How to Flush a Marine Toilet


On board a ship, marine toilets are to as "the head." Marine toilets are made in manual or electric vacuum flush styles. On most pleasure boats, the head flushes to a holding tank, which has to be pumped out when full. Many boats also have a "Y-valve," which when flipped bypasses the holding tank for direct overboard discharge. It is only legal to discharge sewage overboard when more than 3 miles offshore, so before flushing your marine head make sure that the Y-valve is directed towards the holding tank.

Things You'll Need

  • Manual or vacuum-flush marine head
  • Marine-grade toilet paper
  • Air freshener
  • Before using the toilet, turn the handle to "Wet" and pump a small amount of water into the bowl.

  • After using the toilet, add ample water to rinse the bowl and lines. (Note: Some manual toilets have a foot pump that draws saltwater in, rather than a "Wet" setting.)

  • Turn the handle to the "Dry" setting or use the manual handle to pump the bowl empty. Remember to close the thru-hull after using the head to prevent sea water from flowing back through the lines and filling the head while the boat is in motion.

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