Holding Tanks. The trials and tribulations.

holding tanks

Holding tanks stink! In more ways than one.

Those of you who have lived in a house with a cess tank will understand exactly where I am coming from.

When you buy a boat you get a handover just like buying a new car. This is make sure you know where all the seacocks are and how everything works. On our JESSICA handover we were shown the mysteries of our sea toilet and holding tank. We were told that the tank was empty  and that the tank was closed off and we were pumping  straight out into the sea. Before you all scream about the environment, this is allowed in some places. Never eat fish caught in a Marina!!!

However, never trust a sales man. A month into using JESSICA we noticed that she had a slight list to the starboard (right) side and when we used the toilet there was a bit of a pong. We had no idea just how critical this was.

Stinky Goo.

The smell got worse and worse.  Roger described it as “chewy”. Meanwhile I had shares in Airwick air fresheners!!

We tried everything to fix it. Bottle loads of bleach and disinfectant down the head (just how good is that for the marine environment?) and loads of flushing – all to no avail. In fact the list to starboard increased.


Finally we discovered that the holding tank was full to dangerous overload. level. It holds 80 litres of black waste and in 3 weekends there was no way we had filled it so  that meant we were carrying a tank full of the previous owners poo. Bear in mind that before we bought the boat she had been in a marina for 6 months not being used. It was fermenting right under our noses.


We made an emergency dash for the nearest pump out station situated in the next door marina. “Just in time” management does not even begin to describe how close to an environmental disaster we were.

Nor am I going to attempt to describe the gungy sticky goo that we pumped out. It was a full bio-suit hazard looking for somewhere to happen.

Normality resumed. The starboard list was resolved and although I can’t say everything smelt of roses , it was a million times better than before.