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Managing water use on a multi-day sailing expedition.

conserving water on a sailboat

It's no fun when your water tanks run dry during a multi-day sailing charter or passage. Time wasted at the dock refilling water tanks could be better spent out on the water enjoying nature and the magic of sailing! With communication and mindful conservation, you and your crew can extend your boat’s freshwater supply for days. How much water will you and your crew need during your multi-day charter? How can you stretch your water supply to make it last as long as possible? Should you run out of water, where do you go and how do you fill up? 

How much water will you use during your bareboat charter?

Tank water will be used for washing hands and face, brushing teeth, showers, and washing dishes. If you plan to swim or snorkel, you may want to shower afterwards and/or rinse the salt out of swimsuits and snorkeling gear before setting them out to dry. You can save more or less water during these activities depending on how conservative you are with use.

Each crew member will require about 1.5 gallons of drinking water per day. Exclude this amount from your planned tank water use - you’ll want to bring bottled drinking water with you. MSC does not recommend using charter boat tank water for drinking or cooking. Even hygienic tank water won't taste very pleasant. Please bring bottled drinking water. If you’re interested in avoiding plastic waste, consider utilizing refillable jugs.

Calculate a Daily Use Goal

First, find out your boat's freshwater tank capacity. Check the MSC Boat Features and Specifications spreadsheet found in the Choosing the Right Boat for Your Charter article*. If you’re bareboat chartering abroad, ask the charter company about tank capacity, or search for the boat model’s specifications at .

Divide the number of gallons in the tank ( a ) with the number of number of days you have the boat chartered for ( b ).

a ÷ b  =  c

In the example below, a crew of four's 100-gallon water tank is full at the start of their 6-day charter. Can they complete their itinerary without needing a refill?

100 ÷ 6 = 16.67 gallons per day total

A good goal for this crew is to use under 17 gallons total per day. They will need to be very conservative in their water use if they wish to avoid a trip to the dock. Just in case, they should locate a place along their itinerary where they can fill their tanks if needed.  

*Please note that some of our Silver Trainer vessels do not have functioning freshwater systems. If in doubt, please call the MSC office at (415) 331-8250.

Monitor Water Tank Levels

If you’re chartering for more than one day, take a moment to familiarize yourself with the boat's tank monitoring system and check water levels before leaving the dock. 

Most modern boats have a tank monitor installed in or near the main electrical control panel, as shown in the picture below. 

Tank Monitor.jpg

conserving water on a sailboat

During a multi-day charter, check water levels in the afternoon and again in the morning - ideally 2 to 3 times daily. If you find you're consuming water much more quickly than anticipated, have a conversation with your crew about ways to improve water conservation.

Some boats are equipped with two water tanks. Press the water tank monitor button to toggle between displays for Tank 1 and Tank 2.

NOTE : If your boat is equipped with two water tanks, you may need to manually switch over to the second tank when the first tank runs dry. Every boat is different. If you need some help understanding your boat's freshwater system, ask for the assistance of a fleet specialist by calling the main office (415) 331-8250 or hail on VHF radio channel 68.

How to Conserve Water on a Charter Sailboat

When washing hands and face and brushing teeth, open the tap just enough to allow a trickle from the faucet. It may take a bit longer, but you’ll use a lot less water to get the job done. Rinse toothbrushes in a cup with a small amount of drinking water.

  • Conserve a little : A “navy shower” will conserve water and get you clean from stem to stern. Briefly turn on the water - just enough to get yourself wet - then turn it off while you soap up your body and shampoo your hair. Turn the water on again just long enough to rinse.  
  • Conserve a lot : If you’re in an area suitable for swimming, bathe in seawater and rinse in freshwater. Jump in the drink, climb back aboard to soap up your hair and body, and jump in again to rinse. Then rinse off the saltwater quickly in the shower. Very refreshing! A dry shampoo product and a “sponge bath” (or washcloth) will use the least amount of water. Consider alternating between a shower and a sponge bath every other day to save the most water. 

Washing Dishes

  • Conserve a little : Have crew members wipe crumbs and sauces off their plate and utensils with their napkins. Also, one-pot meals are superb for sailing trips - less cookware to wash! Apply dish soap, lather, and rinse dishes under a small trickle of fresh water from the galley faucet.  
  • Conserve a lot : Wash dishes thoroughly in a bucket of seawater. Follow with a quick freshwater rinse in the galley sink to remove the salt.

Where and How to Refill Your Boat's Water Tank

If your water tank runs dry, it's time for a trip to the dock. Our article  Multi-Day Charters: Fueling Up and Pumping Out will help you find a Bay Area location to fill up.

Use the deck cap key (found in the navigation table on most boats) to twist open the deck cap. Twist to the left to open and to the right to seal.

universal deck cap key.jpg

conserving water on a sailboat

NOTE : Deck fill caps are clearly labeled to indicate whether they provide access to a water tank, fuel (diesel), or waste tank. Double-check the deck fill cap to ensure you are filling the water tank and not the diesel tank. (It has happened!)  

Water Tank Deck Cap.jpg

conserving water on a sailboat

NOTE : Be aware that at public fuel/water/pumpout docks, sometimes sailors will insert water hoses into waste tank portals to flush out holding tanks. For this reason, to avoid contaminating your freshwater supply, hold the water hose above the deck and do not allow it to touch any part of the water tank portal.

Learn how to make the most of your time on the water - visit the Member Resources section of our website for more sailing and charter tips! On the subject of multi-day chartering, you might enjoy articles such as these:

  • Onboard Electricity Basics & FAQ
  • Charter Boat Icebox and Refrigerator Basics and Best Practices
  • Anchor and Windlass Tips for MSC Members
  • Cozy Winter Chartering - MSC Yachts with Cabin Heaters and Hot Water
  • It's easy to prevent the costly consequences of "prop wrap"
  • Handling Emergencies Part I: Predeparture Safety Checks
  • ...and more!  

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It has been wonderful sailing with MSC over the years. Please extend my thanks to the owners, management, and staff for unrequited professionalism and high standards in a charter fleet. I have sailed with several in my years and none nearly hold a candle to the quality of business and staff at Modern Sailing.

Andrew Goble and Crew

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The vessel was clean and in fine condition - very nice boat for training, well-equipped.

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8 Tips to conserving Fresh Water on your Sailboat

It’s always great to be conserving freshwater on your boat and these tips from the blog  Sailing Chance were too good not to share! When out Sailing for a long period of time freshwater can be scarce to come by. You can only hold so much and once it’s out you have to figure out how to get more. Depending on where you are and if you’re traveling that may cost money therefore the best thing to do is CONSERVE! Make the water you have last as long as you can and these small changes to your everyday routine can help a lot!

  • Salt Water Foot Pump- This can make your life so much easier especially if it’s in the galley. It’s so easy to pre-wash dishes, rinse whatever is needed, and it’s a direct source to water instead of lugging buckets of around the boat.
  • Mesh Net Dish Washing- This is an interesting tip but can be very effective in conserving any type of water. When you’re all done with your dishes throw them in a mesh bag and tie them off on the back of the boat. As you gently bob at anchor in the ocean any remaining food left on the dishes is loosened and sometimes completely rinsed off. Not only does it save water but it does most the hard work for you. You can then use a little soap to get the remaining food off in the salt water and just do your final rinse with fresh water.
  • Salt Water Bath and a Fresh Water Rinse- You can do with yourself the same as you do with your dishes. Bath in the salt water and just rinse with your freshwater that way you can get all clean and just do the final rinse in the fresh water to get the salt water residue off of you.
  • Use a cup of fresh water to brush your teeth and shave your legs. Leaving the tap running while brushing your teeth can waste gallons of water. If you just fill a cup up halfway you have enough to easily brush and rinse and same goes with shaving your legs.
  • Hand Sanitizer- Hand Sanitizer is your best friend. Use it whenever you can instead of soap and water.
  • Use Salt water for cooking- When making pasta or boiling water you can always add a little salt to help the water boil faster so why not add a little salt water. Don’t had too much but about ¼ salt water ¾ fresh should be perfect! Any conservation helps.
  • Catch Rain Water- Depending on where you’re traveling it may rain sometimes and you could catch up to 15 gallons! Just put a bucket or two out and watch it fill up.

Read more about these tips and Sailing on the awesome blog Sailing Chance, linked above!

  • Sailing Trips
  • Shelter Island

Life on a Sailboat: Everything You Need to Know About Living on a Sailboat Full-Time

Living on a sailboat full-time is often romanticized as a life of endless sunsets, gentle waves, and freedom on the open sea. Many dream of casting off the lines and setting sail for a horizon of adventure and tranquility. However, the reality of life aboard a sailboat can be as challenging as it is rewarding, as frustrating as it is relaxing, and, more often than not, as mundane as it is exciting.

This blog post aims to peel back the curtain on the picturesque scenes to reveal what daily life is really like when you call a sailboat home. We will dive into the motivations, preparations, joys, and challenges of living on a sailboat full-time, providing a realistic glimpse into a lifestyle that is far from ordinary.

Our Live-Aboard Life

Our dream of living on a sailboat was a distant one for many years. But as we watched plans and dreams fall by the wayside in the wake of COVID, we made the decision to make our dream a reality. Once the borders opened up, we made a beeline for the Mediterranean and have since spent each summer living aboard our little 29-foot sailboat Whisper. Without any experience sailing or living on a sailboat, we have taught ourselves to sail and manage life on the boat along the way.

Before we took up sail life, we had been living “van life,” and we’ve come to realize there are lots of similarities but quite a few differences between the two . However, on the whole, learning to live van life first put us in good stead to take on life on a sailboat. Unlike most people, we up-sized when we moved onto a boat.

Despite the upgrade in living quarters, the learning curve and the adjustment to living on the sea were no less challenging. Nevertheless, the shift was not as scary as we thought it might be, and the reality of living on a sailboat full-time quickly became our new normal.

Initially, our plan was to buy a boat and spend one season aboard sailing the Mediterranean before selling the boat and settling down. Instead, it’s safe to say we have fallen in love with life on a sailboat. Now, as we enter our third season, we aren’t sure when we will be ready to furl the sails for good…

Get a Taste of Life on a SailBoat

We document some of the realities of living on a sailboat full-time on our YouTube Channel in our The Vanabond Sails series.

Deciding to Live on a Sailboat

The journey to becoming a full-time live aboard often starts with the desire for change.

Some people are transitioning from one stage of life to the next as careers wind up or children move out. Some yearn for adventure and excitement, while others seek a simpler way of life. Many are drawn to the promise of freedom, the allure of the sea, and the appeal of living more closely with nature. However, the decision to live on a sailboat full-time is not one to be taken lightly. It requires thoughtful consideration and planning.

For us, it was a long-held dream to sail and live aboard a sailboat. It was also a natural progression, having spent several years living and traveling by van . We were ready for a new challenge. 

It began with a conversation, then a plan, and then trawling classifieds for second-hand boat sales. Before long, the decision was set in stone, and we were on our way to Croatia to buy a boat , learn to sail it, and move aboard. 

Choosing the Right Sailboat

The type of sailboat you choose is critical and depends on your budget, sailing skills, and the kind of sailing you plan to do (coastal cruising, bluewater voyaging, etc.).

Will you prefer the size and stability of a catamaran, or will you prioritize the sailing experience of a monohull? Are you looking for something small that’s easily controlled and maneuvered by a limited (and potentially inexperienced) crew, or do you require the space of a larger vessel? Are you interested in the clean lines and comforts of modern boat designs, or do you prefer the style of older boats? There are a thousand decisions to be made when choosing a boat, and your own aspirations for boat life and, of course, your budget will be critical when it comes to making this decision. 

Spend as much time researching boats that are available in your price range, ask questions of sailors you know or on sailing forums, and, if possible, spend time aboard different types of sailboats to get a clearer picture of what life is really like on board before making a purchase.

Check out our full article on buying boat .

Emotional and Practical Considerations for Sail Life

Living on a sailboat means embracing minimalism and being comfortable with the idea of having less space and possessions.

You’ll need to consider the impact of such a lifestyle on relationships with family and friends, as it can mean spending long periods away from loved ones.

The decision also involves considering how to manage work or income while living at sea , which might include remote work, seasonal jobs, or living off savings.

There are plenty of options for those planning on working remotely while sailing. With the rise of remote work , there has never been more opportunity to work and sail.

All of these considerations represent potential challenges to adjusting to life at sea, but they are certainly not insurmountable. You just need to be honest with yourself and decide if your love of the open water and the freedom of living aboard a sailboat will be greater than the inconveniences.

Preparations and Adjustments

Transitioning to life on a sailboat involves a series of preparations and adjustments, both practical and psychological, to ensure a smooth and sustainable living experience.

Training and Skills

If you are thinking about taking up sailing, you should, of course, invest time in learning to sail, navigate, and understand weather patterns. While this may seem like a daunting task, it’s not an insurmountable one. Time on the water is the most important thing, so it’s time to sign up for sailing courses, start planning trips with sailing friends, join a local sailing club, or seek out opportunities to crew for other sailors.

Learning basic boat maintenance and repair is essential to manage the myriad challenges that come with life at sea.

Safety courses, such as first aid, sea survival, and radio operation, are also crucial for handling emergencies.

These skills are important for safe and comfortable sailing and are often legally required. Make sure you are aware of the licensing and registration requirements for sailors in the region you are preparing to sail.

In our case, I had experience sailing small dinghies as a child and thus some understanding of the fundamentals, while Kelli had zero experience. My existing marine license issued in Australia was recognized in Croatia, where we bought our boat. I only needed to acquire a VHF radio license to become adequately certified for inshore sailing in the Mediterranean. 

We paid some local sailors to come aboard and teach us both the fundamentals of our new boat (lots of docking and anchoring practice).

Downsizing and Adapting to Limited Space and Resources

As mentioned, moving onto a boat was actually upsizing for us. With a second cabin, a flushing toilet, and a large indoor table, our relatively small 29-foot monohull seemed luxurious compared to the vans we had been living in until this point. 

However, for most, moving onto a sailboat often means significant downsizing, and space becomes a premium commodity. The process of downsizing for sail life involves prioritizing essential items and learning to live without the comforts of a traditional home.

Space isn’t the only limitation on a boat. Reliance on water tanks (if you don’t have a watermaker) and solar, wind, or generator electricity often means a downshift in access to creature comforts we take for granted in a house on the grid.

Creativity in organizing and making the most of limited space and resources becomes a daily practice, requiring innovative storage solutions and multi-functional furniture. Most modern sailboats are well-designed with endless space-saving measures and designs. Nevertheless, an adjustment will likely be necessary.

Financial Planning

Financial considerations are paramount, as the cost of living on a sailboat can vary widely depending on factors like marina fees, maintenance costs, and lifestyle choices.

Setting a realistic budget that includes regular maintenance, unexpected repairs, and living expenses is essential for sustaining life at sea.

Depending on your personal aspirations for boat life, this lifestyle can be as affordable or as expensive as you want to be. For us, as a couple in our thirties still in the building and saving part of our lives and careers, we are able to live on a boat in the Mediterranean affordably and comfortably for far less than we (estimate) we would spend living a more stationary lifestyle.

Check out our full article on the Costs of Living on Sail Boat Full-Time

Overall, adjusting to the confines and challenges of sailboat living demands not only physical preparation but also mental resilience and adaptability. The transition from land to sea is a profound shift, requiring a willingness to embrace simplicity, flexibility, and a sense of adventure.

Daily Life Aboard

While there is no typical day aboard, and experiences will differ wildly from person to person and day to day, we can describe what many of our days do look like.

As we work from the boat, our weeks are generally divided into work days, Monday to Friday morning and weekends. The truth is that the novelty does wear off, and many days, especially during the working week, become just as mundane as any other lifestyle. However it never stays mundane for long, one exhilarating sail, a dolphin sighting, a picture perfect anchorage or even surviving an impromptu weather event and the thrill of living on a sailboat quickly returns.

A typical workday for us living on a sailboat often starts with the sunrise (or a little bit before if we have a lot on). Ideally, we are well rested after a still night without rolling swell or, worse, strong wind, but that isn’t always assured at sea. Mornings involve checking the weather first and foremost, all plans revolve around the direction and strength of the wind and waves. 

If the weather is calm, we usually try to work in the mornings when we are fresh and focused.

We travel slowly, often spending a few days in a quiet, well-protected anchorage, on a town quay, or in a marina before moving on a short distance along the coast. On sailing days, we often sail in the afternoon when the winds are a bit stronger in the Mediterranean. On days we are staying put, the afternoon might be spent exploring a new town, getting provisions, swimming, or finding a beach to lie on and read a book. In the evening, we will cook dinner onboard and get some more work done or watch some TV. 

Weekends look different, and we will take advantage of not needing to be close to reliable network services, completing longer passages along the coast, or visiting islands. 

Daily Differences in Sail Life

Living spaces on a sailboat are compact and multifunctional, necessitating an organized and tidy approach to prevent clutter and ensure safety. Cooking in a small galley kitchen presents its challenges, from securing pots and pans on a constantly moving boat to managing limited ingredients and storage.

Meals often need to be simple yet nutritious, requiring creativity and planning. Our approach is to cook simple, one-pot, vegetarian meals like dal or vegetable curry two or three times during the workweek and eat leftovers for lunch and dinner. On the weekend, we like to get more creative with our meals, seeking out local produce or fresh seafood and taking our time to prepare something special.

As mentioned, resource management is a critical aspect of daily sailboat life, especially when it comes to conserving water, fuel, and electricity. Efficient use of these resources is vital, whether it involves careful water usage, monitoring power consumption, or planning the next opportunity to resupply. For us, an electricity supply is mainly dependent on the sun when we are not under motor or plugged into shore power. Extended periods of cloud can alter our plans. Similarly, if we are not careful with water, more frequent visits to refill are required, which can be limiting. 

Personal hygiene and privacy take on a new meaning in the confined space of a sailboat. Showers may be quick and infrequent. In our case, we generally rinse off after a swim to bathe and take proper showers during marina stops. Personal space is limited on a sailboat and managing personal relationships can have extra challenges.

Sleeping on the boat can take some getting used to, especially when on anchor. Even on a calm day, the constant rocking of the water can be disruptive at first, and novice sailors may find they get seasick, although these symptoms usually go away after a few days. When it’s windy, or there is some swell, the noise, movement, and the ever-present worry that the boat may pull off its anchor with the movement can make it very difficult to get a good night’s sleep. 

Unforecast storms, gear failure, or some other emergency can occasionally create scary and challenging scenarios, especially if disaster strikes late at night. These situations are part of the adventure but can certainly be stressful.

Despite the challenges, daily life on a sailboat is interspersed with moments of profound beauty and peace. Whether watching dolphins play in the bow wave, enjoying a sunset over the ocean, or stargazing on a clear night, these experiences often make the hardships worthwhile, offering a sense of freedom and connection to nature that is hard to find elsewhere.

The Pros and Cons of Living on a Sailboat Full-Time

Pros: the joys of sailboat living.

Living on a sailboat brings a unique set of joys and rewards that can make the challenges seem insignificant.

+ One of the most significant benefits is the sense of freedom and adventure. Sailboat dwellers have the luxury of exploring new destinations, anchoring in secluded bays, and experiencing different cultures in a way that most people never will. The ability to call a variety of picturesque locations home, even if only temporarily, is a remarkable aspect of this lifestyle. Even compared to other forms of nomadic lifestyle, waking up in your own private bay or cove is hard to re-create. 

+ The connection with nature is unparalleled in sailboat living. Being surrounded by the vastness of the ocean, witnessing marine life up close, and experiencing the rhythms of the sea create a deep sense of harmony and peace. The simplicity of life on a boat can lead to a greater appreciation for the small things, like the beauty of a sunset, the changing colors of the sea, or the silence of a night watch under the stars.

+ Community and camaraderie are also central to the sailboat lifestyle. The sailing community is known for its close-knit, supportive nature, with fellow sailors often ready to lend a hand, share advice, or offer companionship. This sense of community extends across harbors and anchorages around the world, creating a global network of friends and contacts.

+ The personal growth and self-reliance developed through sailboat living are profound. Navigating the challenges and unpredictability of the sea fosters resilience, problem-solving skills, and a strong sense of self-confidence. The lifestyle encourages continuous learning, from mastering sailing and navigational skills to understanding weather patterns and marine ecosystems.

The Cons: The Challenges and Hardships of Liveaboard Life

While the joys of living on a sailboat are plentiful, the lifestyle also comes with its fair share of challenges and hardships. These difficulties test the resilience and adaptability of those who choose this way of life.

– One of the most significant challenges is dealing with bad weather. Storms, high winds, and rough seas can be terrifying and dangerous, requiring skill, experience (which you can only get by …experiencing it), and a calm demeanor to navigate safely (perhaps the trickiest thing to achieve). The stress from poor weather can be mentally draining, disrupt work, and put a strain on relationships.

– The learning curve required to become a confident and comfortable sailor is not small and can take many seasons while mastering sailing can take a lifetime.

– The constant exposure to the elements also means that maintenance is a never-ending task, with saltwater and sun causing wear and tear that must be regularly addressed to keep the boat functional and safe. Especially on an older boat like ours, fixing and maintaining gear and rigging is an endless cycle. Most systems and hardware on the boat are essential, and when they fail, there is often no one around to help. Constantly sorting out jammed anchors, engine or electrical issues can quickly become tiresome and (if you are trying to work) quite disruptive. It can also be quite stressful when critical systems fail.

– Isolation is another aspect of sailboat living that can be challenging. Long periods at sea or anchored in remote locations can lead to feelings of loneliness and disconnection from land-based communities. The confined space of a sailboat can strain relationships, making it essential for the crew, be it a couple, a family, or friends, to communicate effectively and give each other personal space.

– The financial aspect of sailboat living can also be a hardship. Unexpected repairs and maintenance can quickly drain savings, and the cost of mooring, fuel, and supplies can add up. Sailors must be adept at budgeting and often need to be resourceful in finding ways to sustain their lifestyle, which might include picking up temporary jobs or remote work.

– The physical demands of managing a sailboat should not be underestimated. It requires strength, stamina, and a willingness to tackle everything from sail repairs to engine troubleshooting. The learning curve can be steep, and the responsibility of keeping the boat and its occupants safe is a constant pressure.

Despite these challenges, many sailboat dwellers find that the hardships are part of what makes the lifestyle rewarding. Overcoming difficulties and learning to live in harmony with the sea can provide a profound sense of achievement and satisfaction.

Final Thoughts About Life on a Sailboat

Living on a sailboat full-time is a journey that encompasses the full spectrum of human experience, blending moments of sheer joy and beauty with times of challenge and adversity. It’s a lifestyle that demands resilience, adaptability, and a willingness to embrace the unknown. While the romantic allure of sailing the high seas is undeniable, the realities of daily life on a sailboat are grounded in practical challenges and the necessity of continual learning and personal growth.

The decision to live on a sailboat should not be made lightly, as it involves significant changes in lifestyle, mindset, and social dynamics. However, for those who choose to embark on this adventure, it offers unparalleled opportunities for freedom, exploration, and connection with nature. The hardships encountered along the way are not just obstacles but also catalysts for growth, leading to a deeper understanding of oneself and the world.

If you have a question about living on a sailboat full-time, let us know in the comments below or shoot us an email anytime!

Fair winds and following seas!

In 2016, I had been dumped by my girlfriend, fired from my job, and the lease on my house was running out. Facing moving back in with my parents, 26, jobless and alone I decided to listen to the message the universe was trying to send me. I took off on my first solo backpacking trip, with a one-way ticket to Bangkok and a well-thumbed Lonely Planet guide. From there I wandered Southeast and Central Asia, traveled the Great Steppe, and made my way across Russia and throughout Europe.

In Estonia I met Kelli, who, despite having a less frantic travel style, shared my my restless spirit and passion for exploration. Together, we embarked on a new journey, van life. Over four years we travelled across three different continents with three different vans.

In 2022, as the world began to re-open post COVID we took an opportunity to realise a long held dream, to live aboard a sailboat. Since then we have spent two summers in the Mediterranean, sailing and living aboard our little sail boat Whisper. When we aren't sailing we continue to live our nomadic lifestyle, guided by a philosophy of slow travel and self directed adventure be it by van or backpacking.

We find excitement through our journey into the unknown, stillness and content in the beauty of the places we discover and we find ourselves in the vastness of our world.

Hopefully, we can help you find what you're looking for too. Get lost with us and find your own path.

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Yachting World

  • Digital Edition

Yachting World cover

Water for sailing: We survey the ARC fleet to find popular options

  • Toby Hodges
  • June 24, 2021

How to stow, conserve or generate drinking water for sailing is key for any offshore sailor. Toby Hodges surveyed the 81 skippers of the ARC 2020 fleet for tips

conserving water on a sailboat

Water is the source of all life. For any sailor considering extended cruising or an ocean crossing , the ability to carry or produce sufficient fresh water for sailing is a top priority.

But how do you decide how much water to ship or how best to generate your own? Our survey of the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC) fleet last year focused on water.

We asked the skippers how much water they carried for sailing, in what form, how it was used and, for the majority with watermakers, detailed questions about the generation of water and how the equipment performed at sea.

Since we last ran a survey on this topic in 2014 our collective attitude towards waste has arguably changed for the better. That fleet of 193 yachts carried over 28 tonnes of bottled water with them across to the Caribbean. All sailors today should consider how every consumable item they carry aboard will be disposed of when they reach their destination.

conserving water on a sailboat

Pogo 12.50 Rush. Photo: James Mitchell

The main decision ocean sailors face with water stowage is whether to fit a watermaker, which is both a practical and a financial decision. Generating your own water is one of the best investments cruising sailors can make towards comfort and true independence.

ARC skippers over the past two decades have consistently described watermakers as one of their most vital pieces of equipment. “To us, a watermaker is the single best thing you can have for cruising by a fair margin and fully changes the game,” thinks Rush ’s Ian Baylis.

Three-quarters of the skippers who replied to our survey had watermakers aboard. The seven yachts listed as not carrying one were all smaller entries between 35ft and 45ft and typically over 20-year-old models. They carried extra water in bottles and jerrycans and used it sparingly.

Usage and conservation of water for sailing

Being frugal with water becomes second nature to most cruisers. The majority of respondents said their crew only showered every three days, 12 every two days and 13 daily.

One of the most common pieces of advice from skippers concerning water conservation is to fit a saltwater tap and to use seawater whenever you can. “Cook with salt water when possible,” advises the crew of Montana , a Swan 48 S&S from 1973. Yet over half of the respondents did not have a saltwater tap fitted in their galley, nor even a manual freshwater pump in the galley or the heads.

conserving water on a sailboat

“The saltwater tap in the galley is essential,” thinks Tobias Gröpper on his Sunbeam 44 Pivot . “We still have 50% of our tank capacity on arrival although we took showers etc.”

Jorn Aalefjær, the Norwegian skipper of Ticora III , and Dane Martin Nielsen aboard his Jeanneau 53 also both stressed the benefit of fitting a saltwater tap.

Suffisant , one of the smallest entrants, a Beneteau Oceanis Clipper 331 from 1990, has only small tanks, but uses a Katadyn Power Survivor 40E watermaker. They used salt water to wash with and had manual taps fitted in the galley and heads.

Swiss skipper Marina Passet says: “Salt water is no use for washing clothes, but can be used for brushing teeth, washing dishes and vegetables.”

Article continues below…

conserving water on a sailboat

Water on board: what should you carry? We ask ARC skippers for tips for an Atlantic crossing

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Catamaran sailing across the Atlantic: Why multihulls are taking over the ARC

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Seasoned cruising sailors the Blacks aboard Bowman 57 Emily Morgan , say they have used their set-up for 8,500 miles and would not do anything differently. They relied on their Spectra Ventura watermaker, but advise closely monitoring the tanks: “We graph tank levels daily,” says Anna Black. “If the level is below the line then no more fresh water showers until it returns. Allow 20% extra in case of problems.”

Many other crews, including on the Sunbeam 42.1 Ibex , were happy relying on desalinated water without needing large back-up quotas of water.

The Chung family aboard Kaizen use a four-filter system to purify their water and drink everything from the tank. They have an instant hotwater tap, and “we make our own sparkling water and have reuse cannisters for emergency”, says Kean Chung. Their Oyster 49 has 1,000lt tanks and a Sea Fresh H20 watermaker, so the crew were able to shower daily and there was no need for any bottled water.

Water stowage

There should be no need to rely on single-use plastic water bottles when cruising. Reusable bottles, flexible or collapsible bladders and jerrycans are a perfectly adequate solution for storing reserve water, particularly if you have a good filtration system.

conserving water on a sailboat

Use salt water when possible, for washing clothes, dishes or taking showers. Photo: Thomas Horgen

Recycling plastic is not possible on many islands. While in recent years IGY Rodney Bay Marina has provided a plastic recycling service for visiting yachts, run in co-operation with a local community group, due to COVID restrictions the service was suspended in 2020.

So it was disheartening to find that nearly half the fleet still shipped over 100lt of bottled water each, while seven yachts carried over 250lt of bottled water, despite five of these having a watermaker.

Many skippers still like to carry bottled water as a contamination-proof back-up or for monitoring intake. Aboard Escapado for example, a Beneteau first 40.7 with no watermaker, they carried over 250lt of bottled water.

Skipper Sophie Iona O’Neill says: “One person kept a tally and did three fills of everyone’s water each day.” She says the total daily consumption amounted to: “two litres of drinking water per person, plus one litre of tea/coffee, giving a total of 3lt of fluid per person, per day,” – a useful statistic for those planning water consumption.

Water generation

If installed correctly and serviced properly, a watermaker should perform consistently well. The majority of 2020 ARC skippers rated their watermakers most highly, with 70% giving 5/5 for reliability.

conserving water on a sailboat

Wash-up in seawater, then just rinse in fresh. Photo: Tor Johnson

Just eight skippers reported having any issues with their equipment. Any problems were either fixed with spares or the result of another issue, such as a power source problem ( Adagio had issues with their genset and, in the case of the Malo 43 Ydalir II , the fault was traced to a leak onto the inverter).

The few who experienced any faults with their watermaker’s performance were typically those who had only installed it that season. The overriding advice is to make sure you have tested your system thoroughly at sea before embarking on an ocean passage.

With prices typically ranging from £4,000 to five figures, it is worthwhile making sure a watermaker is working smoothly and knowing how to service it properly in advance.

Have the power

The ability to harness power naturally and to store it efficiently is changing the watermaker world. “If you don’t want to use diesel to make water you need a lot of power generation,” warns Lucky Girl ’s Charlie Pank, who has a Schenker Modular 30. However, only five skippers say they increased their battery capacity when their watermaker was fitted.

Paul Lemmens was very happy with his Rainman AC 120lt per hour unit aboard his Hanse 455 Veni Vidi Vix , but advises: “You need good batteries/large inverter to function.” He fitted an extra 400Ah of lithium batteries when the watermaker was installed.

The advent of high DC power has had a marked effect on watermakers, says Mactra Marine’s Jim MacDonald, who, COVID restrictions apart, usually attends the ARC start for any last-minute watermaker problems or services. “Go for a low-energy system that will run off the batteries,” he advises. A good bank of solar panels or a hydrogenerator can really help – nearly half the fleet used solar to help charge their batteries.

conserving water on a sailboat

Many of the crews in the ARC still carry significant amounts of bottled water.

“As lithium has become more prevalent, DC systems with energy recovery are coming into their own,” MacDonald continues. “This means that whatever your means of power generation, you can always use your watermaker – whereas with the old-fashioned AC/high-pressure pumps you had to run the genset to make it work.” He has also seen the reliability of modern watermakers improving as they increasingly use electronics where possible.

Despite its modest output of 20lt per hour, the Blacks on Emily Morgan rate their Spectra Ventura very highly. They installed it themselves in 2017 and describe it as “invaluable in the Pacific – simple and reliable”.

The German Schaals aboard their Bavaria Cruiser 42 Nikajuma say they wouldn’t change their set-up and that the Echo Tec DML260 always worked – but noting “that the test tap is very important”.

Filtering water

Whether storing water in tanks or making desalinated water from the sea, filtering out any impurities makes sense. “We added 5ml of chlorine in the tank to kill bacteria and used LaVie water purifiers to get the chlorine smell out of the tap water we drank,” says Patrice Charbon, who was sailing the new Fountaine Pajot Astrea 42 Eden Blue for LP4Y with four friends.

conserving water on a sailboat

Bottled water is still popular on board, despite the potential environmental impact. Photo: James Mitchell

They were trialling a new form of UVA water filtration technology on their desalinated water. Charbon, an associate of the inventors Solable, explains: “The strong LED light beam generates UVAs which break the chlorine molecules. As a side effect, an advanced oxidation process flushes the water eliminating all molecules of pesticides, medicine or hormones that one can find in tap water.

“A 30-minute purification would bring fresh, pure water to our table every day,” concludes Charbon, calculating that the watermaker and filters helped them save “over 200 plastic water bottles for our crossing and over 12kg of PET since our departure”.

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Getting, Storing and Using Water While Cruising


Here’s a helpful article from surveyor John Champion on how to get, store and use one of our most precious resources while cruising—water…

Water is useful stuff. We like to drink it, wash with it and clean things with it—pretty much in that order. And the abundant liquid we float on is second best for these purposes. The days of crossing an ocean with a couple of jerry cans and gloating over the moisture in a fishes eye seem to be long gone. In place of frugality we now want, and in some instances insist upon, a virtually boundless supply of fresh water.

Boats with pressure water systems are pretty much standard and it is surprising how many now pack washing machines and even dishwashers aboard. This is all well and good, but such devices have a thirst and to be of any use outside a marina, this thirst must be satisfied. We must have water, and lots of it.

TECHNICAL SOLUTIONS The easiest (relative term) and most expensive way to do this is to cough up the money for a big watermaker, spend an eternity, or another fortune, installing it, then troubleshoot and learn how to operate and maintain it correctly. Failure to do this properly will quickly reduce the wonder of technology to a useless pile of pumps and hoses until the next competent and available dealer or service agent is encountered. Notice the key words here? Competent and available. In my experience this doesn’t happen very often, but I did hear of an astrologer in Turkey who was pretty good at predicting such events; so read the manual and learn how to do it yourself. Essentially, a high output watermaker turns diesel or gas into water. (Damn fool, you say, it turns seawater into fresh by removing the salt! That’s why it is called a desalinator!) Yes, but the machine requires energy and the bigger the output, and hence usefulness, the more energy is required. Small DC units certainly can be run in good energy producing conditions by solar and wind depending on the other electrical demands aboard. Much above the 15 liters per hour mark and power consumption gets right up there. Add a DC fridge, freezer and a powerful autopilot—and who knows what else—and the solar panels will have to be heroic to keep up. Plus, you will still suck the batteries dry at night or on overcast days.


There are three common options for powering a watermaker, not including tow behind models. Perhaps most popular is DC battery powered, 12 or 24 volts according to your vessel’s system, AC electricity or engine driven. Each has pros and cons. Small to medium DC units can be run to some extent off the batteries without an engine, how often and how long will depend on your charging and storage system. If you have a first rate, efficient DC system with significant alternate charging capacity, then you’re in business. More likely you will struggle to keep the batteries adequately charged and not fall below the 50% discharge mark, which will shorten their already short and expensive life. Under these circumstances you will start the engine in order to make water when required; in essence, diesel is being turned into H2O.

Quite small units, up to perhaps five liters per hour, can even be hand operated. You could probably sweat five liters in the hour mind you. The second option is an AC powered unit. These can have serious production ability so may not be required to run for very long to meet your needs. You will, however, need to have AC power and this means a generator will have to be running unless you are in the marina with shore power. Smart people do not make water in marinas, though, as fuel and contaminants may bugger up the very costly membranes inside, but many do anyway. Running an AC watermaker via an enormous inverter may be possible under certain circumstances, while motoring for example, but is probably not a good systematic solution. If your vessel has a generator you use for air conditioning or such and has extra capacity for a watermaker, then this is a reasonable solution.

A third option is to have an engine-powered unit. This is definitely turning diesel into water, but if you are using the engine to travel you probably have spare horsepower that can be put to work. A large DC unit may be operated in this way also, as the alternator (high output, marine rated with smart regulator right?) will be putting back what the desalinator takes immediately. One little issue with watermakers is correct sizing, bigger is not always better, as in the tropics they will need to be pickled (treated with storage biocide) after three days or so without use. If left much longer than this, perhaps a week in temperate climates, nasty stuff grows in the membrane and you’re up for a ruinous bill and have no water. Some people prefer to run a smaller unit more frequently and so avoid the required pickling. Numerous models also offer an automated fresh water flush to keep the membrane fresh but this relies on using water produced by the machine as chlorine and other additives will knock the membrane on the head as well.

As you may have gathered, membranes are sensitive little fellows and if one of your mates sticks the dock hose into the wrong tank, it may be his last trip on your boat. Various filters can help protect against this. So watermakers like to be used or pickled, take your choice. Some brands use different chemicals to achieve the pickled state and these may not always be compatible between brands. What is right for one unit may well destroy another, so point this out next time you hear “Yoo Hoo, can I borrow a cup of biocide please dear?”

These desirable inventions are pretty common on boats for the shade factor and with a little bit of thought can largely solve your water issues. This of course means it has to rain, which is not generally a problem in the tropics but might be in other places. Still, once set up to catch water you will always have that option if it does rain. Large awnings used at anchor will produce the best results—naturally, the bigger the catchment area, the more water. Biminis can also be configured to catch rainwater. In any awning, a cheap nylon thru hull can be placed in what you believe to be the lowest point and a tube run from there to the tank deck fill; easy once you really have found the true low point. A well reinforced webbing loop around the underside of the thru hull fitting will allow some adjustment of the awning to keep it low. Given a good breeze, however, with the awning moving around a bit the catchment point can become isolated and pools can form, water then collects undrained and the whole lid could come down.

Permanently mounted solar panels also catch a lot of water and if there is a favored run off point then a bucket hung beneath this point—with the thru hull and hose exiting the bottom of the bucket—will catch a surprising amount in a good downpour. This is probably the most cost effective water catcher ever.

DECK CATCH Some people have noticed how much water runs off the deck in the rain and have devised ways of catching this. At least one boat I know of (a Martzcraft 46) had a system designed into the vessel to achieve this. It would be possible to retrofit such a system into certain models of boats that employ a solid toe rail for example. These small bulwarks around the outside of the deck mean there is usually a deck drain overboard, generally a little aft of amidships, that was picked as the lowest point under sail.

Some of the drains are solid glass but some have hose that you could try and tee into to catch rain right off the deck. If memory serves me correct the Beneteau 50, Catalina 400 and I imagine many others, are suitable for this method. Some kind of three-way valve would be needed to direct the seawater overboard and the fresh water to the tank when suitable, but clean decks are certainly required and you would regret forgetting to change this one back before sailing. If your boat has perforated toe rails then keep thinking of alternatives.

TANKS So you intend to catch or make a heap of water and it has to go somewhere. Your boat will come with a water tank or tanks—the more the merrier as it is a real bummer if the single tank leaks or is contaminated—and these tanks can vary widely in capacity, construction and security. A good tank will be robust, corrosion proof, very well secured, probably baffled to prevent water battering at the walls and will have an inspection port that allows you to clean it occasionally. Good luck with all this.


All materials have good and bad points. Metal is strong, but can rust and welds fail. Integral fiberglass tanks have been known to suffer from osmosis on the inside and molded plastic tanks have the least inherent strength. Whatever the tank material (unless integral) the tank must be very securely fastened; many are the tales of production boat tanks breaking free in exciting conditions. Imagine getting hammered at sea and all of a sudden 400 or so liters of fresh—although this would not be immediately known, thereby adding to the thrill—water pours into the boat; this might be distressing, I think I would find it so anyway. So check those tie-down straps if you have them and see if a couple more by way of back up could be installed.

Integral tanks have the additional benefit of keeping the sea out. If the hull is breached in the tank area you will of course lose all the fresh water, but that inside wall will keep the sea out for a while at least. All tanks will require a water in fill—which is best fitted on deck as proved by a lot of older French boats whose deck fills all failed and had to be filled from inside—a water out connection for the pump and a vent. Having no, or an inadequate vent, and the tank will be continually deformed as water is pumped out and fail sooner rather than later.

Bladders are the last resort of the damned. If you are chronically short on tankage and have no accessible space to mount a solid tank then you may consider this option. They are available in all kinds of weird shapes to fit in equally weird places, but can tear, puncture, flop around and they can leak.

PUMPS These are the item that will get the water from the tank to the parched or dirty individual who requires it. Pressure water is standard on all but the humblest vessel these days and the system may or may not have an accumulator tank installed. These are essentially little reservoirs that are pressurized—when full and the tap is opened the water flows without the pump running for a short while. It evens out the water pressure, can mean a little less pump work, removes the “hammering” vibrations sometimes associated with marine pressure water systems and it can fail.

Failure may simply mean it has lost the internal pressure that makes it work, which can usually be corrected with a bicycle pump, as there will be a tire type valve somewhere on the unit. Or it could rust out, break a connection or any of another million things and cause you to loose the connected tank’s water. They are generally reliable little units, however, if you have not seen yours for a few years it might be worth a look, then drink, wash and clean, in that order, in peace.

John Champion has lived aboard since 1999 and sailed half way around the world in the process. He currently floats around in Langkawi, Malaysia and offers appraisals and surveys for production boats in the region. If you are thinking of buying over that way he can be contacted at,  [email protected] .

conserving water on a sailboat


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Saving Water On A Sailboat

Saving water on a sailboat is not something I ever really thought about until I started to live on one. I am ashamed to admit that I have never been the worlds biggest eco-warrior.

Sure, I dutifully did my recycling, I took my canvas bags to the supermarket and drove my small car only when I had to (ok, ok, the last one is simply because I couldn’t afford a bigger car and I hate driving). But the need to save water isn’t something I had ever really considered.

A Reality Check On Water Shortage

Sea water that is crystal clear

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When the UN climate change report was released in 2018 Adam and I treated it as we do with any news these days – caution. We read around the subject widely and from as many different credible sources as possible and were pretty terrified to realise that if anything, the newspapers were playing it down. I’m very, very happy for someone to prove me wrong here, as the thought of having 12 years left to save the world keeps me awake at night. What I find especially scary is how difficult it is to reduce my carbon footprint without completely putting life as I know it on hold.

The release of the report coincided with mine and Adam’s decision about what on Earth we were going to do now that we had given up work. All we knew is that we wanted to see the world, but here we were being told that we had run out of time for taking flights, especially long international flights. How could we justify seeing the world now? Sailing the world moved higher up the list, and we started to research whether sailing the world would actually be better for the environment or not.

We didn’t find any solid answers, but could deduce (from some dodgy calculations) that we certainly wouldn’t be increasing our carbon footprint by living this lifestyle. It has its pros and cons, but even living on a sailboat hasn’t bought us any closer to answering whether it is actually an eco-friendly way to live!

A Big Adjustment

One of the major differences between life on land and on a sailboat is how I treat water. Saving water on a sailboat is standard practice. Suddenly, water went from being something I was entitled to, to something extremely precious and important.

Adam’s work for a company called Hero Labs , that is producing leak detecting services, has caused us both to read up a lot on water shortage. A subject that I’ll be honest, I knew absolutely nothing about until recently. I mean, it rains every day in England so surely we’re fine right?! Of course I obeyed hosepipe bans, I hate breaking the rules, but I always thought it was a bit over the top. How naive I have been.

Some Figures (skip if this bores you!)

Rain water on a green leaf

Water covers 70% of our planet, and we are incredibly lucky in Europe to have water available ‘on tap’. Running water is a luxury that I know not everyone has, but when I’m pouring myself a glass I don’t think about that. Freshwater is incredibly rare. In fact, only 3% of the water on our planet is freshwater and two-thirds of that is locked up on glaciers (that we really don’t want to melt away!)

I won’t go into all the figures, but let’s just say that an alarming amount of people in the world we all live in lack access to fresh water, and an alarming amount of people each year die from it. It is predicted that by 2025 (that’s 6 years away for those of you that are as bad at maths as I am), two-thirds of the world’s population will face water shortages if we carry on as we are.

Again, PLEASE prove me wrong here. I’m no scientist, I’m just reading scientific papers, so I could well be getting it all wrong.

We live in England, so there is always water (there has to be some pay off for living in a country that is always wet). Even if you can turn a blind eye to the rest of the world running out of water, research shows that in 25 years England will not have enough water to meet demands. If we continue to use water in the way that we do, we won’t have enough to keep us alive in 25 years.

Why Bother Saving Water On A Sailboat?

Using a hosepipe to wash the sailboat down

The average person uses 150 litres of water every day. I actually don’t have a clue how much water I used to use, it came out of a tap, I didn’t need to know.

I now know because I have to. Water on a boat is incredibly precious. We are lucky to have big water tanks on Hot Chocolate, she can carry 550 litres of water. This means that if we’re smart with water we can last a lot longer than most boats without having to find a water source.

Finding water here is a real pain, especially for new sailors like us. We hate Med mooring, where you have to reverse into your parking space. It is stressful and one false move could damage your boat or even worse, someone elses. We try to come alongside on town quays where ever possible (and it isn’t usually possible). Which means lots of sailing around trying to find somewhere, when you could be swimming in the sea. If you manage to find a space somewhere on a town quay then you have to hope they have a working water supply. If they do, they might well charge you to use it (though we have been lucky so far and haven’t had to pay).

When finding water is difficult you learn really quickly to make it last.

How Do We Save Water On A Sailboat?

A boat tied up to a mooring

Some things on a boat make saving water easier, and we couldn’t do the same back at home-the toilets are pumped with sea water and we wash ourselves as much as possible with sea water. But there are ways we have cut down on water usage that I would continue to do if I go back to living in a house.

Scrub A Dub Dub!

I used to love standing under the shower for ages. I would set it to the right temperature, enjoy it for a bit, leave it running while I washed and then probably stand under it a little more for good measure. Now, I use a saucepans worth of water to wash in, and I don’t really miss those long showers. If I want a warm shower I heat a little water and literally use the saucepans worth of water to wash with, if I’m happy with a cold shower I just use the tiniest amount and switch the shower off continuously. I keep a bucket in the shower to collect the stuff that has missed me, and use this to rinse my hair at the end.

A picture of rain water on a boat

Saving Water On A Sailboat When Washing Up

From my (limited) research, I have read that dishwashers on eco mode actually use less water than washing by hand. Good news for all of you out there that hate washing up as much as I do! I am proud, however, that my new washing up tactics mean I use just over half a litre to wash up after a meal, including saucepans and cooking dishes. Adam and I are careful to re-use cups (we often share a glass). We eat from the pan where possible and we don’t use more than we need to when we cook.

Getting Smelly

Ok, I’ll admit it, come the end of the month we both smell a little. Living this lifestyle has forced us to make some compromises and this is one of them. But I have found it takes a lot for clothes to start to smell (depending on what you do in them!?) Dresses I wear into town can be worn numerous times before they need a wash. The clothes we do boat work in don’t need to be washed-they will just get filthy again withing 5 minutes anyway!

Stopping Leaks

A close up of a tap I fixed on our sailboat

We had several of them, and on a boat you can’t afford to! I’m trying to make myself useful by learning plumbing and I’m enjoying learning about how impossible it is to create a water tight seal and lying upside down in a small, smelly space while dropping spanners on my head and having water dripping into my eyes.

How Much Water Do We Use On A Sailboat?

Adam and I drink about 4 litres of water between us every day and we average 20 litres a day for everything else. So between us we use about 24 litres a day. When we find water we use another half a tank to give the boat a quick scrub down (it has rained only once since we’ve been here so we haven’t been able to wash the boat that way!) and we also do an epic clothes wash.

That brings our daily average up to 30 litres a day between us.

Some people will probably think this sounds horrendous and others might well wonder why we use so much. Me though? I’m pretty proud of this huge lifestyle change, and it’s one of the boat related challenges that I have actually really enjoyed. So next time you pass someone smelly in the street, rather than turn your nose up, think what an amazing job they are doing saving water and saving the world!

(I’m sure that after reading this you are all desperate to come and visit us, so that you too can not wash for days on end and drink out of the same glass as me. There is a waiting list, so be patient.)

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Hey guys, that was a good read!

It’s interesting to hear about life on a sailboat, and how you deal with water. My wife and I live in a van full-time, with our 90 liter tank we manage to make it about 7 days.

We’re working on a little project that makes water saving alot easier, maybe in the future we can work together to spread the word.

Cheers guys,

Mike and Emy

Sounds awesome! I think changing the way we use water has been one of the biggest challenges for us living aboard. Creating a way to save water easier would be really useful. You’ll have to keep us updated. Emily

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Reader Tip: Four Easy Ways to Conserve Water

  • By Carolyn Shearlock/
  • Updated: April 17, 2014

conserving water on a sailboat

Even if they have a watermaker, most cruisers find they need to conserve water. Here are four easy ways to significantly cut down on the water you use – without sacrificing too much.

1. Use a Foot Pump. If you have a foot pump, turn off your pressure water except for times when you’re filling a large container. With pressure water, you waste some every time you turn the water on and off. And since most foot pumps put out a smaller volume, you don’t use as much when it is “running.” This is particularly effective for hand washing and tooth brushing.

If you’re thinking of installing one: Our boat had an in-floor Whale Tiptoe pump in the galley and although it pumped well, we never liked it. When it is not being used, it is supposed to latch down more or less flush with the floor by giving it a quarter-turn. We found that just the motion of the boat would cause the center “pump” part to pop up unexpepctedly, causing a number of stubbed toes. Despite the fact that it would have saved us water, we decided not to use it for this reason and taped it down with several layers of duct tape – not pretty, but it kept my toes happy!

Several friends have the Whale Cabinet Mount pumps and are very happy with them. I’ve spent two separate weeks on my friend Jan’s boat Winterlude with one, and think it’s a much better solution. Available from West Marine.

A small little watering can worked much better – I could control the amount of flow and where it went, it was easy to fill and store, and it never broke in the 5+ years that I had it. A one-quart size works well, and the shorter the spout, the better. My choice is at Amazon .

We used our sprayer for a variety of chores from washing snorkel gear to wiping salt spray off the windshield and sail bag zippers, as well as cleaning stainless. We also used it many times when we didn’t want to take a full shower, but wanted to quickly rinse salt water off ourselves – or our dog Paz.

The half gallon size was perfect for us – weighed just over 4 pounds full, held enough for most chores, and didn’t take up a lot of storage space. In five years of owning one aboard Que Tal, we had to replace our sprayer once, after about 3 years, when the spray nozzle broke off when the tank fell from the coach house roof through the companionway and onto the cabin sole after a pair of jet skis went by.

My recommendation is from Amazon (Sears and Home Depot carry similar ones, but where I live they charge about 30% more than Amazon).

4. Use a Sun Shower. Finally, using a Sun Shower instead of a pressure-water shower will substantially reduce the water used by most people. Initially, we were very skeptical of how well we’d like using a Sun Shower – using a plastic bag for a shower just seemed, well, so Mickey Mouse. Our boat didn’t have a water heater, the previous owner had left a Sun Shower, and so we figured we’d try it before we installed a hot water heater.

We found the Sun Shower worked perfectly well – while there wasn’t a huge amount of water pressure, there was plenty to rinse shampoo. Cruising in the tropics, the water definitely was hot enough – sometimes we’d have to cover the bag with a towel and let it cool down some so that we didn’t scald ourselves. And by being able to see how much we had left, we were able to judge how long we could stand under the shower.

A 4 or 5 gallon Sun Shower (depending on which we could find when we needed a new one) gave each of us a nice shower. Cruising full-time in the tropics – using it every day with lots of UV exposure – a Sun Shower would last about a year. After several ill-fated experiments with buying other brands, we’re convinced that the true Sun Showers last the longest. Place a towel under it if it’s on nonskid, to prevent chafing.

Although they are available at many camping stores, I’ve always found the best prices at Amazon .

At the dock, conserving water means less time spent filling the water tanks. In anchorages, if you have a watermaker, it means less time running the watermaker as well as less power needed by the watermaker — leaving more power for other things. And without a watermaker, it means more time in anchorages before having to go to town to refill.

We found these conservtion measures didn’t detract from our cruising but in fact added to it, by giving us more time and power for things other than filling the water tank!

Click here to read more Boat Galley tips from Carolyn Shearlock.

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How Do Sailboats Get Fresh Water? (4 EFFECTIVE SOLUTIONS)

conserving water on a sailboat

Sailors know that having access to fresh water is essential for a safe and comfortable journey out at sea. But how do they get this water? Fortunately, there are several ways for sailors to get fresh water while out at sea. In this article, well explore four effective solutions: watermakers, collecting rainwater, using jerry cans, and using a water filter. Well also discuss the benefits of having fresh water at sea and the safety precautions to take. So, if youre planning a sailing adventure, read on to find the best way to get fresh water for your trip!

Table of Contents

Short Answer

Most sailboats get their fresh water from onboard tanks that they fill up from dockside water sources.

They can also use desalination systems to take salt out of seawater and make it drinkable.

Boats that are moored in marinas may be able to get fresh water from the marina itself.

Some sailboats also have large water containers that they fill up from a hose or a freshwater source on shore.

What is a Watermaker

A watermaker is a device that is used to convert saltwater into freshwater, making it an essential tool for sailors who are out at sea for extended periods of time.

The device works by taking in saltwater, filtering it, and then using a process called reverse osmosis to extract the salt from the water.

The device then produces freshwater that is safe to drink and use for cooking.

This process helps ensure that sailors have access to freshwater even when they are far away from land.

Some watermakers are powered by a boats engine, while others are powered by an auxiliary electric motor.

In addition, many modern watermakers are equipped with advanced features such as automated operation, corrosion-resistant materials, and low-maintenance designs.

Collecting Rainwater

conserving water on a sailboat

One of the most effective solutions for sailboats to get fresh water is by collecting rainwater.

Sailors can use a variety of methods to collect rainwater and store it on board.

These include using a tarp to collect rainwater, using a rainwater catchment system to collect and store large amounts of water, or using a container to collect smaller amounts.

Collecting rainwater is a great way to get fresh water without having to rely on a watermaker or other more expensive methods.

When collecting rainwater, it is important to make sure that the water is clean and free of contaminants.

Sailors can ensure this by covering the tarp or catchment area with a material such as a boat cover to keep out dirt and debris, or by using a filter to eliminate any larger particles from the collected water.

With the right setup, sailors can use rainwater to supply their fresh water needs while on board.

In addition to providing an easy and cost-effective way to get fresh water, collecting rainwater is also a great way to save on fuel costs.

Collecting rainwater requires no fuel, and can help sailors to conserve their fuel resources while at sea.

All in all, collecting rainwater is an efficient, cost-effective, and environmentally friendly way for sailboats to get fresh water.

With the right setup, sailors can easily collect and store large amounts of fresh water while on board.

Using Jerry Cans

Using jerry cans to transport water from land is a popular method for sailboats to get fresh water.

Jerry cans are large, airtight containers that are designed to withstand the harsh conditions of the sea.

They come in various sizes, and can hold up to 20 gallons of water.

This makes them ideal for sailboats, as they can be easily loaded onto the boat and transported to the open seas.

When using jerry cans, its important to ensure that the cans are properly sealed to prevent any saltwater from getting in.

Additionally, its important to check the cans regularly for signs of wear and tear.

If any cracks or holes are found, its best to replace the container as soon as possible to ensure safe and clean water.

Once the jerry cans are full of water, they can be easily loaded onto the sailboat.

This method of obtaining fresh water is great for sailors that are close to land and can easily access a source of freshwater.

Its also a great way to stock up on water for longer voyages, as the cans can be loaded up and stored on the boat until needed.

Overall, using jerry cans to transport water from land is a great way for sailboats to get fresh water.

Its a relatively simple process and can provide sailors with a reliable source of freshwater.

As long as the containers are properly sealed and checked regularly, they can provide sailors with all the fresh water they need for a successful voyage.

Using a Water Filter

conserving water on a sailboat

Using a water filter is a great way for sailboats to get fresh water while they are out on the open sea.

A water filter is a device used to remove impurities from water, such as dirt, bacteria, and other contaminants.

Not only is this a cost-effective way to get fresh water, but it is also a safe and reliable option.

When using a water filter, you can either choose to attach the filter directly to the side of the boat, or you can use a portable filter.

The filter works by collecting water from a river, lake, or stream and filtering out any impurities.

The filtered water is then delivered to the boat and can be used for drinking, cooking, and other activities.

There are many different types of water filters available, depending on your needs.

Some filters are designed to remove bacteria and other contaminants, while others are designed to remove heavy metals and pesticides.

When choosing a filter, it is important to consider the type of water you will be filtering, the amount of water you will need, and the size of the filter.

One of the advantages of using a water filter is that you can filter water from any source, making it a great option for sailboats.

Additionally, water filters do not require a large amount of electricity, making them an ideal choice for sailboats.

Not only is it cost-effective, but it is also safe and reliable.

With a variety of filters available, you can be sure to find a filter that meets your needs.


When it comes to getting fresh water while sailing, desalinators are one of the most reliable and effective solutions.

A desalinator is a machine that converts seawater into fresh water.

It works by using a process called reverse osmosis, which filters out salt and other impurities from the seawater and produces freshwater as a result.

Desalinators can be powered by electricity, or they can be powered by the boats engine, making them flexible and convenient.

Desalinators are often used in boats that are sailing in areas with limited access to freshwater sources, such as the ocean.

They are also often used in emergency situations, as they can provide a reliable and safe supply of freshwater in the absence of other options.

Desalinators are also typically more efficient than other methods of obtaining freshwater.

They use a relatively small amount of energy to produce a large amount of freshwater, making them cost-effective and efficient.

Additionally, they require minimal maintenance, making them a great option for sailors who want a reliable source of freshwater while at sea.

The only downside to desalinators is that they can be expensive to purchase and install.

However, if you are a sailor who needs a reliable and consistent source of freshwater while sailing, a desalinator is likely your best bet.

Benefits of Fresh Water at Sea

conserving water on a sailboat

Having access to fresh water while sailing at sea is essential for the safety and comfort of the crew aboard.

Not only does fresh water provide the essential hydration needed to sustain life, but it also helps to keep the boat and its occupants clean and healthy.

Fresh water can be used for cooking, washing dishes, showering, and laundry, and it can also be used to replenish drinking water supplies.

Having access to fresh water also helps to reduce the risk of dehydration and other health risks associated with drinking saltwater.

Finally, having access to fresh water can help to reduce the risk of running out of supplies while out at sea, as fresh water can be used to refill drinking water tanks and other vessels.

Safety Precautions

When it comes to getting fresh water for a sailboat, it is important to take safety precautions.

This is especially true when dealing with water from rivers, streams, or lakes, as these sources may contain harmful bacteria or other contaminants.

It is also important to practice safe water storage and transportation techniques when collecting water from jerry cans.

Boats should also be equipped with the necessary safety equipment, such as life rafts and life jackets, in case of emergencies.

Additionally, boat owners should make sure that their boat is properly equipped with all necessary navigation and communication equipment, as well as the necessary safety gear.

Finally, all crew members should be trained in how to properly handle and store the water they collect.

This will ensure that everyone is safe and that the water is handled with the utmost care.

Final Thoughts

Having access to fresh water while at sea is essential for a successful sailing journey.

All of the solutions discussed here have their own advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to assess your situation and choose the best option for you.

Whether you choose to use a watermaker, collect rainwater, use jerry cans, use a water filter, or employ desalinators, you’ll be able to ensure that you have the fresh water you need to stay safe and comfortable while sailing.

James Frami

At the age of 15, he and four other friends from his neighborhood constructed their first boat. He has been sailing for almost 30 years and has a wealth of knowledge that he wants to share with others.

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Home » Blog » Gear » Watermakers: a guide to marine desalinators and making water on a boat

Watermakers: a guide to marine desalinators and making water on a boat

By Author Fiona McGlynn

Posted on Last updated: March 23, 2022

There’s something magical about a watermaker—at least that’s how I felt after we installed one on our boat. That may sound overblown, but think about it: watermakers transform salt water into fresh water, providing a near-endless supply of potable water for drinking, bathing, and cleaning! THAT my friends is an amazing piece of technology!

(If you don’t share my enthusiasm, try going without a shower for a few days and you’ll begin to see my point).

watermaker makes freshwater for deck spray down

Having experienced living on a boat and cruising, both with and without a marine desalinator, I can attest that it’s a game-changing piece of gear. However, you definitely don’t need one to go cruising. There are plenty of low-tech ways to collect and make water on a boat.

Marine desalinators do offer some major benefits: there’s more water for showers, it’s easier to travel farther afield, you can spend more time in a remote location. However, these benefits have to be weighed against the drawbacks: namely a hefty price tag and ongoing maintenance.

Deciding whether a watermaker is right for you will come down to the type of cruising you’re doing, how much water you need, and your budget. Read on to learn about the pros and cons, costs, and key features of marine watermakers.

Table of contents

  • 1 How does a watermaker work?
  • 2.1 Benefits
  • 2.2 Drawbacks
  • 3.1 Powered or handpump
  • 3.2 Electric or engine drive
  • 3.3 Energy recovery watermaker
  • 3.4 Modular, self-contained, and portable watermakers
  • 3.5 Automatic flushing systems
  • 3.6 Automatic Pressure Regulation and adjustable pump speed
  • 3.7 Remote control panels
  • 4 Top watermaker brands

How does a watermaker work?

A watermaker on a yacht converts seawater into fresh water through a process known as reverse osmosis (RO). A high-pressure pump pushes seawater through a semi-permeable membrane that filters out salt, organics, and bacteria. The fresh water is pumped into your water tanks while the remaining brine bi-product is discharged over the side of the boat, back into the ocean.

how does a watermaker work

Marine watermakers: the benefits and drawbacks

Less water rationing.

When we started our 13,000 mile trip across the Pacific, we didn’t have a watermaker. We were on a tight budget and decided to prioritize other pieces of equipment like a life raft and wind vane.

As a result, we became experts in conserving water on a boat . We would carefully ration out water for washing dishes, taking showers, and even brushing our teeth!

After getting a watermaker we became far less meiserly because we knew we could always make more water if we needed to. It was a relief to not be constantly thinking about how much water we were using over the course of a day.

That being said, we couldn’t relax completely. We had to keep our tanks topped up, so as not to run the pump dry. We also always carried potable water in reserve, in case our watermaker broke in the middle of a long passage.

More luxuries

Can’t live without a proper shower? A boat water maker can make water-intensive luxuries like freshwater deck washdown, freshwater flushing heads, laundry, daily showers, and even baths, a possibility.

As great as this sounds in theory, we were surprised to find that we didn’t indulge in more showers after we got the watermaker.

We continued to use a hand pump pesticide sprayer to shower on deck despite having a watermaker and shower below. While some of this came down to habit, we also disliked running our engine (and consuming diesel) just to run the watermaker.

transporting fresh water in blue jugs with a dinghy

No hauling water

For us, this was by far the greatest benefit of having a watermaker!

While cruising in the US and Canada, we could refill our water tanks at a dock or marina. This was a minor hassle because it involved pulling up the anchor and docking the boat.

In Mexico, it was more challenging to get water. We would fill 5-gallon jugs at the local water purification plant in town and wheel them back to our boat on a collapsible dolly.

It often took a couple of trips with the dolly and dinghy to fill our water tanks. Oh, and we broke our dolly, twice!

We realized that if we wanted to spend more time exploring, and less time hauling water, we would have to invest in a watermaker. When we reached La Paz, Mexico we bought a refurbished watermaker, and we were so glad we did!

Our sailboat water maker gave us the gift of time, especially in places like Mexico and the South Pacific, where there were limited opportunities to fill water tanks up at the docks. It also saved us paying docking and water fees.

We estimate that our boat water maker saved us anywhere from four to six hours every week, time that we could spend exploring the wonderful places we were visiting.

A clean, safe water source

watermakers can provide endless potable water for cleaning

In places where the drinking water may be suspect, a boat water maker can be a reliable source of safe drinking water (assuming it’s in good working condition!).

More time in remote locations

A watermaker is a great tool if you’re drawn to remote locations where you might be the only boat in the anchorage.

It wasn’t until we reached Los Frailes, a secluded village on the Baja, that we really began to think about buying a watermaker.

There we were in an idyllic anchorage, surrounded by spectacular hiking and fishing. There was only one problem—every two days we had to walk 10 miles into town with our water jugs and hope that some kind samaritan would give us a lift back to our boat.

Before having a watermaker, we’d often leave a place we loved just because we needed to fill up our tanks. With a watermaker, we were more self-sufficient and could stay an extra few days, or as long as we wanted!

man slacklining on tropical beach

The number one drawback is the cost. We were able to find a refurbished water desalinator for $3,000, which was a great deal but also a considerable slice out of our cruising kitty.

How much does a watermaker cost?

Powered desalination systems for your average recreational cruising boat range from around 3,500 USD to 11,000 USD, with the more expensive options offering higher production (gallons of fresh water per hour).

Ongoing maintenance

Watermakers are yet another piece of boat equipment that needs to be maintained.

The majority of watermaker problems are caused by not using it enough or not using it properly.

If a watermaker is not used for a few weeks, the planktonic organisms in the seawater will die, rot, and clog the membrane and filters. This can eventually damage the reverse osmosis membrane in the watermaker.

For this reason, boat water makers should be used frequently and regularly flushed with fresh water.

Watermaker flushing

Check your manufacturer’s instructions on how to flush.

Rainman recommends flushing the seawater out of the system with fresh water if you are not using the system for more than a day or two. After another week, you need to freshwater flush the system again or pickle it for long-term storage.

Of course, it’s easy to forget, so we made it a rule to freshwater flush our watermaker after every use.

This is one good reason to choose a watermaker with an output that will meet your water consumption needs but not exceed them. If you’re using it every second day, you won’t have to try and remember whether you’ve flushed it or not.

Flushing a watermaker is relatively simple but it does involve a bit of work. We used a system with buckets of fresh water to flush our system and it generally took about 5 minutes.

You can also buy systems that automatically flush your watermaker at pre-determined times—even when you’re away from the boat (more on autoflush systems below).

Whatever you do, don’t use chlorinated water to flush as it will destroy reverse osmosis membranes. It’s possible to buy a carbon filter to remove chlorine from water sources at the dock.

Rainman watermaker autoflush system

Pickling a watermaker

If you don’t plan on using your watermaker for a while it needs to be “pickled” with a special biocide to prevent growth and buildup which could render your reverse osmosis membrane totally useless.

A watermaker should also be pickled every so often to chemically cleanse the membrane.

In addition to flushing and pickling, you will also need to clean out and replace the raw water pre-filters.

Operating costs

When properly cared for, a membrane should last five to ten years. If you don’t properly flush or pickle your watermaker, it can be a lot sooner and membranes aren’t cheap, generally costing in the range of 200-700 USD.

You’ll also need to purchase pre-filters and pickling solution, which are generally quite affordable. It’s also a good idea to carry spare parts

Watermaker spare parts

Power consumption

Watermakers can be real power hogs. When Practical Sailor tested a dozen DC watermakers they found they could draw anywhere from 12 to 48 watts per gallon, a huge range in efficiency!

According to Practical Sailor, “for maximum efficiency none of the systems drawing 15 amps or more should be operated without running the engine at the same time.”

We had to run our engine for hours to fill our tanks, which was annoying (and loud) when we were hanging out at anchor and also used up another finite resource—diesel fuel.

In our view, this was the single largest drawback to having a watermaker aboard.

Keep in mind that your power supply will determine what type of watermaker you buy. You may need to upgrade your electrical panels, get a generator or high-powered alternator, add solar panels, or increase battery capacity to supply the demand.

You can’t make water everywhere

While watermakers offer great flexibility and freedom, you can’t just make water in any old spot. If you make water in a polluted marina or anchorage, you’ll risk clogging up your filter. Most cruisers will head out to open water to ensure the saltwater they’re using is as clean as possible.

Key features to look for

Powered or handpump, handpump watermakers.

Handpump watermakers tend to be small and portable, the perfect thing to keep in your ditch bag in the event of an emergency. They’re less expensive than powered watermakers and produce far less water, usually around one gallon per hour.

Though I do know cruisers who have used a handpump watermaker for everyday use, they typically tend to be kept aboard for survival situations.

Powered watermakers

Powered watermakers run off your electrical supply or engine and can produce tens of gallons of water per hour. They tend to be a lot more expensive, but they’re productive enough to replenish your tanks.

Electric or engine drive

Powered watermakers can be electrically driven, by AC or DC, or run off the boat engine.

AC watermakers

AC models can produce in the range of 20-60 gph and are ideal for cruisers with an AC generator or alternator on board. They can also be used on boats with ample solar or wind sources and an inverter.

DC watermakers

DC watermaker systems typically produce in the range of 10-30 gph and are ideal for boats with solar power or 12V battery power.

Engine-driven watermakers

On an engine-driven watermaker, the high-pressure pump is belt-driven. These can produce a considerable amount of water, even on small engines. For instance, engine-driven units produce between 20-60gph, twice what a DC unit can produce.

Energy recovery watermaker

DC watermakers have become more efficient in recent years thanks to energy recovery systems (ERS). When the water leaves the watermaker it is still under pressure. ERS uses a set of valves to make use of this excess pressure to help drive the pump, which can reduce energy consumption by as much as 80 percent.

Rainman watermaker installed on boat

Modular, self-contained, and portable watermakers

Watermakers can be bought as modular, self-contained, and portable units. Choosing the right one may depend on your boat size and layout and whether you’re comfortable installing the watermaker yourself.

Modular units

Modular units come as several separate components that you can mount and connect yourself. This obviously offers a lot more flexibility and is particularly useful on smaller vessels where you may not have a lot of space. The downside is that these systems will take longer to install.

Self-contained units

Self-contained units arrive pre-assembled. While easier to install, they’re often bulkier and best suited to a bigger cruising sailboat with a large engine room.

Portable watermakers

Portable watermaker systems, like the Rainman watermakers, are entirely self-contained. Their compact design makes them easy to move and stow and you can completely avoid a permanent installation.

Simply put the intake and brine discharge hoses overboard, the freshwater hose in your water tank and you’ll be making water in no time.

If you race, have multiple boats, or plan on selling your boat, a portable watermaker is a great option because it can be easily moved from boat to boat.

If we were to buy another watermaker, we would probably opt for a portable one.

Automatic flushing systems

Automatic flushing systems use your boat’s freshwater supply to flush the watermaker for several minutes every few days. These systems require additional components (e.g., a timer, carbon filters, and a motorized valve) and installation but they take a lot of the maintenance out of having a watermaker onboard.

Automatic Pressure Regulation and adjustable pump speed

Your watermaker’s efficiency will be affected by the temperature and salinity of the water you’re cruising in. Cold and highly saline waters (e.g., in the high latitudes) will be more work for your watermaker, so it will take longer to purify.

Some units feature Automatic Pressure Regulation (APR) and adjustable pump speed which can help compensate for fluctuations in water temperature and salinity.

Remote control panels

Some watermakers have the option of a control panel which allows for easier access and remote control. Control panels tend to have a fairly simple interface with just a few gauges but may include a salinity sensor—so you can keep tabs on water quality—and auto-flush integration—so you can flush your watermaker with the flip of a switch.

watermaker control panel

Top watermaker brands

If you’re considering buying a watermaker for a boat, here are some of the top brands to consider.

  • Cruise RO Watermaker
  • Echotec watermakers
  • Horizon Reverse Osmosis (HRO)
  • Sea Recovery watermakers
  • Schenker watermakers
  • Spectra watermakers

Fiona McGlynn

Fiona McGlynn is an award-winning boating writer who created Waterborne as a place to learn about living aboard and traveling the world by sailboat. She has written for boating magazines including BoatUS, SAIL, Cruising World, and Good Old Boat. She’s also a contributing editor at Good Old Boat and BoatUS Magazine. In 2017, Fiona and her husband completed a 3-year, 13,000-mile voyage from Vancouver to Mexico to Australia on their 35-foot sailboat.

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Keeping Water Clean and Fresh

Good old bleach is great, but treatment tabs have advantages..

conserving water on a sailboat

Beyond protecting the tank with basic filtration and securing the tank vent, you also need to take further action to ensure water quality, as the tank and its contents will always be far from sterile.

Municipal water is filtered to remove turbidity, disinfected (typically with chlorine, ozone or ultraviolet light), filtered once more (often very fine filtration to remove cryptosporidium cysts, which resist disinfection), and disinfected once more (with chlorine or chloramine) to protect the water while its in the distribution system. However, since we are storing the water on our boats, this process of secondary disinfection becomes our responsibility. So what are the options for treating water that is already in an onboard tank?

In the U.S., the chlorine residual from municipal waters secondary disinfection is usually enough to keep tank water clean. In most cases, a sufficient amount of chlorine—1 part per million (ppm)—from the municipal treatment process carries into the boats tank. You can easily check the amount of chlorine in your tank by using the test strips designed for aquariums. We like the Tetra EasyStrips (about 69 cents per test), which simultaneously test for nitrate, nitrite, hardness, chlorine, alkalinity, and pH.

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Over-chlorinating, whether with bleach or commercial freshening chemicals, can shorten the life of elastomers in your plumbing. Chlorine is a leading cause of death for freshwater pump impellers. Excess chlorine also shortens the life of tap-water polishing filters. Finally, excess chlorine has negative health effects and is limited to 4 ppm by U.S. drinking water standards (0.5-1 ppm is normal). If you find that your tank lacks any residual chlorine, there are a few treatment options:

Bleach: Household bleach (unscented) typically contains 5.25 percent sodium hypochlorite, which breaks down in water into hypochlorous acid and several other useful sterilizing agents. Only a few parts per million are needed to effectively deactivate bacteria and viruses, typically within two to 30 minutes, depending on temperature and contaminant levels. However, there are a few caveats. The water must be reasonably free of physical dirt, since the bleach will expend itself oxidizing organic materials, and bacteria will hide within the dirt.

How much bleach should you use? More is not always better. The standard recommendation for emergency disinfection is 1 tablespoon per 10 gallons; this standard is frequently repeated in boating and camping texts. This allows for organic compounds chlorine demand and provides enough kick-20 ppm of free chlorine-to reach micro-organisms buried inside small dirt particles. This is appropriate for sanitizing and for dirty water, but it is overkill for routine treatment of good quality water, at least 10 times more than is typically used in tap water.

For treating water that is clear and chlorinated at the tap, 1 teaspoon of bleach per 50 gallons will provide a 2 ppm booster, the very most that should be needed. Chlorine aftertaste is the most common onboard water-quality complaint; however, chlorine at the tank can be efficiently removed with carbon filtration. In fact, chlorination is vital to performance of downstream filtration, controlling growth within the filter.

Dichlorisocyanurinate: Common in swimming pool tablets, chlorine in this form has several advantages. Chlorine levels are stabilized by a chemical equilibrium, resulting in a more stable and more durable treatment, and reducing the amount required. Additionally, the released chlorine generates cyanuric acid, an effective corrosion inhibitor for aluminum, reducing aluminum corrosion by 10 to 40 times compared to bleach treatment. Both the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and World Health Organization (WHO) approve this method.

Hydrogen peroxide: Internet forums frequently suggest the use of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) as a bleach alternative, but because of the lack of regulatory guidance (neither the EPA nor WHO recommend it as a treatment solely on its own) and numerous well-known shortcomings, we cannot recommend it as a sterilizing agent.

Quaternary amines: Common in non-bleach, anti-bacterial surface cleaners and hand soaps, quaternary amines (e.g. benzalkonium chloride) are effective against bacteria, algae, and most viruses. However, they are typically very toxic to marine invertebrates (a few ppb is lethal), so use around the water should be limited. If you are sterilizing a tank with these, they should be flushed from the system before drinking.

Ultraviolet light (UV): Ultraviolet light, specifically those wavelengths between 250 and 300 nanometers, is a very effective sterilizing agent. UV is typically employed as a final sterilizing step, in the plumbing, and not in the tank. Weve tested two portable UV devices for personal water purification, the Steripen (see PS, April 2008 online) and the CamelBak All Clear (see Chandlery , PS, June 2013 online).

Desert island tip: Lets say youre down to your last bottle of water, and although you have fresh water available, you have no chemicals or filters to make it safe to drink. What to do? WHO has studied this problem, as it is not unusual in the wake of a hurricane or flood.

First, collect the best water you can find in clear water bottles, allow the water to settle, and filter it through cloth until it is reasonably clear. Fill the bottles about three-quarters full, shaking vigorously to oxygenate the water, and then, leave the water in full sun (placing the bottles on a reflective surface helps) for three to eight hours. The suns UV will deactivate over 99.9 percent of the pathogens in the bottle.

None of the above methods will remove microscopic parasites (giardia and cryptosporidium). These are shell-like organisms that resist chlorine treatment; water suspected of containing parasitic cysts must be filtered to 0.5 microns to provide physical removal. We will deal with physical filtering at the tap in the final segment of this series.

What We Tested

There are commercial products designed to accomplish the same water-purifying tasks as bleach, but they claim they do it better. For this report, we tested tank-cleaning products, sanitizing chemicals, and tank-freshening chemicals, as well as a dishwasher detergent.

Intended to cleanse funky tanks before sanitizing, tank-cleaning products contain non-bleach cleaners and sanitizing agents. While they should not be needed in a well-maintained system, they may be helpful if things have been let go.

Sanitizing chemicals are for used after cleaning; all are based on chlorine, but the chemistry varies. Tank-freshening chemicals provide disinfection for clean tanks, supplementing the chlorine in the tap water. These are handy when you don’t trust the tap water-perhaps the water has been sitting for a while and seems less than fresh.

How We Tested

We dosed each freshening product into reverse osmosis (RO) water as directed by the manufacturer, measuring free chlorine and observing odor. We then transferred the water into 1-gallon, disposable ice-tea jugs made of thick-walled polyethylene, which we felt presented a reasonable surrogate for a lightly contaminated polyethylene water tank. Although well-rinsed when emptied, they had a uniform level of taste and smell saturated into the plastic; we graded how well the chlorine residual endured after 24 hours, and how well residual odor and taste were removed.

We then repeated similar tests for tank cleaning-chemicals and tank-sanitizing chemicals. We also placed aluminum corrosion coupons (SAE 329) in the solutions and graded them after regular checks during a three-week period; chlorine-induced corrosion is a major concern for those with aluminum tanks. Note that all testing was with high-quality RO water; other water types may exhibit some chlorine demand (some bleach is neutralized by the water), and some will contain chlorine. The only way to be certain of dosage is to test with swimming pool strips or equivalent.

We tested tank-cleaning products by soaking contaminated beverage containers and soaking dishes uniformly soiled with dried-on salsa. Water and a bleach solution recommended for sanitizing by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) were controls.

We also used each of the freshening chemicals during a summer of cruising, dosed as recommended. Because the filling water was variable, we did not attempt any quantitative measurement in the actual onboard field trials. We simply evaluated taste.


Here is a rundown of some important observations that testers made during the evaluation.

Any additives should be used during the first one-third of the filling process. This allows a thorough mixing. All of the tablets dissolved before the tank was full. For aluminum tanks, dissolve the tablets in a bottle of water first.

Bleach is a handling problem. We settled on a sturdy pint sports drink bottle with a cap that held the required amount. We kept the bottle in a deck locker to avoid dribbling the bleach on clothing, upholstery, or carpet. For annual sanitizing we filled a water bottle with the required dose at home and took only that to the marina. Camco TastePure Freshener contains diluted bleach and is less of a bleaching hazard if spilled. All other products were non-bleaching; nevertheless we would still clean up all spills and keep them away from fabric.

While some of the products left a detectable chlorine smell in the tank, none were noticeable at the tap, even without carbon filtration.

We were concerned about pitting in aluminum tanks. The highest concentrations were in the tank cleaning and sanitation products. Since these are only used once a year for no more than 90 minutes while the tank is being cleaned and flushed, we limited the test coupon exposure to only 48 hours. None of the products caused significant pitting, but Puriclean (dichlorisocyanurinate) was clearly less corrosive to aluminum than other sanitizing treatments. When we tested freshening treatments and tap water, we found the same trend; AquaMega Tabs (also based on dichlorisocyanurinate) were far less damaging than other treatments, and less damaging than tap water alone.

While most disinfecting products are based around 2 to 3 ppm of free chlorine, 0.5 ppm residual chlorine is enough for safe water, and owners of aluminum tanks should buy test tapes and use only the minimum amount of disinfectant required.

We tested some non-chlorine treatments (ozone and hydrogen peroxide), but found these to be either corrosive to aluminum or ineffective. Carefully regulated chlorination is the most sensible treatment.

Tank cleaning chemicals function a little differently than bleach and detergent, dissolving more material without agitation, but not loosening heavier deposits as well as detergent with light agitation. They did perform better than plain water or the ANSI bleach sanitizing solution. All were non-corrosive to aluminum. The sanitizing effect of the quaternary amines and peroxides may be valuable, if the user does not intend to follow cleaning with a bleach sanitizing process.

aluminum coupons

Tank Cleaning Chemicals

Star brite tank cleaner.

Star brites Water Tank and System Flush, also labeled as Aqua Clean Water Tank Flush, is based on alcohol and alkylbenzly chloride, a quaternary amine commonly used in anti-bacterial handsoaps and surface cleaners. It is more potent than plain bleach sanitizing solutions. However, we cannot confirm the effectiveness of this chemistry.

We do not advise adding bleach to the product, as an undesirable reaction will occur. Any bleach sanitizing, if desired, must be a separate step.

Bottom line: Recommended with a bleach follow up if fail-safe sanitizing is required.

Camco Spring Fresh

Camcos Spring Fresh contains a food-grade surfactant and is a better cleaner than plain bleach sanitizing. As with the Star brite, we caution against adding bleach to the product as a bad reaction will occur. If you plan to do bleach sanitizing, do it in a separate step.

Bottom line: Recommended if fail-safe sanitizing is required. Follow up with bleach or Camco Dewinterizer.

Finish PowerBall Tabs

Our research into the chemistry behind tank-sterilizing tabs led us to regular dishwashing tablets. Finish Powerball Tabs were the ones we had on hand, so we included them in the test. They required slightly more agitation than the other test products, but they did a superior job when gentle swirling was added. Like all dishwasher detergents, Powerball Tabs contain a sterilizing agent (in this case, percarbonate, which releases hydrogen peroxide) to prevent the dishwasher from getting nasty. We used 1 tablet per 5 gallons of water, which we felt mimicked the solution used in a dishwasher.

Bottom line: This is the Budget Buy choice, if you have the time to take your boat for a rollicking sail to provide some agitation.

Tank Sanitizing Chemicals

These treatments are meant to be done once a season (often after winter storage) or when you suspect a contaminated tank.

Puriclean Clean Tabs

These tabs are based upon sodium dichlorisocyanurinate, and have the same basic chemistry as AquaMega Tabs (below), but are packaged in a tub suitable for tanks up to 60 gallons. To uses, you dissolve the tabs in about gallon of water, then mix it into the tank and allow it to sit for 1 to 2 hours. This concentration (about 20-30 ppm chlorine) sanitizes any pre-cleaned tank. Testers noted much lower aluminum corrosion rates than other sanitizing products; the aluminum is discolored by the formation of a dark passive layer, which stops further corrosion and pitting.

Bottom line: Recommended. The stable residual and low aluminum corrosion rates make Puriclean Clean Tabs the PS Best Choice among tank sanitizing chemicals.

Star brite Water Shock

A concentrated formula, Star brites Water Shock is intended to clear up any odors and tastes that tank cleaning leaves behind, and to sanitize the tank. It is also recommended for routine freshening at a lower dosage.

Bottom line: We don’t believe this outperforms the ANSI bleach sanitizing procedure (below).

Camco Dewinterizer

Camcos Dewinterizer uses a somewhat lower chlorine content than recommended by ANSI. It is intended to clear-up odors and tastes that tank cleaning left behind, and to sanitize the tank.

Bottom line: We don’t believe this outperforms the ANSI bleach sanitizing procedure.

Tank Freshening, Disinfection Chemicals

These treatments are meant to be done on a routine basis, either to restore freshness to stale water or to maintain clean tanks.

Household Bleach

Unscented, 5.25-percent sodium hypochlorite (household bleach) is sold under countless brands. The baseline for comparison, WHO and the EPA has studied this ad nauseam. A solution of 1 teaspoon per 50 gallons gave us a 2 ppm residual; about right for most tap-water applications. Remember that bleach loses effectiveness after long storage and should not be kept more than six months after opening.

Bottom line: This is far and away the most affordable treatment, but you must measure it yourself-and don’t spill.

tank cleaners

AquaMega Clean Tabs

Based on sodium dichlorisocyanurinate, the AquaMega tablets are available in amounts matched to tank sizes. We observed a more stable residual and much lower aluminum corrosion rates. There was a stable residual for weeks, versus only 48 hours with bleach products. Because of this stable residual, we suspect that the AquaMega tabs dose might be stronger than what most tanks will require for simple freshening.

If you are willing to test your water, you can tailor a smaller dose that more closely mimics the ANSI solution. If the 50-gallon size is more than you need, you can break tabs in half and wrap-up the remainder in the foil pouch for up to one month. Its also available in small pills (Aqua Minitabs) for individual treatments.

Bottom line: The convenient packaging, low corrosion rates, and stable residual made this our Best Choice among tank freshening and disinfection chemicals. It was also our favorite to use.

Star brite Freshener

The Star brite Water Freshener was the only solution in the test lacking the distinctive chlorine odor, but it did not change the odor of our chlorinated tap water. The manufacturer did not share the disinfectant chemistry, so we could not confirm its effectiveness.

Bottom line: While the lack of chlorine smell in the concentrate suggested better tasting water, we observed no difference on the boat.

TastePure Freshener

Based on pre-diluted bleach, TastePure Water Freshener performed much like bleach. The resulting water had a barely discernible chlorine smell, and the taste was fresh.

Bottom line: Recommended as an effective freshening product.


The United States has perhaps the highest quality water in world, regardless of what we read in the papers. Do we need to disinfect if the source water is chlorinated and of high quality? Perhaps not for safety alone, if the tank is cleaned and the water is turned over every few weeks, though often potability is improved. If traveling outside the U.S. or if cautious by nature, providing secondary disinfection is easy and safe.

We like bleach, particularly for annual sanitizing. Its cheap, its known to be effective, and any aftertaste is easily removed with carbon filtering. However, the two test products formulated with dichlorisocyanurinate—AquaMega Tabs for freshening and Puriclean Powder for sanitizing—lasted longer than bleach. We also like AquaMega tablets for convenience; they have a long shelf life and are simple in use, with nothing to measure, nothing to spill, and nothing to return to stowage after use. If your boats not in the water and you can’t agitate your tank, the cleaning chemicals seem to help loosen deposits better than bleach sanitizing solutions and dishwasher detergents. However, dishwasher detergent did very well when a little sloshing was provided.

Although we began this project expecting cheap and effective bleach would win out, the convenience of some of the commercial products won us over.

For sailors with aluminum tanks, we recommend AquaMega Tabs and Puriclean because of much lower corrosion rates-even lower than tap water. Additionally, we believe that the manufacturers recommended dose may be quite conservative; half this amount may be sufficient. We recommend that you buy test strips and use the smallest dose that is detectable or produces any chlorine smell in the tank. Aluminum corrosion will be reduced.

Point-of-use filters will remove any last trace of odor, taste, or contaminating chemicals, leaving water as fresh, pure, and safe as bottled water. The steps we explored in this and the water tank filter report are just as critical as that final filtration step. Protection against biological growth begins at the tank fill and the tank.

Keeping Water Clean and Fresh

  • Preventing and Treating the Tainted Tank



Excellent article(s), all 3 of them. I learned a lot. Biggest frustration is sourcing the Best Choice Aqua Mega Tabs. They are not available in the US. I can’t imagine why more marine supply stores don’t offer them.

Stephen, I purchased Aqua Mega Tabs from out of Florida.

I seem to be having trouble finding the Aqua Mega Tabs in the US and even in England it seems to be hard to come by and with shipping it will be too expensive. Is there any US source with stock of this product? I tried to leave a message on the www site for Aqua Mega and it did not seem to work. thanks Kent

Try Amazon or Hopkins-Carter (Aqua Mega Tabs).

My mother would like to keep her water clean and free from contamination, which is why she’s thinking of installing a system that will help keep it clean. Well, I also agree with you that it would be smarter to use chlorine too. Thank you for clarifying here as well the importance of sterilizing.

My marina on West River, in Maryland, uses well water. Assuming the well water passes the county or state requirements for potability, how, if at all, does this fact change your recommendation about the amount of bleach to use, i.e., 1 tsp per 50 gal water, where water is clear and chlorinated at tap?

I’m not far from the West River, just 10 miles down the Chesapeake Bay, in Deale, MD. My marina is also on well water, and I’m guessing the well water is similar. Often it goes a little skunky over time, as the sulfate in the well water is converted to sulfide by native bacteria.

The above advice on chlorination assumes potable quality water that is not chlorinated, and is based on EPA, WHO, and ANSI guidance, and on personal experience and testing. It should apply to your well water. For those that use chlorinated tap water, as long as you rinse the hose out well before use, chlorination of the boat’s tank is not required.

My Beneteau Oceanis (2002) manual section on the fresh water system recommends “When the system has not been used for a long period of time, the tanks and pipes should be cleansed with an acetic acid solution (white vinegar).” But I find no mention of acetic acid here. What are your thoughts about this? Thanks Arthur

Excellent question (cleaning plumbing with vinegar) and excellent topic. Unfortunately the manual gives no information beyond this: “When the system has not been used for a long period of time, the tanks and pipes should be cleansed with an acetic acid solution (white vinegar).” I will be digging into this more deeply.

First, avoid contamination of the lines by “pickling” them with polypropylene glycol winterizing chemical, even in warm climates. So long as the solution is greater than 25% glycol there will be no growth. If you skimp on the agent or there is water in the pipes when you start and you use the typical -40F burst point antifreeze, the bugs will use it as food and grow a nice thick film, which is not dangerous itself, but tastes nasty and makes it impossible for chlorine to work properly through the season. The hot water tank and freshwater tanks should be stored empty and dry.

Bleach is the standard and recognized method for sanitizing relatively clean systems. But if there is a substantial film, there can be advantages to soaking with an acid to eat away the film. Vinegar will work, but the literature and PS testing agree that citric acid (Amazon or the grocery store) is 3-5 times more effective both for removing the film and deactivating chlorine resistant bugs, such as gardia. For every descaling, cleaning, and sanitizing use, citric acid is the more effective, less expensive choice. Vinegar is suggested simply because everyone has it in the shelf.

We’re going to follow-up on this topic, since freshwater systems can get nasty.

Hi Drew I appreciate your quick and informative reply, and look forward to studying your follow-up on cleaning fresh water systems with acid.

Good article. We do something different. We have one tank with a 125gal capacity and we do fresh water cooling of both our refrigeration and freezer from this tank. We run the cooling return line through a canister filter using a charcoal filter. Yes that takes the chlorine out of the water. But we also use tank water through another charcoal filter to flush our water maker, so we don’t have to do the capture RO water and use that for flushing. When in the US we use dock water, but we always run the hose for a good bit to clear bacteria in the hose and I suspect the choline in the municipal water help keeps the tank good since we live aboard and fill about every two weeks.

We did a near circumnavigation of 10 years and 35K miles and when we take water off a third world dock we have a triple filter we use. The first filter is 20 micron, the second inline filter is 5 micron and the last inline filter is a half micro filter with a polarized agent that will remove viruses. We hook the hose up to one end of the filter and the other end of the series goes in the tank. Of course we test water before using it to find out the ppm of the ions. If it is over 750ppm we try to do something different.

While we have a water maker, there are some places where you are at a dock, but you would not dare pull the harbor water into your water maker, so the three stage filter works well. Otherwise it is time for day trip to find clean salt water and run the water maker.

Some watermakers use fresh water from the water tank to flush membranes. Did you find that these products damage watermaker membranes?

You do NOT want hypochorite- or chlorine-containing chemicals in the flush water tank. There is a carbon pre-filter to remove the chlorine, but I’d tend to play it safe. A common recommendation is to scrub the tank as practical, shock chlorinate (not a lot–generally a few tablespoons of bleach) the tank at the start of the season, then rinse vigorously and call it good for the year. You will still get a trace of chlorine with city water (about 1 ppm) but the filter can deal with that.

Some watermakers use fresh water from the water tank to flush membranes. Are these products safe for watermaker membranes?

Plain household bleach is becoming harder to discern. Between many options, scented, low foaming, disinfecting etc even just plain bleach is hard to identify on a store shelf with all the advertising hype.

I noticed that sodium dichloroisocyanurate found in Aqua Mega tabs was recommended, but are difficult to find in the US. I wanted to make you aware of a newly available product, Aquatabs-Marine, which uses the same disinfectant compound and is now widely available in the US at . One tablet treats 4 gallons at about 1.2 ppm, so it can be removed by the active carbon filter on the freshwater flush of most watermakers. This is a drinking water quality tablet that is EPA registered, NSF certified and recognized by the WHO as a routine household drinking water disinfectant. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.

Thank you for this link. I’ve been adding sodium dichloroisocyanurate tablets to my water tank for years, but until now, only the small tabs sufficient to treat ~2 liters were available in the U.S. In the past I resorted to buying the larger tabs from “gray market” sources on ebay and amazon

Good series but mostly applicable to those without a water maker . While tank purification remained one of our concerns, we tap danced around the issue. We developed a simple plan which was to make all our drinking water directly into a couple of dedicated Jerry jugs. The rest of the water used for cooking and ablution was directed into the vessels tankage. For drinking water only, we kept a couple of one litre plastic jugs in the fridge topped up from the two dedicated Jerry jugs. Never had a water purification issue. Most of the time, our water maker product has was about 200 to 250 ppm. Hugh

This is the most thorough boat water treatise I’ve seen yet. Thanks all. Long shelf life bleach is less effective. Get it as fresh as possible. For clear water I use two drops chlorine per gallon, with a contact time of 48 hours before drinking. For immediate consumption I use eight drops per gallon (of un-chlorinated water), which will make me queasy. To get rid of chlorine taste, I use three cap fulls of hydrogen peroxide per gallon of water, and that will kill the chlorine taste. It also de-activates the chlorine. So, for chlorinated water that tastes bad to me, I add hydrogen peroxide to my glass of water a couple minutes before drinking. Peroxide can be added to the tank with equal results, but the chlorine will be de-activated, thereby defeating its purpose. Hydrogen peroxide by itself is basically useless for sanitizing water.

Personally, I won’t drink anything from a tank until I treat it in my glass or bottle. We typically treat a few gallons at a time and put it in containers in the kitchen for people to drink from. Either that or load up with bottled water (wasteful). No one ever got queasy from this technique, and the peroxide imparts a pleasant sweet taste to the water. Maybe a chemist can explain why this does/doesn’t work. Notwithstanding, I’ve been doing water this way for thirty years and no two-step. Cheap and easy.

Hydrogen peroxide can certainly be used to dechlorinate water (it oxidizes the chlorine to chloride–about 0.4 pounds of H2O2 per pound of chlorine is required); this is a common commercial scale method. However, proper sanitation demands that a chlorine residual is maintained in the tank and throughout the plumbing, if only 1 ppm. Subsequent treatment with carbon is VERY effective at removing the chlorine residual. Carbon removes organic materials by adsorbing them on the surface of microscopic pores. It removes chlorine differently, by sacrificial oxidation of the carbon itself, and as a result it can remove a LOT more chlorine, far more efficiently, than removing odors and tastes without chlorination, by adsorption alone.

We do not recommend dechlorination in the tanks by any chemistry. You want a chlorine residual. Remove the chlorine with carbon. We like carbon block filters, because they also remove cysts, an economical and practical two-for-one.

Thank you Drew. I left out something important that we do with water. Sometimes we rent, sometimes we fly our own boat. Anymore, we carry two Steri-pens when we leave municipal water behind. You mention this product above. Ashore in foreign lands we never allow ice in a glass of water, and we don’t eat salads. Rent boat water tanks are sometimes pretty bad smelling, leaving me to wonder what’s in there. Here’s a link to Steri-pens: . They run about $70. Not cheap, but it beats the alternative. This was a great article and bears re-posting from time to time.

I just came across this article (March 2023). Unfortunately, like a few others have commented on since 2021, the items that were specifically recommended for aluminum tanks are not available in the US. The Aqua Mega Tabs are not available via Amazon or Hopkins-Carter, nor is the PuraClean for sanitization. There is a product called AquaTabs with same ingredient, but the pills only treat 4 gal vs. the 50 gal, and the price makes it much less cost-effective.

If PS is going to redistribute these articles year after year, it would be great to have them updated for us US subscribers.

Regarding Cleantabs / Aqua Mega Tabs products that are mentioned in this article, please stay tuned for some exciting news around their availability in the US and Canada. The tests are very relevant to US boaters and the availability issue is being addressed.

We are bringing Clean Tabs to North America – Aqua Mega Tabs, Aqua Midi Tabs, Puriclean etc. We hope to start shipping over the next 3-4 months. If you’d like to be kept informed of availability, please sign up for notifications at

“In the first part of our three-part series covering onboard water quality, we discussed protecting the tank with basic filtration and securing the tank vent.”

Can you link the referenced first part? I can’t find it.

Thanks, -Bruce

Thanks so much, @Drew. This is what I was looking for.

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How to conserve the water stored in a boat’s tank

conserving water on a sailboat

It is extremely important to stay well hydrated when we sail. It is essential to have an adequate supply of fresh drinking water on board for this. The main supply most commonly comes from an on-board tank, where we store the water we get from the desalination plant or that we have filled on land before sailing.

However, stored water can sometimes go off and then it is not only unpleasant to the sense of smell and the palate, but consuming it can also pose a health risk. This can happen when it is contaminated with algae, plankton, mould or bacteria or because we have not followed basic cleaning and conservation guidelines.

Conservation of water stored on a boat

We first recommend that stainless steel tanks be used to conserve the water on a boat for as long as possible, as they are the most hygienic and do not react with water. But in some cases this is not feasible, as boats that are 6 m or longer usually have a built-in tank, in many cases made with the same fibreglass as the hull.

In any case, and whatever the material the deposit is made from – PVC, fibreglass, high density polyethylene, stainless steel…-, we should clean it at least once a year with a specific product that guarantees the total elimination of possible micro-organisms. In addition, it must be opaque to prevent the proliferation of microscopic algae.

We can detect if the stored water has gone off with the naked eye, because the colour changes (it becomes cloudy, greenish or with particles) and begins to smell bad. What do we do in these cases?

What do we do if the water has already been contaminated?

If the contamination is mild (taste or smell of water altered in a way that is hardly perceptible), and we are at sea, with little chance of obtaining another supply, there is the option of purifying the water with disinfectant solutions that kill bacteria.

In any case, priority will be given for the tank to be thoroughly cleaned to eliminate all micro-organisms that may have remained as soon as we can.

It should be borne in mind that in new fibre deposits it can take years to eliminate the smell and taste of plastic, although this will not be caused by contamination of the water but by the material (resins) with which it is made. The water in these tanks is used for cleaning or hygiene, but not for consumption.

This can also happen on very new boats, although in these cases the smell usually disappears quickly as we use the tank and rotate the water.

In short, the main thing is to prevent water contamination with a tank of suitable material and regular cleaning with suitable products. It is also important that the stored water is regularly changed. We must think that it is very risky for our health, and even for our survival, to be left without a supply of drinking water on board, especially in long-distance crossings and on the high seas.

And in the event that the water has become contaminated, we must not only discard the contaminated water, but thoroughly clean the tank to remove any trace of micro-organisms that may have damaged it, and check that there are no leaks where they can re-enter.

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🎧How to Conserve Water on Your Boat

Published on August 28, 2020 ; last updated on May 23, 2023 by Carolyn Shearlock

conserving water on a sailboat

Fresh water is precious on board. Learn about 4 nifty items that can help you waste less water on the boat. 

Boat Water Filtering

Published on July 20, 2020 ; last updated on April 30, 2023 by Carolyn Shearlock

conserving water on a sailboat

Bad-tasting water from your boat’s tank? Filter it! Three suggested ways to do it, with the pros and cons of each.

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conserving water on a sailboat

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Boat Showers: How To Install A Water Saving Shower


This spin on the basic shower set-up alters the water intake and sump drainage to allow long showers while conserving water.

A hot shower is one of the great luxuries on any boat. The biggest barrier to enjoying a long, hot shower after a cold, wet day is simply the need to conserve water. Water conservation conveys a greater cruising range by cutting down on the need to head into port for water. After coming across a similar system in a friend's boat, I opted to convert my shower drain system. Essentially the system upgrade allows you to have a very long and hot shower with a minimum of water consumption.

A shower sump usually has a submersible drain pump. A float switch also controls the pump. Jabsco manufactures a diaphragm pump that can be directly connected to the shower sump. I have also used the Whale Gusher pump with some success as these pump types seem to be less prone to clogging with hair and soap, a constant problem with submersibles and float switches. In this type of system, the shower drain sump has a suction line or pipe that goes to a separate diaphragm pump.

A standard shower system, illustrated below, consists of two water systems, the water supply system that delivers hot and cold water to the faucets and the shower-spray head. The drain, or grey water side of the system, consists of the shower sump, drain pump, a float switch, possibly a strainer, the overboard discharge line or a line that discharges grey water to a holding tank. In this simple operation, the faucet controls the water pressure; the water flows from the showerhead and is collected in the shower drain sump; the water level activates the sump pump float switch that turns on the water pump to empty the sump.

Traditional shower set up diagram

A traditional shower set-up.

Converting the basic system requires a few additional components. Insert a three-way valve in the drain line and another three-way valve into the cold water line to interconnect the two water systems. Connect a waterproof control switch to the float switch control circuit to supply current to the motor. Disconnect and remove the float switch. Adding a finer filter in the pump suction line, downstream from the coarse strainer, helps to reduce recirculation of any soap or shampoo suds.

Water-saving shower design diagram

A water-saving shower design filter rinse water, then recycles it back through the system by adjusting the three-way valves as desired by the bather.

I also recommend purchasing and installing a household-type, variable spray pattern, water conserving showerhead. You can also insert one-way check valves into the inlet side of the cold water to prevent grey water feedback into the cold-water system.

To use, set the sump drain valve in the recirculation position to direct water to the showerhead. Initially, the shower is started using the normal water supply and this allows the sump to partially fill. Alternatively, I also use a solar water-heating bag and empty some or all of the contents directly into the shower sump. Close the hot and cold-water faucets and position the cold-water feed line valve to supply the showerhead with the sump water and turn on the cold-water faucet to supply the showerhead. Closing the pump switch starts the pump, which then recirculates the water continuously.

When finished, reposition the cold water and drain valves to direct water to the holding tank or overboard. A good shower can be achieved using just a half-gallon for the soap, another half-gallon for the rinse.

For boats without a pressurized water system, simply add water to the sump from a solar bag or boil water in a pot on the stove and dump it in.

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Contributor, BoatUS Magazine

John C. Payne is a cruising sailor and professional marine electrical engineer and surveyor with a 28 year career in merchant shipping and the offshore oil industry. He is the author of The Marine Electrical and Electronics Bible, Motorboat Electrical and Electronics Manual and Understanding Boat Batteries all published by Sheridan House.

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5 Best Watermakers for Sailboats

5 Best Watermakers for Sailboats | Life of Sailing

Last Updated by

Daniel Wade

June 15, 2022

With the right Watermaker, the ocean becomes an almost immeasurable supply of fresh and clean drinking water to keep you hydrated during your offshore sailing adventures.

Many sailors do spend a lot of their time and money on various parts of the sailboat including the sails, engine, electronics, and generators especially when preparing for long-distance voyages.

While there's absolutely nothing wrong with this, they often overlook one crucial part of general human survival: having an ample supply of fresh drinking water.

Whether you have freshwater drinking tanks on your sailboat or planning to cruise in areas where you can easily access clean drinking water, the hassle involved in having to come to the dock to fill the water tanks can be quite overwhelming.

This is exactly why you need to find the best watermakers for sailboats.

Like many other nautical technologies, watermakers have significantly advanced in the last few decades to become very efficient and more reliable. They're no longer a luxury on your sailboat but a necessity. Better still, watermakers have become relatively affordable and are meant to keep you hydrated as you explore areas that do not have clean and fresh drinking water.

In this article, we'll take a look at how watermaker systems work, highlight its benefits, and highlight the best sailboat watermakers on the market right now. At the end of this read, you should be able to choose the best watermaker for your sailboat.

Table of contents

Benefits of Having a Watermaker on Your Sailboat

The freedom and security that come with having full water tanks on your sailboat are of immense importance, especially if you're cruising in an area where fresh drinking water is hard to come by and quite expensive when you do. As such, having a watermaker aboard your sailboat is no longer a luxury like it used to be in the past. With a steady supply of fresh and clean water, your life on the sailboat will be a lot better. This is because you'll have enough clean water to drink, cook, wash, and shower, which is beneficial if you want to enjoy your sailing adventures.

Honestly speaking, many sailors do not actually need a watermaker. Well, if you're planning to sail just near the shores, then there's a chance that you can easily access fresh and clean water by the dock. But this can be limiting if you've been dreaming of going off the grid and sailing to some exotic and unknown places in the world.

With that in mind, a watermaker makes a lot of sense to most sailors. You won't have to worry about having to carry aboard gallons of fresh water for cooking and drinking during your voyage. You won't have to treat freshwater as a precious commodity that must last until you can refill at the next port. With a watermaker, you can simply go ocean crossing without worrying about running out of water.

A watermaker allows you to have a steady supply of fresh and clean water to keep everybody well-hydrated and healthy. You can clean the water anytime you feel like and all you have to do is replace the filter once in a while and you'll be good to go. In essence, a watermaker is probably one of the most important equipment to have aboard your sailboat, so installing it is of great importance if you're a serious sailor.

The Basics of Modern Marine Watermakers

Modern marine watermakers essentially follow the principle of reverse-osmosis to produce pure, drinking water from seawater. During this process and through very high pressure, seawater is forced through a semipermeable membrane that only allows freshwater molecules to pass through it but not salt, bacteria, or any other organic material. The newly made pure, drinking water is then piped to the sailboat's water tanks while the leftover (brine) is discharged overboard.

Even though marine watermakers may differ in the type of pump that's employed and how it is driven, this is one of the most important features in every watermaker. In most cases, water can be electrically pumped or powered directly off the boat's engine. If you have an AC generator or alternator on your boat, it would make much sense to use the AC output to drive the watermaker directly. You can also choose the DC-powered models if you rely on renewable energy from solar or wind. Alternatively, you can still go for AC-powered watermakers but you'll have to buy an inverter.

All in all, DC-powered watermakers are more efficient since they integrate a power-saving energy recovery system (ERS). You must, however, keep in mind that your energy consumption levels might be quite high if you're sailing in colder and saltier areas. This is because the water purification process might be a bit slower in such areas. As such, you should consider investing in a more high-powered watermaker system if you will be sailing in colder and saltier areas than if you're planning to sail more in warm and less salty areas.

As far as an engine-driven watermaker is concerned, you should mount the high-pressure pump on the engine so that it can be belt-driven using an automatic clutch. An engine-driven watermaker should be your first option if you want large quantities of fresh drinking water. This is more productive than AC or DC-powered watermakers. Even with a relatively small engine, this setup has an automatic regulator that constantly pumps the water. With that in mind, engine-driven watermakers are ideal if you want to reduce your energy consumption. To put it into perspective, an engine-driven watermaker can lower energy consumption by an enormous 80%, especially when compared with conventional AC or DC-powered watermaker systems.

How to Choose the Best Watermaker for Your Sailboat

There are many factors to consider when looking for the best watermakers for your sailboat. Here are the most important things to consider.

Your Freshwater Needs

One of the most important things to consider before spending your money on a watermaker is your freshwater needs. What quantity would be enough to keep you going on your sailing adventure? While the quantity might differ from one sailor to the other or from one boat to the other, you should consider the number of gallons that a particular watermaker can produce per day. This will help you in choosing the ideal watermaker; a model that will ensure that you never run out of water. Do not underestimate your water needs, especially if you're planning to sail with your children or if you're planning to stay on the boat for an extended period of time.

Do you have enough space on your vessel to accommodate the type of watermaker you're looking to buy? While most watermakers are designed to fit in the smallest of space, you should consider the actual size of the watermaker and find out whether you have enough space on your vessel to fix it.

Watermakers can run on electricity, renewable energy such as wind and solar (if you have them on your vessel), or both. When looking for the perfect watermaker, you should consider how to power it and whether or not the watermaker has low-energy consumption, which is definitely a great feature. Again, there are also engine-driven watermakers, so it's important to know exactly what you're going for.


Watermakers have a reputation for being difficult to maintain. Fortunately, the equipment and components have improved in the last few years so you should go for a model that's easy to maintain. You should use the watermaker in water bodies that look good, You should avoid using the watermaker in dirty harbors as you may have to change the filters every so often or even damage your watermaker altogether.

Best Watermakers for Sailboats

Let's take a look at the best watermakers available on the market right now.

The Ultra Whisper

Engineered by limited electrical options that can run on either DC or AC, THE Ultra Whisper by Sea Recovery is one of the best watermakers currently available on the market. In addition to being very quiet, this watermaker features an automatic operation that requires very minimal operator adjustment.

This watermaker is ideal for small powerboats and sailboats since it can serve as an efficient water supply. This model boasts about a 75% reduction in power consumption, especially when compared to other models.

  • ‍ Smooth and quiet water production
  • Can produce up to 2,280 liters per day
  • Ideal for small boats
  • It is energy efficient
  • ‍ It might not be perfect for large boats

Echotec Watermaker

If you want a watermaker model that can produce 60 liters per hour flawlessly and with no maintenance apart from changing the filters, look no further than the Echotec Watermaker. This model is designed for ultra-reliable performance and easy customer installation.

This watermaker is made from high-quality components that can withstand the continuous harsh marine environment, making it one of the most durable watermakers on the market. This is essentially a series of modular watermakers ranging from 12-volt to 24-volt DC-powered models. They bring forth energy efficiency, a computerized energy recovery system, and ultimate reliability to ensure that you never run out of fresh drinking water while out there on the sea.

  • ‍ Energy efficient
  • Cost-effective
  • ‍ Comes with a very low speed
  • Not ideal for large boats

Spectra Katadyn PowerSurvivor

As a compact and energy-efficient watermaker, the Spectra Katadyn PowerSurvivor is arguably the most affordable watermaker currently available on the market. We are talking about a model that only requires 4 amps to desalinate water for your sailboat. It can produce 1.5 gallons of fresh drinking water per hour, which is an excellent return for a watermaker of its size.

It is also one of the most portable watermakers around. You can choose to either install it permanently or temporarily in case you want to take it somewhere else. This portability is also essential if you're looking for a space-saving model that can fit in the smallest of compartments. Its simple but rugged design is essential in ensuring that it can perform at its best even in harsh marine conditions. In terms of its power capabilities, this is the only model on the market that will convert to a hand-operated system or manual power if there's a power shortage.

  • ‍ Portable and lightweight
  • Rugged design to withstand harsh marine environments
  • Efficient and reliable
  • Can revert to manual power if there's a power shortage
  • Perfect for off-grid sailing
  • ‍ Gasoline or diesel can easily damage the semi-permeable membrane

Village Marine - Little Wonder Series

Whether you're looking for a watermaker for your small sailboat or looking for a watermaker that can efficiently serve those huge yachts, the Village Marine Little Wonder Series provides everything. This model is meant for experienced sailors who are looking for various capacity options. This watermaker weighs just about 69 pounds but can produce nearly 180 gallons of fresh drinking water each day.

Designed with a low RPM high-pressure pump, this model remains one of the most efficient and economical watermakers on the market. That's not all; this watermaker is designed with corrosion-resistant features and is one of the most serviceable watermakers in the game. It is reliable, quiet, and portable; all factors that make a watermaker great.

  • ‍ Easy to operate
  • Corrosion-resistant
  • Easy to maintain
  • Quiet and versatile
  • ‍ It doesn't have automatic adjustment controls

Ventura 150 Watermaker

This is one of the most versatile watermakers on the market. It can use both electricity and renewable energy. This model is engineered to be lightweight and energy-efficient and its compact and modular design makes it a great option if you're looking for a watermaker that's easy to use and install in confined spaces.

The Ventura 150 watermaker is highly efficient as it can produce over 6 gallons of water an hour, which makes it quite perfect for small vessels. This sailboat watermaker features a controller that allows you to operate and monitor the device remotely. It also has the auto store button that will automatically flash the system after every five days.

This watermaker is quiet and surprisingly compact despite its ability to produce about 150 gallons of water per day. It also gives you the option of going for the automated manual or manual model.

  • ‍ Very versatile
  • Can use both electricity and renewable energy power
  • It is smooth and quiet
  • It is compact and lightweight
  • ‍ The manual model has analog controls

To this end, it's easy to see that having an ideal watermaker aboard your vessel is one of the first crucial steps towards being self-sufficient and sustainable. With a watermaker, you'll be able to access fresh drinking water at all times when sailing even in far-flung places. Most of these models are well-constructed and incorporate some of the best technologies that make them efficient, reliable, and easy to install, use, and maintain.

So when it comes to choosing the best watermaker for your sailboat, it may all come down to what is ideal for you in terms of energy consumption, efficiency, the quantity of water produced, among many other things. With an ideal watermaker, you can remain off the grid for as long as you want without ever worrying about running out of water and this is of great importance in enjoying your sailing adventures.

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I've personally had thousands of questions about sailing and sailboats over the years. As I learn and experience sailing, and the community, I share the answers that work and make sense to me, here on Life of Sailing.

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Art, science and conservation... on a sailboat

A sailboat is a great platform for collaboration.

There are a number of reasons for this, but it’s largely down to two factors: space and shared interest. There isn’t much room on your typical sailboat, so people are compelled to talk and connect with one another. When the boat’s on the move, the crew has to work together, building team spirit. And, in the absence of common ground, there is always the ocean to tie us together.

Sail Britain was founded in 2015 to encourage the sharing of interdisciplinary expertise regarding the ocean, to connect people from various ocean fields who would not ordinarily interact or share knowledge with one another. In light of the threats our ocean is currently facing, it is more important than ever to adopt innovative approaches to marine conservation – and I hoped Sail Britain could be one.

The ocean is not our natural habitat. While scientific theory suggests we were once an aquatic animal, the ocean is certainly not our natural habitat anymore. And yet, the ocean remains crucial to all life on Earth – including us. It supplies 50% of the atmosphere’s oxygen and helps regulate the climate. Moreover, the ocean supplies millions of people with a primary source of protein and sustains the livelihoods of coastal communities.

The problem is, from a conservation standpoint, it has been a case of ‘out of sight, out of mind’. According to the UN, almost a third of fisheries have been fished beyond sustainable limits, and the WWF estimates that marine life populations have declined by almost 50% since 1970. With climate change adding ocean acidification and coastal erosion, and coastlines and the open ocean choking with plastic waste, it is clear we can’t ignore it anymore. There are challenges that have to be overcome. Changes that must be made.

It was this growing realisation, and my own experience of what a wonderful collaborative social space a sailing boat can be, which led me to found Sail Britain. We need to rekindle our connection with the ocean and understand its importance for our own lives. It’s vital we achieve that if we are to be able to conserve it for future generations.

Sailing brings people together in a challenging environment that can aid personal development as well as build relationships. It also allows time to observe, listen and contemplate, and for people to develop and exchange ideas. Through traveling slowly, undertaking research and completing citizen science projects, being at sea offers something that travelling by road, rail or air cannot. This personal connection with the ocean is a key step in raising awareness of the importance of the marine environment.

conserving water on a sailboat

As a sailor, the plastic pollution crisis is evident. I see increasing amounts of rubbish floating in the sea and washed up on beaches. In the ten years I have been sailing on open water, I have seen a marked change. Sail Britain was my answer – a platform to inspire positive change though direct engagement between people and the ocean.

Here’s what a few of my crewmates have thought of their interdisciplinary experiences:

The Researcher

Communicating conservation messages is vital to inspire a change in awareness, and this is particularly true of ocean science. Kate Baker is a research fellow in the Centre for Water Systems at the University of Exeter . She works to communicate research to industry and practitioners.

“Science has many answers to the global problems that we’re facing, including anthropogenic climate change, plastics in the ocean and decreasing levels of biodiversity,” says Kate. “However, there is a real barrier in getting this information out there. It’s vital to ensure that findings don’t just end up in academic journals but are used in the ‘real world’ to create positive change. Art is a powerful tool to help engage and communicate academic findings and to empower people to make the small local changes which achieve lasting global impacts.

“It was the idea of mixing artists and scientists together on a boat – that breaking down of barriers between disciplines – which led me to join Sail Britain’s programme. The uniqueness of the project is that it creates a safe space for people to interact and to build trust. It really is powerful. Today, life is busy with many things conducted online, through social media and email. It is more difficult to link and overcome barriers between disciplines without ‘real life’ interaction. The hands-on nature of sailing creates the perfect setting to achieve this. The conversations I had with Tessa, the artist in residence, and the others on board, helped spark ideas and made me think in new ways. It was energising.”

The Scientist

Nick Scott is an MSc research student at the University of Exeter, currently studying microplastics in the marine environment. More specifically, the relationship between microplastic particles in the blue mussel ( Mytilus edulis ) and its habitat. Nick joined the project to undertake sampling for microplastics in the surface water of the river Fal estuary, and to assess the distribution of microplastics throughout this environment.

“The potential effects and scale of plastic waste in the marine environment are now familiar topics to many. Having recently finished my undergraduate project, I felt like my research was hidden in the laboratory, and had little ‘real world’ impact. Communication of findings and engagement with non-scientists is an essential component of scientific research if it is to have an impact. Sharing my plastics research with others in an environment not entirely dominated by scientists was a great way to reflect on my findings and the scientific principles that I have learned and now take for granted.

“But the real value of the interdisciplinary approach lies in the diversity of the people involved, and the great variety of expertise and knowledge this brings. When undertaking research in the field, often even the most rigorous plans go awry, and the potential to tap into this huge accumulative skillset allows unexpected issues to be quickly overcome. The interdisciplinary approach to the Sail Britain project created a space where I was able to present my research and share my knowledge with both scientists in different fields and a non-scientific audience.

I had the opportunity to work with artists who are inspired by the landscapes around us and the challenges they face. Fundamentally our work is inspired by the same issues, and the combination of both artists and scientists produced a far more creative and explorative environment than I have experienced with purely scientific endeavours.”

conserving water on a sailboat

Tessa Grundon is an English artist living in New York but working on both sides of the Atlantic. Much of her work is rooted in geographical locations, exploring and mapping the topography and history of a place and using elements of the landscape as components in her work.

“As an artist engaged with landscape and environment the opportunity to be artist in residence for this expedition was something to be leapt at,” says Tessa. “River mud and debris found along strand lines are among the materials I often work with.

“Unfortunately plastic is an enormous and ever-increasing part of the flotsam and jetsam I retrieve from marshes, rivers and estuaries. As a result it has become an important part of the conversation between artists and scientists who work on environmental issues. Working with Sail Britain has given me an opportunity to see the landscape and now seascapes from a different viewpoint physically as well as emotionally and engage on a different level.”

Sail Britain is an interdisciplinary organisation weaving together sail training, a wide variety of ocean research topics, engagement through the arts and community events, and adventure with purpose to inspire positive change. Everyone is welcome to join the sailing programme and to bring ocean related projects on board, whether creative or scientific.

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Sustainable Wave

115 Ways to Conserve Water – The Ultimate Guide

Water, that life-giving elixir, is more than a mere resource—it’s the cornerstone of our very existence.

Sadly, due to increasing environmental issues and our burgeoning global population, it’s become more important than ever to find effective ways how to conserve water. Wondering where to start? Well, look no further.

We present “115 Ways to Conserve Water – The Ultimate Guide,” a comprehensive roadmap that navigates the path towards water conservation with strategies so simple yet effective, they can fit snugly into your daily routine.

Table of Contents

conserving water on a sailboat

Each drop of water is a stitch in the fabric of life, and conserving it is an indispensable responsibility that each of us shares.

So, let’s dive right into the myriad ways we can contribute towards saving this precious resource.

Wise Water Usage in the Kitchen

The kitchen is a hotbed for water usage. Therefore, smart strategies here can significantly contribute to your water-saving mission.

1. Load up your Dishwasher

Did you know that a running dishwasher uses less water than doing dishes by hand? It’s true! Make sure to fill up your dishwasher completely before you run it, and voila, you are already saving water.

2. Efficient Cooking Methods

Cooking methods can have a profound impact on water usage. Opt for pressure cooking or steaming over boiling. These methods not only save water but also retain the nutrients in your food. Talk about killing two birds with one stone!

3. Composting Over the Disposal

Using a garbage disposal can guzzle up gallons of water. Instead, why not start composting? It’s a great way to reduce water waste and create rich, organic compost for your garden.

4. Limit the Use of Garbage Disposal

Garbage disposals require a lot of water to function properly. Instead, consider composting organic waste to reduce water usage and create nutrient-rich soil for your plants.

5. Reuse Pasta Water

Instead of pouring pasta water down the drain, let it cool and use it to water your plants. The water is starchy and contains valuable nutrients that your plants will love.

6. Rinse Produce in a Filled Sink or Bowl

Rather than rinsing fruits and vegetables under a running tap, wash them in a bowl of water. You can then use this water for your indoor or outdoor plants.

7. Use the Right Sized Pots

By matching the size of the pot to the burner on your stove, you can heat your food faster and save water. Plus, a smaller pot means less water is needed to boil or cook your food.

8. Catch That Tap Water

While you’re waiting for the tap water to heat up, catch it in a container. You can use this water for various purposes like watering plants or rinsing dishes.

9. Steam Instead of Boiling

Steaming vegetables not only retains more nutrients than boiling but also uses less water. It’s a win-win!

10. Plan Your Meals

Planning meals helps prevent food waste, which in turn reduces the water wasted in cooking unnecessary food. Plus, you’ll be saving on your grocery bills too!

11. Cook Smart

Reduce the amount of water you use in cooking. Steam vegetables instead of boiling them to maintain nutrients and save water. Also, use just enough water to cover the pasta when boiling.

12. Limit the Use of Garbage Disposal

Garbage disposals require a lot of water to operate properly. Composting kitchen waste is a better option, and it creates nutrient-rich soil for plants.

13. Use a Dish Pan for Hand Washing

If you wash dishes by hand, don’t let the water run while rinsing. Fill one sink with wash water and the other with rinse water.

14. Defrost Food in the Fridge

Instead of using running water to defrost frozen food, plan ahead by moving items from the freezer to the refrigerator for thawing.

15. Keep a Pitcher of Water in the Fridge

Instead of letting the tap run until the water is cool, fill a pitcher of water and keep it in the fridge.

Smart Water Conservation in the Bathroom

The bathroom is another significant contributor to daily water consumption.

Yet, with some thoughtful modifications, you can turn it into a bastion of water conservation.

16. Shorter Showers

Eager for a quick way to conserve water? How about turning your marathon showers into sprints? Shaving just a couple of minutes off your shower time can save up to 150 gallons of water per month.

17. Low-flow Showerheads

Low-flow showerheads are a boon for water conservation. (affiliate link) These wonders can reduce your water usage by up to 20,000 gallons annually. Talk about making a big splash with small changes!

18. Faucet Aerators

Installing faucet aerators ( affiliate link) on all your faucets can reduce your home’s sink water consumption by as much as 60%, and they’re inexpensive and simple to install. It’s a win-win if you ask me!

19. Collect Shower Warm-Up Water

While waiting for your shower to reach the perfect temperature, collect the running water in a bucket. This water can be used for flushing the toilet, watering plants, or cleaning.

20. Use a Toilet Tank Bag

A toilet tank bag is a water-displacement device that reduces the amount of water used in each flush. It’s a simple and affordable way to save water in the bathroom.

21. Install a Tap Aerator

A tap aerator is a device that mixes air into the water stream. This not only provides a smoother flow but also significantly reduces water usage.

22. Reuse Bathwater

Just taken a bath? Don’t let the water just drain away! You can use it to flush the toilet or water your garden.

23. Turn off the Tap While Brushing or Shaving

This might sound obvious, but many people still let the tap run while brushing their teeth or shaving. Turning off the tap during these activities can save several gallons of water every day.

24. Take Care of Leaks Immediately

A leaky faucet or a running toilet can waste hundreds of gallons of water. If you notice a leak in your bathroom, fix it as soon as possible.

25. Opt for a Water-Saving Showerhead

Water-saving showerheads use technology that can significantly reduce your water usage, helping you save water each time you shower.

26. Use Recycled Water for Flushing

If it’s feasible and sanitary, consider using greywater or captured rainwater for flushing the toilet.

27. Install a Dual-Flush Toilet System

A dual-flush system has two flush options: a half-flush for liquid waste and a full-flush for solid waste. This can significantly cut down on water usage.

28. Don’t Use the Toilet as a Trash Can

Every time you flush a tissue or other small bit of trash, five to seven gallons of water is wasted.

29. Insulate Your Water Pipes

By insulating your water pipes, you’ll get hot water faster and avoid wasting water while it heats up.

30. Consider a Bath-Shower Combo

Opt for a combination bath-shower unit. This way, you can take a quick shower when you’re in a hurry and still have the option for a relaxing bath when you have more time.

Water Conservation in the Garden

conserving water on a sailboat

Your lush green garden need not be a water guzzler.

With smart and sustainable gardening techniques, you can maintain its beauty and contribute to water conservation.

31. Drought-resistant Plants

Embrace drought-resistant plants. These hardy plants, also known as xerophytes, can survive with minimal water, reducing your garden’s water demand substantially.

32. Rain Barrels

Catch that rainwater before it goes down the drain—literally! Installing a rain barrel to collect rainwater provides a ready and renewable supply of water for your plants.

33. Watering Schedule

Water your plants during the early morning or late evening when the temperatures are cooler. This way, less water will be lost to evaporation, and your plants will thank you for it!

34. Collect Rainwater

Collect rainwater in a barrel and use it to water your plants. Rainwater is free and better for your plants as it doesn’t contain any chlorine.

35. Install a Drip Irrigation System

A drip irrigation system delivers water directly to the base of your plants. This not only reduces evaporation but also uses less water than traditional watering methods.

36. Water Early in the Morning

Watering early in the morning reduces evaporation. This allows your plants to get the most out of the water they receive.

37. Use Mulch

Applying mulch around your plants reduces water evaporation from the soil, keeps the soil cool, and suppresses water-thirsty weeds.

38. Plant Native Plants

Native plants are adapted to local climate conditions and require less water than non-native species. They also provide habitat for local wildlife.

39. Group Plants with Similar Water Needs

By grouping plants with similar watering needs together, you can ensure each plant gets just the right amount of water it needs, reducing wastage.

40. Use Compost

Adding compost to your garden improves soil structure, helping it retain more water. It also adds nutrients, reducing the need for water-consuming synthetic fertilizers.

41. Use a Rain Gauge

A rain gauge can help you track how much rain your garden receives so you can adjust your watering accordingly.

42. Water in the Evening

Watering in the late evening when temperatures are cooler can minimize evaporation.

43. Install a Rain Sensor on Your Irrigation System

Rain sensors automatically pause your irrigation system when it’s raining. Once the sensor dries out, the system will start up again.

44. Group Plants with Similar Water Needs

By grouping plants with similar water needs, you ensure that each plant gets just the amount of water it needs without wasting water on plants that need less.

45. Use a Pool Cover

If you have a pool, cover it when not in use to reduce evaporation.

Mindful Water Usage in Laundry

Laundry chores can gulp a lot of water if not done consciously. Here are some ways to save water while ensuring your clothes stay fresh and clean.

46. Full Loads Only

Similar to your dishwasher, your washing machine consumes less water when used for full loads. So pile up those clothes and run full loads, saving water and energy in one shot!

47. Upgrade to an Energy-Efficient Model

While the initial investment might be hefty, an Energy Star certified washing machine uses 33% less water and 25% less energy than regular washers. Over time, the savings really add up!

48. Reuse Rinse Water

This might sound old-school, but reusing rinse water for the next wash cycle can save gallons of water. After all, every little bit helps!

49. Use the Right Amount of Detergent

Using more detergent than necessary can lead to extra rinse cycles. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on detergent usage to avoid wasting water.

50. Wait for Full Loads

It’s tempting to wash that favorite shirt immediately, but waiting until you have a full load can save a significant amount of water.

51. Use Greywater for Irrigation

If possible, reroute your washing machine’s drain to a greywater system. This way, you can use it for irrigating your garden or lawn.

52. Maintain Your Washing Machine

A well-maintained machine runs more efficiently and uses less water. Regularly check for leaks or other problems.

53. Upgrade to a Water-Efficient Model

When it’s time to replace your washing machine, choose a high-efficiency model. They use less water and electricity than traditional models.

Wise Use of Water in Cleaning

Whether you’re mopping the floor or washing your car, smart water usage can be integrated into all cleaning activities.

54. Use a Bucket

Instead of letting the hose run, fill up a bucket. This simple switch can save up to 100 gallons of water each time you clean your car or mop your floor.

55. Eco-friendly Cleaning Products

Using eco-friendly cleaning products not only saves water but also reduces water pollution. They require less water to rinse off, are biodegradable, and are free of harmful chemicals that can contaminate water.

56. Sweep Instead of Hosing Down

Next time you consider hosing down your driveway or sidewalks, reach for a broom instead. Sweeping can provide the same clean look without wasting a drop of water!

57. Use a Broom Instead of a Hose

Rather than hosing down your driveway or patio, use a broom. It’s just as effective and saves a whole lot of water.

58. Efficient Washing Machine Use

Try to always run full loads in your washing machine. It’s more water and energy-efficient than running two smaller loads.

59. Soak Dishes Before Washing

If you have tough grime on your dishes, soak them first. It will make washing easier and reduce the amount of water needed to scrub them clean.

60. Reuse Towels

Instead of washing your towels after every use, hang them up to dry and use them multiple times before washing them. This saves water and extends the life of your towels.

61. Opt for Dry Car Washes

Dry car washes or waterless car wash products can save hundreds of gallons of water. Plus, they can be a more convenient and time-saving option.

Conscious Water Usage in Leisure Activities

Even when relaxing or indulging in hobbies, there’s always an opportunity to conserve water.

62. Pool Covers

An uncovered pool can lose thousands of gallons of water each year due to evaporation. A pool cover can reduce evaporation by 90%, making your pool more water-efficient.

63. Responsible Boating

Avoid boating activities that can potentially harm aquatic habitats. Less damage to these areas means less need for restoration, which often requires substantial amounts of water.

64. Catch-and-Release Fishing

Catch-and-release fishing practices help maintain healthy aquatic populations, reducing the need for fish stocking, which often requires substantial water usage.

65. Skip the Water Balloon Fight

While water balloon fights can be fun, they waste a lot of water. Consider other fun outdoor games that don’t require water.

66. Use a Recirculating Water Pump for Your Fountain

If you have a water fountain in your garden, make sure it’s fitted with a recirculating pump. This way, the same water can be used over and over.

67. Limit Hot Tub Use

Hot tubs use a considerable amount of water and energy. Limit your usage and always cover the tub when not in use to prevent evaporation.

68. Reduce Fish Tank Changes

Fish tanks don’t need to be changed entirely very often. Regularly clean the filters and change a portion of the water to maintain a clean environment for your fish and save water.

69. Keep Your Boat Engine Tuned

A well-tuned engine reduces the chance of fuel leaks, which can contaminate water bodies and affect their usability.

Water-Smart Practices for Pet Owners

conserving water on a sailboat

Having pets doesn’t mean you can’t save water. Check out these water-smart practices for pet owners.

70. Water Bowl Discipline

When changing your pet’s water, don’t simply toss the old water down the drain. Use it to water your plants instead.

71. Responsible Pet Bathing

When bathing your pet, use a low-flow showerhead and remember to plug the drain immediately. This reduces the amount of water needed to fill the tub.

72. Aquarium Water Recycling

When cleaning your fish tank, the water you remove can be used to water plants as it’s rich in nitrogen and phosphorus.

73. Choose the Right Pet Bathing Spot

If possible, bathe your pets outdoors in an area of your yard that needs water. That way, you’re accomplishing two tasks at once.

74. Reuse Pet Water

When changing your pet’s water, use the old water for your plants.

75. Efficient Pet Baths

Don’t leave the water running while bathing your pet. Wet your pet, turn off the water, lather up, then rinse quickly.

76. Use Biodegradable Poop Bags

Plastic bags can lead to water pollution. Choose biodegradable bags for pet waste to keep our waterways clean.

77. Opt for a Self-Filling Pet Water Bowl

Self-filling water bowls ( affiliate link) ensure your pet has enough water without the need for a continuously running faucet.

Water Conservation at Work

Our workplaces can also be a hot spot for unnecessary water use. But, with a bit of effort, we can make them water-efficient too.

78. Report Leaks

A small drip can waste 20 gallons of water a day. If you notice a leak at work, report it immediately.

79. Install Water-Saving Devices

Encourage your office management to install low-flow toilets and faucet aerators in restrooms. These can save a substantial amount of water.

80. Advocate for Water Conservation Policies

Raise awareness about water conservation at work and advocate for water-saving policies. Your initiative could inspire others and make a significant impact.

81. Only Use the Dishwasher for Full Loads

Just like at home, ensure the office dishwasher is only run when it’s fully loaded to maximize water efficiency.

82. Educate Employees

Educate your employees about the importance of water conservation and encourage them to use water wisely in the workplace.

83. Install Water-Saving Appliances

If possible, invest in water-efficient appliances such as high-efficiency toilets, faucets, and dishwashers for the office.

84. Encourage Reusable Water Bottles

Provide employees with reusable water bottles to reduce the usage of disposable cups.

85. Regular Maintenance Checks

Ensure the plumbing system is regularly checked and promptly repaired if leaks are found to prevent water wastage.

Efficient Water Use in Schools

Schools can play a crucial role in water conservation, both by reducing water usage on school premises and educating students about the importance of saving water.

86. Conduct Water Audits

Regular water audits can help identify areas of excessive water use and leaks that need to be fixed, helping the school save a significant amount of water.

87. Water Conservation Education

Incorporate water conservation into the curriculum. Educating students about water conservation from a young age can cultivate lifelong water-saving habits.

88. Rainwater Harvesting

Installing rainwater harvesting systems in schools can provide a hands-on learning experience for students while conserving a substantial amount of water.

89. Water Conservation Lessons

Include lessons about water conservation in the curriculum. Not only will this educate students, but they might also bring the lessons home to their families.

90. Use Drought-Tolerant Plants on School Grounds

When landscaping school grounds, use plants that are native and drought-tolerant. They require less water and maintenance.

91. Install Water Bottle Filling Stations

Encourage students to bring reusable water bottles and provide filling stations. This will reduce the usage of disposable cups and plastic water bottles.

92. Regular Checks for Leaks

Ensure regular maintenance checks for leaks in the school plumbing system and repair promptly if found.

93. Encourage Participation in Water Conservation Projects

Get students involved in water conservation projects. This could range from a school-wide water-saving challenge to building a rain garden or installing a rainwater collection system.

Water Conservation in the Agriculture Sector

conserving water on a sailboat

Farming and agriculture consume a significant amount of water, but there are methods to make these activities more water-efficient.

94. Implement Drip Irrigation

Drip irrigation is a highly efficient method that delivers water directly to a plant’s roots. This reduces evaporation and ensures that water goes where it’s needed most.

95. Practice Crop Rotation

Crop rotation can improve soil health, which in turn improves water retention, reducing the need for irrigation.

96. Use Mulch on Crops

Mulching helps retain moisture, control weeds, and improve soil health, all of which can reduce the need for irrigation.

97. Adopt Hydroponic Farming

Hydroponic farming can save a significant amount of water compared to traditional farming methods, as it recycles water.

98. Use Weather Forecasts for Irrigation

Farmers can use weather forecasts to plan their irrigation. If rain is predicted, they can postpone irrigation and let nature do the work.

99. Encourage Soil Health

Healthy soil retains water better and reduces runoff. Encourage soil health through organic farming practices and the use of cover crops.

100. Install Weather-Based Irrigation Controllers

These controllers adjust irrigation schedules based on local weather conditions, preventing unnecessary watering.

101. Use Efficient Irrigation Techniques

Techniques like furrow irrigation, terracing, and contour plowing can minimize water waste.

Conserving Water at the Community Level

Entire communities can work together to save water and promote water consciousness.

102. Organize Water Conservation Campaigns

Raise awareness about the importance of water conservation in your community through campaigns, workshops, and seminars.

103. Install Public Water Fountains

Public water fountains can reduce the consumption of bottled water, saving both water and plastic.

104. Community Rainwater Harvesting

Encourage the community to invest in rainwater harvesting systems. The collected water can be used for gardening, car washing, and even toilet flushing in community buildings.

105. Promote Water-Efficient Gardens

Organize programs to educate community members on how to create water-efficient gardens using native and drought-resistant plants.

106. Community Car Wash Fundraisers

If your community holds car wash fundraisers, use water-saving techniques like trigger nozzles and biodegradable soap that can safely be used on lawns.

107. Encourage Restaurants to Serve Water on Request Only

Many restaurants automatically serve water to all customers. Encouraging them to serve water only when requested can save a significant amount of water.

108. Create a Community Garden

A community garden with water-saving measures like drip irrigation and drought-tolerant plants can conserve water and create a shared space for residents.

109. Invest in Community-Wide Greywater Systems

These systems collect and treat greywater from multiple buildings, allowing it to be reused for non-drinking purposes.

Government Policies and Water Conservation

Government policies play a crucial role in water conservation, setting regulations and offering incentives for water-efficient practices.

110. Implement Water-Saving Regulations

Governments can enact policies that mandate the use of water-saving appliances and fixtures in new buildings and renovations.

111. Subsidies for Water Conservation

Governments can offer subsidies or tax breaks to individuals and companies that implement water-saving practices.

112. Efficient Irrigation Policies

Governments can enforce policies for more efficient irrigation systems in agricultural sectors.

113. Public Education Programs

Government-run education programs can raise awareness about water conservation and teach citizens how to save water.

114. Water Pricing

Proper water pricing that reflects the true cost of water can encourage more responsible usage.

115. Legislation for Water Pollution Control

Strict legislation and penalties for water pollution can protect our water resources, ensuring they are usable for the long term.

conserving water on a sailboat

Conserving water is not just about implementing complex strategies. It’s about making minor changes in our daily lives, such as turning off the tap while brushing or using a rain barrel to water our plants.

With “115 Ways to Conserve Water – The Ultimate Guide” at your fingertips, you’re equipped with practical ways to make a significant difference.

Remember, every drop counts. Let’s make ours count for conservation!

  • United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – Water Conservation Tips
  • United Nations (UN) – Water Conservation
  • United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) – Irrigation and Water Use
  • The World Bank – Water Conservation in Agriculture
  • National Geographic – Water Conservation
  • The Nature Conservancy – Water Conservation
  • Water Research Foundation – Residential End Uses of Water
  • World Health Organization (WHO) – Water Sanitation Hygiene

Thomas Lassen

I’m Thomas, the owner of SustainableWave. Passionately promoting a sustainable planet. With experience in various eco-roles, I’ll share green tips, sustainability hacks, and personal eco-journeys on my blog.

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Watch CBS News

Family wonders how woman died after sailboat capsized in Lake Michigan

conserving water on a sailboat

Vestaburg man airlifted after boat capsizes

A 63-year-old Vestaburg man was airlifted to Ann Arbor Sunday after a boat he was piloting overturned on Bass Lake in Montcalm County.

A passenger was able to swim to shore and rescuers at the lake were able to get the pilot and another passenger to shore, Montcalm Sheriff Mike Williams said.

“Before responders arrived, it was reported the three men were no longer in the water as one was able to swim to shore and the other two were aided by people on shore who were able to respond with a jet ski,” he said.

Two Riverdale men who had been passengers on board were uninjured.

The operator of the boat, a 63-year-old man from Vestaburg, was unresponsive as he was moved to shore.

“Cardiopulmonary resuscitation efforts were initiated, and those efforts were continued by Montcalm County Emergency Medical Services,”

Williams said.

”The man was transported to Gratiot Community Hospital before Survival Flight out of Ann Arbor transferred the man to an Ann Arbor hospital, where his treatment is ongoing.”

Also over the weekend, Montcalm deputies responded to a report of an unresponsive child at Crystal Lake on Saturday.

A 6-year-old boy from Carson City was spotted floating and unresponsive in the water.

“It is believed he was not down long when family members of the boy pulled him from the water and a bystander began to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation,”

Montcalm County Emergency Medical Services arrived and took over the life saving efforts.

The boy was transported to Helen Devos Hospital in Grand Rapids by Aeromed for further care.

The young patient was released from the hospital and did not sustain any injuries or permanent effects from the event.

“It is believed the boy may have passed out resulting in his unresponsive state in the water,” he said.

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\u0009\u0009\u0009\u0009\u0009\u0009\u0009\u0009\u0009\u0009\u0009UPDATED: Police still seeking suspect in Isabella County shooting\u0009\u0009\u0009\u0009\u0009\u0009\u0009

\u0009\u0009\u0009\u0009\u0009\u0009\u0009\u0009\u0009\u0009\u0009Tips for keeping pets safe during heatwave\u0009\u0009\u0009\u0009\u0009\u0009\u0009

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Both events illustrate how quickly a pleasant day on water can turn into a tragic event, Williams said.

“The sheriff’s office reminds everyone to exercise great caution when enjoying the plentiful waters of Montcalm County and to be watchful of not only the group one is with, but also for others nearby,” he said.

(c)2024 Morning Sun, Mount Pleasant, Mich Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


A Heat Wave Is Coming: Here’s How Paramedics Are Preparing

Wet towels and body bags filled with ice water are being used to quickly cool victims, which is essential to saving lives.

  • Share full article

A person piles packs of bottled water in the best of a pickup truck.

By Dionne Searcey

  • June 18, 2024

A heat wave is bearing down on large parts of America, forcing emergency workers to prepare for what could be record-breaking numbers of people in heat distress.

An excessive heat watch was in effect for southern New England, where forecasters warned of dangerous heat and humidity starting on Tuesday and lasting through Friday. It’s the first severe heat wave of the year for that part of the country.

When temperatures rise, it’s easy to overheat and, when that happens, important to cool off fast. Elevated body temperatures can cause brain damage, organ failure and, in severe cases, death.

“In heat exhaustion, the goal is to cool as quickly as you can,” said Dr. Aisha Terry, an associate professor of emergency medicine and health policy at George Washington University Hospital in Washington and president of the American College of Emergency Physicians . “There are definitely some health conditions where we have to be mindful of how quickly we correct the abnormality. This is not one of them.”

In all, millions of people across the United States are under extreme heat advisories. And if you think the country is getting hotter, it’s not your imagination. Between May 2023 and May 2024, the average American experienced 39 days of abnormally high temperatures as a result of climate change, scientists reported last month . That’s 19 more days than in a hypothetical world without human-caused warming.

Here’s how emergency medical workers are adapting to the risks.

Are paramedics preparing differently?

Emergency medical workers and local officials across the country are spreading the word about cooling centers and swimming pools and stocking up on bottles of water to hand out to help offer relief from soaring temperatures and muggy weather.

New cooling methods can be relatively simple: Some emergency vehicles are now equipped with canopies that offer makeshift shade for heat victims who need a bit of relief from the sun.

“If they’re outside, move them into shade,” said Jeffrey Gruenglas, an emergency medical technician in West Barnstable, Mass. “You could put the A.C. on in the ambulance and then put them in there.”

Paramedics in some areas carry ice packs to place in patients’ underarm and groin areas as a way of quickly cooling off. Another effective tactic: place wet towels across as much skin surface as possible. In some cities, emergency workers carry blankets to place on the ground. They shift victims there while treating them instead of leaving them on scalding concrete or asphalt that can cause severe burns.

“I’ve had times where I could literally feel the heat coming through my shoes,” said Chris Hoyer, a retired Phoenix police officer who now trains other officers.

Police officers, whose vehicles aren’t readily equipped with the same kinds of life-saving gear as ambulances, can stock their cars with bottles of water or let heat victims sit in their air-conditioned vehicles, he said. Mr. Hoyer said he recalled seeing officers encircling heat victims to shield them from the sun until paramedics arrive.

Have innovative treatments emerged?

Some doctors and researchers are preaching what they say is a better and faster way to help bring down body temperatures: immersing heat victims in ice water.

In Arizona, Texas and other areas, emergency responders are carrying large plastic bags, or even body bags, that serve as ice cocoons . The bags are filled with ice cubes and water and zipped up around patients to about their chest area for about 15 to 20 minutes or so until they cool to safe levels.

The technique has been used for years to cool overheated soldiers or athletes facing heat stroke. In Phoenix, where record-breaking temperatures last year killed 645 people, fire trucks and ambulances all carry specially designed “immersion bags” to help victims who are overheated.

But even toddler pools filled with ice and water can serve the purpose. The key is to work as quickly as possible to cool victims, doctors said.

There has been widespread fear that immersion could provoke a stroke or heart attack by cooling the body too quickly. But cold-water immersion can bring down body temperatures quickly with little risk of causing other problems, researchers said, particularly if body temperature is monitored closely with a rectal thermometer.

What else do emergency workers need to think about?

Themselves. The people who are treating treat heat victims can also become heat victims. Firefighters are loaded down with heavy, hot equipment. Paramedics can overheat carrying victims to ambulances.

Hydration is key, and not just for humans but also for the specially trained dogs that sometimes work with police officers. The fastest, best method for cooling an overheated dog, according to some researchers, is also immersion. “There were multiple times when canines were out on the scene, and I’d put the dog in a backyard pool,” Mr. Hoyer said.

Dionne Searcey is a Times reporter who writes about how the choices made by people and corporations affect the future of the planet. More about Dionne Searcey

What to Know During Extreme Heat

Staying Safe:  We asked emergency room doctors for their advice on protecting yourself  from dehydration, heat stroke and other serious health problems.

Heat’s Physical Toll:  High temperatures can put the body under immense stress. Here’s what it looks like .

Keeping Indoors Cool:  Too hot to go outside? Here’s how to be comfortable in your home  — with or without air-conditioning.

Medications:  Certain antidepressants, blood pressure pills and other drugs make you more susceptible to heat-related illness .

Travel:  Stifling conditions could impact your travel plans this summer. Use these tips and precautions  to protect yourself and your vacation dollars.

Sunscreen:  How much SPF is enough? Is mineral better than chemical? We have the answers to some common questions about sunscreen .


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    How to Conserve Water on a Charter Sailboat Hygeine. When washing hands and face and brushing teeth, open the tap just enough to allow a trickle from the faucet. It may take a bit longer, but you'll use a lot less water to get the job done. Rinse toothbrushes in a cup with a small amount of drinking water.

  2. Tips for conserving water on a boat

    Spray away. For general cleaning, mix 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water in a spray bottle and wipe down surfaces with rags (which you can later launder at home or the marina). This solution should take care of most general cleaning on board and eliminate the need to soak and clean a sponge. Use a half-gallon tank sprayer.

  3. Tips to conserving Fresh Water on your Sailboat

    8 Tips to conserving Fresh Water on your Sailboat. It's always great to be conserving freshwater on your boat and these tips from the blog Sailing Chance were too good not to share! When out Sailing for a long period of time freshwater can be scarce to come by. You can only hold so much and once it's out you have to figure out how to get more.

  4. Four Easy Ways to Conserve Water When Living on a Boat

    Here are four easy ways to significantly cut down on the water you use - without sacrificing too much. 1. Use a Foot Pump. If you have a foot pump, turn off your pressure water except for times when you're filling a large container. With pressure water, you waste some every time you turn the water on and off. And since most foot pumps put ...

  5. Life on a Sailboat: Everything You Need to Know About Living on a

    As mentioned, resource management is a critical aspect of daily sailboat life, especially when it comes to conserving water, fuel, and electricity. Efficient use of these resources is vital, whether it involves careful water usage, monitoring power consumption, or planning the next opportunity to resupply.

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    Usage and conservation of water for sailing Being frugal with water becomes second nature to most cruisers. The majority of respondents said their crew only showered every three days, 12 every two ...

  7. Getting, Storing and Using Water While Cruising

    Your boat will come with a water tank or tanks—the more the merrier as it is a real bummer if the single tank leaks or is contaminated—and these tanks can vary widely in capacity, construction and security. A good tank will be robust, corrosion proof, very well secured, probably baffled to prevent water battering at the walls and will have ...

  8. Saving Water On A Sailboat

    One of the major differences between life on land and on a sailboat is how I treat water. Saving water on a sailboat is standard practice. Suddenly, water went from being something I was entitled to, to something extremely precious and important. Adam's work for a company called Hero Labs, that is producing leak detecting services, has caused ...

  9. Reader Tip: Four Easy Ways to Conserve Water on a Boat

    Even if they have a watermaker, most cruisers find they need to conserve water. Here are four easy ways to significantly cut down on the water you use - without sacrificing too much. 1. Use a Foot Pump. If you have a foot pump, turn off your pressure water except for times when you're filling a large container.

  10. How to Save Water on a Boat

    When you're cruising, and the boat is off the dock, conserving water is a constant challenge. From showering to washing dishes and even flushing the toilet - it's an ongoing battle trying to save water on a boat. So much so that even the saltiest sailors say they would consider buying a watermaker for their boat.

  11. How Do Sailboats Get Fresh Water? (4 EFFECTIVE SOLUTIONS)

    One of the most effective solutions for sailboats to get fresh water is by collecting rainwater. Sailors can use a variety of methods to collect rainwater and store it on board. These include using a tarp to collect rainwater, using a rainwater catchment system to collect and store large amounts of water, or using a container to collect smaller ...

  12. How to Conserve Water on Your Boat

    Pressurized sprayer (Amazon) Solar shower (Amazon) Cabinet mount galley foot pump (Affiliate) Prefer to Read? Check out 4 Easy Ways to Conserve Water. Today's episode of The Boat Galley Podcast is sponsored by MyIslandWifi, your go to source for secure Bahamas internet. Planning on a visit to the Bahamas and wanting the security of unlimited ...

  13. Watermakers: a guide to marine desalinators and making water on a boat

    A high-pressure pump pushes seawater through a semi-permeable membrane that filters out salt, organics, and bacteria. The fresh water is pumped into your water tanks while the remaining brine bi-product is discharged over the side of the boat, back into the ocean. Schematic of a Rainman watermaker system. Photo credit: Rainman.

  14. 7 Boat Life Tips for Easy Living on the Water

    Sailboat living requires constant boat maintenance, learning to conserve water, and knowledge of cooking onboard. Here are 7 crucial boat life tips that can lead to easier living on a boat. When we decided to pursue boat life, there was a steep learning curve. Especially with no prior experience owning, living on, or sailing a boat.

  15. How To Live on a Sailboat

    Conservation is key to a convenient and clean life on a sailboat. You may have unlimited fresh water from a shore connection, but your septic tank will eventually get full. This may necessitate taking shorter showers and other water-saving steps, which are good habits to develop anywhere. Additionally, your sailboat's electrical system is ...

  16. Keeping Water Clean and Fresh

    Fill the bottles about three-quarters full, shaking vigorously to oxygenate the water, and then, leave the water in full sun (placing the bottles on a reflective surface helps) for three to eight hours. The suns UV will deactivate over 99.9 percent of the pathogens in the bottle.

  17. How to conserve the water stored in a boat's tank

    Conservation of water stored on a boat. We first recommend that stainless steel tanks be used to conserve the water on a boat for as long as possible, as they are the most hygienic and do not react with water. But in some cases this is not feasible, as boats that are 6 m or longer usually have a built-in tank, in many cases made with the same ...

  18. Using & Conserving Water

    You're surrounded by water on a boat, yet you have to conserve. Even a watermaker doesn't give you an unlimited supply. ... Washing dishes can take a lot of water on a boat. But my method helps me wash a day's dishes in less than a quart of water.

  19. Boat Showers: How To Install A Water Saving Shower

    Insert a three-way valve in the drain line and another three-way valve into the cold water line to interconnect the two water systems. Connect a waterproof control switch to the float switch control circuit to supply current to the motor. Disconnect and remove the float switch. Adding a finer filter in the pump suction line, downstream from the ...

  20. 5 Best Watermakers for Sailboats

    We are talking about a model that only requires 4 amps to desalinate water for your sailboat. It can produce 1.5 gallons of fresh drinking water per hour, which is an excellent return for a watermaker of its size. ... This portability is also essential if you're looking for a space-saving model that can fit in the smallest of compartments. Its ...

  21. 15 Things That Change When You Live on a Catamaran

    Things like water conservation, provisioning, cooking, cleaning, and adjusting to a small space all take time and energy. Here are some of the big changes to everyday habits that we discovered living on a sailing catamaran. Table of Contents. Preparing for the Live Aboard Lifestyle. 1.

  22. Art, science and conservation... on a sailboat

    A sailboat is a great platform for collaboration. There are a number of reasons for this, but it's largely down to two factors: space and shared interest. There isn't much room on your typical sailboat, so people are compelled to talk and connect with one another. When the boat's on the move, the crew has to work together, building team ...

  23. 115 Ways to Conserve Water

    14. Defrost Food in the Fridge. Instead of using running water to defrost frozen food, plan ahead by moving items from the freezer to the refrigerator for thawing. 15. Keep a Pitcher of Water in the Fridge. Instead of letting the tap run until the water is cool, fill a pitcher of water and keep it in the fridge.

  24. Seven Ways to Conserve Water in Your Yard This Summer

    We may earn a commission from links on this page. Credit: birdman444/Shutterstock With gardening season in full swing, and the weather getting hot enough in some places to wilt your plants if they ...

  25. Family wonders how woman died after sailboat capsized in Lake Michigan

    The family of the 53-year-old woman who died after a sailboat capsized in Lake Michigan over the weekend was left wondering what went wrong. Michael Bolan said his daughter, Cristen Bolan, known ...


    Pennsylvania Conservation Explorer. The Pennsylvania Conservation Explorer provides conservation information on biological diversity, protected lands, streams and other natural resources for planning purposes and also allows users to screen a project area for potential impacts to threatened, endangered, and special concern species.

  27. Vestaburg man airlifted after boat capsizes

    A 63-year-old Vestaburg man was airlifted to Ann Arbor Sunday after a boat he was piloting overturned on Bass Lake in Montcalm County. A passenger was able to swim to shore and rescuers at the ...

  28. Water restoration delayed after work-site injuries forced pause of main

    Conservation remains critical. In an update on Wednesday — a week after the main failed — officials told Calgarians they could expect water restrictions to continue into the middle of next week.

  29. How to cool off in the water in Chicago during the summer heat wave

    Columbia Sailing School's learn-to-sail introductory course teaches all the sailing basics over two sessions ($220). Youth summer sailing programs are also offered. 111 N. DuSable Lake Shore Drive.

  30. A Heat Wave Is Coming: Here's How Paramedics Are Preparing

    Wet towels and body bags filled with ice water are being used to quickly cool victims, which is essential to saving lives. By Dionne Searcey A heat wave is bearing down on large parts of America ...