Monday, May 16, 2011

Hot Water

The last time we sailed away, we were content with just basics. Through either age or experience, I have expanded my necessities list to include features previously considered a luxury. Myron seems happy to indulge me in this regard, as long as my requests are reasonable. One particular request was a dedicated shower with HOT water. And to be perfectly clear: hot, FRESH water, inside the shower, inside the boat.
That probably bears some explanation. Our former cruising boat was a Gulf 32 pilot house. Without a doubt, we were thrilled to have her. But she did not have a shower and the only time we had hot running water at the sink was when we were on shore power. Out at sea or at anchor, it was my routine to heat up fresh water for rinsing when preparing to do the dishes. As to personal hygiene: teeth were brushed in cold water, face was washed in cold water, and we managed with a sponge bath (sometimes warm, sometimes cold) when underway. A 'shower,' so to speak, required a buddy system and was therefore only attempted at anchor. The process was: jump in the sea water, back in the boat cockpit to shampoo hair and lather up, back in the sea water for a salt water rinse, and then back in the boat cockpit for a quick turn under the fresh water container held up by your buddy. Not a horrid task when air temp is in the 80's and water temp around the same. It becomes a much greater chore when the sea water temp is 55F and the air temp is not much warmer. This was the case on the Pacific side of Baja, Mexico. Sponge baths can only go so far since the hair must be washed to feel truly clean. Dreadlocks were not my thing. The strategy in this scenario again relied upon the buddy system: Sit in the cockpit with your buddy pouring a bucket of sea water on you, shampoo, lather up, and rinse off via the buddy and bucket of sea water routine, and a final fresh water rinse. The record speed at which this task was accomplished was slowed only due to uncontrollable shivering. Once, while at anchor on the Sea of Cortez inside of the Baja, the sea water was full of aqua males. These little jelly fish are impossible to see in the water, but show up like clear balls the size of a grape when a bucket of sea water is poured in to the cockpit. Their sting is more irritating than painful and does leave a mark.
Probably sounds traumatic. Maybe it was for me or I am just getting too old to voluntarily put myself in that situation for any long-term period. Myron said it was not too much to ask: fresh, hot water, inside a shower inside the boat. Done.
Well, easier said than done. The fact that Hold Fast has two heads (boat bathrooms for land lubbers) is a big start. We have dedicated the forward head as a shower. Myron ran the lines and installed a shower sump and pump to extract the water from the shower pan. He also installed an Excel tankless on-demand propane water heater. While we carry about 300 gallons of water (compared to about 100 gallons on the Gulf 32), Myron will still install an engine driven water maker that is designed to produce over 60 gallons of fresh water per hour out of sea water. He is still finishing up the installation as there are many aspects to it: water intake, pressure pump, pressure vessels and membranes, flow gage, a water purity meter that measures total dissolved solids, and the appropriate valves and plumbing to send brine overboard and acceptable water to the tanks. In addition to all that, we have a reverse osmosis system that draws from the tank water so that we have pristine drinking water at the flip of a switch.

It is fantastic! Clearly, as Myron told my dad, no more camping.

{GMST}30|16.501|N|081|42.951|W|We are getting close!|OYCM{GEND}