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Old 02-25-2020, 11:17 PM   #1
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Sewage in hull of boat

I was hired to make a few fixes on a 1990s Vantarť, 48 foot yacht, itís a Taiwanese made boat. One of the issues on the boat was an odor problem. Today I pulled all the floor hatches and noticed the entire front of the hull of the boat is full of sewage. The floor hatches are not sealed in any way so the sewage gas leaks into the cabin.

This is the first boat Iíve worked on, I usually work on houses. Is it normal to use the hull of the boat as a holding tank, or is the holding tank leaking into the hull?
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Old 02-25-2020, 11:31 PM   #2
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As the ex host of TV program (Q & A) used to say "I`ll take that as a comment".
Good luck cleaning up, deodorizing, and replacing the tank. Or hoses. Or both. Or other stuff. TF member "The Headmistress" may be your savior for the impossible.
Back to fixing houses.
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Old 02-25-2020, 11:32 PM   #3
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Welcome to the forum.

Holding tank/tanks are the norm. Should be a tank or two, from 15 gallons to maybe 40 gallons in size.

Will have around an 1-1/2" hose to bring waste from the "Head" (toilet) entering the top of the tank.

Should have an 1-1/2" hose leaving the bottom of the tank, leading to deck fitting. This is used to pump the waste tank to a shore based tank. (a "Pump out")

Tanks should also have a vent hose leading to outside the boat, usually in the hull, several feet above the water line.
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Old 02-25-2020, 11:40 PM   #4
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Welcome to the forum.

Holding tank/tanks are the norm. Should be a tank or two, from 15 gallons to maybe 40 gallons in size.

Will have around an 1-1/2" hose to bring waste from the "Head" (toilet) entering the top of the tank.

Should have an 1-1/2" hose leaving the bottom of the tank, leading to deck fitting. This is used to pump the waste tank to a shore based tank. (a "Pump out")

Tanks should also have a vent hose leading to outside the boat, usually in the hull, several feet above the water line.
That’s what I was assuming. Thank you for confirming.
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Old 02-25-2020, 11:44 PM   #5
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I was hired to make a few fixes on a 1990s Vantarť, 48 foot yacht, itís a Taiwanese made boat. One of the issues on the boat was an odor problem. Today I pulled all the floor hatches and noticed the entire front of the hull of the boat is full of sewage. The floor hatches are not sealed in any way so the sewage gas leaks into the cabin.

This is the first boat Iíve worked on, I usually work on houses. Is it normal to use the hull of the boat as a holding tank, or is the holding tank leaking into the hull?
What work were you hired to do that you do consider yourself qualified to do? I'm just confused as to why you'd take a job working on a boat when you've never before done so. Perhaps it was mostly cabinet work or something? I'd suggest reading Peggie's book but it's a very involved and difficult task and often an impossible task you're undertaking. You're talking about a very expensive and involved job in most cases because there's sewage everywhere you can see, but also in very many places you can't see.
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Old 02-25-2020, 11:49 PM   #6
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What work were you hired to do that you do consider yourself qualified to do? I'm just confused as to why you'd take a job working on a boat when you've never before done so. Perhaps it was mostly cabinet work or something? I'd suggest reading Peggie's book but it's a very involved and difficult task and often an impossible task you're undertaking. You're talking about a very expensive and involved job in most cases because there's sewage everywhere you can see, but also in very many places you can't see.
Leaks in windshield and hatches... which is not too different from house work. The sewage issue was a complete surprise and well beyond my scope of ability and interests, but I wanted to be able to confirm my assumptions so I could inform the owner of the boat of the issue.
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Old 02-25-2020, 11:50 PM   #7
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Careful - there could be legal issues associated with this little problem - get help from an expert.
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Old 02-26-2020, 12:10 AM   #8
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Leaks in windshield and hatches... which is not too different from house work. The sewage issue was a complete surprise and well beyond my scope of ability and interests, but I wanted to be able to confirm my assumptions so I could inform the owner of the boat of the issue.
Well, it's up to the owner, but I'm sorry, just my houses do not have either windshields or hatches, and I don't have to protect against the conditions on the water, including salt water, including needing to escape from fires, including waves washing into them, including winds at sea combined with boat speed. I have no doubt you could learn and if this was DIY work I'd understand, but taking work totally outside your area of expertise I question. But then that's what People's Court is there for. Bet you don't have any form of written contract either.
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Old 02-26-2020, 12:22 AM   #9
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Crtten,

Think ... there is absolutely no way the owner of the boat did not know what was in the bilge .... no way! Where did he think it was going. And if the bilge pumps are working at all - its been going overboard - totally illegal inside the 3 mi limit.

Don't get suckered. Don't be the fall guy. Run, don't walk - don't go back on the boat without a haz mat suit.
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Old 02-26-2020, 02:03 AM   #10
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Leaks in windshield and hatches... which is not too different from house work.
Having built houses and boats ..... you are mistaken. Materials and methods are quite different.
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Old 02-26-2020, 02:29 AM   #11
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There are many different designs. None that will discharge to bilge. Typically manual or electric head will discharge to Y valve. Depending upon position of Y valve will pump overboard or into holding tank. Holding tank will have a hose for pumping out and a vent.

If holding tank is full, it could pop a hose off and fill the bilge. Or a hose could simply fall off. Before attempting to clean the bilge, find out where the sewage is coming from.

Once the leak is repaired, a lawn sprayer full of anti-bacterial soap will be required to hit the inaccessible spots. And a lot of krud kutter. Time consuming job.
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Old 02-26-2020, 05:56 AM   #12
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Greetings,
Mr. cr. As mentioned, run away. Do NOT pass GO. Do NOT collect $200. Cut your losses and leave immediately. Forget about requesting payment for any work you have already done (getting paid may mean you somehow?? have some responsibility for the spill). Get out while you can.
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Old 02-26-2020, 07:15 AM   #13
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A. If you are a nice guy, find the leak even if you have no intention of trying to fix it.
If it is a hose, try to replace it.
Let the owner figure out how to clean it all up.
B. Inform the owner and run away.

The question remains, do you have an obligation to report this to the marina operator and or the USCG?
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Old 02-26-2020, 08:50 AM   #14
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Although it may look like sewage, and even smell like sewage it may be rotten bilge water. Many boats have a very small "catch" basin for showers. There is a bilge pump in these plastic boxes which have a capacity of a gallon or less. When the shower is being used the basin fills and trips a bilge pump which pumps the grey water overboard, (it is legal). These catch basins often overflow, they are designed to be not watertight. The assumption is that if the pump can not handle the volume while it is at its peak the rest ends up in the bilge and then overboard.

This foul "sewage" you have discovered may just be stagnant bilge water. It can get to be pretty smelly. Remember it has hair, body sweat, other body fluids, oils, etc. in it. And if it is stuck in an enclosed space, it's full of nasty bacteria.

It should be handled the same way you would handle fluid from the black water tank. It can not go into the marina water!

But my point it this. If you accept the job, do not limit your search to just the holding tank and the toilet hoses. It might be the shower plumbing. In fact, if the boat is in salt water it very well might be a hull leak, salt water is full of little animals which really stink when they die. It also could be a leak from above, like the deck. Any water allowed to sit in an anaerobic environment will smell.

This may even be a "Hazmat" type of job.

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Old 02-26-2020, 09:26 AM   #15
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I suspect the owner knew of the problem and 'sucker punched' you.
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Old 02-26-2020, 09:43 AM   #16
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There are a couple of possible explanations and Pete just hit on one of 'em...a wet bilge is a primordial soup that can make an entire boat smell like a swamp or even a sewer.

It's also possible that this boat has an "integral" holding tank...a compartment in the bilge designed and integrated into the mold when the boat was built, in which case it could have a removable fiberglass or even just plywood cover. If that's the case, you should find hoses leading into and out of it.
Odor problems are actually fairly easy--although a bit labor intensive--to solve and eliminate...and my book (see link in my signature) does cover 'em in detail. But no book can include every detail of specific installations on every boat...so if you'd like some one-on-one help, send me a PM (private message) and we'll go from there.

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Old 02-26-2020, 10:16 AM   #17
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Before I got anywhere near that boat again I would get a tetanus, hepatitis and cholera vaccination.
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Old 02-26-2020, 10:19 AM   #18
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"Donnie, you're out of your league"

Boat plumbing is a bear if you know what you're doing. If not, it's a rabid bear.

No, windows and hatches are NOT just like a house, not even close.

If you want to spend a lot of hours learning boat repair, that's one thing. You won't be able to charge the owner for all that time.

If you're trying to get paid for your time and move to the next job, as said.... run, now.
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Old 02-26-2020, 10:38 AM   #19
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Oh boy I get to use my favorite....."it depends"...


While many boat hatches, windows and doors are clearly different....on many of the older boats with wooden windows...other than some people and their view that silicon should never be used on a boat....just how different are they? Sure....one can nit pick...but many handymen can take something apart, read a bit on it and put it back together...fixed if they are truly good.


Same with plumbing and electricity....disassembly and redo isn't al that complicated if it was done OK to begin with. A little review and it can be done as well as many boat yards with their only somewhat skilled labor.


Now jumping in, re-engineering or upgrading, etc....yes...a good understanding of boats and their systems trumps most land based skill sets no matter how good you are....unless you do your homework. Even then the crossover of systems is wher many get into trouble or NOT researching any "gotchas" that are truly safety related or will bite the owner at survey time.
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Old 02-26-2020, 10:44 AM   #20
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As others have said, I've worked and built house and worked on and restored boats, two different worlds, not to say overly complicated, just another area to learn, just think constant movement/vibration/ whats down hill one day is not the next.

Might want to take a pass on this one....
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