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post #1 of 19 Old 05-06-2008 Thread Starter
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Cool Heads Up

I've been toying with the idea of buying a used sailboat. Obviously the older the model the lower the price. However, I know that there are updates on the type of head that you must have these days. I've seen a lot of bpats with Port-a-poty's advertised. I suspect that these are boats which did not go forward with an updated holding system. Can anyone give me a quick narration of the history of boat head requirements through the past 40 years? Exactly when did the head requirements change such that I could determine if there would be a need to convert to a holding system. If I buy an old boat which does not meet present day head requirements, is there a grandfather clause which prevents me from being required to up grade?
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post #2 of 19 Old 05-06-2008
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If I buy an old boat which does not meet present day head requirements, is there a grandfather clause which prevents me from being required to up grade?
The no-discharge regs don't work that way Nohiking. The rules are quite simple in their intent and cannot be sidestepped by convoluted semantics or pre-existing head setups.

Essentially, in both USCG and our state RIDEM regs (Rhode Island Dept of Environmental Management), if the boat has no means of directly discharging sewage overboard, the environmental enforcers apply a green sticker to the exterior of your boat. This signifies that marine toilets can only empty into an onboard holding tank which requires pumping out by a regulated pump-out facility.

If the inspected boat has a direct discharge through-hull, capable of expelling sewage into coastal or inland waterways - up to 3 miles beyond US coastlines, the vessel is issued a yellow sticker. This identifies the boat as one which must have the means of locking the through-hull valve handle for each head and/or holding tank, while within regulated waters.

It doesn't matter when the boat was built and what type of heads are onboard. We simply cannot "directly" discharge sewage from toilets or holding tanks.

However, the irony is, it is unclear whether a person can legally defecate or urinate into the water by bypassing the toilet all together. If this was enforced, we'd need to lock up all sea life within the 3 mile limit.

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post #3 of 19 Old 05-06-2008
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It is generally considered LEGAL to defecate or urinate directly into the water... the law specifically requires that no equipment be discharged overboard. A bucket would qualify as equipment under most state laws regarding black water discharge.... hanging your butt over the stern rail would not. However, there are other laws that you'd be violating.

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post #4 of 19 Old 05-06-2008
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It's "legal" because all sea creatures do it, without the use of extra equipment. Imagine the lawyers arguing over a law that restricted life from peeing or pooping IN the water . . . I think the fish would win.

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post #5 of 19 Old 05-06-2008
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Nah... the lawyers could probably find some way to lose that argument for the fishies.

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post #6 of 19 Old 05-07-2008 Thread Starter
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"However, the irony is, it is unclear whether a person can legally defecate or urinate into the water by bypassing the toilet all together. If this was enforced, we'd need to lock up all sea life within the 3 mile limit."

I love it! Thanks fellas for your serious but humorous replies.

But tell me, on that butt hanging situation, is toilet paper considered "equipment"? No no, don't answer that. Just joking. Just going with the flow of the replies.

Again, thanks for the info.
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post #7 of 19 Old 05-08-2008
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sad, but basically it's okay for a 40' whale to take a dump. but it's illegal for a 6' person

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post #8 of 19 Old 05-08-2008
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sad, but basically it's okay for a 40' whale to take a dump. but it's illegal for a 6' person

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post #9 of 19 Old 05-08-2008
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uspirate, not only dump:


Just checking in.
Where ya'll keep'n the wimmin 'round here?
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post #10 of 19 Old 05-08-2008
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While many people may be consider it legal to directly defecate or urinate over the side, it is not. All US boats are requiredd to carry and display an 'Illegal to discharge' placard, and that placard indicates that pretty much any kind of discharge from a boat is illegal regardless of whether or not equipment is involved. Portapottys are legal in that they are not direct discharging.

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