Tips for Choosing the Best Marine Toilet for Your Boat

Boating

A marine toilet sitting on bottom of the ocean covered in algae

Space, water and power are all at a premium on a boat, so if you don’t select the best marine toilet for your boat you could flush your hard-earned money away on the wrong solution.

If your marine toilet right now is a bucket that gets emptied overboard, be careful - you could find yourself running afoul of the law. The Australian Maritime Safety Authority discharge standards require you to be at least 12 nautical miles from the nearest land before bucketing untreated waste at sea.

Your options are to 1) always wait it out and make a dash for the toilet block when the boat hits the ramp, 2) hold the waste on board and empty it into the sewer when you are back on land or 3) fit a toilet and holding tank on your boat and pump it out into onshore facilities.   

Take a seat and have a read of our tips around toilet options two and three.

 

Types of Marine Toilets

There are three main types of toilets that are suitable for use as a marine toilet. The most basic is the portable or cassette toilet where the waste is carried off the boat.

If the idea of walking your waste to a dump point (and very carefully emptying it) doesn’t sound like the way you want to end your weekend, then you’re looking at a pump-out toilet. The pump-out toilet can be either manual or electric and requires 12-volt or 24-volt power on your boat.  

A third option is using a portable camping toilet on your boat. The portaloo or cassette toilet is compact and easily moved around the boat and packed away. These are ideal for smaller, trailered boats that don’t have the room for a fixed toilet or only need a toilet on some trips.

 

Portable Toilets

Advantages

  • Take it on and off the boat

  • Able to use for camping, not just on the boat

  • Easy to empty at a dump point

  • Inexpensive to buy

  • Ideal height for young children to use

  • Quick and easy setup

  • Lightweight

  • Doesn’t require a fixed spot on the boat
     

Disadvantages

  • Chemicals only last around 10 days then need replacing

  • Contents need to be emptied by hand

  • Need to flush manually after each use

  • Can smell a little when the cassette is almost full

Recommended portable toilet: The Portable Camping or Fishing Toilet available in 10 and 20-litre models. 

 

Manual Pump-out Marine Toilets

This type of toilet is manual because the user needs to pump the water to flush the unit.

Advantages

  • Cheaper than an electric toilet

  • No need to empty manually like a portable toilet

  • Doesn’t require a power source like electric toilets
     

Disadvantages

  • More expensive than a portable toilet

  • Requires a fixed position on the boat

  • Involves installation & possibly a privacy screen

  • Need to flush toilet manually

  • Adds around 10kg in weight to the boat

  • The cost to pump out the holding tank at the marina
     

How Does a Manual Pump Out Marine Toilet Work?

A manual toilet has a dual action pump so when the waste goes in, the water goes out. When the handle is pushed down, the waste is evacuated from the pump assembly and sent out the discharge hose line. If a dry bowl option is available, air is used in place of the water.

We recommend the Twist N Turn Manual Marine Toilet for both power and sailing boats. It can be used above or below the waterline on sea, rivers or lakes. Manufactured by Jabsco, the 3000 Twist N Turn has earned a reputation as the best-selling marine toilet. The twist and lock action handle ensures there is no nasty syphoning, flooding or waste backflow. It is designed so there are no crevices or contours for added hygiene. You can choose from a standard or large bowl size, and the seat is a comfortable white enamel wood.

If through-hull fittings are used, and there is any chance that the rim of the toilet could be below the waterline at any time, a ventilated anti-syphon loop must be used to ensure the vessel doesn’t flood and potentially sink.

Corrosion-resistant materials are used so that fresh or salt water can be used in the unit. Left or right-handed reversible pump mounting gives you maximum flexibility for installation. The multi-angled discharge elbow also helps with setup. Discharge can be set to go overboard (if location permits), into a treatment system or into an onboard holding tank. Full instructions are provided for installation.

 

Electric Pump-out Marine Toilets

Fixed to the floor of the boat, an electric marine toilet is the closest solution to a home toilet. There is no pumping of water like a manual toilet, the user simply presses a button to clear the bowl.   

Advantages

  • Provides the comforts of a home bathroom on your boat

  • Easy push-button operation, so flushing is quick and easy

  • No need to manually empty
     

Disadvantages

  • Requires a fixed position on the boat

  • Involves installation

  • Adds around 20kg in weight to the boat

  • Flushing sound can be noisy

  • The cost to pump out the holding tank at the marina

  • Price

If you are thinking of installing an electric marine toilet, we recommend the Jabsco Standard Electric Toilet. There are two sizes to choose from. The large version has a seat which is the same size as home while the compact version has a smaller seat. Both sizes have 12-volt or 24-volt electricity options.

To keep the weight to a minimum, only the bowl is made of white vitreous china, and the lid and seat are plastic. The unit comes complete with a heavy-duty flush pump, stainless macerator, backflow preventer and fastenings.  

 

Treating Waste in Marine Toilets

One of the biggest concerns of boat owners thinking about installing a marine toilet is the potential for odour. Fortunately, there are good quality products that care take of treating sewerage and maintaining portable toilets.

E-Treat Concentrate is a non-staining, biodegradable formula designed to treat waste, sanitise and deodorise. Simply add to the toilet bowl at a rate of 1 ml concentrate to 1 litre tank capacity. E-Treat is suitable for all waste holding tanks including caravans, portable and building site toilets.

For keeping marine toilets in good working order, a conditioner should be used. Some people use a splash of vegetable oil in their marine toilet but this can rot seals, contaminate and increase odour in hoses and turn the toilet into a grease trap. A commercial conditioner like Sudbury Toilet Conditioner does a far better job because it lubricates seals and valves, cleans and deodorises. Suitable for salt and fresh water toilet systems.    

 

Tips for Using a Marine Toilet

While it’s rare to have any problems with home toilets, marine toilets can be prone to a few issues. Follow these tips, and hopefully you won’t have to glove up and deal with toilet issues too often.   

  • Explain to guests how to use the manual toilet, so they understand how the pump works.  

  • Use thin, biodegradable toilet paper to avoid blockages and leave the premium paper at home.

  • If you are using an electric toilet, check that the batteries are re-charging to ensure the toilet keeps flushing.

  • Position the holding tank for pump-out toilets in the middle of the vessel to help with the boat’s trim.

  • If you are using a portable toilet, keep a cassette spare in case the first one fills.        

  • If you aren’t confident about installing a pump-out toilet correctly, call in an expert. If you get it wrong, the toilet may stop working, or it could flood the vessel with sea water and endanger the lives of everyone on board.

  • Learn how to do basic maintenance of your toilet so you can fix minor problems at sea.

  • Keep a bucket or portable toilet on board if you don’t think you can fix any problems that may occur with the toilet.


If you have any queries about which marine toilet is right for your vessel, don’t hesitate to call Boat Accessories Australia on 1300 308 161 or  contact us online.
 
Category: Boating, How to Guides

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