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29 April 2016

Y Is For Y-Valve | Nancy Drew Investigates {A To Z Challenge}


During April, we're participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. Every day (except Sundays), we'll be doing an alphabet themed post starting with "A is for Anchor" and ending with "Z is for Zodiac." Each post is an installment of "Nancy Drew Investigates the Case of the Missing Anchor" - so you may want to read the posts from the beginning, in order to follow along with the story (click here for the first post and here for an index of all the posts). At the end of each post, you'll also find some random thoughts on the day's particular topic. So, if Nancy isn't your thing, feel free to skip the story and go straight to the end.  

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When we last left you, Nancy found a replica model of a xebec boat in the v-berth and discovered Captain Gus's list of stolen goods hidden inside. Knowing that Pete and Donny would be coming back to the v-berth to move the loot, she made her way to the cockpit, hoping to escape from their evil clutches.

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Nancy looked around the cockpit and noticed a lazarette underneath the bench on the port side. She opened the lid and peeked inside. Normally, she would have expected to find equipment like extra line, jerry cans or a spare anchor in a storage locker like this, but it was completely empty, except for what looked like a large tank in the rear. She quickly jumped inside and lowered the lid behind her.

Nancy grabbed her flashlight out of the pocket of her jacket and turned it on. Shining the flashlight around the lazarette, Nancy noticed a horrible smell. Oh no, she thought to herself, Of all the luck. I jumped into the lazarette which has the holding tank in it. No wonder it smells so bad in here!
 
Nancy held the flashlight up to the holding tank and saw that it was completely full. When was the last time they had emptied it? she wondered. Then, she noticed that the Y-valve, which controls whether sewage from the marine toilet goes into the holding tank or directly overboard, wasn’t locked off properly. She couldn’t believe it. Not only were the crew of Party Palace running a dastardly operation to steal marine equipment and then pass it off as legitimate second hand merchandise to unsuspecting buyers, they were also discharging their sewage directly into the water! Why didn’t they just get their holding tank pumped out instead of bypassing it with the Y-valve?

Nancy decided that the Y-valve was the least of her worries and turned on the portable VHF. After making sure she was on channel 16, she pressed the talk button and quietly said, “This is sailing vessel Party Palace. This is sailing vessel Party Palace. This is a distress call. I'm trapped on Party Palace in X Cove with...”

Just then, the lid to the lazarette was yanked open and the two men were glaring down at Nancy. “Look what we have here,” said Donny. “It’s that nosy girl from the marina. Didn’t you get my warnings to stay out of our business?!”

Tune in on Saturday for the final installment of Nancy Drew Investigates – Z is for Zodiac.

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The y-valve on our boat. If you look closely, and you know something about y-valves, then you may notice that something isn't quite right. Can you guess what it is?

Nancy is kind of a goody two-shoes. Given the fact that her father is a well known attorney, it shouldn't come as a surprise that Nancy is well versed in marine regulations regarding discharge of sewage in US waters. Only Nancy would think about how Captain Gus and his crew are flagrantly violating regulations while she's hiding in a lazarette to avoid detection.

In case you're not up on the regulations, like Nancy is, here's the scoop on how it works in the States. It's illegal to discharge untreated sewage in inland waters or within three miles from shore. That means that you either need to have a porta-potty, store all of your sewage in a holding tank (what I affectionately call our PPB, or pee and poo box) and have it pumped out ashore, or have a treatment device that macerates and disinfects your sewage. Ick, I know.

While some countries regulate discharge of sewage, others don't and boaters discharge their untreated sewage directly overboard. In many cases, there simply aren't facilities to pump-out holding tanks, so there's no point in using them. If you're in a crowded anchorage, it pays to have a look around before you jump in the water for a refreshing swim. Yeah, I know, ick again.

That's probably more than you wanted to know about marine sewage, but if, for some odd reason, you want to know more about how bathrooms (or heads), holding tanks and Y-valves on boats work, then check out my slightly quirky take here.

Have you ever had to empty a holding tank on a boat or RV before? If not, would you be willing to give it a go?

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30 comments:

  1. I would just like to say - ick! I've never emptied a holding tank, but I have had to deal with chemical loos before - ugh - nasty! You only have one day left, how can you rescue Nancy and resolve everything?! :)
    Tasha
    Tasha's Thinkings | Wittegen Press | FB3X (AC)

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    1. I know - it is super ick! Chemical toilets are pretty ick too.

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  2. I traveled with my parents in their RV--my stepdad always handled the tank emptying. I preferred not to know! Don't you just hook up and let it run without ever having to actually see the ickiness inside?

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    1. We have a little camper and I'm more than happy to let my hubby manage emptying the black water tanks on it :-)

      Emptying the black water tank on our boat is less icky. Either we get someone to pump us out and they have to deal with the icky factor or we pump it overboard when we're far enough out at sea without having to connect any hoses etc. like you do with an RV.

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  3. Eww - no I have never had to empty a holding tank, but I have had to clean out chemical toilets, which is just horrendous!
    Sophie
    Sophie's Thoughts & Fumbles | Wittegen Press | FB3X

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    1. Chemical toilets are really horrendous because you have to carry them someplace to empty them. Double ick.

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  4. Not a great place to be caught.
    Nope never had to empty one.
    Im blogging from Fill the cracks and Moondustwriter's Blog. Happy last week of A to Zing!

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    1. Consider yourself luck that you haven't had to deal with one :-)

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  5. Oh now Nancy is in a mess right now. I hope she was heard on channel 16.

    Yes we've pumped out our holding tank for years. I've done it many times. Raw waste should never be just pumped overboard.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

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    1. I think it's less gross on a boat than emptying tanks from an RV.

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  6. Dumping it into the water is sick, even if it's allowed far from shore. Fish still swim there.

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    1. It's a tricky one. Even if you wanted to pump your tanks out, in many countries they just don't have the facilities to do so. And if you're making a long passage, there aren't any pump out facilities in the middle of the ocean so you don't have any choice but to discharge in the water.

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  7. I'm starting to worry that you are going to need more days to get Nancy back safely!!!

    @Kathleen01930
    Meet My Imaginary Friends
    #AtoZchallenge

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    1. Fortunately, it is such a simplistic plot that it was no trouble wrapping it up in just one blog post :-)

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  8. Our first boat had a lectrasan which was fantastic! But unfortunately, we're back to the dirty job of using a holding tank and pumping out.

    Cheers, Stephanie

    http://www.svcambria.com/2014/04/whats-so-great-about-cruising-pnw.html

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    1. I've hear good things about lectrasans. I'm really hoping we get a composting toilet one day.

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  9. Y is for "Yikes! That's Yucky!" Luckily I seem to have a pretty high threshold of tolerance for things scatological. Emptying the holding tank certainly isn't my favorite job, but it's not my least favorite either. (That distinction would have to go to dealing with wasps, roaches, and "yobbos.")

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    1. I think I'd rather deal with holding tanks than roaches too.

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  10. While Nancy and I don't always get along, I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog. Well done!

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  11. Our composting toilet (Airhead) just looks better and better! But for those who are concerned about the fish on those rare occasions when the holding tank is drained out at sea... Have you ever seen a 30-ton whale take a dump? Just saying!

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  12. Ellen, you're a winner!
    Swing by my blog to see what book you've won!
    Writer In Transit

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Michelle! So excited to have won another book!

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  13. And that's why I don't swim, any where, even swimming pools are used as a potty. Yuck, and no thank you! :)

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    1. I know - swimming pools can be the worst. I'm always a little worried about them when kids have been playing in them.

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  14. When we had our cabin cruiser, we were able to pull up to a dock, hook up a hose, and empty the head. Thank goodness!

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    1. I have some come around and do that to my boat. So easy and I don't have to deal with the ick.

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  15. Boat toilets really are gross. It doesn't bear thinking about too much! -Lucy

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    1. They are the ultimate in ick - I can't believe I wrote in so much detail about something so gross.

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