Urinal plumbed directly overboard ? - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 81 Old 03-06-2011 Thread Starter
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Question Urinal plumbed directly overboard ?

My last boat was 25 years old when I bought it. The head was an illegal and smelly mess. Tore out everything and installed a full size portapotti MSD with deck pumpout. No more smells.

I was left with extra thruhulls and experimented with a urinal tube to greatly extend time between pumpouts. The 5 gallon capacity of the portapotti encouraged this thinking. I found the direct overboard drain very convenient and want to equip my next boat with a urinal.

In the summer of 2010 I had a routine boarding by the Coast Guard at Friday Harbor in the San Juans. They gave my boat an inspection and found no infractions. I have the receipt to prove it. There were no particular questions about my sanitation installation.

I think this post could result in some interesting positive and negative input and some nuggets of wisdom as well. Mostly male responses I reckon.

First of all, it must be understood that urine is not sewage. Sewage is defined as solids suspended in water. Urine from healthy people is sterile and harmless to the marine environment. That being said, I imagine regional law enforcement could have various definitions of sewage, perhaps requiring urine to be controlled as graywater.

There is at least one supplier of a compact porcelain wall urinal with plumbed flushing valve. This could make for a tasteful installation but I wonder how it could be drained by gravity only, while using a thruhull safely above the boat's waterline.

I have used a 3/4 inch tube with a funnel clamped on the inboard end. Kept a 1/2 gallon jug with a weak vinegar/water solution nearby to provide a flush of the line after each use. Never had any odors this way, never had to risk the public display of a man pissing over the side of the boat, never risked my life falling overboard with my fly unzipped.

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Last edited by PopeyeGordon; 03-07-2011 at 06:27 PM.
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post #2 of 81 Old 03-06-2011
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in some areas peeing right over board is legal, but go in any container first and you run into legal stuff.

I personally keep a cup in the head sink and use that and pour it out the sink. its easy to rinse if need be, and the head sink does not get used for anything else ( too small ) so no issues there.

as for urine not being sewage, try to prove that in a court. i would not plum anything like that straight over board.
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post #3 of 81 Old 03-07-2011
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I have little doubt that a urinal will be considered a marine sanitation device and subject to MSD regulations when sailing within a no-discharge zone. I do not recall those regulations differentiating between forms of human waste.


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post #4 of 81 Old 03-07-2011
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post #5 of 81 Old 03-07-2011
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Bucket and chuck it! The old cedar bucket solution!

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post #6 of 81 Old 03-07-2011
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Just use the sink!

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post #7 of 81 Old 03-07-2011
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Yup, urine unless from an (urinary tract) infected, etc. person is essentially a sterile liquid, even passing straight through sewage plant operations.
However, it would create great 'economic opportunity' for the legal industry to prevent such 'direct discharge' hence the high probability of economic income through regulation.

Better to control 'everything', dump it into a sewage treatment system where it isnt treated other than by 'buffering' the acid content and only then to become part of the 'effluent' ... and all the 'legal requirements' are then satisfied; The 'legal requirements' being the chief concern rather than scientific/biological truth. Its a costly 'feel good' and 'control' issue.

Last edited by RichH; 03-07-2011 at 06:43 AM.
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post #8 of 81 Old 03-07-2011
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Not advocating for this

OK, I am not advocating direct discharge of urine as being OK for the marine environment or legal.

However, to the OP question, here is how I would do it.

The "green" movement has resulted in a great product called waterless urinals. A couple of companies (see the previous link) even make a stainless steel, low space unit. If I were going to go about this, I would install the urinal in the head and plumb it to the through hull with a y-valve that could also direct the waste into the holding tank. Thus creating a situation like you have on many older boats.

My friends old boat, a Catalina 25 from the early 80s, had a y-valve set up so that the head could be directed to either dump directly overboard or to the holding tank. Legally when he was out sailing in a no discharge area, the y-valve was supposed to be turned to dump into the tank and the valve disabled in that position. He put a pad lock on the valve to accomplish this. When he was out sailing, the y-valve would typically be in an illegal state but if he saw the coast guard out doing checks he would just duck below and switch it and lock it.

Personally, I don't know what the big deal is. Are marinas really charging that much for a pump out? In my area, the Hingham Harbor Master operates a pump out boat that is free. You call him on the radio and he comes over and pumps you out. Or you put up a pump out flag and he will get you when he comes around during the week.

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post #9 of 81 Old 03-07-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PopeyeGordon View Post
First of all, it must be understood that urine is not sewage.
If it goes into an MSD, it's sewage. You don't get to make up your own definitions.
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post #10 of 81 Old 03-07-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JKCatalina310 View Post
Personally, I don't know what the big deal is. Are marinas really charging that much for a pump out? In my area, the Hingham Harbor Master operates a pump out boat that is free. You call him on the radio and he comes over and pumps you out. Or you put up a pump out flag and he will get you when he comes around during the week.
My marina has a pump out next to the fuel dock. It is free for anyone to pull up and use. There is a marine sanitation service that you can hire to come and pump out your boat either on demand or scheduled. My marina also has three mobile manual pump outs that you can wheel to your own boat, pump it out, and wheel it back to the pump out station to dump the the tank.

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