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Wag bag vs. portable toilet for daysailing emergencies

Mar 26, 2011
2,909
Corsair F-24 MK I Deale, MD
Most daysailors carry a portable, hoping not to use it, but it's good to have. Because it may not be used again for a month or more, it gets dumped and cleaned every time. In the winter, water must be exchanged for glycol.

On the other hand, what if you simply line the bowl with a wag bag? They contain a powder that stabilizes the mess, they zip-lock up tight, and you pitch them with the rest of the day's trash. I've only used them a few times, climbing above the tree line in parks where they were required (Tetons).

Honestly, it seems like an easier option, for a about $1/use. This, by the Pardeys:
http://www.landlpardey.com/Tips/2006/March.html
 
Oct 30, 2017
166
Catalina c 27 Lake Pueblo
agreed.

For overnight kayak trips we use groovers and line them with wag bags. No mess no fuss.

We have yet to use the portable on our catalina 27.... but then again have only been out in it 3 times and overnight once. Either way emptying it is not something I am looking forward to and am planning on a wag bag use for it.
 
Dec 2, 1997
8,063
- - LIttle Rock
We have yet to use the portable on our catalina 27.... but then again have only been out in it 3 times and overnight once. Either way emptying it is not something I am looking forward to and am planning on a wag bag use for it.
If you plan to do much overnighting or even all day day-sailing, you might want to consider replacing the portable portapotty with an "MSD" portapotty. The "MSD" designation in the model name/number means it has fittings for a pumpout line and vent line, and is designed to be permanently installed (actually just sturdier brackets than portables, so you could still take it off the boat if you absolutely have to), which means that although it's still called a PORTApotty, you don't have to carry anything off the boat to empty it or bury it.

A 5-6 gallon model holds 50-60 flushes...you'd need at least a 30 gal tank to hold that many from a manual marine toilet. No plumbing needed except a vent line and pumpout hose--so no new holes in the boat...and -0- maintenance needed except for rinsing out the tank--which you can do with a bucket while it's being pumped out. Total cost including the pumpout hose and vent line is about $200, and maybe a few $$ more if you also have to install a deck pumpout fitting--a fraction of what you'd spend for a toilet, tank and all the related plumbing needed. And the best part is, you have all the advantages of a toilet and holding tank without giving up a single square foot of storage space.

Check out the Thetford 550P MSD and the Dometic/SeaLand 975MSD Sanipottie
 

Sumner

.
Jan 31, 2009
5,254
Macgregor & Endeavour 26S and 37 Utah's Canyon Country
I was skeptical when I first read about them but decided to try them and have used them on every trip with the Mac since. More about how we use them on our site here .....

http://purplesagetradingpost.com/sumner/MacgregorTrips-3-Powell09/09-10-16-Powell-09.html

For a long trip we carry a couple of the 5 gallon buckets with the snap on lids that you can get at Home Depot. We can put 6 wag bags into one 5 gallon bucket. We actually use Double Duty Bags that we usually get at Walmart. We can get 3 days for 2 people per bag so can carry over a month in two 5 gallon buckets. If you keep them that long you can get a little odor from the bucket so keep the bucket in about 3 of the larger trash bags that have a scent to them. Once on shore the whole 5 gallon bucket goes in the dumpster as we don't want to dump the raw bags in there as they can then smell at that point and we don't feel it is fair to the trash guys.


http://purplesagetradingpost.com/sumner/endeavour-plumbing/plumbing-index.html

I've installed a whole new Lavac Head and intake lines and output lines and new holding tank on the Endeavour. When we finish a trip we hope to dump it a final time at the legal offshore limit and then use the bags in the head on the way to the boat yard like you are talking about. That way when we get there the holding tank will be empty and we will of flushed it a couple times offshore.


Besides the Double Duty Head on the Mac I've also...



... installed a MSD that can be pumped or that...



... we can pump out with the pump shown above, if far enough off shore. Still haven't used it on a trip since I like the ease of using the bags, but installed it for places like the Keys where they want a holding tank that can be pumped out. More on both heads is here....

http://purplesagetradingpost.com/sumner/macgregor/inside-index.html

Sumner
====================================================================
1300 miles to The Bahamas and Back in the Mac...
Endeavour 37 Mods...
MacGregor 26-S Mods...
Mac Trips to Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Canada, Florida, Bahamas
 
Mar 26, 2011
2,909
Corsair F-24 MK I Deale, MD
If you plan to do much overnighting or even all day day-sailing, you might want to consider replacing the portable portapotty with an "MSD" portapotty....
Certainly the MSD portapotty is the right answer for many people. You know that I have had boats with MSDs and understand them pretty well. But for my current needs...
  • Is it worth carrying all of the that if it will only used 2-6 times per year?
  • In the off-season there is no pump-out. Lugging a portable MSD, or even large portable, it beyond the capabilities of my back. The container itself is no so heavy, but it's down in a well and getting a full one to the cockpit is not something I can safely do. I had a big portable 12 years ago and it was a bear then.
  • This boat is a partnership. As a result, if you use it, you clean it... every time. And put it back before you leave. Not terribly practical from my point of view. One alternative is to carry an empty bottom half in my car. I even have one, the result of a incidental top half failure years ago. But that too is "one more thing."
Hence the question. At least in the off season, I can leave some bags on the boat, they won't freeze, and emergencies are prepared for with. If I cruise father (which will certainly happen), then I fill the flush tank and proceed as usual. In fact, I can see this might be a useable plan with a Porta MSD too; simply decommission it in the off season, periods of low use, and places where there is no pump-out available.

So Sumner, why do you need a separate bucket, rather than draping the bag in the empty head bowl?
 

JRT

.
Feb 14, 2017
1,968
Catalina 310 211 Lake Guntersville, AL
Ok I was told to use the 5 gallon bucket, snap on seat, double up trash bag and kitty litter. Honestly have yet to use it at all as we only go out for a few hours at a time and everyone avoids the 5 gallon bucket concept!
 

Sumner

.
Jan 31, 2009
5,254
Macgregor & Endeavour 26S and 37 Utah's Canyon Country
...So Sumner, why do you need a separate bucket, rather than draping the bag in the empty head bowl?
On the Endeavor which has a head (bowl) we will put it in the bowel, maybe, on the way to the yard. Now at the yard, since the head is 300 feet away we keep a 5 gallon bucket in the boat with a seat that goes on it for emergencies. The reason for the bucket is we can fold the bag back down into the bucket and put on the snap lid to eliminate odor. If you use the bag once and zip it and store it in a bucket that can work but is more expensive vs. getting 3 days out of one with two people.

The Mac had a porta potty, not MSD, in a separate small compartment between the V-berth and main cabin. It was wasted space so ...



... moved the head to the cabin.



It is designed so that the bag stays in the bucket opened up for the 3 days of use.



The lid goes on and seals it..



.. and the seat pushes down on the lid and holds everything in place. To use....lift the seat....remove the lid... do your thing ... lift the seat and replace the lid and lower the seat back down. It is designed for no smell during the days in use since the lid fits tight on top of the bucket and open bag.

One plus of the homemade head is that it has a 'full size' seat and is more comfortable than say the Lavac or an MSD porta pottie. Ruth thought it was the best mod on the boat.

If you put the bag in a regular head you are going to have to zip it up after every use to eliminate odor,

Sumner
==========================================================================
1300 miles to The Bahamas and Back in the Mac...
Endeavour 37 Mods...
MacGregor 26-S Mods...
Mac Trips to Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Canada, Florida, Bahamas
 
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Sep 30, 2013
3,278
1988 Catalina 22 central Florida
Ok I was told to use the 5 gallon bucket, snap on seat, double up trash bag and kitty litter. Honestly have yet to use it at all as we only go out for a few hours at a time and everyone avoids the 5 gallon bucket concept!
We went that route for a couple years, and we both loved it. SO easy! We only went to a portapotty (Thetford 550P) because it can go more days in between dumping. For day sailing/weekending, the "litter sh*tter" can't be beat. DO use top-quality kitty litter though. It is worth it. Trust me. ;)

@Peggie Hall HeadMistress ... Regarding the Thetford 550P MSD setup you mentioned. I assume that in addition to pump-out capability, the 550P MSD can be plumbed to dump out at sea, just like a "regular" marine head?
 

Sumner

.
Jan 31, 2009
5,254
Macgregor & Endeavour 26S and 37 Utah's Canyon Country
A couple tips about the bags. If you are going to use one for more than one usage they are going to smell on the subsequent usages. No way around that.

Four things that we have found to decrease the smell is....

1. Try not to get urine in the bag if possible. Put it some place else. Tips for that and for how women can do that is found here...
http://purplesagetradingpost.com/sumner/MacgregorTrips-3-Powell09/09-10-16-Powell-09.html

Composting toilets keep the urine separate also to eliminate smell.

2. Put a little of the liquid that is sold for head smell into the bag or we have found that ...


... putting Glade Carpet Cleaner in the bag can also help but like the liquid better.

3. Spray a little of this ...



... into the bag when you open it and into the air.

4. Learn to hold your breath.

Other than some odor when using them the bags have a lot of benefits. We can cruise without worry about where to dump the porta potty or where can we find a pump-out. Now your cruising doesn't revolve around those. There is no hauling the bottom of a porta potty ashore and dumping it and cleaning it. We love them (pretty much),

Sumner
=========================================================================
1300 miles to The Bahamas and Back in the Mac...
Endeavour 37 Mods...

MacGregor 26-S Mods...http://purplesagetradingpost.com/sumner/endeavour-main/endeavour-index.html
Mac Trips to Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Canada, Florida, Bahamas
 
May 24, 2004
6,744
CC 30 South Florida
It is quite legal to hang your butt over the transom and conclude your business directly over the water. Not so legal to place it in a container first before dumping it in the same water.
 

Sumner

.
Jan 31, 2009
5,254
Macgregor & Endeavour 26S and 37 Utah's Canyon Country
.. Regarding the Thetford 550P MSD setup you mentioned. I assume that in addition to pump-out capability, the 550P MSD can be plumbed to dump out at sea, just like a "regular" marine head?

I used the 260 since it was shorter and ...



... fitted the space under the settee cushion so my head wouldn't hit the cabin top. Other than shorter and a little less storage it is the same as the 550 I believe.

I plumbed it so that it could be pumped out or I could use the macerator pump to pump-out if far enough off shore. I have a hose that can attach to the pump-out fitting on the deck to direct the waste from there back down into the water as I didn't want to have a thru-hull below the waterline on the Mac. I have only used it so far with clear water at home.

The whole install including the pump-out option is here....

http://purplesagetradingpost.com/sumner/macgregor/inside-index.html

I did have this head in the boat on the Bahama trip but chose to use the bags the whole trip,

Sumner
====================================================================
1300 miles to The Bahamas and Back in the Mac...
Endeavour 37 Mods...

MacGregor 26-S Mods...http://purplesagetradingpost.com/sumner/endeavour-main/endeavour-index.html
Mac Trips to Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Canada, Florida, Bahamas
 
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Likes: Gene Neill
Dec 2, 1997
8,063
- - LIttle Rock
Regarding the Thetford 550P MSD setup you mentioned. I assume that in addition to pump-out capability, the 550P MSD can be plumbed to dump out at sea, just like a "regular" marine head?
Yep...same way you'd plumb any other holding tank--a y-valve in the pumpout line with a line going to an overboard discharge pump and thru-hull.

Sumner wrote
I used the 260 since it was shorter and fitted the space under the settee cushion so my head wouldn't hit the cabin top. Other than shorter and a little less storage it is the same as the 550 I believe.
A lot less storage...the 260 tank holds 2.5 gallons, the 550 tank holds 5.5 gallons.

Btw...I do wish y'all would learn to upload photos as thumbnails instead of full size...they don't add 3' to the length of a post and you only have to click on 'em to make 'em full size.
 
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jviss

.
Feb 5, 2004
4,602
Tartan 3800 Westport, MA
It is quite legal to hang your butt over the transom and conclude your business directly over the water. Not so legal to place it in a container first before dumping it in the same water.
Fascinating. Not necessarily socially acceptable.
 

jviss

.
Feb 5, 2004
4,602
Tartan 3800 Westport, MA
I plumbed it so that it could be pumped out or I could use the macerator pump to pump-out if far enough off shore.
How do you secure this to be in compliance with local law? USCG requires a tie warp or handle removed to secure from overboard discharge of waste in no-discharge zones.
 
Mar 26, 2011
2,909
Corsair F-24 MK I Deale, MD
It is quite legal to hang your butt over the transom and conclude your business directly over the water. Not so legal to place it in a container first before dumping it in the same water.
Not always true. In many areas it is not legal to conduct your business within site of other people.

Urinating and Defecating in a Public Place


2. No person shall urinate or defecate in any public place.


It is also illegal in most reservoirs and canals.

And what is the point of such a quip? I suspect the only reason it is not illegal at the federal level is because they can't believe you would do it and they believe the above controls are enough. This is a major problem in the 3rd world. Offshore is one thing, but that is obviously not what we are discussing.
 

Sumner

.
Jan 31, 2009
5,254
Macgregor & Endeavour 26S and 37 Utah's Canyon Country
How do you secure this to be in compliance with local law?.
You could drill the valve handles and tie them if you were worried about that but it doesn't discharge via a thru-hull but by the deck fitting that has a screw cap on it. I was checked in Florida and they were satisfied.

Sumner
 
May 4, 2005
4,062
Macgregor 26d Ft Lauderdale, Fl
  • This boat is a partnership. As a result, if you use it, you clean it... every time. And put it back before you leave. Not terribly practical from my point of view. One alternative is to carry an empty bottom half in my car. I even have one, the result of a incidental top half failure years ago. But that too is "one more thing."

for this reason, the wag bags are a good choice here. easiest to clean.
 

MitchM

.
Jan 20, 2005
951
Nauticat 321 pilothouse 32 Erie PA
we traveled in an old VW camper van with a port a pottie held down with clamps. we put 'pink stuff ' antifreeze into the flush compartment in sub freezing weather...
 
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