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Old 18-09-2009, 13:52   #1
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Head Discharge in the Caribbean

As a potential Caribbean cruiser, I wonder what cruisers do regarding discharging holding tanks when at anchor in an idyllic Caribbean anchorage for say 3 weeks. Assuming there is no pump out facility nearby, does one up anchor every week or so and head offshore to macerate and discharge? Assumptions: boat has a holding tank, a macerator and one wants to be eco-friendly.

Experiences of other cruisers welcome

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Old 18-09-2009, 14:09   #2
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Don't swim in crowded anchorages.

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Old 18-09-2009, 14:13   #3
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most folks just pump it overboard -most places-
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Old 18-09-2009, 14:22   #4
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a two-head solution

Assuming a cruising couple on a boat with two heads, one way go three weeks in an anchorage is to y-valve the forward head to direct discharge, using it only for liquid waste, while using the aft head for solid waste only. Once it fills, switch so that the aft head y-valves in direct discharge mode and the forward head stores waste in the holding tank. Now use the aft head for liquid waste and the forward head for solid waste.

Once both tanks are full, weigh anchor and head for a good discharge zone away from swimmers.
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Old 18-09-2009, 14:27   #5
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Floaters in Paradise?
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Old 18-09-2009, 14:46   #6
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Generally people just dump. I wish more had holding tanks to hold it until they are underday again though. Sometimes this is not practical. (you might be staying for a couple of months) If you have ever cleaned your bottom in places like Luperon, Samana, Georgetown, you can definitely tell you have been exposed to a lot of stuff... takes a day or two to get really well from it. Other clean places .... no effect. We should all try to pull the hook and go out and empty the holding tank if possible.... that chain will be a mess anyway!
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Old 18-09-2009, 15:00   #7
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Chris Doyle, the author of several cruising guides and articles, once advised that if you're in the water before 10am to keep your eyes open and your mouth shut!
In nine years I never saw a pump out station from Cabp San Lucas to Palm Beach.

There is another issue on this topic: very few islands have sewage treatment plants! If sanitation is a problem for you, third world countries are not the answer.

I've been at Bequia when the docks and beaches have had to be closed and policed due to "an accident". San Blais and much of Central America have outhouses next to or over the water used for our anchorages. Many resorts have "pitchfork" crews to clean their beaches each morning. The marina at San Juan, Puerto Rico has a restroom that discharges directly into the waters of the marina!
Macerator/holding tanks, good luck!
Now if we could just get all of the marine life to stop crapping in OUR water we could stop worrying.
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Old 18-09-2009, 15:07   #8
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When I was in the BVIs recently the charter companies and print material advised to not dump in bays or at anchor, but wait until you are underway. They did not say 3 miles out as with the U.S.

This is what I experienced, but it should not be taken as official regulation.
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Old 18-09-2009, 15:21   #9
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Yea, boats are generally minimal, but singled out in many countries. It's not just the islands and third world countries:Right here in the USA and Canada municipalities dump raw sewage directly in the ocean every year, millions of gallons are dumped by single cities alone. Occasionally they get a minimal fine. However, the effect of boaters on boater's environment in places like I mentioned above is obvious... boat discharge does make a difference where boats accumulate and dont move much.
Nation & World | Sewage spills foul San Francisco Bay over and over | Seattle Times Newspaper
Cottagers upset by sewage spill - Winnipeg Free Press
"These kinds of spills continue to happen on average two times a day," said Fran Diamond, chairwoman of the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board. "It's from roots blocking lines, grease from restaurants. The city should be able to provide basic city service. This isn't a Third World city. We should be able to do better."
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Old 18-09-2009, 17:21   #10
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Originally Posted by celticroamer View Post
one wants to be eco-friendly.
Then here's a thought... whats more eco friendly: pumping out 1 bit of poop per person per day in a fish bite size piece....


Pumping out 80 to 160 litres of macerated poop with cleaning and deoderizing chemicals added in ONE spot at one time?

Its an interesting conundrum

(I'm off for spelling lessons)
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Old 18-09-2009, 17:31   #11
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Originally Posted by MarkJ View Post
a fish bite size piece....
So ya prolly don't want to fish in the mooring field either then I expect.
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Old 18-09-2009, 18:25   #12
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Salt water renders human waste safe within a few minutes of exposure. May not be fun to swim in a lumpy sea but it's not a great health issue. Personally think the psuedo green NDZ's are political whitewash that our elected officials love but are largely ineffective and/or worthless. As someone else has said, our municipal sewage treatment routinely dump MILLIONS of gallons untreated sewage into our coastal every time there is a significant storm or mechanical breakdown.

FWIW, Waikiki had the one and only sewer line, serving all those hotels and condo's, break a couple of years ago. Dumped raw sewage into the AlaWai which dumps into the ocean on the west end of Waikiki Beach to the tune of millions of gallons over a couple of days. Smell was horrible on the AlaWai till they finally were able to do a temporary fix. The AlaWai which is a very sluggish flowing canal for draining the swamp that Waikiki used to be, cleaned out in a day or two. They closed Waikiki Beach but never really had a problem with coliform bacteria and opened the beaches almost as soon as the leak was fixed. Could not find any evidence of contamination despite dumping the end result of several hundred thousand luau tourists into the water for days. Honolulu used to dump all its sewage just off the reef by the commercial harbor. It was a bit aromatic sailing through this large brown patch. Still, the coral in the area seemed to be doing just fine and it was a great place to dive for lobster. Now Honolulu dumps its sewage a couple of miles offshore in several thousand feet of water. No problems, except with the EPA, despite tons of studies all of which come up with nothing to worry about.

So no, there are no pump out stations and few bother to dump their holding tanks at sea. I would say it is a lot better to direct discharge the head than to bulk dump several days of accumulation.

BTW, I use a LectraSan to treat my waste but you'll only see a holding tank in this boat over my dead body. Grew up with three holers and the Monky Wards catalogue and will never go back.
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Old 19-09-2009, 03:27   #13
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Originally Posted by roverhi View Post
Salt water renders human waste safe within a few minutes of exposure ...
Have you any evidence for that opinion?
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Old 19-09-2009, 04:04   #14
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so back to the question kind of....I get the impression that it is legal in the carribean to direct discharge right in the harbor?
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Old 19-09-2009, 04:06   #15
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I would be very interested in any information on salt water rendering human waste safe... Im not suggesting that the statement is not true, only that in my limited research I have not come across this? I do know that one type of on-board sanitizer, I believe it is electro-san, uses salt to disinfect waste in the holding tank. Are you refering to that? Again, I am not an expert in this field but in addition to the salt I believe there is some sort of electrical charge to ensure the waste is safe...

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