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  1. #1
    Chief Petty Officer rs2k's Avatar
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    Default How do I make my boat's toilet legal?

    My boats toilet chops up the sewage and vents it directly overboard. This just doesn't work for a lake. I have plenty of room for black water storage. Will installing just an ordinary holding tank meet regulations?


    Under State law, if your boat has an installed toilet, you are required to have a certified Marine Sanitation Device (MSD).

    Is this what an MSD is? just a holding tank?

  2. #2
    Chief Petty Officer cpubud's Avatar
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    Default Re: How do I make my boat's toilet legal?

    after adding the holding tank you will need to add a way to have the holding tank pumped out and you will need to add a shut off valve for the overboard discharge outlet which must stay in the off position and be secured that way.
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  3. #3
    Lieutenant Commander arks's Avatar
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    Default Re: How do I make my boat's toilet legal?

    Yup, the discharge valve MUST be closed at all times, with the handle secured so it cannot be "accidently" opened.
    I've seen cable locks used but around here all they require is a plastic ty-wrap.
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  4. #4
    Chief Petty Officer rs2k's Avatar
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    Default Re: How do I make my boat's toilet legal?

    My state regs say a closed discharge valve is not good enough. I can have a sealed y-valve, but I also need an MSD I, II, or III.

    I am under the impression that a 12 - 20 gallon polyethylene tank will fit the bill.

  5. #5
    Admiral SS MAYFLOAT's Avatar
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    Default Re: How do I make my boat's toilet legal?

    I do all my boating on a small lake. To remove all doubt from any possibilities of a hefty fine, I removed the marine head and installed a porta potti.

    Sometimes it is a lot quicker taking the PP to the dump station for the RVers than to get into the marina for a pump out.
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  6. #6
    Petty Officer 1st Class
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    Default Re: How do I make my boat's toilet legal?

    I'm in a similar situation as RSK, though I don't think the state regs here are as sticky as his sound. Sounds like a portapotty will really be the easier way to go. The thing I'm a bit confused about is how do you empty a waste tank on a boat. Someone mentioned going to the marina to have it sucked out. I presume, since a boat doesn't have the same kind of gate valve as a land RV, that you have to use some kind of a suction device and a deck fitting. Correct?

  7. #7
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    Default Re: How do I make my boat's toilet legal?

    I'm also a little curious to hear about how head pump out works.

    That said, how is a porta potty easier? How long can one sustain 2 people before being emptied? I can't see buying a large boat, with a head and storage tank, then ripping it all out and switching to a porta potty that needs emptied every other day. Seems like a waste. May as well rip out the galley too and just put in a toaster and eat only Eggo's and Pop Tarts.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: How do I make my boat's toilet legal?

    Quote Originally Posted by witenite0560 View Post
    I presume, since a boat doesn't have the same kind of gate valve as a land RV, that you have to use some kind of a suction device and a deck fitting. Correct?
    Correct. The tank has a dip tube in it that drains it from near the bottom. The tank vent allows air to enter as the waste is being pumped out. The waste pumpout fitting has threads that mate to the hose at the pumpout station (or the hose will have its own universal seal). Pay the money, attach the hose, and within a couple of minutes you're good to go.

    Listen carefully as the waste is being pumped out. As soon as you hear the pitch of the vacuum change, it's empty. Continuing to pull air could collapse the tank.

    Also, you'll want to add a few ounces of tank deodorizer to the empty tank. Just flush it down the head.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: How do I make my boat's toilet legal?

    Hmmm, so where I live full service Marina's are not that common. I'd hate to have to drive all over with a full tank, trying to find someplace equipped to suck it out. Though I'd really like to be able to put the original head back in and pull water out of the lake for it, then just push it to a holding tank, I can see where a portapot would be easier in some ways. Unfortunately, so far all of them I've seen are an inch or so too tall to fit in the space where the head was.
    My other thought would be to install a holding tank and just plumb a standard RV waste discharge outlet flush with the bottom of the hull and make whatever adapter necessary to use standard RV dumps. Then patch over the old discharge port.

  10. #10
    Chief Petty Officer rs2k's Avatar
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    Default Re: How do I make my boat's toilet legal?

    I found out that my tank setup is legal since the masticator pump is located AFTER the storage tank. I just haven't used the toilet here in Kansas so I haven't had to worry about emptying it. The boat's going to Florida's Atlantic coast this month. Whenever I need to empty the tank I can just make sure I'm 3 miles + out and let'er rip. That won't be too difficult with a fishing boat.
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  11. #11
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    Default Re: How do I make my boat's toilet legal?

    Yeah, that'd be the way to go. Around here, if I go 3 miles from shore I'll be 1.5 miles into the woods on the other side of the lake, or more! LOL

    Just watch out you don't get dinged for chumming!! LMAO!!!

  12. #12
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    Default Re: How do I make my boat's toilet legal?

    Well, I've decided to hook up my original head so it draws fresh water from the original thru-hull with an on/off valve between the head and the fitting. Then, I'm removing the old hand pump from the head and plumb it to a holding tank through a macerator pump. I'm going to plumb the pump to both pull from the head and pump from the deck fitting, depending on which valves are closed and open. Also, adding a tank vent and fresh water deck fitting so freshwater can be added during the pump out to help rinse the system out. Any thoughts from you experienced folks. Thanks.

  13. #13
    Admiral smokeonthewater's Avatar
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    Default Re: How do I make my boat's toilet legal?

    your maserator pump won't draw in fresh water to flush like the hand pump does.... an msd is a marine toilet..... typ I II and III are different types.... some with maserator and clorine inj some with holding tank and some with waste processing...... the ONLY one legal in inland waters is the one with the holding tank

    Sorry it's a little vague but it's been about a year since I wanted to know this answer and googled it...... which btw is what you need to do if you want to fully understand.... search for various things like "marine toilet" "msd type" "inland boating laws" etc
    Kevin

    Quote Originally Posted by Tinnie
    But, where are the reevets?
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  14. #14
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    Default Re: How do I make my boat's toilet legal?

    I shouldn't need the macerator to draw in fresh water, since the freshwater thru hull is below the water line. Should be able to just open the seacock and let water into the bowl, then close the seacock. Then after doing the business, a flip of a switch should draw everything out of the bowl and into the tank, perhaps with a bit more freshwater.

  15. #15
    Admiral smokeonthewater's Avatar
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    Default Re: How do I make my boat's toilet legal?

    the inlet cock hose and head would ALL have to be below the water level....
    My suggestion is keep the hand pump and use it to pump into the tank but whatever works for ya
    Kevin

    Quote Originally Posted by Tinnie
    But, where are the reevets?
    1981 Wellcraft V-20 CC Fisherman (FREE BOAT)
    1989 Wellcraft Monte Carlo 28(Build thread here)
    1992 Hotsports Jet'n'Cat Yam 701 WR3 drivetrain "SS George Washington"
    90's Yamaha WRIII and a pair of 95 Kawasaki ZXI-900's
    Fresh clean cheap oil is better then old dirty expensive oil any day

  16. #16
    Rear Admiral Fireman431's Avatar
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    Default Re: How do I make my boat's toilet legal?

    The head won't draw water unless it is lower that the waterline. Even then, it will trickle in. Any one who has seen an open thru-hull fitting (while the boat is in the water) can attest that water doesn't enter nearly as fast as you think it will.

    Use the hand pump to draw water and pressurize the head for flushing. If you don't like to do that, install a small pressure pump (Google 'Vacu-flush') and simply do you business and flush. Closest thing to being at home.

    Most marinas that sell fuel, have any live-a-boards at their slips, or have a restaurant usually have some tiype of provision for pump out. Most that I have seen will pump out for free if you buy fuel. If not, I've never paid more than $5.00.

    IMHO, stay away from the Port-a-potty. If your boat came with a set head, use it if it's operational.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: How do I make my boat's toilet legal?

    The small pump, either electric or hand, between the seacock and head is my plan, if I don't have sufficient gravity flow. I think the thru-hull and head will be below the waterline. But, you may be correct, that may not give me as much flow as I need.
    As for marinas with pump out facilities around here, there just aren't any. Nor are there any live aboards. The boating season just isn't long enough in this neck of the woods and the lakes either freeze over or empty during the winter.
    I was going to go with the portapotty, since I'm looking at a few days at most on the boat. But, even the smallest one I could find was too tall from me head space.
    I think my plan will work though. Just may take a bit of tweeking to get it all just right. I've found a 10gal holding tank that I can fit under the deck. When I get done I'll have a 10gal drinking water tank, 10gal holding tank and a 6gal gray water tank. Should be enough for a few days.

  18. #18
    Admiral smokeonthewater's Avatar
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    Default Re: How do I make my boat's toilet legal?

    if there are no pumpouts then the porta potty is the way to go
    Kevin

    Quote Originally Posted by Tinnie
    But, where are the reevets?
    1981 Wellcraft V-20 CC Fisherman (FREE BOAT)
    1989 Wellcraft Monte Carlo 28(Build thread here)
    1992 Hotsports Jet'n'Cat Yam 701 WR3 drivetrain "SS George Washington"
    90's Yamaha WRIII and a pair of 95 Kawasaki ZXI-900's
    Fresh clean cheap oil is better then old dirty expensive oil any day

  19. #19
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    Default Re: How do I make my boat's toilet legal?

    I think a good wet/dry vac can pump out the tank thru a pump-out fitting. It may not be perfect, but you need SOME way to empty the holding tank. You'd need to jury-rig a connection to keep from getting crap all over, I guess.

    Check online for proper plumbing of the sanitation system. Gasses are released that can be dangerous if not set up properly.

  20. #20
    Supreme Mariner roscoe's Avatar
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    Default Re: How do I make my boat's toilet legal?

    The laws regarding the type and set up of marine toilets, is a Federal law, applies to all 50 states.

    The states can only regulate whether to allow discharge, or not.

    http://www.dbw.ca.gov/Pubs/FedMSD/index.htm




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