Rod Heikell shares his thoughts about how much water is enough

Any Questions – YM Jan p47 – raised the issue of how much water should be carried on ocean passages. Ocean yachtsman, Med expert and author Rod Heikell shares his thoughs…

Water on a long trip is liquid gold and you need to hoard it. On a three week trip from the Red Sea to Cochin two of us still had water left from fifty gallons total. On Atlantic crossings of around three weeks, three of us have had lots of water left from 100 gallons total. Forty gallons on board a yacht with two crew should be augmented by at least four five gallon jerry cans and you might want to think about installing another tank somewhere. Two of the jerry cans should be strapped to the guard rails in case of the awful prospect of abandoning ship in which case you can sling them into the liferaft or the water (and they should float in the denser salt water). We also carry around a dozen two litre bottles of drinking water and remember a lot of tinned goods have water in them as well.

You can justly ask how smelly were we at the end of the trips? Well not that bad. Watching the water consumption you do get to shower now and again, but there is no way you are going to shower every day without very large tanks or a watermaker. Most people don’t and the saving grace smell-wise is baby wipes. We always have large economy packs on board and a wipe over with several of these does a pretty good job. Moreover they can be used when the boat is too uncomfortable to shower which is more often than you think, especially crossing to the Caribbean when you roll about all over the place and showering becomes a slippery exercise in holding on.

While a lot of yachts carry watermakers, it is not necessary for a long trip – after all yachts were crossing oceans long before watermakers were around. And they are not always entirely reliable. Mine packed up before the last crossing from Antigua to the Azores and frankly I wonder whether it’s worth the cost of repairing it or installing another.

Click on the ‘Buy a chandlery bargain’ link above to seach through Rod’s cruising guides and pilot books