The Peculiar Perils of Pump-Outs

Jack Denton


Over the summer, I worked at a small marina, out on the wondrous wilds of jagged Georgian Bay. Contrary to popular belief, life working at a marina isn’t all about leisurely days gassing up boats, helping people carry luggage, and valeting boats. You see, there exists something in this peculiar world that torments dock-boys and dock-girls alike: the perils of pump-outs. This is how it may go on a (possibly not-so-regular) day. A family/couple/individual with a swanky yacht saunters into the bay, and pulls up to our docks (taking an undue amount of space, in my professional opinion). They climb out of their pilothouse, squinting from the light refracting off of the once-beautiful, now-polluted waters. Then they announce, with all of their might “I WOULD LIKE A PUMP-OUT”. Now, as an employed individual, you have one of two critical decisions to make in a split second: run away in the opposite direction, grabbing your last paycheque as you go, or, put on a brave face, and prepare to get dirty (and potentially infected).

Now, for those of you who are fortunate enough not to know what a pump-out is, I will tell you. It is nasty, gritty, smelly, unappealing, and just downright awful. It is pumping the unfiltered boat waste (colloquially know as crap) out of boats. Now, when I say “waste,” I mean human waste. As in human refuse. Of the human digestive system. It is a delightful cocktail, as you can imagine. Now,  for the pump-out itself. You start the pump-out machine vacuum tank, and wait for proper suction. Then, you haul a seven-pound, foot-long valve with nozzle, which is attached to a long green line. For utmost effect, it is recommended that you hold the valve at the waist, and proclaim “DON’T CROSS THE LINES!” as you do so. Just picture Bill Murray sucking up ghosts, and you’ll see what it’s like.  You then proceed to attach the nozzle to the waste hole on the side of said swanky yacht. Then, slowly, ever so, ever so, ever so slowly, open the one-way valve.

By this point, if something catastrophic was destined to happen, you likely already have a stranger’s feces all over yourself and the customer’s boat. From here, just keep pushing the nozzle into the boat, hold tight, pray for a tip, and watch the nastiness pass within inches from your face in a pleasantly clear section of pipe. And of course you must say to the customer: “No I don’t mind this is in the least. Oh, good one! [INSERT FORCED LAUGHTER]. And good day to you too, sir!”