering).

Modern canal boat sanitation systems range from portable caravan type chemical toilets to porcelain lined fully flushing systems that closely resemble domestic WC’ s. From plastic to vitreous china bowls the choice is restricted only by your budget and requirements.

Below you will find a brief summary of the principle systems you will encounter, namely the removable cassette and the fixed holding tank.
  • Waste can be disposed of very regularly with a cassette toilet; with holding tanks you carry the waste in a tank until full then have it pumped out.
  • Often it’s free to dispose of waste with cassette toilets but sometimes charges may apply,
  • For pumping out holding tanks there is often a fee. Sometimes it can be part of the mooring fee (see marina  services)
  • Cassette toilet systems are less expensive to install than both holding tank types and composting.
  • Holding tank toilet systems have to be emptied less frequently.
  • Holding tanks take up storage space and can upset ballast if not correctly located.
  • Cassette toilets require regular emptying and access to sanitary stations.
  • Pump-out toilet bowls are the most domestic styled in size and height.
  • Plastic cassette toilet bowls can cause emotional trauma for those used to porcelain, due in part to the fact they don’t always stay white!
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