Now that we are cruising, we’ve become hyper-conscious of a lot of the resources we used to take for granted back home. We can’t just pull over anywhere to fill up with gas or diesel, and things like water and electricity, which we used to hardly given a second thought have suddenly become very precious to us.
There are several options for water for cruisers in the Bahamas. You can purchase water at most of the marinas here for around $.20/gallon or collect devise a way to collect rainwater. A lot of cruisers also “make” their own water through an on-board reverse osmosis water maker powered by the engine or a generator.
When we were preparing for our departure, one of the top items on the “would like to have” list was one of these water makers. However, they are quite expensive ($4,500-$6,000.) In the end, we just didn’t feel the return on investment was there, and we reasoned that we could buy a LOT of water for the cost of a watermaker. Plus, we had to weigh it against the other high ticket items on our list. And it’s difficult to do an accurate cost/benefit analysis on a life raft. It turns out more like an American Express commercial.
So we’ve been purchasing water at marinas, conserving as much as possible to make our marina visits fewer and farther between. Joint Venture has two water tanks, each holding 70 gallons. We’ve been able to stretch each tank to last about 6 days, so we each use around 5 or 6 gallons a day for drinking, cooking, showers, dishes, etc. A lot of salty, cruiser-types might call this extravagant, but when you think about the fact that the average American uses 120-140 gallons per day, I’d say we are doing pretty well!
Water we filled up with in the Abacos was pretty good. It’s mostly been city water, manufactured through reverse osmosis by and for the towns that need it. A little saltier that we are used to, but not bad overall. Our first fill-up in Eluthera was at Spanish Wells. According to guidebook, it is so named because legend tells that the Spanish filled their water casks with the sweet wells on the island before setting off for Spain. Ironic, because although we loved the town, we are not fond of the water. Our drinking water runs through a separate filter before it comes out the dedicated drinking tap to remove impurities and improve taste, but it is no match for this water! You remember when you had a sore throat as a child and your mom made you gargle with warm salt water? It’s like that. Ever accidentally put salt in your morning coffee instead of sugar? Yeah. It’s like that.
We were able to purchase a gallon of drinking water when we stopped at Hatchet Bay and have relished it ever since. We only bought one, not knowing if it would be any better. It was, and we’ve supplemented our drinking water with gallons from the store since then.
Sabrina has started to construct a rain collector, but rain showers here are pretty few and far between, so this isn’t a method we can really rely upon exclusively.
When we arrived in Salt Pond we asked around about water locations and found out the only place to get water was Long Island Petroleum. It’s right on the water and they have a dock, but unfortunately the dock was damaged in the last hurricane. So, we’re left holding off the damaged dock in the dinghy, filling jerry jugs one at a time from a hose with a meter attached to it, at $0.30 a gallon!
I got into a rhythm filling the tanks, we have two 6.5 gallon jerry jugs and I could make a trip in about 20 minutes. It took me 8.5 trips to load 110 gallons of water into JV, but I didn’t care because it was actually good water! I think it’s the best water we’ve filled up with since we’ve left the States! We’ll definitely take on more before we head out again. The method was as follows:
- Empty two 6.5 gallon jerry cans into water fill on sailboat deck (the longest step)
- Add 2 teaspoons of bleach to the empty water jugs and toss the empty jugs in the dinghy
- Dinghy to shore at a high rate of speed (wheee!)
- Pull in under the damaged dock
- Hang the dinghy line to an exposed bolt in the concrete dock
- Grab the hose, flip the water lever to the on position (through a hole in the dock)
- Fill both tanks
- Reach up through the hole in the dock and turn off the lever and stow the hose
- Dinghy back to the sailboat at a high rate of speed (wheee!)
- Tie off the dink
- Lift two full 6.5 gallon jerry jugs onto the swim platform
- Lift two jugs from the swim platform into the cockpit
- Carry them forward and pour them in one at at time
- Repeat eight times
Yes, it would be nice to fill the tanks with a luxurious watermaker, but when you consider the cost, I can easily justify hauling the water, even if I am sore today. I needed a good weight training workout, all this walking and snorkeling is too much cardio.