November 27, 2013

How little fresh water you need

IF YOU’VE EVER spent time in the desert you’ll be aware that most town-dwellers are profligate users of water. It’s a tendency we have to learn to overcome very quickly when we put to sea because sailboats can’t carry much fresh water. It’s simply too bulky and too heavy.

For as long as I can remember, experts on public health have urged us to drink at least eight glasses of water a day, but I can assure you from personal experience that when you go cruising you can get by on far less, even in tropical climates. According to The Captain’s Guide to Liferaft Survival (Sheridan House) you can last indefinitely on a pint a day in temperate climates, two pints in the tropics.

My family and I once averaged just under half a gallon a day each on a six-month voyage in a 31-footer, and that included water for cooking and bathing, though I should add that we bathed in salt water and then used a small garden spray filled with fresh water to wash off the salt.

For planning purposes, though, it’s wise to count on a minimum of one gallon per person per day at a speed (for most medium-sized yachts) of 100 miles a day.

But let’s hope you’ll not suffer from thirst tomorrow:  HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO ALL!

Today’s Thought
It’s a miserable business, waiting till thirst has you by the throat before you dig the well.
— Plautus, Mostellaria

“My husband would be lost without me He’s absolutely helpless.”
“Is that so?”
“Yep. I even had to find the recipes for him before he could cook the Thanksgiving dinner.”

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

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


Some time ago I came across some discussion about that water amount, and the result seemed to be that there is actually no certainty or proper study about that minimum water amount...

Seppo S.