• close family • small boat • big world •

Water, Water, Everywhere

August 27, 2014

By Paula
Providenciales, Turks & Caicos

Cash at Great Harbor in the northern Berry Islands

Water. It is everywhere and nowhere, our salvation and our vexation. We do not take it for granted; we feel its presence every moment of our lives.

The well on Shroud Cay
Of course, drinking water is essential, but long gone for us are the days of turning the tap to a never-ending flow of cool, clear water. Daystar has tanks for fresh water – 170 gallons – that connect to our galley sink, head sink, and cockpit shower. We are stingy with our water use, but the levels diminish more quickly than one might imagine. We do everything we can to minimize our water use.  Dirty dishes are rinsed from the salt-water foot-pump in the galley before a soapy washing and a rinse with fresh. The careful rinse with just a thin stream from the faucet requires patience, but can be done effectively with a minimum of consumption. We shower by jumping into the sea, washing up, rinsing in the sea, and then taking a final rinse with fresh water using the cockpit shower or sun-shower. Total fresh usage for a shower is one two pints per person. And this is not a daily occurrence.

The Sun Shower
Filling jugs at
Blackpoint Settlement
Finding water to fill our tanks is often a great challenge. In the US, water is free and unlimited from dock-side spigots. Out here on the hook in the islands, it is a different story. The islands themselves struggle to find fresh water with none occurring naturally on many of these dry cays. Most marinas sell reverse-osmosis water – at 40 cents per gallon on average. Some towns, like Black Point or George Town, have spigots of RO water available free for cruisers. This means hauling water jugs from spigot to dinghy to boat, a price well worth it for free water. We even filled up from a naturally-occurring fresh-water well on Shroud Cay. Luckily, we had Cash to haul all 258 pounds of water down the rocky path, across the beach, and to the dinghy – twice!  The source of the tastiest fresh water is

the sky. When it rains, we wait for the decks to wash free of salt, and then open the tank-fill ports to let the water flow right in.

Approaching Oven Rock
Water is our bedrock, our highway, our firmament. The water beneath our keel keeps us afloat, literally. The sea wraps her arms beneath us, cradling our boat in fluid embrace. Without her safe support, our home is done for. The rivers, the bays, the wide ocean – all provide us with a path to travel. Our options are limitless, made possible by so many tiny little droplets, together forming an endless pathway to the greater world.

The east coast of Conception Island

Yet, that same water can turn against us. Too much sea, thrashed about by wind and weather, can be our destruction. The churning ocean is a frightening place.  Stormy seas, a rogue wave, the overflowing surge of a hurricane – all are ways the sea could cause us harm.
Daystar at Hawksbill Cay

And when it rains – ugh!  Close the hatches!  Close the portals!  We are smothered in humid air while the water pours over our home. There’s no escape; we are enclosed in a damp bubble until it ends. Even without rain, the air is salty, moist, and diabolical. The marine environment wreaks havoc on all things electronic, shortening their lifespan, and ocean water makes even stainless steel rust. The salty water from the sea permeates our lives, keeping damp our clothes, our towels, our beds. With a choppy anchorage, any dinghy travel can turn into a sloppy, wet ride (I just put on these clean shorts!!).

Water. We long for it, we curse it, we cherish it, we fear it. Conflicting?  Yes. But I can tell you this: we never, ever stop thinking about it.