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Go Back   SailNet Community > General Interest Forums > Gear & Maintenance
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Old 04-25-2007
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how many flushes will a 15-gallon tank hold?

The service manager at my home yacht-yard gave me an estimate for replacing the clapped-out Lectrasan system on my Bristol 29.9 with a holding-tank setup. They use hard plastic tanks, and the biggest that'll fit is only 15 gallons. So I'm wondering: how many flushes will go into a 15 gallon tank?

The estimate didn't mention a Y-valve, but I asked him to install one. Is there any downside to putting in a Y-valve? Most boats with holding tanks have them, right?

I'm thinking that to conserve holding-tank space it might be good to instruct passengers and/or crew to set the valve to "overboard" after doing #1. Does the Coast Guard have a rule that requires the overboard setting to be disabled, somehow or other, when your boat is in a no-untreated-discharge zone? If so, is there serious risk of getting busted for not obeying?
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I'm thinking that to conserve holding-tank space it might be good to instruct passengers and/or crew to set the valve to "overboard" after doing #1. Does the Coast Guard have a rule that requires the overboard setting to be disabled, somehow or other, when your boat is in a no-untreated-discharge zone? If so, is there serious risk of getting busted for not obeying?
You can't discharge black water in a NDZ... at all. If you get caught doing so, the fines are huge... and they get nasty about it. If your boat has a Y-valve that allows overboard discharge, it is required to be locked or secured while in an NDZ, and if they catch you, you're going to regret it...
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Old 04-25-2007
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The law is that inside the 3 mile limit your Y valve must be SECURED in the closed position to prevent overboard discharge. If you are boarded and the valve is found not to be secured in a tamper proof manner you can be fined.
There are additional fines for the DISCHARGE of human waste overboard inside the 3 mile limit and they can be heavy but are more difficult to prove.
Some marine toilets CAN be discharged within the 3 mile limit if they treat the sewage and render it harmless according to federal standards. The leading type of this head is the Electrosan unit.

No discharge zones simply add the prohibition of discharging anything from any head including the Electrosan.

You certainly see enough sailors P**sing over the rail to avoid using their heads and filling their holding tanks and from everything I've read this is harmless, but it is still unlawful.

As for solid waste....I think the 3 mile rule is stupid. There are places within 3 miles where a dump would not have any effect whatsoever...and there are other places where it will cause damage based on lack tidal flow and concentration of boaters. But they had to come up with one rule for everywhere so we are stuck with it.

In your neck of the woods...the chance of getting boarded and busted is moderate I would say.
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I don't believe that pissing over the side of the boat is illegal. As the law is written, discharging a marine head overboard is illegal, but direct human discharge is not IIRC.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sailingdog
Cam-

I don't believe that pissing over the side of the boat is illegal. As the law is written, discharging a marine head overboard is illegal, but direct human discharge is not IIRC.
Pissing over the side may not be the best solution in mixed company. In its infinite wisdom, where does the gummint stand re pissing in a bottle and pouring it over?

Show of hands: who's been boarded by the CG for Y-valve inspection?

Another question: how do you disable a Y-valve?
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Old 04-25-2007
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The majority of drowned bodies recovered from falling overboard, have their zippers down. By this dumb ruling, the executors of estate of every COB victim found DOA with their fly open, would be sent a notice for fine payment.
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Originally Posted by wumhenry
Pissing over the side may not be the best solution in mixed company. In its infinite wisdom, where does the gummint stand re pissing in a bottle and pouring it over?

Show of hands: who's been boarded by the CG for Y-valve inspection?

Another question: how do you disable a Y-valve?
You can lock the locker the handle is in, you can padlock the handle, if it is equipped with the proper fittings, or you can cable tie the sucker in the closed position. According to the USCG, any of the three will suffice.
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I was boarded for a standard inspection a long time ago. (10+years) They found my handle closed and not secured and simply issued me a written warning. No guarantee that is what would happen today.
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"The law is that inside the 3 mile limit your Y valve must be SECURED in the closed position to prevent overboard discharge."
That one I never heard of, and I have checked this year's federal boating handbook. Secured in a NDZ, yes. But the 3-mile limit is a MARPOL discahrge zone, not a sewage discharge zone, AFAIK.
How a boarding party will treat you for not having a discharge "secured" is pretty much up to the boarding officer, if you impress them as generally responsible and shipshape, they're more likely to just point and grumble, like cops everywhere.

Pissing overboard is legal because there is no shipboard sanitation system involved. Piss in a bicket and then dump the bucket overboard--and now you've got an "equipment" discharge and potential legal problems. Yes, the law really is that way.

If space is really tight you may want to look into adding a urinal in the head, which often can legally drain overboard, no storage required. Or, at least, minimal space in the holding tank if you just do a gravity flush or manual flush (throw a cup of water in) after use. You won't see this on the Disney Channel but men HAVE been known to pee in the sink, both on land and at sea, when other facilities are not convenient. Before the advent of separate bathrooms for every room (in boarding houses too) this was not uncommon.

Of course gentlemen will rinse the sink afterwards. Ahem.
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And some places like Avalon on Catalina Island have found it necessary to add dye to the tank of visiting boats to prevent/identify those so irresponsible as to dump in an anchorage/mooring field/harbor. Only necessary in the summer months it seems.
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