Life aboard a boat should bring with it all of life’s requirements – including, but not limited to, a toilet. At some point even the most bound up boaters will still have to go.

In order to solve this simple problem, we all engage in some pretty remarkable gyrations. In a home, we move the waste away from us. Onboard, we socialize just a meter or so away from our holding tank. Nothing we do can ever strip the boat from that smell – which is at best the odor of the deodorant.

In order to utilize a standard marine head, the boater requires not only the space required for the head itself, but also also the plumbing, holding tank, macerator (optional), intake seacock, waste seacock and deodorizer – and if there is cold weather, the use of anti-freeze to ensure that the lines don’t freeze. All of this, particularly the holding tank, takes up valuable space and requires ongoing maintenance.

There are other options of course. The marina offers a head – but that can be inconvenient at best, and impossible to use when cruising. Some utilize the reliable toilet-seat-on-a-bucket technique, which works very well but lacks in some notable ways. Another option – perhaps the best alternative, and even a more appealing alternative in many situations, is the Porta Potti (which goes by some other interesting names as well), an ingenious invention that is a quite effective alternative to the marina head.

The Potti is a stand alone alternative which requires no plumbing, holding tank, macerator, maintenance, etc. The potti is a two part system, flush water sits in the top unit. At the push of a button the water fills the bowl. After use the waste is dispensed into a lower unit which does have a deodorizer added. I’ve been utilizing one now in our camper van for several weeks with my two year old, and I can represent that there has been no odor whatsoever. The unit does need to be dumped manually, but I can also say quite honestly that this was a simple no-mess process.*


Of course these options may be disturbing to some, particularly those who like the idea of toilet affixed to some plumbing. However, the advantages to this type of option are obvious, and this is a worthy option for consideration for those who appreciate functionality and maintenance-free options over the perception issues associated with a fixed head. While we will not be removing our marine head, the advantages to the Potti are numerous. However, this is now a standard feature in the camper and as a father of a young child, I sure appreciate the convenience of traveling with one of these – as a safe, clean, convenient alternative to the horrific gas station facility.

Wishing you all an odor-free home!

* The fixed head can still be quite messy – a trauma I experienced first hand during a holding tank problem and a significant spill several years ago. It was perhaps the most disgusting moment in my life.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.