Buls Eye

Bruce Buls photo 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 April.

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 bucket.

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 nearby.

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.

And so it goes.

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