June 25, 2013

We can't get enough of it

BOATS NEVER CARRY ENOUGH fresh water for the likes of their crews. Water is simply too heavy and bulky to waste on daily showers and washing clothes. Only really big vessels have sufficient tankage for those purposes, so we lesser mortals have to struggle along with a lick here and a spit there, getting smellier by the nautical mile.

There are machines that make fresh water from the sea, which would seem to be the answer, but they’re beyond the resources of most of us, simply too expensive to buy and maintain.

Many long-distance cruisers manage to catch enough rain to keep their tanks topped up. Some collect rainwater in a bucket where it runs in a stream off the mainsail at the gooseneck. Others plug the cockpit drains and siphon the water into the tanks below. If you carry a dinghy upright on deck it could also be an extra catchment area.

You should let the first few minutes of a rainstorm wash away the dirt from sails and decks before you start collecting, of course, if you need drinking water. Otherwise, you can use slightly tainted water for showers or washing clothes.

And, incidentally, you can often scoop fresh water off the surface of the sea after really heavy rain in calm conditions. It floats on top of the denser salt water. Just don’t dip too deep.

Today’s Thought
Rain hangs about the place like a friendly ghost. ... if it’s not coming down in delicate droplets, then it’s in buckets; and if neither, it tends to lurk suspiciously in the atmosphere.
— Barbara Acton-Bond, “The Anglicization of Me,” CSM 21 Jul 82

I’m told that Orville and Wilbur Wright, those pioneers of flight, were notoriously diffident about speaking in public.
Nevertheless, at one lunch they attended, the master of ceremonies called upon Wilbur to say a few words.
“There must be some mistake,” he stammered.  “Orville is the one who does the talking.”
Orville dutifully rose and announced:  “Wilbur just made the speech.”

(Drop by every Monday, Wednesday, Friday for a new Mainly about Boats column.)

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