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Old 01-24-2016, 08:16 AM   #1
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newbie question

Hi All: I am very new to boating. I dont own any boat and has only been on small pontoon boats and PWC before. So pls forgive me if the questions are too basic.
My goal is to evantually sell my house and live on a boat full time.
1 How does the marine toilet work? Since there's no water pressure.
2 Does the toilet water go into the holding tank 100%? If yes I imagine the tank is going to be full very soon?
3 I live in chicago area, what's the law of discharging waste water on lake michigan?
4 is there any device that can suck in lake water, filter and refill the on board water tank?

Thanks in advance!!
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Old 01-24-2016, 08:36 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by chicagoq View Post
Hi All: I am very new to boating. I dont own any boat and has only been on small pontoon boats and PWC before. So pls forgive me if the questions are too basic.
My goal is to evantually sell my house and live on a boat full time.
1 How does the marine toilet work? Since there's no water pressure.
2 Does the toilet water go into the holding tank 100%? If yes I imagine the tank is going to be full very soon?
3 I live in chicago area, what's the law of discharging waste water on lake michigan?
4 is there any device that can suck in lake water, filter and refill the on board water tank?

Thanks in advance!!
Welcome to the forum!

1. Most work on a pull push system. Suck out of the bowel; push to the holding tank or overboard.
2. They generally use a much smaller amount of water. There is a Y valve that allows you to direct it either all to the holding tank or all overboard. Lots of variables relative to capacity. I figure 1 to 2 gallons per person per day. Most holding tanks range from 20 to 80 gallons.
3. Everything needs to go in the holding tank and be pumped out at a marina. There are more expensive systems that will process for overboard discharge.
4. They are referred to as "water makers". Not Cheap!

Ted
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Old 01-24-2016, 08:47 AM   #3
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Suck out of the bowel.
You did mean "bowl" right?

We're talking an MSD (Marine Sanitary Device) here, not a medical apparatus I hope.........

Welcome aboard Chicago. Most smaller boats have hand pumps, and yes all "black" water goes in the holding tank. "Grey" water, ie sinks and showers goes overboard in most areas. There are also electrically flushing toilets. There is water pressure on a boat, through an electric water pump.

And as Diver said, you use a lot less water to flush than a residential toilet. With two of us for a week a 20 gallon tank is plenty.

The tank is then pumped out at a marina. Often there is a charge. And, if you are full time in Chicago it won't be operational in winter.

You may want to look into portapotties. They have come a long way and are odor free if operated properly. The holding tank disconnects and can then be dumped into an on shore toilet.
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Old 01-24-2016, 10:16 AM   #4
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Thanks guys! This is exactly what I was looking for. I guess for me living on a boat the most challenging part is the water and water waste. I calculated from my residental water bill that me and my wife use around 80 gallons of water per day. Not including anything during daytime while we are in office. That's a lot of water! Of course when on board you learn to preserve water, but 80 gallon is a lot of cut down from.
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Old 01-24-2016, 10:26 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by chicagoq View Post
Thanks guys! This is exactly what I was looking for. I guess for me living on a boat the most challenging part is the water and water waste. I calculated from my residental water bill that me and my wife use around 80 gallons of water per day. Not including anything during daytime while we are in office. That's a lot of water! Of course when on board you learn to preserve water, but 80 gallon is a lot of cut down from.
Would guess a lot of that is from showers. If you live aboard at a marina, they often have bathrooms with showers. Otherwise, a shower on a small boat is get wet (turn off the water), soap up, and then a quick rinse off. Something less than 5 gallons of what usage. Might want to run that concept by the wife before going any further.

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Old 01-24-2016, 10:36 AM   #6
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Yeah, i guess she's not going to like it. She's one of those women who run the water until it is hot, then start showering and then staying there for 10 mins!
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Old 01-24-2016, 10:48 AM   #7
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On our small boats we have had to be really careful about wasteful water use. Some habits are easy to change - like using the "Navy Shower" method described above, or not running water while brushing teeth (or any other time when you aren't actually using it).

With short hair, I can shower pretty well in 1.5 gallons - my wife needs a bit more. Turn the faucet on slow, too - don't run it at full blast unless you're filling a pot or some such. Another major water user is dish washing. Learn to do it frugally, and it makes a huge difference. We were tent campers before we began cruising, so conserving water came fairly easy to us.

We get along on a 36-gallon tank, including showers every other day for two/three of us, for 4-5 days. But for our extended cruising in the wilds of the Inside Passage, we would prefer not to have to return to port so often just for water, so we installed a small watermaker.

Unfortunately, my understanding is that a watermaker (our PUR/Katadyne 40E at least) will not work well in fresh water. It needs the salt in seawater to pack the surface of the membrane tighter in the first few minutes of operation, after which it is ready to produce clean water.

We also cruise Lake Powell and other big western lakes. Lake water may be fine for showering, but I wouldn't be drinking it.
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Old 01-24-2016, 10:49 AM   #8
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10 minutes X 2.2 gallons per minute(average shower head non water saver model) = 22 gallons

There's a change coming
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Old 01-24-2016, 11:01 AM   #9
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Living on a boat requires down sizing in many areas. If you're still considering it, a good approach is try the size reductions at home to see if you can adapt. Go buy a .5 gallon per minute shower head and reduce your shower time to 8 minutes. Use only half the space in the refrigerator / freezer. Use 1/4 of all your kitchen cabinet space. Haven't even touched on personal possessions yet.

Lots of people are able to adapt to reduced space, some aren't. Better to find out when your investment was only a shower head.

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Old 01-24-2016, 11:28 AM   #10
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Whoaaaa Nellie!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Living on boat you can live just like in a tiny apartment onshore as long as the marina can provide water and electric.


Like FF always posts, live in places like the Northeast or Chicago over the winter and all bets are off....better have a very self-sufficient boat.


Stay in paces that provide water/electric 24/7/365 and most liveaboard boats can be set up to be more like apartment dwelling than camping. Long showers and toasty temps if set up right.


Most places living on a boat can be way cheaper than apartment dwelling...but not always....gotta run the numbers....even long term for boat $$$ loss if things don't pan out.
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Old 01-24-2016, 11:56 AM   #11
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So the reverse osmosis only works on salt water? What kind of water maker system do I need if I live in the great lake area?

Thanks for the advises! yeah I am only at the very early stage of figuring out whether living on board is feasible for me and my wife. Most likely we will still keep a small apartment, like in Chicago the marina city is a good candidate, I heard there are people living on board year around in there. My goal is not just to save money, but rather it has been my dream. My Dad worked in a ship yard all his life, I had a lot of influence since childhood. I figured once my kids all flew away, it will be time for me to finally chase my own dream!
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Old 01-24-2016, 12:00 PM   #12
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"Yeah, i guess she's not going to like it. She's one of those women who run the water until it is hot, then start showering and then staying there for 10 mins!"

To change those habits, buy a sun shower. fill with water that is the correct temp, then use only the sun shower to do the whole job with less than 2 gals of water. Once used to using less, go boating.
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Old 01-24-2016, 12:07 PM   #13
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No...watermakers work in fresh water too...but are not the solution...water from land, even if only weekly and tank drawn is your best solution. Though a watermaker could supplement for emergencies. Sure they can sustain you...but they aren't cheap.

It is going to take an adventuresome couple to survive living aboard in Chicago in the winter.
There have been plenty of stories on the internet of people doing it and rarely does anyone say...piece of cake.....most have said it is an adventure. Whether you like that much adventure is only something you can determine. start searching on-line for those that have survived Chicago winters aboard.


This is my 3rd live-aboard and all but a few boats require much more weekly maintenance than a dirt dwelling. There is always something that needs tweaking.


Best to throw caution the wind down south.....survivability in many ways is enanced. Can you or are you willg to relocate?
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Old 01-24-2016, 01:51 PM   #14
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If you're willing on ONLY use fresh water, you could use a traditional R/O water filter by adding a pressure pump. That's probably 50% of the cost of a regular watermaker.
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Old 01-24-2016, 02:11 PM   #15
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Greetings,
Mr. c. "...Most likely we will still keep a small apartment..." So, you're going to have an apartment AND a boat? No $$ savings there guaranteed! I think it's time for you to seriously re-think what you REALLY want to do and if you're realistic, living aboard in Chicago in February won't be one of the options.
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Old 01-24-2016, 02:41 PM   #16
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If you keep a land apartment, then I don't think of you as a live-aboard in the full sense. So, the first issue is determining how much of the time will you live aboard, why are you keeping the apartment, and then what the right boat is. The right boat to live aboard full time may be very different than the one you use on weekends.

As to the water, if you're at a marina, it's not an issue. How much you use for a shower won't matter there as you'll be hooked up to water. However, you might be paying more than you're use to for water.

I wouldn't personally want to live aboard away from marinas without a watermaker or even cruise long periods without water access. Watermakers are available for all types of water.

As to the holding tank, pump out services are readily available and many Chicago marinas have them in your slip as well. I am looking at one right now that has a free self service pump out dock or you pay a flat rate for weekly or bi-weekly service at your slip.

I read where others talk of conserving water and some of that I'm ok with. But water conservation can make it less enjoyable for many so finding ways to not have to conserve too much is nice as well.

Showers are an area neither my wife nor I would want to cut down significantly. We conserve somewhat in that we generally shower together, so guess that counts.
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Old 01-24-2016, 05:45 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chicagoq View Post
I am only at the very early stage of figuring out whether living on board is feasible for me and my wife. Most likely we will still keep a small apartment, like in Chicago the marina city is a good candidate, I heard there are people living on board year around in there. My goal is not just to save money, but rather it has been my dream. My Dad worked in a ship yard all his life, I had a lot of influence since childhood. I figured once my kids all flew away, it will be time for me to finally chase my own dream!
Considering there are people living what you dream of right in the town you live, please go there and visit. Chat the folks who are doing it. Most marinas have a community room/area where there will be a laundry room (washers and dryers) along with a book exchange area, swap table and such.

Visit the dockmaster and ask questions. Look for the boat owners too.

Know this though: your wife is used to an endless supply of hot water and other accoutrements of civilized life. Camping is for kids. Not that camping is a bad thing however from my perspective (post half-century mark) that nonsense is not for me. I want comforts.

Fortunately there are dock queens (that's a boat that primarily lives tied to a pier and perhaps takes a weekend trip or a week long marina-hopping voyage once or twice a season) .... anyway, dock queens are a beautiful way to live on the waterfront with lots of modern conveniences.

The older classic boats would fit into that category. The fiberglass Yachts of yesterday (thirty and more years old) can be a wonderful home. I like them.

But first do some exploring at the local marinas especially in the spring and summer. This time of the year most folks with a lick of sense are snug inside their boats and not in the mood to stand on a dock and chat with a newbie while body parts freeze.

All the best to you Chicagoq... I like this life and am blessed. Though my boat would not work for a couple, she's perfect for me. Wander around the threads here on Trawler Forum. There's a lot to learn and this is a good time to start.

Good Luck!
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Old 01-24-2016, 06:33 PM   #18
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As much as I fancy the very idea of completely living on board. The fact I live in chicago make it a lot harder. There's a newsreel on WGN TV talking about a couple living on board in chicago winter. It ... eee ... i am not sure, at the end the guy was asked if he's gonna do it again next year, he said 50-50. Chicago's winter could be pretty hard. That's why the idea of still keep a small apartment. Maybe summer on boat, go on land in winter? I dont know yet. Like I said, I am still at the earliest stage. Thanks all the info! These are very useful!
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Old 01-24-2016, 06:41 PM   #19
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1. Most work on a pull push system. Suck out of the bowel; push to the holding tank or overboard.
Mine doesn't work quite that way. Thank God!!! This really calls for a gross video by RTF.
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Old 01-24-2016, 06:46 PM   #20
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Full timing in winter climates is not easy. The only people I know that were foolhardy enough to do it AND survive in a semblance of comfort were die hard experienced sailors/boaters.

Aside from water/waste there's heating.... and CONDENSATION and then MOLD. Only a few (expensive) boats are designed for winter operation. Then there's getting on/off the thing in ice, snow..... all the plastic gets hard and breaks.

Man, you push this on a lady that has never done it and likes Hollywood showers, you gonna end up single, and you would be the next one in a long line.

Summer on boat and winter in apartment.... NOW you're talking sense.

Sun showers in Chicago in the winter?

Right.
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