Apr 30, 2015

Clean Boating on the Morro Bay Estuary



Summer’s around the bend, and there’s nothing like taking it all in from your boat. If you’re looking forward to getting out on the water, there are a few things you can do now to get ready for some good clean fun.

1. Make sure what goes in the head stays in the holding tank: Check your Y-valve for leaks

You’d rather focus on the wind and the waves, but sometimes nature calls.  When you flush the head on your boat, untreated sewage moves into your holding tank. Your Y-valve is the only thing standing between that sewage and the bay waters that we all enjoy. Because of this, keeping the Y-valve closed is a must, and making sure it’s air- and water-tight is just as important.


Luckily, checking for leaks is easy. All you need is two dye tabs and about three minutes. Purchase the dye tabs from your local marine supply store, or come by the Estuary Program office to pick some up. Drop the tabs into your head and let them sit for 1-2 minutes to soften. Flush, and then head toward your discharge port to make sure there’s no dye in the water.

If the water is clear, you’re good to go. If you see dye leaking out, it’s time to take your boat in for service and get that leak repaired.


2. Know before you go: Locate your nearest pumpout stations

If your Y-valve is working, keeping sewage in the tank should be a breeze. But, you still need to find a pumpout station before the tank gets full.  If you’re boating in Morro Bay, you can find a pumpout station that will work for you using the map below. It also shows you other resources (like battery and used-oil collection sites) that might come in handy.

Pumpout Map



3. Every drop counts: Stock up on absorbents and recycle your waste

With hundreds of boats on the bay, it’s important to keep all chemicals, oil, etc. contained—down to the last drop. In order to do that, you’ll want to keep plenty of absorbents on hand to mop up any spills that occur onboard. You can pick them up at the store, or participate in the Harbor Department’s free absorbent exchange program. They’ll fix you up with the supplies you need; just bring them back for recycling once you’ve used them. You can also drop off used oil, antifreeze, and more for disposal. Just give the Harbor Department a call at 805-772-6254 to find a good time to stop by.

Harbor Patrol Supervisor Becka Kelly and supplies
Harbor Patrol Supervisor Becka Kelly holds an oil-absorbent pad


More information and resources

For more information on clean, safe boating, come by the Morro Bay Yacht Club on May 16 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. You can get a free vessel safety check and  pick up one of the Estuary Program’s clean boating kits from our friends at the Coast Guard Auxiliary. These kits contain the map above, dye tabs to help you check your Y-valve, and more. You can also contact the Estuary Program for clean boating information and materials at 805-772-3834.

Safe boating expo