25 January 2020
One major difference between the life aboard a sailboat vs. the life of a dirt dweller is plumbing. And most of you will skip the rest.....TMI!
Let's start with the fact that fresh water is a precious commodity aboard a boat. Especially for a boat in salt water. When we cruised in the Great Lakes, we used lake water for all of our washing; dishes, clothes and showering. Uproar has a kick-ass watermaker. We make 30 gallons/hour of pure, drinkable fresh water from sea water. With modest conservation, that lasts 3 to 5 days. Those without watermakers must carry water from a source on shore (if available) or collect rain water. That could take care of drinking water but little else.
We didn't get our watermaker running until we spent three months in the Bahamas. I can tell you carrying water is a pain! Lisa threatened to cut her hair off unless I got the watermaker fired up. I did! Watermakers are rather troublesome devices with high pressure pumps, filters, etc. During the four years ours has been working, we have spent nearly $1/day on maintenance parts (no charge for the captain's labor)!
But back to our use of water. We tell our guests they are limited to three showers/day. Really, we can make a lot of water. Lisa and I shower at least once/day and often twice. If we are clean before bed, the sheets don't get, well sweaty. I mostly shower off the back of the boat. It is a lot like going for a swim. In fact it is going for a swim. I jump in and soak for a bit. Then, I climb out and rinse my hair with a squirt of fresh water. I shampoo with "man wash" (diluted shampoo) which I work down the rest of my body to get clean. A jump back in the water washes off the soap. Back on the swim platform, I spray down to thoroughly rinse off the salt water. I often just air dry in the cockpit. This whole procedure requires about ½ gallon of water. And I can do it without getting a swimming suit wet!
Lisa normally uses the forward shower. I call it a hollywood shower (Hunt For Red October reference). The heads both have a shower. It is just a spray nozzle on a hose from the sink. A home shower has a nice drain in the bottom. If a boat shower had a drain out to the ocean, the boat would sink. Water would flow back in the drain, fast! Instead, there is a pump to pump water out of the shower basin overboard. Just push a button.
The real fun of a boat shower is getting to see what you have just washed off your body. It is right there in the white, bottom of the head. Now we believe we are clean people and we don't use brown shampoo. One look at the shower drain says otherwise. Even days at sea when we aren't near any land, the shower water is disgusting. No wonder we shower before bed! Dirt dwellers never get to look at the results of their ablutions. Good thing.
There is another kind of waste that needs mentioning. We have two toilets or heads. Just where does it go? You have two choices, you can save it or dump it. Uproar does have a holding tank for each head. But there are no facilities outside the US where you can have the tanks pumped out. Every marina and fuel dock in the US has a pump-out but there are none in the Bahamas, Caribbean or South Pacific. It all goes into the ocean!
Do we feel bad about this? Well, just a little. We look at the density of cruisers in most places we anchor and the impact is less than can be measured. Especially with Remoras under the boat. Yes, we have a school of 12 poop-eating fish right under the boat in Fakarava. Just how do I know they eat what we pump overboard? We used to have our dog, Sophie, on board (and we miss her). Clean up would be to fling her poop overboard. The Remoras would fight over it. They also eat any food scraps we throw over.
I was snorkeling with Jim in Huahine while Lisa was back in the US. We were in a beautiful spot full of reefs and fish. Let's just say breakfast wasn't agreeing with me. Things became urgent. I swam away from Jim and ....solved the problem. The fish went nuts! We sometimes feed fish Ramen noodles or bread. I discovered something they like better! Speaking of TMI, I never told Jim.
When we get to New Zealand, they have a regulation that a yacht have a sewage disposal system. We have heard it is not enforced. But if it is, I hope those Remoras can swim fast enough to stay with Uproar on our passage there.
There is a lot more to say about boat plumbing. Stand by for TMI part 2.