Do Small Boats Have Bathrooms? (How & Where to Go Potty)

Fishing or cruising on a small boat can be thrilling until you need to use a bathroom. These trips might last for hours even on a small boat, and being far away from land leaves you with few options to relieve yourself. Many boats intended for long trips have bathrooms onboard, but do the smaller boats?

Most small boats (under 20 feet) don’t have bathrooms onboard due to their size. Even if you could fit a bathroom onto the boat, bathrooms are expensive to install and are only available on larger boats with facilities for overnight stays.

So, what do you do when pressed on a small boat and in urgent need of relief? In the rest of the article, I’ll explore a few ideas on how to sort yourself out if you ever get into such a situation. Let’s get started!

Small boat without a bathroom

Alternatives for Using the Bathroom on a Small Boat

Here are a few ways to relieve yourself when pressed on a small boat without a restroom:

  • Return to the shore. This should be your first option if you can’t handle the stress of using bags and containers. Toilets should be available along the water’s edge. If there are none, find a hidden spot along the coast and do your thing, but ensure you clean up after and leave no evidence. Stick to cruising or fishing near shore when in a small boat, especially with family and children.
  • Use a bucket with a lid. Use a bucket with a sturdy cover to aid with odor control. Pour some water into the bucket before using it, particularly for pooping, to make it easier to dispose of afterward.
  • Use a female urinary device (FUD) for women: Women may now pee more easily on tiny boats thanks to the female urinary device. You can pee freely into the device if you get the angle right. You can use a container or jar to hold the pipe. So, wash it and cover it once you’ve finished using it. If you’re going to use FUD for the first time, it’s a good idea to practice at home first so that things don’t get awkward when you’re out on the water. Check out this popular Female Urinary Device at Amazon.
  • Use an airtight container for men. Men can use any airtight container. Pee in it and store it aboard the boat. It’s difficult for women since they can’t urinate in a jar without spilling urine.
  • Use portable toilets. Portable toilets are easy to use and maintain. Portable toilets are available in a wide range of sizes and designs. Some even incorporate deodorants to help with odor control. You can quickly move the portable toilets around because they are light.

Find Privacy While Relieving Yourself on a Small Boat

Finding a means of releasing waste on a small boat is the easy part. The hard part comes with finding privacy. No one wants to be seen peeing or pooping – it’s an unpleasant sight. What’s more embarrassing is the smell that comes with the activity.

Remember that you’re not the only person enjoying time on the water. There may be other boats around. So how do you do your business with some privacy? Here’s what you can do.

Tie a towel around your waist while peeing or pooping to help contain the sound and smell.

You can also place the waste material in the gunwale of the boat. You can politely ask others on the boat to turn around so you can do your thing and quickly clean up. They’ll have to bear with the smell for a short time.

Perhaps a better idea is to use a Pop-up Pod like this one on These pods are basically pop-up tents that set up very quickly and they are made for containing a portable toilet. These pods can also be used for a shower or private changing room. They are very convenient and provide a great deal more privacy than most other options.

Of course, you’ll need to have a small amount of room on the deck to set one up and they are best used in calm conditions.

A final idea is to simply agree with the others on board to always come back to shore if the need arises.

Is It Legal To Release Waste Into the Water?

Many online forums on the topic suggest that you can just release your waste directly into the water, but is that even legal?

It’s illegal to release waste into inland and coastal waterways, unless you are sailing far out into the ocean, say more than 3 miles (4.8 km) from the shore. You may be fined if the coast guard catches you urinating or throwing waste into the sea.

The Environmental Protection Agency has advised that boats should have a marine head linked to a holding facility. Prohibiting waste disposal in water bodies ensures that the water is always safe for people who play and swim.

It is illegal to go to the bathroom in a inland and costal waterways

Ideas for Portable Toilets for Small Boats

Are you planning an extended fishing trip or another long outing on a boat? A portable toilet may be the perfect answer and could come in handy throughout the journey. Here are some fantastic mobile toilet ideas that you can carry on a small boat, so you don’t have to travel back to shore to dispose of waste.

Reliance Luggable Loo Portable Toilet

The Luggable Loo (available on is a bucket with a handle and a snap-close top. It has a capacity of 5 gallons (approx. 19 liters). It comes with 12 Double Doodie trash bags, which you can tie and store after using it. It also includes Bio Gel to aid with odor.

Thetford Porta Potti 365 Toilet

The Thetford Porta Potti 365 (also available on is a lightweight cubed-shaped potty. It can hold up to 19 liters (5 gallons) before it needs disposal. It offers 52 flushings which should be sufficient for a day’s trip.

You can bring a portable toilet on a small boat

Fold-to-go Collapsible Portable Toilet

A fold-to-go collapsible toilet is probably the best portable toilet option. It has a lid and four legs. 

It has a weight capacity of up to 250 pounds (113 kg). The only other thing you’ll need is some sturdy double-duty bag. Get as many as you can. 

When you’re finished, zip or tie the bag and store it somewhere on the boat to dispose of properly when you’re back onshore.

Do Small Boats Have Bathrooms – Conclusion

Getting the call of nature while out on a small boat can be uncomfortable since they don’t have bathrooms. However, you can:

  • Return to the shore
  • Use a bucket with a lid
  • Use a female urinary device (for women) or an airtight container (for men)
  • Use a portable toilet

Note that it’s illegal to dispose of waste on water bodies. So, when planning a boating trip, come prepared. Portable toilets offer a very convenient option.

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