With a degree in English literature from the University of Washington (Go Dawgs), journalism experience as an editor at the new-defunct Seattle P-I, and at-sea experience as a commercial fisherman in Washington and Alaska, Bruce Buls has forged a career in commercial marine trade journalism, including stints at Alaska Fishermen’s Journal and National Fisherman, WorkBoat’s sister publications. He lives on Puget Sound’s Whidbey Island, about 20 miles north of Seattle, which means he’s a frequent rider on Washington State Ferries.
MSDs for thee and me
March 15, 2012
Sometimes the annual editorial calendar for WorkBoat
magazine leads us into subjects that we wouldn’t treat otherwise. Such as
marine sanitation devices, which will float in with the April tide.
Every summer, the editorial team (Dave, Ken and I) meets
with the sales team (Susan, Kristin and Jeff), and with the help our publisher
(Jerry) and vice president (Mike), we hash out a list of the upcoming year’s
monthly “special features.” With this list in hand, the sales people will
contact, say, winch companies and suggest that they might want to advertise in
the July issue (Deck Equipment). Never mind that this approach might also
persuade the winch guy not to
advertise in the in issue featuring Waste Management, the “special feature” in
Personally, I’m paying closer attention to the subject now
because I’ll be sailing my own boat this summer. According to the regulations
referred to in Michael Crowley’s story, I’m supposed to have more than a
Not that I mind a bucket. Back in the days when I fished
with a couple friends on a 32' bowpicker in Bristol Bay, Alaska, that’s all we
had. And it didn’t even have a seat of any kind. It was just me and the rim. Dumping
the bucket could be a little awkward, though, especially if other boats were
I think I can get by with a “portable toilet” for my 20'
sailboat. Strictly speaking, portable toilets aren’t MSDs. An MSD is more like
an onboard septic tank that processes the poop before it’s legally discharged at sea,
whereas a portable toilet is essentially a portable holding tank that must be
dumped into a shoreside sewage system.
Another alternative has surfaced: the Air Head, a marine composting
toilet. I like the concept, but it’s a bit large and expensive for a small
sailboat. And although its capacity is too small for most workboats, it could
work for some.