Living with Our Airhead - the first 6 weeks, Part 1! 

Wow, those 6 weeks went quickly! 

I have to confess it hasn’t been all plain sailing by any means. There have been discussions, accusations, more discussions and experimentation alongside which we have laughed, been grumpy and got frustrated... but even so we love our Airhead!! 

In this blog I will tell you about the ‘liquids’ experiences, and then Part 2 will cover the ‘solids’ - often something that people find difficult to talk about. Due to my career as a nurse, anything to do with our ‘output’, to put it nicely, has never bothered me and many of our discussions over the last 6 weeks have been over dinner!! However I realise this may not be the same for most people so may I suggest that you only continue reading if you are NOT eating… you have been warned! 

As mentioned in my previous blog of when we chose the toilet, the liquid container capacity was very important. We had ordered a spare container and also decided to have the one from the Overlander on the boat which meant we had access to 3 containers. We will probably just take 2 when out in the Overlander due to limited space. The first 2 days of toilet use we also had surprise visitors, one of whom was only 8 years old, so it was a good trial for our new toilet! 

We had expected one container to last 2 days with the two of us using continuously but with 5 of us using, although not continuously, I had no idea how quickly the container would fill up so I kept a very close eye on it and changed it as soon as we could see urine showing on the indicator. Sounds quite simple really…….it’s not that easy!!

So these two pictures are the same container just in a different light, showing how difficult it can be to see the level when it has started progressing up the indicator! 

Now add to this the fact that normally this is on the floor - I put it at waist height to take the photos - and you can probably see the challenges we are faced with as new and inexperienced Airhead owners! 

The first time we knew we had missed seeing this level as it crept up was when I heard a shriek of ‘my feet are getting wet’ from Nick when he was using the toilet! So in between a lot of laughing I went to his aid to mop up the spillage, but it didn’t end there because when you remove the container it has to be tilted!! Obviously tilting a full to the brim container causes even more spillage but at least it was only our urine we were paddling in!!! Sometimes you just have to laugh and look on the bright side - after all, the bathroom floor got a well-overdue scrub! 

Now began the discussions, which one of us had used the toilet last, who should check the level - the person before they use or the person after they use - and how were we going to resolve this to prevent a further ‘incident’? I thought we had decided that we should check it after use and then change it as soon as urine was visible in the sight glass. Unfortunately Nick thought we had decided the opposite and guess who got their feet wet again? Yes it was Nick and it had nothing to do with me as I wasn’t even on board! More laughter from me and more grumps from Nick!! 

Soon we were in a routine but we noticed that we were actually emptying it everyday not alternate days. This in theory meant that between us we were passing over 8 liters per 24 hours - we had already decided that you couldn’t leave it until it was at the top of the sightglass, which was presumably the 9 liter capacity stated, because the tilting action in changing containers just caused a spillage. I know we both drink a lot but that seemed excessive even for us!! 

Then one sunny day when I simply wasn’t paying attention, I got wet feet! This really bothered me as I was on my own on the boat and I always record how much I drink on my Fitbit - yes I know what you are all thinking, how sad is she?!? 

So after discussion with Nick,, I decided it was time for an experiment to measure the exact capacity of the liquid containers. Using water we filled the bottle midway up the sightglass window which was actually 6.5 liters and full was 7.5 liters - so 1.5 liters less than stated on the website!! 

Well, at least that explained why they were filling so quickly but not why the wrong information was on the website. After further investigation on the Airhead US website I worked out what had happened. The US site records the capacity in US gallons but when it had been converted to litres for the UK site someone had converted from Imperial Gallons NOT US Gallons! Well, the mystery was solved and I quickly informed the UK site and they have since updated their information. 

So now, knowing the true capacity, we knew we would have to empty daily which was fine and since this discovery we have had no further ‘wet feet’ incidents! The maximum time a container lasts is 20 hours but more often than not it is 18 hours.

Another way of judging the fullness of the container is to listen to the sound as the urine enters the container! This is something you only learn with use - a bit like getting used to the cries a baby makes and what they mean! 

Oh, and always change the container before you go to bed if you think it is getting full, because you can’t see the sightglass in the night and who wants to be changing the container then anyway? 

The only other important decision we have made is to use a small bin next to the toilet for toilet paper solid only with urine. We just felt the solids container would become too full if all the paper went in there. We are also looking at the possibility of using cloth wipes for urine that can be laundered and reused to try and live as green as possible. 

Come back for Part 2 where I will discuss the first 6 weeks with the solids container!