“Bathing with six cups of water?! That’s just not possible!”
That’s how I responded when my friend Carole, a world cruising veteran, said that she could bathe/shower with only 6 cups of water. Talk about how to conserve water on a sailboat.
Reflecting back upon my land-based life, I remembered taking 15 or 20 minute long, hot showers. I must have used a whole tank of hot water often! Now that we’re living on a boat, I’ve drastically curtailed my water usage. With a tank holding 1000 litres and an average crew of 6 it doesn’t last long.
Anyway, now that we have a limited amount of water I’ve changed my showering behaviors. Instead of standing in the shower, enjoying the hot water comfortably hit my body for several minutes; I now have the following procedure:
- Turn water on and quickly get wet
- Turn water off
- Put shampoo on and soap up
- Water on and rinse
- Water off
- Put conditioner on and shave (when required)
- Water on and rinse
Showers are no longer a luxury. Rather, they’re a quick necessity. Looking back, I now realized that I wasted a lot of water. Feeling proud of my new water conservation efforts, I mentioned my routine to Carole, from the sailboat Nepenthe. She indicated that her conservation efforts allow her to shower with 6 cups of water.
Carole upped the game and a new challenge was set!
I just couldn’t fathom how it would be possible to shower with six cups of water so I asked Carole to come aboard Britican and do a demonstration. Not only did we get a demonstration, but also my daughter and I were active participants!
Was it possible for my daughter and I to bath with 6 cups of water?
Well…I’ll get to that but before I do let me sidestep to life onboard a boat. When you’re cruising around the world there are a few ways to get water. One is to fill up your tanks at marinas. That being said, getting good water can often be difficult. Many marinas supply water, but it’s not good enough to drink and at times it can smell really bad.
The second way is by using a water maker. We’re privileged to have a reverse-osmosis water maker – it turns seawater into drinkable clean water. To make water, we need to run our generator. For every hour we run it, it makes 100 litres of water. So, for 1000 litres we would need to run our generator for 10 hours. Usually, we just keep our water topped up – whether by marina water supply or by water maker. We don’t let it get too low so we only ever run our water maker for a couple hours.
And the final way to get water is to catch rain! Currently, while we’re in the Mediterranean we haven’t seen any rain, but surely there will be places we get to where the rain falls. Perhaps when that happens we’ll sort out a rain catcher?
Back to the 6 cups of water to shower with…
While in Patras, Greece, Carole came over to us on Britican with her bucket and a cup. At first, I thought, ‘Are we really going to do this?’
I yelled down to Sienna, who was playing with her Barbies, that it was time to play with a bucket of water. If I told her it was a shower I’m not so sure she’d want to participate.
Carole asked us if we wanted to do the demonstration in our bathing suites or naked. I thought it was great that she asked as that consideration never crossed my mind! What a question! Hehehehe. I quickly, replied, ‘Yes – with our bathing suits!’
‘I’m happy you said that!’ was Carole’s response!
The three of us then found a space on the deck – all of us in our bathing suits with bucket and cup at hand. Carole instructed us to sit with our legs crossed and up so that our knees where near our armpits.
The first cup of water was poured over our bodies starting from one shoulder going across to the next and working down the body – to my surprise, one cup managed to get most of our body wet. By pouring the water while sitting cross-legged it had the opportunity to flow from the top to the bottom. The second cup was for our hair.
It actually took me a couple cups of water to get my hair wet but that’s because I have long hair. Carole remarked that she keeps her hair short as it’s easier to maintain and clean. I’m not sure if I’ll chop mine off yet but I’m sure it’s on the cards.
After we were soaked, we all put our shampoo in and soaped up
Sienna had ball. She thought the whole experience was fun. We used a few cups to rinse off and our bath was over.
I then asked Carole if she only uses 6 cups of water to shower every time she bathes. Carole laughed and explained that she doesn’t pay attention to how much she uses. At a push, however, she could bathe with 6 cups.
Before the exercise I thought there was no way I’d be able to shower with such a little amount of water. Now I know better. The lessons I’m learning are amazing. For me, the action of bathing with 6 cups of water wasn’t a part of my reality. And previous to that, it wasn’t possible to shower using the on and off system!
As for my next step, perhaps I’ll really enter the world of a salty sea dog and stop showering full stop!
To read more amazing things that Carole (and Jim) aboard Nepenthe have taught us, check out the article: Couple sets off for a 3 year around the world sailing trip – 15 years later they’re still going!