I Need to Vent

Our time here in Beaufort, SC is coming to an end.

And it’s time, therefore, to run down the list of things we need to do to get ready to move the boat back to the north to the town of Cambridge, MD that we call “home port.”

The priority items on the list are those that will enable us to anchor out and avoid marinas wherever we can. At this time of year, we will be competing with hundreds of other boaters for space on the water and at the docks; and the relatively modest out-of-season fees we paid these fine establishments on our maiden voyage down here will no longer be so modest on our way back.

Ready, set. . .

So let’s see. Ah, two items in particular stand out.

One: finish the installation of a composting head so we don’t have to pump out the holding tank twice a week.

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Out with the old.

Two: get our outboard motor fueled, oiled and running so we can give Honey the Golden Retriever a dinghy ride to a land-based potty break twice a day.

Yep. Everything about living on a boat, it seems, comes down in the end to managing biological waste.

The composting head is a project I got built and installed last week after more than a month here in Beaufort procrastinating on decisions regarding design and materials. (I’ve never been a quality maker of decisions.) So, while I’m on a roll, why not just finish that up by getting the head vented and supplied?

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In with the new.

. . . stop.

Half an hour into reviewing my options, I remember why not. I can’t figure out how to vent this thing in a clean and elegant manner.

This was a question I knew I would have to address when I first started the project, the question I chose to ignore two weeks ago in order to release myself from “analysis paralysis” and start building the head cabinet, the question whose answer I thought would reveal itself in time after I had spent two weeks kicking it around in the back of my mind.

The question is this: How do I run a hose to act as an exhaust duct from the back of the head cabinet to a Solar-Powered Vent Fan (Yet To Be Acquired) that must be installed somewhere in the cabin top?

And now that this question’s time has arrived, I remember why I had put it off in the first place: There’s no concealed route by which to run the duct through the hidden parts of the boat; there’s no exposed route through the head compartment that won’t look permanently painful and clunky; and, once the run is done, there’s no obvious way to connect the duct to the Solar-Powered Vent Fan (Yet To Be Acquired).

But wait, there’s more

Then there’s the question of where the Solar-Powered Vent Fan (Yet To Be Acquired) should itself be located. That it must go somewhere through the cabin top is without question, since any other location dramatically increases the chance of water intrusion.

This would, in turn, require cutting a new hole through the cabin top. In this operation, I can expect to encounter the one-inch-thick sandwich of fiberglass and balsa wood that composes the cabin top’s exterior shell, and an interior ceiling comprising a half-inch-thick soft foam insulation (interrupted here and there by mounting battens) under a finish surface of precious vintage naugahyde.

Oh, goody, more new skills to pick up.

An easy way out?

On the other hand, Pam and I had considered avoiding that new hole in our boat by incorporating the Solar-Powered Vent Fan (Y.T.B.A.) into the head compartment’s dorade vent.

Our boat has two dorade vents, assemblies which are designed to introduce fresh air through a cabin top into the interior of a boat while discouraging the entry of water from seas or storms, and which are supposed to be completely closable when the seas or storms become too much for them to handle. I say “supposed to” because one of the vents is stuck closed, admitting no air, and the other is stuck open, blocking no excess water.

The one in the head compartment, the one I would have to modify to vent our composting head, is, of course, the one currently in the stuck-closed position.

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Trouble on the inside.

So before I can figure out how to incorporate the S.P.V.F. (Y.T.B.A), I would have to figure out how to fix the concealed working portions of this vent, which means getting to them, which means removing the dorade’s top-mounted wood box, which means removing ten wood plugs covering up ten screws that hold it on to concealed battens that attach it to the cabin top, which means removing the metal-rail pulpit assembly whose legs are blocking the approach of a drill to two of those ten plugs, which means removing the through-bolts securing the pulpit to the cabin top, which means removing the naugahyde ceiling liner and foam insulation layer covering up the bolt ends, which means getting the ceiling liner’s zipper unstuck.

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Trouble on the outside.

Yeaaahhhh, that’s not going to happen.

That first option, cutting a new hole through the cabin top, would be, by contrast, “considerably better,” in the sense, at least, of “considerably more direct.”

But I don’t know a thing about cutting through fiberglass-and-balsa sandwiches. And I don’t feel up to taking a crash course on the subject.

And, when it comes right down to it, either option would merely represent the opening round of a carpentry project that could keep us here another fourteen days. A project I am loathe even to start until we’ve acquired the — you know.

And we told the dockmaster we would be leaving in five.

No time like tomorrow

So I guess there’s only one thing left for now. I’ll kick the can (euphemism intended) down the road again, probably until we land in Cambridge a month or so for now. And we’ll see what living with an unvented composting head will be like. And by “be like,” I mean “smell like.”

And that there is some quality decision making.

But I do wonder what Pam will think of the decision.

Meanwhile, where did I put the manual for that outboard motor?

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11 thoughts on “I Need to Vent

    • Yes, we arrived about a week and a half ago. Sadly, we decided that the number of pressing jobs on Meander’s “required-to-keep-our-insurance” list necessitated making a beeline for Cambridge, and that my desire for DC would have to wait.

      But we still want to meet the new pup, and we’re jealous that you’ve already made progress on the boat training. After more than five years of soft, absorbent lawn underfoot, Honey just doesn’t know what to do with that scrap of Astroturf we keep putting up on Meander’s bow.


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