When out at sea, the last thing you want to have to worry about is your waste situation. Every experienced sailor has their own personal preference for what kind of marine toilet is ideal. The most important factor is knowing the laws regarding sewage disposal, which for Marylanders can be found here. Once you familiarize yourself with the regulatory side of things, it becomes much easier to choose the right marine toilet for your needs.
Holding Tank and Discharge Options
Next, you need to determine where that waste is going to go—and most toilets are plumbed to a holding tank, are capable of direct discharge, or ideally can do both.
Offshore, as in outside of the three-mile limit and not in a designated no discharge zone, you can discharge sewage without having to do anything with it. On the other hand, if you’re within that three-mile range, you must treat your sewage. This is done with a marine sanitation device like an Electroscan , which kills bacteria and makes the sewage suitable to discharge within the three-mile limit. Just remember that even if your sewage is treated, it can’t be discharged in a no discharge zone. Additionally, it will only kill the bacteria, not remove the nutrients from the discharge. As such no discharge zones are becoming more and more prevalent.
Many also opt for holding tanks, which come in a variety of sizes depending on how large your vessel is. Holding tanks must be pumped out at appropriate pumpout locations, usually for a small fee. Many who choose to install a holding tank also have the option to discharge directly overboard, but you must have a Y-valve installed that is kept secure with a padlock, zip tie, or even by removing the handle. This is something the Coast Guard inspects for and they have been known to do dye tests to make sure everything is up to code, so to avoid fines, you must properly secure the Y-valve in your system.
Manual marine toilets are an inexpensive option that is appealing to many, but remember that they need to be manually pumped, an experience that could be unfamiliar and confusing for potential guests onboard. Manual toilets are inexpensive enough that the labor and cost of a rebuild kit for repairs isn’t always worth it and oftentimes they get replaced outright instead.
On the other hand, electric toilets can be costly but have the ease of use you’d expect from any toilet. This is a fantastic option if you regularly have guests who may be unfamiliar with a manual toilet, plus they use very little electricity to actually function.
While the above options may be some of the most common routes, there are available alternatives as well. In this case, both options are known for being very inexpensive and also tend to be suitable for people who don’t use their boat often.
Portable toilets have a removable container that must be taken to an appropriate discharging location to empty. This is one of the most inexpensive options out there and, if flexibility is required, you can usually purchase more than one container and keep them on board just in case.
Composting toilets have similar pros and cons—like portable toilets, you ultimately need to dispose of all the waste yourself. As far as differences go, composting toilets separate liquids from solids and require a bit more management. Composting toilets also utilize woodshavings or wood chips to help the composting process and keep your toilet smelling clean. They’re also water-free, which is a big plus if you’re concerned about wasting water.
Reach Out to Tidewater Today!
If you’re in the greater Baltimore area and are in need of boat services, contact Tidewater Yacht Service at 410-625-4992 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our location is at 321 East Cromwell Street Baltimore, MD 21230. Get in touch with us today! Whether you need hauling, systems repaired, or storage, we have the experience and expertise to help. We’ve been providing our services to the Chesapeake Bay for over 30 years and know how to properly handle your vessel with care.