Inaugural meeting of the Airhead Society

On Wednesday 28th January a first meeting of the “Airhead Society” was held on nb Valerie at Cowroast Marina and later at the Greyhound Inn at Wiggington in Hertfordshire.  Present were: Sue and Ken of nb Cleddau, Jaq  and Les of nb Valerie, Carol and George of widebeam Still Rockin’, Jennie and Chris of nb Tentatrice.


 There was one major agenda item: sourcing of cocoa shell (dessicant) for the solids containers. Carol (Still Rockin’) was able to provide useful information on a cocoa shell provider.

Since the meeting took place throughout a long lunch followed by a late afternoon adjournment to wb Still Rockin’ (moored nearby)  there was much AOB…

Confused? You may wish to read no further – what follows is some toilet talk…

It was in the Spring of 2010 that the Cleddau crew replaced the porta-potti on the boat with a composting Airhead toilet.   B15-04-01    Unlike a conventional porta-potti this toilet system, developed in America for leisure boats at sea and on lakes, separates liquids from solids and requires no water.

B15-04-02   B15-04-04

First reference to it on the Boatwif blog was way back in June 2010. No more stomach wrenching chemicals, no more heavy containers to deal with and no more lingering odours.

That summer, 301 miles after leaving Adlington in Cheshire, Cleddau arrived in Bedford. Here was the next reference to the Airhead. “This loo technology is the same as on the space shuttle,” a boat visitor (the Academic) had proclaimed, while another visitor, the Biologist, had enthused about dry toilet technology in developing countries. A novelty to visitors, it had become a welcome improvement to Cleddau’s onboard facilities.

As a breed boaters talk about toilets. Cassette versus pump out, tank capacities, blockages, either on their boats or at pump out facilities, unwanted aromas, use of chemicals … there is a lot to contemplate.  Five years ago few boaters were even aware of the Airhead toilet product.

At some point, via continuous cruiser Sue of nb Retirement with No Problem,  a long distance exchange began between the Cleddau crew and Jaq, a distant reader of boaters’ blogs.   Though living in the far north west of the USA Jaq had developed a deep fascination for canals and boats. What was this composting loo she’d read about via Retirement with No Problem’s blog , she wanted to know. A flurry of emails answered her query and a long distance friendship  developed. Time passed.  And then came the tale of Jaq finding love with Les, he a boater in the UK, she five thousand miles away in Washington State. In June 2011 Jaq married Les and in due course she too became a boater.

By October 2012 a toilet crisis on Valerie led to an Airhead composting loo purchase. Scroll down through this  (and do read the title!) for photos of Airhead loo and of dessicant.  Days after Jaq and Les’s installation on board nb Valerie Carol and George decided to make a similar installation on their narrow boat too. Have you been counting? That’s three composting toilets so far, one to go…

Many a time Chris and Jennie have crewed on Cleddau as Relief Captain and Relief First Mate. “When we get a boat…” had often featured in their conversation. Come 2013 nb Tentatrice was commissioned, and the build instructions included an Airhead composting loo…  This was a choice borne out of much personal experience.

So there we have it – the inaugural meeting of the Airhead Society saw eight happy boaters all committed to the Airhead brand meeting together for the first time.  And during the long AOB other items in common were identified: six of the boaters it transpired had lived in the same area in the north of Scotland at the same time. As anyone who has met Jaq will know talk of cold temperatures, snow blocked roads and icy conditions assume a different perspective when you hear first hand tales of growing up in Alaska. There were many exchanges of course about past boating adventures and talk of future plans.  A sign high on a wall near the bar summarised perfectly this extraordinary event…


Now as temperatures plummet again here in Bedfordshire (mild though that is by Alaskan standards) the Cleddau Captain is poring over Admiralty charts of the Severn.  Sharpness to Bristol in June then is this summer’s project, tide and weather permitting…











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2 Responses

  1. Evelyn says:

    Can you please inform me of your source of the Cocao Bean mulch.

  2. Boatwif says:

    Evelyn, we used to get our crushed cocao shells from Seasons Garden Centre at Wilstead but they currently have none in stock.
    Stock is reported at Brookside Nursery in Ackrington they use mail order. Finally Leighton Garden Centre is reported to stock crushed cocao shell.
    I hope that this helps.

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