May 032014

Once again, the issue of simply being able to take care of the basic needs of nature has become a bit of a problem.  This has been an ongoing saga ever since I moved to the Keys and it’s really starting to aggravate me.  Having a working, available bathroom has been one of the most difficult things I’ve had to deal with down here.  You would think that such a basic need would be a non issue, but every time I turn around, it’s another obstacle to lower colon tranquility and bladder control.

When I was living at the, “other place”, the live aboard residents had full use of the bathhouse facility.  I didn’t bother with a toilet on the boat as the walk to the bathhouse was not that far.  Then the HOA instituted the $125 a month bathhouse fee and things got nasty.  At that point I went ahead and installed a nice porta potty complete with a legal pump out fitting.  What made this work so well was the fact that the county instituted free weekly pump out services for the entire Keys.  Once a week, some nice guys on a boat with a tank and pump came by and emptied the tank.  Everyone was happy.  Then I moved to my present location on the north side of Stock Island.

As it turns out, all the land on the south side of US 1 on Stock Island is county land.  But on the north side, it is city of Key West land.  A very important distinction.  For it seems that when the county created the free pump out program for all, the city said, “No thanks.  We’ll do our own.”  So they bid out a contract and hired a company to perform pump out duties in city waters, which includes my current marina.  And the city, being the greedy little bastards that they are, decided that free pump outs were not profitable.  So they charge for pump outs.  In my marina, that charge was $20 per pump out with the boat coming by once a week on Tuesday.  As for the free county pump out boat, they actually come to within a few yards of the marina, but are not allowed to enter the marina property.  Gotta luv government.

Now I knew that pump outs were going to cost me.  That was made clear when I moved in and I accepted the extra cost.  And let me say right here and now, this is in no way the fault of the marina.  They are stuck with what the city mandates and there is little they can do about the situation.  So, I moved in, and have had a couple of pump outs so far.  I can stretch the 5 gallon tank to every other week if I’m careful and it works out.

However, last Monday when I went in to pay for a Tuesday pumpout I found out the pump out company had raised their price to $23 per  pump out.  They even sent a cute little official letter to the marina using, “Rising fuel and oil costs” as the excuse.  This is similar to when you walk into a store on land and they have a sign that says they are raising prices due to inflation or some vague reason like that.  It’s doubtful the owner of said business could not explain what the hell inflation is, let alone come up with a legitimate reason for raising prices other than to put more money in their pockets.   As for the pump out company, it could be anything.  Maybe the city wants a bigger cut, the pump out guy needs a new wax job on the Mercedes, whatever, I’m not buying the, “fuel and oil” excuse.  That company has a monopoly on a needed service and they are taking full advantage of it.  So, I paid the $23 because what are you going to do?  

But wait!  There’s more.

The pump out boat will not come out to play anytime there is bad weather.  And by bad weather I mean winds blowing over 15 knots, which it has been doing all week.  It seems either the boat they use is unseaworthy in windy conditions, or the operator has not the ability to run a boat, or it’s an excuse.  No matter, there has been no pump out so far this week.  And the old tank is getting mighty full.

There is the possibility that the winds may diminish enough for the boat to come in over the weekend, but I doubt it will happen.  The upside is, there is an alternative and no, it does not involve filling a bunch of empty gatorade bottles and tossing them in the trash.  The marina has a portable pump out pumper outer and for $25 they will roll out the barrel to your slip and drain the contents of your poor dietary choices into a handy, easy to use tank, and all can be right with the world.  So for just $2 more, it makes just as much sense to use the marina pump out as opposed to waiting around for someone who can’t drive a boat in any thing but perfect weather.

The whole idea of the pump out system, in particular the free service the county gives, is to encourage boaters to use said service and not dump sewage into the local waters, which is illegal as all hell.  Funding is provided by grants but I for one would have no problem paying a little extra surcharge on my annual boat registration to pay for the service.  Given that there are hundreds of boats down here, let us pay our own way.  Even the boats that do not have toilets on board should pay as they are more than likely going over the side when they are out on the water.  No matter how it is funded, the service needs to be made available, affordable, and usable for everyone who is on the water.  Random price increases, refusal to provide said services in mildly windy conditions, just don’t cut it.  But then, we are dealing with government and corporate entities.  And we all know how well that works out.

I will most likely have to get the marina service to come and save the day here soon.  I cannot be relying on the unreliable for this.  No matter which one I use, it basically adds $50 a month to my expenses.  Not horrible but still, more money being pissed away, literally.

Capt. Fritter

  3 Responses to “Living Aboard: Potti Problems…”

  1. YUK.
    the thing is.
    you have the integrity to play by the rules. even as they raise their prices.
    i wonder how many … and i’m betting there are MANY… who just dump the whatever right into the ocean.
    i’m thinking i wouldn’t want to play in the water there. no matter how paradisey it looks.
    i’m also thinking i’d get an apartment with a flushing toilet and then visit the beach.
    but. it’s your dream. not mine. so i will stop with that.

    • Well, at least the pump out boat did show up this morning so I’m good for another two weeks.
      C. F.

  2. What about a composting toilet? You could make you’re own.