A Day in the Life of a Pumpout Boat Operator

While we’ve been hanging out in Laishley Park Marina in Punta Gorda, I’ve been working part-time as a pumpout boat operator. The S. S. Clearhead was commissioned in October. When it arrived they had no one to run it, so I volunteered. Think it’s a crappy job? Well think again. Here’s my sweet ride:


  On Mondays and Thursdays I take her out for a spin around Charlotte Harbor. I leave the marina at 10 a.m. looking for boats that may want a pumpout. Some call the dockmaster ahead of time to arrange a rendevous. Others contact me on VHF channel 16.

Leaving the marina:


  As you can see it was glassy calm this morning. We had a new arrival on our mooring field so I floated on over to see if he needed my services. What did I find? The dude was naked. What is it with boaters and nudity?! I politely granted his request to come back later. 


  I crossed under the route 41 bridges and found dolphins playing in the Gilchrest Park anchorage.



I then proceeded to slow troll along the Punta Gorda waterfront. Here’s Fishermen’s Village:


  You never know what you might see in or on the water around here. Here’s a spotted ray.




It was a trawler kind of day:


  I arrive outside the markers to Ponce Inlet at 11 a.m. I’ve got some regulars that come out of this inlet, but no one showed today.



I did watch an impatient and discourteous power boater pass a sail boat in the very narrow channel. He then decided to throw a large wake as he passed close by while I was drifting.


Which resulted in this:


Okay, no takers at Ponce so I got her up on plane to make the run down to Alligator Creek. I arrive there at 11:30 a.m.


These two sail boats were anchored up, but did not require my services:


Next I completely cross the harbor and enter the Myakka River. Sometimes deeper draft vessels will stage outside the entrance to the lock at South Gulf Cove, waiting for high tide to navigate the shallow channel. I get there around noon. No one home. Here’s the El Jobean bridge:


  Exiting the Myakka I head back north, around Hog Island and into the mouth of Alligator Bay. Sometimes boats will come out of the canals in Port Charlotte for a pumpout. Not today. Port Charlotte Beach complex:


  I slow troll from there up the Port Charlotte waterfront and check outside of Edgewater Lake and the Port Charlotte Yacht Club until 12:30. As I start to head back to the Punta Gorda side, I see my friend Rodney out for a sail:Image

  Then it was time to head back towards the marina and take care of whoever had arranged for a pumpout with the dockmaster. I stopped off and rendered my services to the guy on the mooring field, who was now fully clothed. Crossing under the bridge:


  So today was not typical. Normally I have several pumpouts on the harbor and as many as a dozen within the marina. The snow bird season is apparently over. Less boats on the harbor. Less boats in the marina. Overall I ran 25 miles on calm seas under clear blue skies. I got paid for that. Not such a crappy job afterall. 

  If you make your way to Charlotte Harbor, keep in mind that this service is free. Hail Clearhead on VHF channel 16, Mondays and Thursday after 10 a.m. Give the pumpout boat operator something to do besides admire the scenery.


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5 thoughts on “A Day in the Life of a Pumpout Boat Operator

    1. Ed Robinson Post author

      Yes, but there’s a bridge with only a 45 foot clearance. Bigger sailboats can not get under it. They can however, anchor off the town near Gilchrest Park and still use the marina facilities for 15 dollars. (Trash, shower, dayroom, wifi) There are also free bike loaners.


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