Tips for Managing an Ileostomy on a Boat Trip

May 19, 2024 6:58 pm

Hi all-
Every summer I spend the holidays on the river. I have to be on a wake boat with friends/family, and we often tie up in the canal with tons of strangers. I don't want to ruin anyone else's time, but I am scared.

I have an ileostomy with high output and I like to irrigate and empty it hourly, or whenever the slightest output is present. Also, I've had my wafer dislodge in the heat and had an accident. Luckily, I was at a house where I could clean up and change.

Any tips on how to slow down output, prevent water from dislodging, and empty the bag while on the boat? 🙏🏼

May 19, 2024 8:46 pm

Hi J,

Well... you just perfectly explained why I don't do small boats! But on the plus side... you'll be with family and friends... mostly! If it's a LARGE wake boat, it might have a head (toilet)... maybe. If not, I'm thinking you're going to end up doing some 'splainin' to folks. Hopefully, there will be lots of beer and loud music!

Your doc can get you motility meds; they should help slow you down. Others will chime in with food suggestions... I haven't had much luck with those things, so can't help you there. I hear Crapper makes a mean Rice Krispy Treat that she claims will slow you down a bit... and Warrior swallows marshmallows by the bag to get clogged up... or maybe because he just loves marshmallows!

Just how long are you going to be on the boat... are we talking a couple of hours... or all day? I'm assuming you're wearing a belt with your barrier, right? If not, I would. Everybody makes those "C" shaped extenders that stop your barrier adhesive from lifting, but I doubt they'd last long with suntan lotion on them.

How exactly you empty your bag on a boat with no bathroom and people all around you is a bit of a challenge. Just don't try to jump in and empty it... that could be disastrous. The only thing I can think of is to have your friends form a wall around you and empty into a plastic cup. Then hold it overboard and wash it out. Or if that grosses you out, put a lid on it and put it in the trash. Just make sure you volunteer to empty the trash when you get back on dry land! I'm curious to hear what others have for suggestions... this one has been a puzzler for me for some time.


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May 19, 2024 9:39 pm

I have not had the pleasure of being on a boat, regardless of size, since the ostomy event.

I have been busy eating way too many marshmallows. Just the thought now gives me a toothache.

They do bulk you up. Waves to Bob.

When you say you irrigate with an ileostomy, please explain that because that isn't possible from what I understand. I could be wrong, but I have not seen or read anything related to people with ileos, nope... colostomy yes.


If you empty quite often, don't.

Why do that? They say you can go 3/4 full before emptying.

I know you said you are high output. Eat lean in the morning. Go light. You should be good all day.

If you fill that bag quickly, then you need to bulk up. No doubt.

Ziplock bags are ideal for situations where you have no restroom. Not too keen about dumping within a circle of friends around me.

(Quick, grab the camera, YouTube time)

Bob does that with farm animals and close friends. He's such a show-off. He will show his junk to anyone.

May want to explore some scenarios before floating on water, on dry land first... try eating lean in the morning. Check output in the afternoon.

Those extended C-strips will hold your appliance real good. They are waterproof. And do wear a mounting plate belt.

And for Pete's sake... 🎶 don't rock the boat... 😄 🎵 don't tip the boat over... 🎶 do do dooo...


May 19, 2024 10:43 pm

An idea. Buy a small plastic cooler that you can lock. Inside, have a bunch of large zip lock bags, a bunch of individual paper towels, a bottle of Purell hand sanitizer, a roll of good quality toilet paper, a couple of small Dixie cups, and maybe a small bag of marshmallows. When you gotta empty, ask for the boat to stop, turn your back to the crew, and empty into the cup. Wipe closure with toilet paper. Empty the cup into a ziplock bag, toss in used toilet paper. Use a paper towel sheet if necessary. Stow it all in the small cooler, lock it up. Limit eating and drinking, except for hydration beverages... you don't wanna get dehydrated.

Just an idea. Oh... don't lose the cooler key.

May 20, 2024 12:26 am
Reply to w30bob

Hahaha… well, thank you for your suggestions; plus the humor. I plan to have a towel with me and empty into little bags and place them all into a trash bag I can toss later. I'll be wearing the extra adhesive strips and I have a stylish one-piece. Lol. I'm planning on bringing stuff to clean up with and extra suits🤦🏻‍♀️

This will be one for the books. Also, planning on just juicing the days prior and going on the boat with an empty stomach I guess🤦🏻‍♀️🤦🏻‍♀️🤦🏻‍♀️

I don't want to take anything that may cause a partial obstruction or anything close to that. Maybe anti-motility meds will be a great idea. Thank you 

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May 20, 2024 12:27 am
Reply to Beachboy

Love it, beach boy! You were on board with what I was thinking.

May 20, 2024 12:29 am
Reply to Beachboy

Hi Beach,

They typically aren't that large of a boat... and when there's groups of people in other boats all around you... everyone can see what you're doing. It's one thing if it was just one boat full of people... you could just yell "look over there... a shark"... and everyone would look away for 20 seconds or so. But unless she's going on a yacht or a houseboat... privacy is about impossible to come by. It is an interesting dilemma. Sort of like going to a concert with no porta-potties available!


May 20, 2024 12:40 am
Reply to warrior



    Thank you for your input. Much appreciated! What I meant by irrigate was that I rinse my bag. I don't, in fact, irrigate my stoma. I'll look up the marshmallow hack... maybe try it prior to going. I don't like to have much in my bag, despite how much it can handle, for personal reasons. It just bothers me! I wear form-fitting clothing most days, and I like to camouflage my bag. Even when I wear loose clothing, I just don't like it. So I'm emptying/rinsing my bag often. Also, I like to add water when I empty because it makes me feel cleaner. To each his own, I guess. I put a little oil to lube as well, but I prefer adding water. Have a blessed day ☺️

May 20, 2024 1:14 am

Hi there - living in Florida and a boater. Don't overthink this, keep it simple and don't let this define who you are. If you wear a two-piece, just bring extra pouches, discard the used ones in a plastic bag. Have fun and stay hydrated. You've got this 🍷🍷🌈

May 20, 2024 1:27 am
Reply to warrior

Warrior said, "If you empty quite often, don't. Why do that? They say you can go 3/4 full before emptying."

Well, bro... I got to side with Jes on this one. Being on a small boat full of people all having fun means you'll be bumping into each other, there will be liquor involved for sure, and a good time will be had by all. Doing the Hokey Pokey with a bag half full (never mind 3/4 full) is just asking for an unhappy ending to an otherwise fun day. Those of us with mostly liquid output are basically carrying a shit-filled water balloon on our hip if we don't empty it frequently. Try rocking and bopping for hours on a pitching, heaving boat full of people in close proximity... and stuff is bound to happen. And not good stuff. So keeping her bag as empty as possible makes good sense. The trick is how to do that with everyone watching. Hey, I know... she can slap a Yoo-hoo sticker on her bag and then empty it into a Solo cup whenever she has to and no one will be the wiser. Unless they want some! Then when no one is looking, she can dump it overboard or toss it at the old hairy-chested Italian guy who keeps hitting on her... who invited that guy anyway? That'll stop him!

Seriously, if her output was more solid I'd agree with you, but trust me... it sucks when you have liquid output or something even close sloshing around on your hip as you're trying to act normal and have a good time. So Caveat Empty!... or "Let the Bagger Beware" in layman's terms!

Later, bro,


May 20, 2024 1:31 am
Reply to w30bob

Point taken. Good call. My bad.

May 20, 2024 8:53 am
Reply to Beachboy

Cooler, closed-end bags, Ziploc bags. Fill one up, place it in a Ziploc, and put it in the cooler, then put a new bag on. Repeat as necessary. I can't imagine a person would go through that many bags if you curb your eating before going. Or, depending on how populated of an area you're at, hop on shore and empty in the weeds every so often. Fishing from a boat, I just go back to the dock and use the bathroom, but I don't deal with the high-output ileostomy stuff either.

May 20, 2024 9:55 am

Hi Jesb

If you have time before you go, get some Metamucil or some psyllium husk powder, which is Metamucil without the added extras, to thicken your output, and experiment before you go away. You can sprinkle the husk powder on your food or put a teaspoon in a glass of water and drink it. You can put it in fruit juice or such instead of water. There is lots of info on the web about using it to slow/thicken output. I have used it myself.

May 20, 2024 12:56 pm

Some years ago, we went crabbing near a yacht club within the harbour. It was a favourite spot. Some of the guests, usually of the opposite sex, wanted to visit the toilet. I would zoot off to the club of which I was a member and then resume crabbing. We had somebody who cooked the crabs inside the boat. The person in charge of the boat could take a break in the proceedings and park the boat near a place where a toilet was available. Problem solved.

May 20, 2024 3:21 pm

G'day Jesb, I think the boys have given you a lot of things to try, and try a few before you go, but the main thing is to have a great time. Don't let it spoil the day. If they don't know you have a stoma, tell them. I have found people and friends really go out of their way to help if they know your situation. Let us know how the holiday went. Regards, Iggie

May 22, 2024 10:02 pm

Could wag bags work?


May 25, 2024 11:48 pm

Head to your local pet store and pick up a pack of dog-poo bags and a small pack of cat litter granules. Put a good scoop of kitty litter in a bag for how many times you might need to empty. When needed, drop a bag into an empty cup or plastic jar, drop toilet paper on top, tie the bag, and drop it into a decent bin bag to deal with when back on shore. If you have a lid for the cup or jar, you can have the next prepped bag ready for later. I use plastic jars and keep one in the car, one in my kayak, and a larger one with three prepped bags for overnight camping.

May 26, 2024 12:32 am

One thing you can note from this site is that most concerns are expressed by newbies. Those of us who have had our pouches for a while (14 years for me) have pretty much worked things out and don't feel limitations. This is stressful for you because it is your first time doing the boat thing. By next year you will have figured it out and won't think twice. I would be careful about doing too much to limit output, especially things you don't try first. Some could make you feel funny and reduce your enjoyment of the trip. Dislodging of the wafer is probably not an issue. Changing more often (even a new one each day) and/or a wrap or your bathing suit should solve that. Obviously, you'll need to deal with emptying. There are lots of great options listed above. I would add that you should enlist a "bestie" to help you run interference. He or she could simply hold a towel up to give you some privacy. That person will feel special and can deflect anyone who is too close. Maybe I'm just a gasbag, but one issue I experienced is ballooning, the pouch blowing up with air without actual output. If you have that issue, you can just quickly burp it without emptying. Have the bestie help you with that, too, the same way. It should just take a few seconds. In terms of telling or not telling everyone, you could simply tell anyone who seems to need to know that you feel so much better since you had the medical procedure, and "bestie" is helping you with some checking or adjustments you need to make every hour or two. Don't fret too much. You will have a great time with your friends.

May 26, 2024 2:02 am

We have a small boat that has a small toilet in it. But, we don't want to have to empty it. I take small sandwich bags that have the zip kind of close, and I empty into them. I also take a butter or margarine container and will put the baggies in the container to try to limit the odor. When I get home, I just take the container and throw it away.

To slow down the output, I will also eat a couple of marshmallows. But, I think once I almost got blocked with it. I have also used Imodium. It kind of works for me. A friend of mine uses it every day before going to yoga. Unfortunately, the main thing is to limit my food intake.


May 26, 2024 5:55 pm
Reply to almelia

Cat litter is a great idea, thanks!

Jun 11, 2024 9:51 pm
Reply to JESB XO

There are a couple of things that I use when I'm out on the water. One is Solpadeine or something that has codeine in it; it is the best thing for slowing down your output.

Also, by using a bag with a filter, the bag won't fill with air, and there are also bags that you can attach a belt to, which I have found to be unreal.

Having a bag should definitely allow you to enjoy being on the water much more than what life was like before, especially if you have Crohn's. I love the water, and now I don't worry one bit when I'm on it anymore, as I have even scuba dived a couple of times with a bag and it's never caused any issues.