Sunday, November 29, 2009

Water's low - Time to go

Our 200 gallon water tank is down to only a few gallons. This means it's time to leave the docks in La Paz and head on so that we can make more water.

It's not that there is no water to drink around us. After all, we've had the luxury of being at a dock for a week and a half. In fact, this is the most 'connected' we've been since we moved aboard the boat in mid-September. You see, when we moved on board, we were docked in San Diego at an old boat yard that did not have electricity or water hook up. For all intents and purposes, we could have been at anchor without the need to dingy ashore. Since leaving San Diego, we've only been at anchor until arriving in La Paz. Here in La Paz for the last week and a half, we've had unlimited electricity, which means internet (when it's working). And we could have chosen to have water hook-up, but we have a water maker.

A water maker, you ask? Our water maker is a state of the art water de-salinator and purifier with 3 membranes to ensure the purest of pure water. In fact, the water it makes is so clean that there are no minerals left in it at all (we are all taking a multi-vitamin with minerals to compensate). Washing our clothes in our own fresh water makes them incredibly soft (and a belated thanks to those who provided advice on doing laundry aboard - see recent photo post of our clothes hanging from the lifelines). Given that our water maker is so state-of-the-art, we cannot let chlorine get flushed into the system or we have to 're-pickle' the whole system and start again, which is pricey and time-consuming (or is it that chlorine ruins the membranes? Either way, it's pricey and time-consuming; bottom line is No Chlorine In Water Maker). The water on the docks is chlorinated. You'd think that with all the water we are floating in, we would just turn on the water maker, then. Not so cut and dry. The water in the marina is pretty yucky, and although the water maker could likely handle the diesel and yes, even some feces, the thought of letting those things even near our filters makes me cringe. You see our dilemma. Stretching those 200 gallons doesn't seem like such a bad option after all.

We last made water nearly 2 weeks ago. It doesn't take long to go through it all. To put things in perspective, the average person uses approximately 15-20 gallons for a shower. Teen age girls use much much more. Needless to say, along with the luxury of being at a dock with electricity, we have the inconvenience of having to head up to the public showers for our daily cleansing. In fact, we have also been heading up to the marina bathrooms whenever duty calls.

Which leads me to another interesting fact. Because we are a catamaran (top photo is Whatcha Gonna Do, docked in La Paz), our boat is much wider than monohulls so we don't fit into most marina slips (we are 24 feet wide). As a result, we have to tie off at the end of the dock, ususally with the big yachts (bottom photo is Time For Us, one of those yachts - 173 ft to be exact - with Harrison on Michael's shoulders helping them with their bow line as they are docking). (As another aside: Tully is right oppposite us on the dock (in that empty open-air space you see behind our boat in the top photo), owned by the person who started TelCel and who is one of the richest men in the world. While smaller than Time For Us, Tully still puts our boat to shame and literally towers over us. We've lost our view). If you've lost where this is going with all these digressions: We are getting loads of exercise hiking up to the marina restrooms whenever we have to go. For those of us with weak bladders, the walk often turns into a jog...

Washing dishes is another interesting task when you have to make 200 gallons of water last. It makes me wonder how much water I have wasted through my lifetime simply washing dishes. On board, we pile the dirty dishes (cleaned off first) into one sink. Then we fill a glass with about a quarter of a cup of water with dish soap. This is what I use to wash the dishes, placing the soapy dishes into the second sink. I then plug that sink and let the water trickle as I rinse the dishes, so that by the time I'm done, the sink has only about an inch of water maximum. When we got down to about 25 gallons of water remaining, we started taking the dishes off the boat in a bucket and washing them on the dock using the marina's hose to save our own water (see photo of Danielle washing at the dock). A bit of an inconvenience, and I'd rather not mention that I dropped two of our glasses off the dock today. If you recall how dirty the water is here in the marina, you'll understand why I didn't jump in after them. We now have glass service for 10 rather than 12. So be it.

Experienced crew all seem to share the common experience of having been handed a glass of water by their captain and told that that is the amount of water they can use for the day for personal use (i.e. washing up, brushing teeth, bathing). Without a shower, it is do-able. Thank goodness for Costco baby wipes.

I read that those without water makers must provision their boats with at least 8 cups of water per person per day: 4 for drinking, tea and coffee; 2 for cooking; 1 for personal use (including bathing); and 1 for clean-up (dishes, wiping down the galley, etc). Showers are extra.

And so we depart La Paz tomorrow morning with still some water in our tank (even if it is only a very few gallons). We are heading out to explore the islands around La Paz for the next 10 days, including some hiking, snorkeling, kayaking, fishing, swimming and, yes, water-making.

Will write more about La Paz on my next post - a pretty amazing place. We will likely return here after our island-exploring to reprovision (buy groceries) to prepare for our 2 and a half day crossing to the mainland (this time without any extra crew).

Signing off from La Paz with 2 fewer drinking glasses,


  1. I guess a bath is out of the question!
    I can't wait to show Hailey and Marlee the pic of Danielle washing the dishes. I hope they will still want to come and visit on the boat.
    I feel so decadent as I listen to my washing machine and dishwasher run at the same time. Wish I could send you guys some purified water.
    Good luck.
    P.S. Barb - You are a great writer. Your kids are lucky to have you as a mom and as a teacher now too!

  2. Finally got your blog (it's been a week)- I look forward to hearing from you and check for it daily - even though we spoke only a couple of days ago for over an hour (had a great conversation)!
    Glad you're back on your way and able to refill your water - sounds like real country living.
    Had a chance to check out your neat new pics - especially the gorgeous sunset, Danielle at work (and even Harrisison helping with the ropes to dock), kids making challah, and of course, the fresh fish market (I'm sure that one was for me).
    All is well here. Went to a fabulous 3-piece modern ballet (the National Ballet). Our ballerinas are fabulous, an enormous improvement since Karen Kain became the director.
    Celebrated several birthdays this month: Mark, Debbie, Anne-Marie, Charlotte and Moe's. Made my (Hazel's) great chocolate cake with nutriwhip icing that the kids loved.
    Miss you all and love hearing from you you and take care...happy sailing...enjoy the islands...

  3. This is all very fascinating!! I have been reading but I keep forgetting to comment with BIG HUGS and that we all miss you but are SO EXCITED for your grand adventure.

  4. water water everywhere and not a drop to drink