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Go Back   SailNet Community > General Interest > General Discussion (sailing related)
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  #1  
Old 08-11-2006
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Holding tanks

There was thread on the liveaboard forum about the holding tanks and pollution. I think the discussion is worth bringing here.

Here is what we do about waste.

I have a 1 1/2 gallon laundry detergent container. I pull the pour spout out and that is my portable head. It lasts me a few days and I dump it in restrooms ashore when I get the chance.

My wife uses the head which directs the waste into the holding tank which is sufficient (unless she is drinking wine-in-a-box). I removed the diverter and plugged the the thru-hull so overboard discharge is not possible. My wife has, when on our small boat, used a gallon water jug with most of the top cut away. (She has remarkable aim; don't piss her off). I pour her waste into my soap jug.

For solid waste, we line the head with a plastic bag. When finished, we double bag it and either hang it over the stern or tossit in the dink. When we get ashore, I toss it into the dumpster. It couldn't be worse than the fish guts the anglers toss in there.

This way we never overflow the holding tank and never put anything in the Bay that shouldn't be there.
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Old 08-11-2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by foxglove
This way we never overflow the holding tank and never put anything in the Bay that shouldn't be there.
As someone who earns their living in the water, I applaud your efforts and concern. Thanks.
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Old 08-11-2006
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I also applaud your efforts to protect our most valuable resourse. However, the thoughts of using laundry jugs as urinals, storing them onboard for weeks, bagging feces and then hanging the bags over the boat's hull, is just disgusting.

Dare I ask . . . unless your boat is disabled, or you're referring to Northern wintertime conditions, what ever happened to using the pump-out facilities provided by just about every marina, in every protected waterway?
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Old 08-11-2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by foxglove
I removed the diverter and plugged the the thru-hull so overboard discharge is not possible.
I think Coast Guard regulations require a 'Y' valve fitted with a padlock to eliminate the possibility of accidental overboard discharge in no discharge zones.

I guess the added benefit of plugging the thru-hull is that it eliminates one possible leak source (unless your plug fails.)
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Old 08-11-2006
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Herb-
"I think Coast Guard regulations require a 'Y' valve fitted with a padlock"
They never did, although under the prior Commandant that was how they were being interpreted. Under the current Commandant, the overboard discharge simply needs to be "secured" and that can be as simple as locking the head door, or putting a tie wrap on the valve.

Trueblue-
Believe it or not, in some major areas there are no accessible pumpout stations. They are either disabled, unstaffed, broken, or inaccessible to sailboats. With each agency and player pointing fingers at the next, like an old Three Stooges movie.

FYI, if you ever need to use a bag or bucket, throw a handful of absorbant kitty litter in the bottom. It will soldify the waste and eliminate the odor and spill problems.
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Old 08-11-2006
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Thanks for your comments.

TrueBlue, we are in the Chesapeake Bay. We do use pumpout stations to empty the tank but with only one of us using it, the chances for an overflow is remote. There have been times in the past when we were anchoring for several days and the holding tank became full and no pumpout stations were nearby. When we transited the Erie Canal, I don't recal more than one pumpout.

We don't put solid waste in the holding tank because we don't want the odor problem. We also flush with fresh water from the tanks for the same reason.

Regarding the 'Y' valve; I don't think the Guard requires that you have one if the waste can only go into the holding tank. I removed my 'Y' vave (which I refered to as a diverter valve) and closed and plugged the seacock.

Hellosailor, that's a great idea about the kitty litter. I'll bring some along from now on.

Max
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Old 08-11-2006
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Holding Tank, Pump-outs, etc

SORRY IN ADVANCE FOR THE LENGTH... HOPE IT IS WORTH IT....

I have read the previous thread (and obviously this one) about pumping out and holding tanks, etc... and cannot imagine a better (and worse) topic to discuss as sailors.

It is the realities of life... maybe not as much for the casual day sailor or periodic weekender, but those of us that spend a LOT of time on our boats (especially with wife and kids) better get used to dealing with it.

I believe it was Surfesq that was adamant about pumping out and proper disposale of waste. Absolutely! And can you hate Greenpeace (or others), as it is an organization (at least in theory) organized solely for the benefit of earth, the environment, and what we leave for our kids? I think not. If society as a whole were more like Greenpeace and as adamant as Surfesq about pollution, WOW!! What would the world look like today??? I am not a member of Greenpeace... but I would take a world where everyone was fanatical about saving the earth over one where everyone was fanatical about caring less.

That being said, in my travels, I also find camraderie (sp?) & others comments all too true: There are not sufficent pump-outs/facilities, they are not maintained or manned, the government looks to blame the easiest possible culprit (boaters)... no matter how small the impact they really make, and the government makes rules they do not even follow themselves. Politics... often the wrong thing for the right reasons. BoatUS has put together some great articles on just this thing and are definitley worth reading.

All that being said, there are other options. Raritan makes a product called the ElectroScan. It is a Type I MSD, which means it treats the waste before dumping it. It is legal discharge in all but no discharge zones. It will not stop the "nutrient rich factor", but when maintained properly, will eliminate the bioload (virus, bacteria, etc.). It is not cheap... about $900 through Defender (more through West Marine/do not know about Sailnet), but I have used it and attest that if you can make it work, do it. Also, I am almost certain that the waste released by the Electronsan is cleaner (biocount) then the waste the city dumps right back into the waterways after they "process" it. This is up for some debate, but you could in theory make the water cleaner by using this device versus pumping out.

Another option has been presented to me through a very knowledgable sailor. He installed bronze strainers (with SS baskets) on the intake side of his heads. He breaks up pieces of chlorine tabs and a piece of cholorine/teflon tabs and puts them insdie the strainer. THis lasts for three months. His head has no odor (even flushing with saltwater) and you do not mind being downwind from him during pumpout (if you know what I mean). I am actually in the process of switching over to this system. If you have aluminum waste tanks, forget it. However, I have called the mfg of my plasitc tanks, hoses, etc... and it is perfectly safe for them. Again, with this system you will kill the bioload and the is NO SMELL WHEN FLUSHING. Did I also mention that is is VASTLY cheaper than buying the head treatment systems? Good for cruisers that are tight on space & budgets.

The truth is, if every single boat in the world pumped out and never dumped in the ocean, the result would be small. The overwhelming cause of pollution comes from the municipalities and governments that have processed their waste and dumped it in the streams, fertilizer runoff, etc. But it is our responsibility to do everything in our power to "save the world". If not for ourselves, then our kids.
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Old 08-11-2006
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"Raritan makes a product called the ElectroScan."
You know, I tried that but then I got a really nasty warning letter from Local 110 of the International Amalgamated Order of Dung Beetles warning me to cease and desist or they would take me to court for destroying their vital natural food source. My attorney said they'd probably win, so we went back to the cedar bucket and dumping it above the high tide line so the beetles wouldn't have to get their feet wet.
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Old 08-11-2006
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Hellosailor...

Too bad you are not more like me. You see, my S*** does not stink. Dung Beetles don't care anyway...
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Old 08-11-2006
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hellosailor . . . you may have just spurred the development of a new onboard ISDS (Individual Septic Disposal System). This deserves further research.


Just place a few of these critters in a 5 gal bucket, position a loo seat over it and the problem of solid waste disposal is solved.
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