logo Aroha's Maldives & Chagos tour
Date: 24 Jul 2009 09:17:03
Title: Rain catching

Helen writes....Part of this adventure has been learning how to live close
to nature and dispense with some of life's given luxuries and deal with
challenges of shortages of some of the necessities too. Though it is a long
time since I have lived in the UK, I still remember the long hot summers
that always resulted in drought warnings, bans on the use of hose pipes
etc. In Dubai, water is used and abused quite readily. Dubai has one of
the highest per capita consumptions of water per head (without the web I can't
google the statistical specifics of this so you will have to take my word
for it!). Regardless of where I have lived though, the fact that I can turn
on the tap and get good clean and safe water has always been a given. That
said, I have never liked the taste of tap water. In the UK, the water
always contained fluoride (for the sake of the nations teeth), and in Dubai,
though the water itself is allegedly safe to drink, the tanks it is held in
(on villa roofs and in back yards) are not always quite what they should be.
Consequently, for years I have drunk bottled water (much to Bryan's
disbelief that I actually consider this "safer"). Weight and storage
limitations on board have restricted the number of bottles I was allowed -
negotiated upwards only after my comments about inequality of the number of
alcoholic beverages and fizzy drinks that were being stashed onboard vs. my
bottles of mineral water!

During this trip, our drinking water has consisted of the bottles that we
have onboard, plus any water that we "catch". The caught water exists in
two large water tanks that are built into the boat (forward and aft). In
total we can carry 400 litres water. A number of the cruising boats we have
encountered have "water makers" - these are effectively high pressure pumps
that push seawater through very fine membranes, removing the saline and
pumping the remainder out as "clean" i.e. drinking quality water. By all
accounts, these water makers, use a fair amount of energy (electricity) and
takes gallons of sea water to produce a reasonably small quantity of water.
With more energy generating options on board this may be a consideration for
the future, but for now our one and only source of replenishing water is
through catching rain water. (Oh and better mention these things cost about 3,000
UK pounds so we can't afford one anyway!)

I still remember the rain butt at the back of
my Gran's house many years back, and in an ideal world catching rain on
board would be a simple matter of having some drains and a big bucket to
catch it all in. We did borrow the idea of trying to turn our bimini (sun
cover at the back of the boat) into a rain catcher and I stitched in a hose
teat with the intent of simply adding a water hose and draining any water
straight into the tanks. This has not proved to be all that successful, and
some weeks back we latched onto using plastic hand operated water pumps -
they have a siphon hose one end and a long connecting tube the other. When
it rains, we bung any run offs along the deck causing all the water to
gather along the side decks and run back to the side of the cockpit. With
small towels to dam the exit route for the water, we sit (me and Bryan
either side of the boat) and pump like crazy sending water via the hoses
into empty plastic buckets. These in turn are emptied into the water
holding tanks, passing first through a filter to remove any deck residue (we
do wash the decks down first!).

It has rained here 3 times so far (roughly every 10 days). Yesterday I
commented to another boat that we really needed some rain as we had
completely emptied one tank and were about half full of the other. The
consequence of low water is not just the drinking water issue, but bear in
mind this is also our washing water. Erin and I have the potential to be
quite large consumers of washing water - not you understand because we claim
to wash any more than the boys, but our long hair is pretty difficult to
wash on a cupful. We tend to compromise by using saltwater to start the
wash cycle and then doing a final rinse in fresh water. Yesterday's low
water (with no promise of rain) resulted in us having to undertake a full
saltwater wash cycle (not something I have been looking forward to). The
tip we were given was to put some fabric conditioner (softener) in the
saltwater causing it to soften and making it a passable alternative. Ummm??
I tried it - but was not convinced! In addition, I have a skin sensitivity
to many washing powders and perfumes so it was a bit too scented for me -
still, it was in the name of energy conservation and we needed a martyr
right???!!! All I can say is that I was positively ecstatic when late
yesterday the heavens opened and we started our rain catching. The rains
were taunting us a bit - it would rain for a bucket and a half, then stop
for 20 mins then stop again. Bear in mind Bryan and I are sitting in the
rain while we catch it so it makes for a more pleasant experience if it is
all in one major downpour. End result is a good one though, with several
rain squalls last night and this morning we have now completely filled the
empty back tank and are ¾ full in the front. I can fresh water hair wash
again!!!

I should add that Alex has made the biggest sacrifice of us all on this trip
with regards the water conservation. His sacrifice has been not taking any
fresh water showers and limiting the number of times he cleans his teeth! (He is taking daily saltwater bathes so isn't too smelly!)
We are aiming to convince him that since it is nearly August he should maybe
take a monthly shower and teeth clean - but will have to see if his
"principles" will allow!!! Reckon he has a few more years till we can't get
him out of the bathroom when he is getting ready to go out on the town and
impress as oppose to the boy trait of not being able to get him in one!
It is still a little overcast here - but think the rain has stopped for now
so think it is time to head out and enjoy our day....


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