07 November 2010
Back at home in Melbourne, we have this thing called Target 155. It means 155 litres of water per day per household. A target everyone is dutifully meant to aim for to overcome our water shortages due to the recent drought and an increasing population. (Breaking news: the drought is now over)
Well, here on Dagmar we find the thought of 155 litres a day rather excessive and indulgent!! Our water tank capacity, when full, plus our six water jugs would total a mere 275 litres. Just a days worth of water usage for a couple by Melbourne standards.
This amount of water, if we are careful, can last us three weeks!
Up until we left Noumea, the last time we had filled up our water tank was in Bora Bora. 3 months previously. We had only put in 30 litres of tap water since then. The rest has been from collecting rainwater, from our home-made bamboo gutters on the edge of our shade over the cockpit, and from opening our water inlet on the deck when it is raining and damming up the deck run-off.
So our total water catchment is about 8 metres square. We haven't had torrential rain, just a few rainy days, nothing heavy. Imagine if every home in Melbourne, and all the businesses, caught their own water! There should be hardly any shortages. (Though, to be fair, there were many months there in Melbourne, that it would rain only 10mm in a month for several months at a time!)
How can we use so little? For a start, we don't have a flushing toilet, as such, but a porta-potti. That uses about 10 litres of flushing water in a week before we can empty it at sea somewhere.
For showers we have to just have a wash down, soap up, rinse off. Alternatives are the sponge bath or bucket of sea water over the head followed by a fresh water rinse. Before the trip I was worried about perhaps feeling salty all the time, but it's amazing how refreshing just these simple washes can be.
Having said all that, it really was heaven to luxuriate in hot showers for ages when we got to Papeete. The first we'd had in six months, and no end to fresh water either!
For washing the dishes when we're at sea, we use sea water to wash ( which is very effective) and rinse with a fresh water spray bottle. In port, we're simply careful with how much we use to wash, and sparing with the rinsing.
Often when we are watching a film, we'll see someone go to a kitchen tap say, and turn it on and leave it running while their washing their hands. Horror! Or worse still, leave it running while theyre just talking to someone . Plus they have probably got all the lights on in the house!
That's the other thing. We survive on two 12 volt batteries, for our refridgeration, lighting, navigation equipment, radios, autopilot and laptops.It's about 1000w for a day. Roughly like turning on one 100w light globe in your home for ten hours. ( someone please correct me if my maths is wrong)
To charge these we need to run our engine or generator for an hour each day. If we had solar panels or a wind generator, we could get away for weeks without using fossil fuels.
It's good to be so closely aware of what resources we are using and also what it takes to replenish them. It makes us much more aware of sustainability, or not, and makes us take more responsibility.
While going cruising is not directly solving the world's envioronmental issues, we do think that budget cruising is a pretty low impact form of living. Low impact on the planet. One of our friends remarked at how good it is to spend so little. That got me thinking. That surely must mean that we are using less of the planets resources.
I know it's much easier to do all this when living on a boat. Still, it does put us in touch with what one needs to live comfortably, and also what is superfluous.