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Old 07-08-2016, 11:47   #1
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Head Configuration

Recently I spent some time on a yacht that developed a clogged head.
On investigation it turns out the boat had no
Pump Out facility. The waste went from the head to
the holding tank. The holding tank had an outlet to a seacocked thru-hill and a vent to the chain locker.
That is all !! Waste was coming out of the vent into
the chain locker. There appeared to be an extra
nipple on the bottom of the tank that wasn't connected to anything. The only way to empty
the tank was to rely on gravity or a Venturi effect
At the thru-hull. How can this work?
Is it even legal to have a holding tank that can't be pumped out and only empty to the sea?
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Old 07-08-2016, 13:00   #2
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Re: Head Configuration

A lot of people avoid using discharge pumps by mounting their holding tanks above the waterline and gravity draining the tank.

It's pretty unusual to not have a pump out fitting as well but I don't think it's illegal. It's up to law enforcement to prove you discharged improperly. Honest officer, I run into international waters every time I empty my tank.

The vent to the chain locker sounds stinky and unhealthy. Sounds like a great way to put sewage into the bilge. Maybe the chain locker drains overboard? Still don't like it.

I'd add a deck pump out and move the vent overboard.
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Old 07-08-2016, 16:00   #3
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Re: Head Configuration

Whether it's legally necessary to have a deck pumpout depends on the water you're in and the laws of a particular state. Absolutely required on all inland waters, almost all of which are "no discharge zones"...pumpout is the only legal way to empty a tank, In some inland states it's even illegal to have any plumbing connected to an overboard thru-hull...mostly on closed intra-state lakes, but also on Lake Champlain, which straddles the NY-VT state line. You can prob'ly get away without a deck pumpout in coastal waters that provide immediate access to open sea beyond the the 3 mile limit (12 miles on the Gulf side of) the FL Keys...which, btw, is open sea at least 3 miles from the nearest point on the whole US coastline, NOT just 3 miles from any shore in a river or bay. It's all covered in 140 CFR 140.3 PART 140--MARINE SANITATION DEVICE STANDARD The EPA maintains an up-to-date list of NDZs by state here: EPA NDZ list

As for venting the tank into the chain locker, that's not only a bad idea, it's illegal. USCG regs require that all sewage and gray water tanks be vented to the outside of the boat because methane is both flammable and lethal in concentration. And btw, USCG regs don't allow unvented bladders to be used for gray or black holding because organic material expands as it breaks down.

"If you can't explain it to a six year old, you don't completely understand it yourself." --Albert Einstein
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Specializing in marine sanitation since '87.
Author "The NEW Get Rid of Boat Odors"
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