No-one should be pumping out the heads in a harbour. But what’s the alternative to fitting a holding tank? John Boulcott provides one answer
No room for a holding tank? Use a bedpan liner
We’re all becoming more aware of the detrimental effects that pollution is having on our environment, and about the undesirable practice of pumping raw sewage from sea toilets into anchorages, rivers and harbours, writes John Boulcott.
The recommended solution is to fit a holding tank to your boat, but finding space to fit such a tank – especially in smaller boats – is difficult and sometimes impossible.
My solution that finds a way around this is to make use of bags, the type of thing used in commode chairs and bedpans.
In our Hunter Pilot sailing yacht my wife and I use Abena Abri-Bag liners: they are supplied in boxes of 20 and work out at just over 50p per bag.
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The liner fits perfectly around the rim of the toilet bowl and comes with an absorbent gel pad which will absorb up to 600ml of urine.
The bags are very hygienic and easy to use, and are sealed after use by means of a built-in drawstring.
The bags can then be securely double bagged and disposed of in your household waste bin – as would a child’s nappies – when ashore.
Advantages of using the bags:
- Avoids the effort and expense of plumbing in a holding tank to your existing toilet installation,
- No need to sail three miles offshore to empty your tank when full, or to search for marina pump-out facilities,
- You are not limited to how long you can stay in an anchorage, provided you have enough bags with you,
- Toilet paper and wet wipes can just be popped into the bag,
- Toilet doesn’t require flushing and the pan and pipes remain clean,
- Heads stays nice and fresh and odour free
The only issue for some people may be how and where on the boat to store the used bags before going ashore.
We use an empty flare container (the holding tank!) which we keep in the cockpit locker.
The container incorporates a very good airtight seal and the boat remains free of odours.
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