Posted by: rosyroadsadventures | October 30, 2011


N 18° 26.97′   W 64° 31.87′

Trellis Bay, BVI


Mar Azul's RO water in disguise


The fresh water pump was quickly repaired, thanks to Bob’s carefully-planned spares inventory and his thorough knowledge of the boat’s sytems.  I observed the process and have a great appreciation for the skill set needed to be independent in managing these kinds of problems.  I have much to learn.

We make our own water aboard with the ship’s watermaker, which converts sea water to fresh water through reverse osmosis. With our travel itinerary we decided that a watermaker would be a worthwhile addition and save us from purchasing water in places where it might be hard to find, expensive or of questionable quality. It’s convenient to access fresh water directly from our tank and we don’t have to haul heavy containers of water aboard.

Since leaving home we have only put Mar Azul watermaker water into our tank. The water tests fine and tastes fine, and while it was a little scary to drink it at first, no one has gotten sick. Desalination is becoming more common back home to supplement the public water supply despite the large amounts of energy required to filter the salt out of seawater.

The ship’s water tank holds 350 gallons, and supplies all of our water for drinking, cooking, dishwashing, cleaning and laundry. I get one quick shower every day and the captain graciously showers less often. I’d rather not specify how often. Let’s just say that he is more than generous in not using his share of the water.

Our 350 gallon supply will last about three to four weeks with typical careful use. Compare that to the statistics on your water bill and you will likely find your household consumes roughly the same 350 gallons in a day’s time. We get by with a whole lot less water aboard than we did living ashore. We haul up sea water via a bucket with a line tied to it to flush the decks, and the primary toilet flushes with a seawater pump. Some cruisers are more frugal than we are and substitute sea water for most cleaning and showering needs.

The watermaker produces between 7 and 14 gallons of fresh water per hour depending on the how we operate the system. It should be run regularly, at least every 5 days. If we go longer than a week without using it we have to “pickle” the system, i.e. go through a special procedure to store the system and then another procedure when we restart it. It’s easier to try to run it every few days, but that can be a challenge depending upon where we are. We can make water while under way and at anchor or even in a marina with a good water flow – anywhere that the water is relatively clean. Some places have dirty or muddy water or high sea growth and we can’t use the equipment there. Luperon was an example, and the Lagoon in St. Martin will be another place where we can’t make water. We will have to move the boat outside of the harbor there when we need to make water. I’m expecting strict water precautions while in St. Martin.

This very handy device is tucked in behind the starboard engine


Bob can be a dictator when it comes to overseeing the ship’s utilities, especially the water. On days when I am trying to do laundry or a major cleaning task I refer to him as the Water Nazi. He gets nervous when he hears the water running, and the small shipboard washer really drives him nuts. If we have a calm anchorage (the washer won’t spin properly when there is too much motion) and good weather to hang out our stuff to dry, and are not under serious water restrictions, it is the way to go for convenience. Otherwise, I have to resort to hand washing for any immediate needs until I can find laundry facilities ashore.

Hair care days can be tough too. WHAT ARE YOU DOING!!!! IS THAT THE WATER RUNNING???? – are the sounds I hear as I am trying to get my hair back to some semblance of respectability. That’s okay. Making sure we have sufficient water is a good thing and we all need reminders to conserve.

I get my turn to reciprocate with careful expense scrutiny, for which I am well-trained. I can be as tough a Budget Nazi as Bob is a Water Nazi. Analyzing all expenses can be painful and enlightening, and lead to some interesting discussions on what is essential and where our priorities lie. Money is still the ultimate utility, without which there would be no water and no cruising.


Greeted with another pretty rainbow at the anchorage this morning! Tortola and the Beef Island airport in the background.

Waiting out a little breezy weather at pleasant Trellis Bay. Enjoyed a night out at Da Loose Mongoose – a nice break for the cook. We ran over and got stuck on a mooring while trying to motor in to the dinghy dock in the dark, but got detached and all is well. That led to some interesting discussions on the proper use of flashlights while dinghying at night.  Naturally the captain and the admiral have different opinions on this subject 🙂

Eight more days until the boatyard.





  1. What’s happening at the boatyard??

    • Bottom painting while living aboard. Such fun!! (See post below)

  2. Water Nazi / Budget Nazi, as long as there is no Soup Nazi, you’ll be ok! lol

    We were trapped at the Beef Island airport a few years back. We stopped at Beef Island to pick up passengers on a flight from SXM to PR. The pilot landed hard and blew two tires. Of course, no spare tires on the island, so we were shuttled over on a nine seater to PR. By the time they got us off Beef Island, we had missed our flights from PR to JFK. This was during a Continental strike, so things were crazy in PR. LIAT was the airline that stranded us, so we screamed until they got us First Class tickets on Tower Airlines and paid $100 in advance for the cab we would have to hire to bring us from JFK to EWR, once back in New York…

    A boat ride home would have been much more enjoyable, even with the Water Nazi restricting my showers! HA!HA!

    • No Soup Nazi’s here, we have plenty of food aboard – although gotta watch the captain’s consumption of stuff like bacon & eggs and biscuits & gravy!

      The Beef Island runway was expanded in the mid 2000’s to 4600 feet, and even so Bob tells me that landing there is tricky, especially if you don’t do it often. Says he would not have accepted a flight going there at night. They route you over Tortola from the north side and you cross the mountain just before landing. Says the larger airlines like Liat with their schedule bidding system would be more likely to have pilots who are not very experienced with the airport going there. Surprised that more planes haven’t ended up in the anchorage! One of the local blogs just posted a rumor that they are considering another airport expansion project.

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