April 8, 2010

Safe drinking water

A LETTER TO THE EDITOR of the Walnut Street Gazeout (should be Gazette) says:

When I get out of here I’m gonna get me a sailboat and go cruising in the world’s wild places. The warm wild places. But I hear it can be difficult to get safe fresh water in some places, such as Mexico. Do I need a watermaker? Anyone?

Slugger Jo #15238, due for release 8/15/2010.

Well, if I can chip in here Slugger, I’d say forget the watermaker. Expensive and finicky and needs lots of electricity. You can get good water practically everywhere. It’s a myth that Mexican water is unsafe. If it was, there wouldn’t be any Mexicans. It might not taste like the water you’re used to, but your stomach doesn’t have taste buds so you’ll be all right.

Sometimes, of course, there is no option but to take on water from less than desirable sources. In that case, here’s what to do:

To sterilize 15 gallons of fresh water, add one teaspoonful of 5.25 percent household bleach such as Clorox.

The active ingredient, sodium hypochlorite, is toxic to humans as well as to germs, but it does its job swiftly and then breaks down about 10 minutes after being exposed to light and air. Leave the filler cap off the tank for 30 minutes to an hour to be sure the toxic chlorine gas has dissipated into the surrounding air, and be cautious when you first taste your purified water. It won’t taste as nice as imported mountain spring water but it won’t poison you and it will keep you alive, which is always a good thing.

A good way to test for safety is to pour some water into a glass and place your palm over the top. Shake the glass and then smell your hand. It should smell no more of chlorine than your usual city water does straight from the faucet — but a little extra chlorine taste won’t hurt, as long as it doesn’t burn your mouth or throat.

PS: Never add bleach to a tank connected to a reverse-osmosis watermaker. The chlorine will damage it.

Today’s Thought
Water, water everywhere
Atlantic and Pacific
But New York City’s got them beat
Our aqua is terrific!

— Ed Koch, mayor of NYC, Times 11 Jun 84

Boater’s’ Rules of Thumb, #37
Compass care. Nothing destroys a steering compass more quickly than heat and strong direct sunlight. When you’re not using it, keep it shaded and cool any way you can.

Overhead at a Boy Scout meeting:
“Did you ever have one of those days when you felt just a little untrustworthy, disloyal, unhelpful, discourteous, cowardly, and antagonistic toward those wretched old women who always wait for suckers to help them across the goddam road?”

1 comment:

Aaron Headly said...

Mr. Jo, upon release, is invited to join us Great Lakes-types, even if only for the summer. A simple through-hull will provide plenty of fresh water, delicious even. Try to wait until your out of the marina, though, if you're fussy.