As long as I can remember I’ve had a love of water. My favorite memories have included time spent in, on, or under the water. Swimming, water skiing, scuba, snorkeling, boating and just floating in the water with a cold drink in my hand are my favorite activities. Our shared love of the water is one of the things Robert and I bonded over when we first met. We had a common vision of what we wanted our retirement years to look like. It’s safe to say that we’re living our shared dream!
The water in the Bahamas is absolutely breathtaking. It’s so clear that one can see the bottom in 20 feet! The natives call it “gin clear” which is a pretty apt description! The colors range from deep azure, to cerulean blue, to varying degrees of turquoise and teal. The color often has to do with both the depth and the material on the bottom. I love when the sun dances on the water creating diamonds and can sit for hours just watching the movement of the water and looking for things below. I love how it changes in calm conditions, with its silky flow to rough conditions with waves and whitecaps.
Scuba diving is one of my favorite activities but having my Bionic Betty pacemaker keeps me from being able to do deep dives anymore. I can still do shallow dives but we didn’t bring our dive gear and using a dive shop’s gear feels a bit risky in covid times. We’ll have to re-think bringing our dive gear next trip because we’ve seen some beautiful sights! There's only so much one can carry on a 35 ft boat! The water is clear enough that snorkeling lets you see just about as much but I’m just not as comfortable with sharks while snorkeling as I am when diving. They don’t bother me when I’m under water with them, swimming around but when Robert and I ran into one while snorkeling at Wardwick Wells, I quickly hightailed it back to the dinghy! I tell myself a big splashing thing on the surface of the water could easily be confused with dinner...
The coral is in pretty good shape here, unlike other of our favorite dive spots where we've seen so much coral bleaching. There are plenty of fish and most of the coral looks strong and healthy. It's honestly a bit surprising because there are no pump outs in the the Bahamas. When I asked a local about why there seems to be so little pollution in the water with so much waste water being expelled into it, he explained that the entire Bahama chain gets flushed twice a day with the tides!
It’s so easy for me to take water for granted when living on the dirt. We are so lucky in the US to have an abundant supply of free or relatively cheap water to use for drinking, cooking, cleaning and any other use we might have. When cruising in the Bahamas, water takes on a whole different level of value! Potable water is expensive here. The water is either made through desalination or shipped in bottles. To desalinate water takes fuel and fuel needs to be shipped also which increases the cost. We’ve seen prices of fresh water to fill boat tanks about 50-75 cents a gallon which adds up quickly when you consider the amount of water we use on average. We’ve tested the water available and some of the marina’s and it’s really not fit for drinking without significant filtration.
When traveling to Nepal in 2016, the only available drinking water came in bottles. It was heartbreaking to see the way the bottles clogged up the rivers and streams. Robert and I have tried to reduce our use of disposable plastics and it was important for us to have a water solution that didn’t make us dependent on bottled water for drinking. We reused gallon jugs until they broke and are now experimenting with drinking straight from our tanks.
In preparation for our trip, I read everything I could get my hands on to learn ways to conserve water while cruising. We have a foot pump at the galley sink that can pump in sea water. One can wash dishes, clothes and bodies in sea water and then give them a freshwater rinse. Every sailor is familiar with “boat showers” which involves getting wet then turning off the water to wash then turning it on briefly again to rinse. It’s the same when brushing teeth. Many sailors wash their clothes in salt water then rinse in fresh. No sailor would think of leaving water running at any time. It becomes too precious of a commodity.
I love the shower on our boat! Yes, it’s small and cramped and I need to remove some things before showering but has excellent water pressure! To avoid needing to run the water heater, I jump in right after we’ve done some motoring. The hot water tank sits behind the engine so gets the water nice and warm without the need of using more energy. When we come in from a day on the beach, we keep a solar shower of fresh water on the deck. We can either wash with the wash down pump then rinse in the fresh water or just rinse off depending on our needs. It’s important to us to keep sand out of the boat cabin so it’s important to at least rinse.
When covid hit, we had some unknowns thrown into our cruising plans. We figured our best plan was to prepare as if we could be stranded on a deserted island for months at a time. This required we have the capability of making our own water. After researching, Robert decided the Rainman Watermaker with its own engine would be our best option. There’s a pump that pulls seawater up and pumps it at a high pressure through the membranes to remove all the salt from the water. It has 2 outputs, one for the brine and one for the fresh water that can be directly deposited in our water tanks. Solveig can carry 100 gallons of water and it makes water at approximately 30 gallons per hour.
Having a water maker has certainly allowed us to be more independent and it feels better to not be using disposable plastic bottles. It will take awhile to recoup the cost but the comfort of knowing we have as much high-quality drinking water as we need makes up for it. While I honestly don’t know if there are any ill effects of putting the concentrated brine back into the water, it seems a more “earth friendly” solution than using bottled water.
Water, water everywhere…Cruising brings home just how much water our planet has and how important it is to our lives and to the lives of so many other creatures on our planet. I hope we continue to look for and find solutions to reduce the amount of pollution that goes into our water and keep it beautiful for future generations to enjoy.