I endure my chemical toilet. I do not enjoy it.
The name ‘chemical toilet’ is rather misleading because my toilet doesn’t use much in the way of chemicals. I inherited a big bottle of some weird blue stuff, mysteriously called ‘Elsan Fluid’ for reasons not immediately apparent. But I use this blue stuff sparingly. It’s nearly all gone and I’m not planning on buying more.
The allure of public toilets
It was months before I even used my ‘chemical’ toilet. I’m a bit funny with toilets. Before I lived on a boat I would do anything to avoid using a public toilet. How things change. Nowadays using a public toilet is one of my chief satisfactions. Now when I use a public toilet I do so smug in the knowledge that once I’ve pulled the flush I will never again have to deal with that particular expulsion. It’s a remarkable feeling. I get a strange sense of gleeful schadenfreude when I use a public toilet, as if I’ve got one over on an imaginary someone who now has to deal with my excreta instead of me.
But I’ve digressed. The reasons why I refused to use my toilet for so long were manifold. In the first place, I had absolutely NO idea how it worked. In the second place, it was disgustingly filthy. I still can’t quite comprehend how my boat’s previous owner thought it was in any way acceptable to sell his boat with a toilet looking like it hadn’t been cleaned since 1962. And considering the boat wasn’t built until 2004, this was quite the achievement.
Nowadays using a public toilet is one of my chief satisfactions.
Now, I’ve moved house many times and often the facilities have been less than ideal at the point of moving in, but I’ve never gone so far as to boycott the toilet. I’m not sure exactly why I resisted using my chemical toilet for so long. I think it was simply a matter of neural overload. There were so many new things to get my head around when I moved onto the boat, that certain things were just one step beyond anything my poor little mind (or nerves) could assimilate. The toilet was one of those things.
The chemical toilet ‘Refresher Kit’
After spending months deliberating over which kind of compost toilet I might invest in (which is a whole other post) , and failing to decide, I invested instead in a chemical toilet ‘refresher kit’. This ‘refresher kit’, delivered promptly by a caravan supplies store, comprised a shiny new plastic toilet seat and a new waste tank for my chemical toilet. I had foolishly imagined that this way at least I would avoid having to clean the worst parts of the disgusting toilet. For months it had remained sealed in the unused bathroom, a sort-of hazardous waste zone, while I insisted on using the pristine marina facilities.
I had foolishly imagined that this way at least I would avoid having to clean the worst parts of the disgusting toilet.
Alas. When Peter the Boatman removed the old toilet seat I was horrified to behold that there was still MUCH cleaning to be done. MUCH cleaning, my friends. Who knew what an unstreamlined and crevice-ridden germ-trap of a contraption this terrible toilet would turn out to be? And it had to be cleaned, there and then, before the new seat could be attached. I had to use a toothbrush, readers, a TOOTHBRUSH, to clean that godawful bog and all its nasty nooks and crannies. In fact, two toothbrushes as I accidentally dropped one down the hole. Obviously I never again used either of these toothbrushes for dental purposes.
Where is the actual flush though
When it came actually to using the toilet, I didn’t know how. Where was the flush? There is a little button on top of the toilet which, when pressed, squirts a feeble jet of water into the bowl – but nothing flushes away. Hmph. OK. Confusing. And how about removing the cartridge? Well, one day I put on my rubber gloves (for fear of what might happen) and opened the hatch on the outside of the bathroom. Gingerly I tugged at the plastic tank.
Sploosh. Liquid fell from the toilet bowl down into the base of the toilet and all over the floor.
I’d like to be able to tell you that this liquid was only water, but it wasn’t.
For months it had remained sealed in the unused bathroom, a sort-of hazardous waste zone, while I insisted on using the pristine marina facilities.
Of course with the benefit of hindsight it’s obvious that if you pull the tank out when there’s anything sitting on top, then gravity will do its worst. Obvious. However, I had no idea that the base of the toilet bowl was actually the top-opening flap of the waste tank, and that without the waste tank being in place there was actually no base in the toilet bowl.
Why would I know that? Well, I do now.
And, it turns out that instead of a flush there is a ‘lever’ or a ‘slider’ thing under the seat which is entirely concealed from view. When you’ve done your do, you have to pull this elusive slider to one side and all the ‘do’ falls through a waste hatch down into the tank. Makes perfect sense. BUT ONLY WHEN YOU KNOW.
I inherited two waste cassettes with the toilet when I bought the boat. There’s something singularly unpleasant about having to deal with an historically shit-stained receptacle; so one was thrown away and the other is languishing in the boat’s hold (if that’s what it’s called). After the incident with the leaking seals, the euphemistically-entitled cartridge has been ‘liquids only’. This, in turn, is the reason why I take such unparalleled pleasure when sitting with an H in a public bog.
Anyway. I’ve endured this watery horror closet for months now, but this relationship must soon be ended.
It is SO over.