PORTA POTTI - A 'no no' or 'okay' for cruising? - SailNet Community
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post #1 of Old 05-29-2012 Thread Starter
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PORTA POTTI - A 'no no' or 'okay' for cruising?

So we're about to take the boat for spin. Hopefully a lengthy one. Cruising to the Gulf of Mex. then onto Bahamas, Caribbean, who knows...

We have a 33' Morgan OI, and the normal holding tank, head, etc. has been removed and we have used a porta potti type head. We've had zero issues with emptying at marinas, etc, cruising the Great Lakes.

We're wondering if this will be an issue elsewhere...other countries, other cruising grounds. Legal or otherwise. Anyone know??

Thanks.
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post #2 of Old 05-29-2012
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Re: PORTA POTTI - A 'no no' or 'okay' for cruising?

I would imagine it could be a bit of a PITA to have to empty more often than a holding tank. Might limit how long you can be away from civilization. Don't know about legal requirements.

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post #3 of Old 05-29-2012 Thread Starter
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Re: PORTA POTTI - A 'no no' or 'okay' for cruising?

I was thinking it might be good to buy second one, or a just the holding tank, and use it as a backup when the first is full.
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Re: PORTA POTTI - A 'no no' or 'okay' for cruising?

Possible? Yeah, no doubt.

Practical? Probably much less so.

I think you're wise to research this before you depart. Take a lot of time to check marinas at which you can dump your PortaPotty, then do a time/distance analysis to make sure you won't be stuck with a full tank with a couple of days to go before you can use your head.

When we came south from Lake Michigan, we didn't avoid marinas but also didn't spend every night in one. There are stretches (sometimes several days worth) when you just can't make the math work, and will have to anchor out. Weather delays should be factored in. Don't assume that every marina will be able to accept your waste. We also had a couple of nights when there were no available berths at marinas we had intended to visit. You should have a back-up plan for offloading your PortaPotty if you are forced to do so from anchor.

If it were me, I'd strongly consider biting the bullet and installing a proper head. YMMV.
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post #5 of Old 05-29-2012
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Haven't used a PortaPot in a few years, but

...The other factor to think of is the stink factor. Even if you don't fill it up every day, I would think you would need to empty it on very regular basis else it will a nice bouquet de pungence, especially in a warmer regions. Like I said, haven't used one in awhile, so they (new models) maybe less prone to stink than I remember.

I agree with others, if you are going to go the P-to-P route, at lease get a secondary, collapsible holding tank/bladder for back-up.

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post #6 of Old 05-29-2012 Thread Starter
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Re: Haven't used a PortaPot in a few years, but

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...The other factor to think of is the stink factor. Even if you don't fill it up every day, I would think you would need to empty it on very regular basis else it will a nice bouquet de pungence, especially in a warmer regions. Like I said, haven't used one in awhile, so they (new models) maybe less prone to stink than I remember.
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What seems to be the key to having no 'stink' is to not use it for urine at all. That's what ends up stinking. We've followed that advice and used the enzyme additive that's recommended, and have had no smell issue.

I'm more concerned with any legal problems, customs, etc...
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post #7 of Old 05-29-2012
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Re: PORTA POTTI - A 'no no' or 'okay' for cruising?

I have read of some areas where you must have a head with a holding tank to be legal. These are primarily marine reserve areas. The concern would be with no holding tank you may fill up the pota poti and be inclined to dump it in the water (although same could happen with a holding tank).

In hawaii there are areas where it is illegal to anchor unless you have a installed head with a Coast Guard approved holding tank- although this regualtion does not seem to be strickly inforced.

Agree with others, do some research, and the strictly regulated marine reserves and conservation area could be a problem.
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Re: Haven't used a PortaPot in a few years, but

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What seems to be the key to having no 'stink' is to not use it for urine at all. That's what ends up stinking. We've followed that advice and used the enzyme additive that's recommended, and have had no smell issue.

I'm more concerned with any legal problems, customs, etc...
Well, you're now facing a problem. Legally, you can piss off the rail -- no worries (other than perhaps offending passing sailors or risking a citation for indecent exposure which could land you on a sex offender's registry.) However, once it goes into any type of container is becomes wastewater, which cannot be legally dumped. Idiotic? You betcha. A frequently violated rule? I'd bet my life on it.
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post #9 of Old 05-29-2012
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Re: Haven't used a PortaPot in a few years, but

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Well, you're now facing a problem. Legally, you can piss off the rail -- no worries (other than perhaps offending passing sailors or risking a citation for indecent exposure which could land you on a sex offender's registry.) However, once it goes into any type of container is becomes wastewater, which cannot be legally dumped. Idiotic? You betcha. A frequently violated rule? I'd bet my life on it.

as someone once said to me "how can they outlaw a bucket ?" ...

Much of the effluent rules do not make sense but it is , or was, a problem that had to be dealt with. Personally I see no problem with direct discharge in less crowded anchorages but in a marina I can see the need for regulations.

Casey, you questions legality but wouldn't a Porta Potty qualify as a holding tank ? It certainly does down here cos on one of our previous boats we kept one on board in case our then direct discharge head was ever questioned.

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post #10 of Old 05-29-2012
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Re: Haven't used a PortaPot in a few years, but

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as someone once said to me "how can they outlaw a bucket ?" ...

Much of the effluent rules do not make sense but it is , or was, a problem that had to be dealt with. Personally I see no problem with direct discharge in less crowded anchorages but in a marina I can see the need for regulations.

Casey, you questions legality but wouldn't a Porta Potty qualify as a holding tank ? It certainly does down here cos on one of our previous boats we kept one on board in case our then direct discharge head was ever questioned.
Sorry, we got too many lawyers in the US:

USCG Systems Engineering Division (CG-ENG-3)

Your direct discharge head is illegal in the US and you can get fined heftly. My understanding even if you lock your heads seacock shut it is still illegal in the US (US Coast Guard states a permantently installed head must meet their regs).. If you are a foreign boat passing through I think you'll be ok.

This is from the above Coast Guard link:
"Portable toilets.
Vessels having no installed toilet are not subject to the provisions of Section 312 of the Act. Portable toilets or porta-potties that use no installed water, power, etc., are not considered installed toilets and therefore not subject to the requirements in 33 CFR Part 159. However, regulations still exist to prohibit disposal of raw sewage within U.S. territorial waters, the Great Lakes, and navigable rivers. Use of portable toilets in combination with a direct discharge toilet is not permitted. Vessel owners may elect to remove installed toilets and use instead portable toilets. For vessels having a portable toilet, all non-compliant fixed toilets should be removed unless impractical or unsafe in which case such devices should be rendered permanently inoperable. For inspected vessels using portable systems, use only devices manufactured of a durable material, such as molded plastic, aluminum, etc., to facilitate removal ashore, securely fastened to the vessel using straps, wooden framing, or similar materials, and maintained by the vessel operator following the manufacturers instructions as to waste disposal, chemical additives, etc. "


Actually there are some (but not all) porta poties that are Coast Guard approved type III msd.
http://www.wholesalemarine.com/c/330...e+Toilets.html
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Last edited by casey1999; 05-29-2012 at 06:20 PM.
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