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Planning a 'head' makes boating more bearable

A boater uses a marina dump station after a day on the water. (Courtesy Oregon Marine Board)
Thursday, July 30, 2020

If nature calls while on the water, it helps to plan “a-head,” the Oregon Marine Board says.

Some recreational boating facilities have reduced or closed available services in light of the pandemic.

If access to shoreside restrooms is limited and your boat does not have an installed head, have a backup plan such as a portable toilet or bucket with a fitted lid, gloves, toilet paper, hand sanitizer and garbage bags.

Warrenton Marina has a dump station just north of the marina office in the inner basin. Astoria has two: one on the fuel float at West Mooring Basin and a second at the Hanthorn Cannery/Pier 39 dock.

Other marinas may install them near holding tank pump-out stations on the guest or fuel dock. For disposal, turn the dump station on, lift the lid, and pour contents into the basin. A hose with nonpotable water is available to help with rinsing the portable toilet or bucket. Look to the visual instructions posted on the side of the dump station, if needed.

To prevent clogs and keep the system working, don’t add any garbage such as wet wipes, paper towels, food packaging or fish waste. Garbage should be placed in a trash bin.

Those planning a boat trip may want to check out the marine board’s pump-out and dump station page, which provides and map and links showing locations for all floating restrooms, portable toilet dump stations or holding tanks. Go to and look under the “boat launches and docks” category.

Another tool is a free application called “Pumpout NAV,” which highlights the location closest to you. It’s available for both Apple and Android devices.

Boaters have free access to a majority of the 80 waste-disposal locations in Oregon, although a few may charge a small fee. Many marinas and boating facilities have made use of grants available through a partnership with Clean Vessel Act, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Sport Fish Restoration Fund, and Oregon State Marine Board.

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