And, unless you’re on a news boycott you know California is seemingly days away from running out of water completely. And they’re not alone (Texas, I’m looking at you).
When we are at sea, fresh water is a valuable commodity. Our boat holds 300 gallons. That’s water for drinking, cooking, dishwashing, hand washing, and showering. For two people, for as long as we are out (which ranges from 7 to 21 days). Here’s what we do to conserve;
- Wash dishes like you’re on a boat with 300 gallons of water! Scrape off any leftover bits over the side of the boat, a little water to scrub with, a small tub to reuse the wash water and the world’s fastest rinse.
- You do not need to shower every day, even on a boat. Even after cleaning 300 king salmon. And when you do shower, it’s just like washing dishes. A splash to get wet, then the water’s turned off while you soap up and shampoo. Water back on for a quick rinse, and that’s it.
- Anyone who still lets the tap run while they are brushing their teeth should have to spend a week in the desert.
- Even cooking water can be reused, or at least maximized. For instance, if we are steaming vegetables for dinner, steam enough for 2 or 3 days with that same water. Also, although it’s hard for me to not boil pasta in at least a gallon of water, David has wrung that habit out of me, now when I cook noodles it’s with barely enough water to cover them.
People sometimes ask us about using seawater for different purposes - I suppose one could use a bucket of seawater to wash dishes in, then only use fresh for the final wash. David also has a great story of passing some troller who was single handing it, standing on deck washing himself down with the deckhouse while simultaneously stomping on soapy laundry. “Multitasking!” he yelled as they passed.
I’m not quite ready to start heating up buckets of seawater on the stove to bathe in, but I can imagine it.
For me, the hard part is “thinking like I’m on the boat” even when I am at home. The faucet yields a seemingly endless supply of clean, fresh water. I have to force myself to turn it off! Lately I’ve been setting the timer on my phone and trying to stick to 3-minute showers. I don’t know why something that seems so easy on the Virga is so hard here at home! The buzzer seems to always go off while I still have conditioner in my hair (note: right, we don’t use conditioner on the boat!)
The Bigger Picture
Larger issues loom for salmon fishermen as California’s drought-related issues grow. This recent article in The Press Democrat lays out the larger problem facing North Coast fishermen:
“Salmon spawn in cold, fresh water streams, and the fish have been struggling to survive in increasingly hostile conditions during the state’s prolonged dry spell. Low flows and high water temperatures imperil eggs and juvenile fish, and consecutive years with such conditions can threaten multiple generations of salmon.”
No matter where you live, thinking about your own water use helps keep you focused on the larger issues that we all face in times of extended drought.