Note: We give the answer first, and then the question that prompted the answer.
When you boat camp at Lake Powell you are required to have a portable toilet at your camp. People who do not have a toilet on their boat usually bring a porta potty and set it up somewhere convenient but away from their tents. That works fine while at camp, but not while out on the boat. One possible solution is to keep the porta potty on the boat. Not much privacy, but opportunity for relief.
Over the years, a pollution problem has arisen because of people defecating on the beach. Some popular beaches have been closed at times because of high bacteria counts. Thus the regulation requiring campers to have some kind of potty. When you feel the urge while boating, you are not supposed to just hit the nearest beach and relieve yourself. At Powell, the water level rises and falls over the course of a season. What is dry beach right now might be underwater in a few weeks, so it is important to keep fecal material out of the area, especially below the high water mark.
The National Park Service has installed floating toilets at key points on the lake. Perhaps your best option is to stay within striking distance of a toilet. Locations are shown on the NPS Lake Powell Map. Locations are also shown on this map: http://utah.com/store/index.php?action=viewproduct&id=56, which you can buy online to help with trip planning. (In my opinion, the map just referenced is the best available for planning and navigation at Powell.)
At Powell there are long stretches where sheer cliffs come right down to the water, making it impossible to dock. But a boat traveling at 20 or more mph quickly gets past those spots, to areas where you can pull up to a beach. In some places it is easy and enjoyable to hike above the beach. In other spots the terrain is steep and very rugged, so it is difficult to get away from the beach area. A final solution may be to carry the potty on the boat and, when needed, find a beach and carry the potty up to a private spot.
Hope this helps. Lake Powell is great. A trip there is well worth the required effort.
Question From Charlie T
I have scoured the internet trying to find somebody to ask a Lake Powell question. I don't know if you can help me but your article on Lake Powell boat camping lead me to believe you might be the best person out there to ask.
My question is about going boat camping given a medical condition I have. My friends are going for a four night boat camping adventure on Lake Powell this October and are planning on camping in a remote canyon, just as you outlined in your article. My problem is that I had my colon removed and now I have what is called a j-pouch --- this is not an ostomy bag --- it is basically a new colon formed from my small intestine that is a fraction of the size of a regular colon. The issues is that I have to go to the bathroom (#2) 5,6 or 7 times during the day. Once I get the urge if I don't go right away, after 20 or 30 minutes pressure starts to build and I feel discomfort. This discomfort then continues building until I make it to a bathroom.
My worry about going on this Lake Powell trip is having access to land, and more specifically, a place where I can go #2 --- out in nature of course -- I'm not expecting a toilet or anything. My friends will have a motor boat, so no houseboat with onboard toilet. My question is, when you go out on the lake in search of a remote canyon --- or, when you are doing forays out on the lake from your campsite to explore, fish, whatever --- how practical it is to relatively quickly find a beach or somewhere to dock and go to the bathroom within a short time frame? I know the lake is very large so I am not sure if we would be a long way from land at certain times and I'm also not sure if it is easy to find a place to dock anywhere along the shoreline or if the places to dock are few and far between.
Any knowledge you can give me about this would be greatly appreciated.