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July 2013

Water Water Everywhere

English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge said in Rime of the Ancient Mariner:
Day after day, day after day,
We stuck, nor breath nor motion;
As idle as a painted ship
Upon a painted ocean.
Water, water, every where,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink.


We say:

Day after day, day after day,

We sit, bobbing with little motion;

As idle as a moored boat

Not sailing on the ocean.

Water, water, everywhere,

And all aboard did shower;

Water, water, everywhere,

We drink, we eat, we scour.

Now that Coleridge is rolling in his grave, let’s discuss drinking water.

We do not have a water maker. They are expensive, and when we were outfitting the boat they seemed to be at the top of the high maintenance list for most cruisers. I make mistakes, but I’m no fool and was not about to add to EW’s maintenance tasks.

We have never had a problem getting water along our way, and only once did I find the taste objectionable. La Luna holds 200 gallons of water, and EW did install a Seagull water filter for our drinking water. We have never been ill, and the water tastes fine. It’s our cheapest provisioning item. We use about 50 gallons a WEEK*, and for over two years, we would lift the anchor and head into the dock once a month for water.

As an older sailboat, La Luna has very small fill hoses. If we run the incoming water at full force it will simply overflow, so it takes about an hour to fill both tanks once we are on the dock. Add to that the time to raise the anchor, dock, and get back out to the anchorage and reset, and you can figure one morning is totally shot.

P6250434This winter, I noticed that friends and experienced sailors Eric and Lynn on S/V Amarula fill their tanks more often by using jerry cans. At first I thought that would be too incredibly labor intensive, but now EW and I have joined their ranks. Once a week, when both of us are home, one of us – usually me – scoots into Crown Bay Marina with 4 five-gallon tanks, and brings water back to the boat. If we make three runs one week and four the next, we can keep the tanks full quite easily. We probably still spend four hours a month on the process, but at one hour a week, the task seems less onerous.

And for some reason, I don’t worry as much about the amount of water we use, even though I’m not using any more or less than we did before. We have water to shower, clean the boat, and drink. The Ancient Mariner has nothing on us.



And yes, that’s a gas can. And no, we don’t put water in it. But, as long as we’re getting water ……


It all works.



* This edit brought to you by two readers/commenters below -- Lynn and Kirk. Clearly I posted this before EW saw it. We use 50 gallons a WEEK not 50 gallons a month as was originally posted. Sorry about that.

The Tom Sawyer Method of Battery Installation

Meaning, I hardly had to do a thing.

I love our cruising friends, and am thankful that EW finally purchased the batteries before nearly every cruiser had left St. Thomas.

First of all, Peter and LeeAnn, our cruising friends from Two Much Fun told us how to receive a shipment into St. Thomas. Now, all of you who are thinking, “Aren’t they in the U-S-V-I?” Well, it depends. Here’s a short list of the challenges/conveniences we US sailors experience in this little bit of United States in the Caribbean:

  • The mail takes 7-10 days to get here or get there – but it is the US Postal System. Same stamps, priority boxes and everything.
  • Many companies won’t ship here, “Because it’s not the US.”
  • US cell phones work here just as they do in Maine or any other state.
  • Some companies, like D C Battery, won’t accept credit card payments from here for major purchases, “Because you’re not in the US.”
  • It only cost $81.00 and took less than a week to ship five very large batteries from D C Battery in Miami to St. Thomas.
  • I had to go through customs to receive them, even though this is so the US, darn-it!

Such is the cruising life. Again, since EW is working and I’m not, I handled customs. Here’s what you do.

  1. Take paperwork with shipping number and go to Tropical Office -  a short walk from Crown Bay
  2. Get more paperwork from Tropical, and walk in the other direction to Customs.
  3. Fill out a form, get more paperwork, and head back in the first direction, walking a couple of blocks past the Tropical office to their warehouse and arrange to receive your stuff.

I did all of this on a Thursday, with the intention of setting everything up to hire a truck to get the batteries to the marina on the following Monday, which was – of course – Memorial Day Weekend.

So then I went back to the Marina and talked with them about a slip for a night and day and about storing the batteries from Friday to Monday. No problem. On Friday, I hired the truck and driver, and helped him cart the batteries into their temporary storage area.

Then we went about our nearly normal lives with sick batteries and no freezer. In fact, I had purchased some beef for a dinner we were hosting for the folks on Two Much Fun and Kookaburra and had to have cousin Jeff meet me at the dinghy dock and take our meet for safe keeping, returning it to me on Saturday for the dinner.

I swear, I never meant for that dinner to be an “invitation” to help us with the batteries. We’ve installed a full set twice now. The first time, the two of us handled half of the project until a sailing friend on the dock jumped aboard to help. The second time we had an able-bodied young man help us. It’s not fun with only two but it’s possible. Regarding our most recent installation and our P5260090cruising friends:  I never pretended it was fun, I never offered them the brush with the whitewash on it; but if they insisted, who were we to stop them?

P5260065So Sunday morning, we took La Luna into the dock bright and early, and EW immediately began removing floor boards and taking the bed apart. We have two batteries under our bed and four under the sole under the companionway. EW has developed a system using blocks tied to the boom, and we lift all the P5260084batteries out the back hatch over our bed. Before we had gotten the first one ready to go, Peter, LeeAnn and Mimi showed up to help. First, LeeAnn took photos at my request. When I started trucking the batteries over to the boat, she took over on deck. EW floated between deck and working below to help Peter move the batteries.

P5260085Keith and Jamie joined us before I had returned with the first two batteries, so Keith joined the team on board and Jamie and I carted new batteries to the boat and old ones to a place where they would be transported for safe disposal. All the batteries were in their new homes before noon. P5260095

Of course, EW had some hooking up to do – and there were a couple of minor glitches, but all in all It was a good day. We stayed on the dock overnight, charging everything up, did other maintenance and cleaned the deck  while we were on the dock with water, and went back out to the anchorage on Monday.P5260101

We like our new batteries.

We love our cruising friends.


Photos, top to bottom:

1. EW and me removing the first battery. Peter was in the boat.

2. Peter and EW working on the bank under the companionway. Peter looks like he’s having fun.

3. Mimi – VCID – Very Cute Important Dog – supervising.

3. LeeAnn running the boom

4. Jamie after moving batteries with me.

5. Keith working the boom.