Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Want to Conserve Water? Carry It.

"Just because we have a watermaker doesn't mean we can waste water."  Scott gently reminds me of this regularly.  He's still spartan when it comes to good ole H2O.  He showers in the ocean and rinses with a few squirts of the fresh stuff.  When he does the dishes, he uses the tiniest bit of water possible.  Don't get me wrong; I don't let the tap run when I'm brushing my teeth and I'm not washing my hair daily, but lets just say I also feel that if we have a 30 gallon per hour watermaker, why not make the best of it?  In other words, I am not spartan.

When we moved our boat to a semi-enclosed hurricane hole, we were advised not to make water.  Watermakers work best on good, clean salt water and if you find yourself in an anchorage where there's silt, diesel, oil or raw sewage in the's best not to use it.  While we probably would have been okay here - we decided to err on the side of caution and pickle it.  So we are without watermaker.

Our boat carries over 120 gallons of fresh water.  That's a lot.  Scott assured me I'd be set for the two and a half weeks.  "Just watch your water consumption" he warned before he left.  Apparently, I did not.  The night before last I went to grab my dear friend Genevieve a glass of water after dinner and heard our accumulator pump go on, and stay on.  For those of you who don't know, this is the telltale sound of a tank gone dry.

Luckily, we have two tanks.  I switched over to tank number two and all was fine.  But wow, sixty gallons in just over a week?  Sure, I cleaned the deck and cockpit, and true, I do have to rinse down Isla every day after beach time...but still.  That's a lot of water.  So I wanted to fix it.  I decided I would replenish the 60 gallons and yesterday, that's what I did.

Thanks to our good friends on s/v Necess I borrowed enough jerry cans to fill our boat with thirty-five gallons of water (we only carry one spare five gallon jug now, watermaker snobs that we are).  I was heading to shore anyway to drop off some laundry, and figured I'd fill the water too.  Seemed simple enough.  The dinghy ride into town was a breeze.  And then I got to shore.  I'd forgotten my flip-flops.  It's a downside to living on a boat where you almost never have anything on your feet.  I tip-toed through town shoeless, running my errands, and then with very dirty feet, got back in the dinghy with Isla in tow and headed to the free water spout at the dinghy dock.

I filled the thirty-five gallons with Isla watching intently, and then shoved off.  Our anchorage to town is one mile.  That doesn't sound like much, but in a dinghy motoring along at a brisk walk pace, it is.  It became apparent almost immediately that Isla and I were going to get soaked.  The wind was probably 15-18 knots out of the east, and we were heading into sizable waves.  The fact that we had about 300 lbs of water with us in the dinghy didn't help one bit.  Fat man in a little boat.  Isla was not impressed.

When we returned to Asante, we looked like drowned rats.  Soaked to the bone.  I put Isla on the boat and began the laborious exercise of unloading jerry can after jerry can from the dinghy to the aft deck, then from the aft deck to the bow (where our water fill hole is).  A full five pound jerry can clocks in at just over forty pounds.  Schlepping six of these babies the length of our boat is not easy, especially when you have a one year old climbing all over the place.  Take it from me.  I would seriously love to know what my boat neighbors were thinking while this ridiculousness was going down.

You'd think I would have learned my lesson, but nope.  Turns out, I am glutton for punishment.  When I picked up my laundry three hours later I repeated the whole rigamarole again (this time, however, I remembered my shoes and Isla and I wore bathing suits - I'm not a total idiot).   Thirty five gallons, soaking wet dinghy ride, back-breaking lifting, and eight Isla interceptions later, I was finished.  Thus filling our boat with about sixty gallons of water...manually.  It is my new definition of insanity.  How much do I love our watermaker?  A LOT.

But guess how much water I used last night?  Not much!  I hopped in the ocean for my shower, and finished off with just a splash of water.  I decided our salty clothes didn't need rinsing after all and I washed the dishes with nary a cup of water.  Turns out, if you REALLY want to appreciate something, work (really hard) for it.  No doubt this is the reason our society as a whole is so wasteful.  Whatever we want - be it food, information, service, or water - is right at our finger tips.  Life has gotten pretty easy for the "first world", and I can't help but think our appreciation of these things suffers because of it.

That said, I can't wait to run our watermaker again.


Jonathan said...

Ok,Brittany,if you're keeping a top ten list of "Wacko things we have done" I'd put this on the top. Once, maybe, since you were out of water, but twice!?? Or maybe we should call it the "Never again" list.

Laura and Hans said...

Now that we're living at a marina I've forgotten how miserly I was with our water when we were cruising. And I'll never forget the day I bragged to two older lady cruisers (chopped off iron gray hair and no sense of humor) about how I was able to take a one gallon solar shower complete with washing my hair (not easy as I have very thick hair), and they made faces at each other when they didn't think I was looking! Geriatric Mean Girls! Anyway, after reading your story I'm going to try to stop complaining whe I have to walk the hose all the way up to the bow in order to fill or tanks ;-)

Andi of My Beautiful Adventures said...

Wow! I'm sure if I tracked my water consumption I would realize that I use way too much. Great reminder!!!

Anonymous said...

We used a sparay bottle with fresh water for dish rinsing. Works well and is very conservative.

Jill, Tim and Toby Dog said...

I work in water protection and do a lot of research on the 'value of clean water' -- in the scheme of modern American life, people pay more for their cellphones, cable bills and gasoline than they do their water bills. Yet, the human body can only survive 2 days without water! Water is liquid gold. That's what I love about life aboard, being constantly cognizant of our water use.

Lauren Bootfall said...

It is so important that we stop wasting water but also when we drink it we need to make sure it is safe, to find out information on this Visit This Website

Zara said...

I work in water protection and do a lot of research on the 'value of clean water.

Alex said...

Great article. I think it is really important to always be greatful for what you have and appreciate it and don't waste it.

On the other hand, saving water is not as necessary, if you take it from a closed system and put it back there.

And I want to say that I agree to Lauren. Hard water is a major problem in vast areas in the US and water softeners come in useful here. But be careful, because some of them might produce waste water.
Read more here -

Alpiste said...

I work in water protection and do a lot of research on the 'value of clean water . leche de alpiste

Dolly Jenna said...

Ahora que estamos viviendo en un puerto deportivo,

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