March 8, 2010
Sapodilla Bay (or close enough, anyway), Providenciales, TCI
The “Q” flag was just replaced with the (homemade) courtesy flag for the Turks and Caicos . . . we are on our 3rd country of the trip!
As I did food the other day, I thought it prudent to do a quick blog on water.
So water. What’s the big deal? You turn on the faucet and it comes gushing out. If it doesn’t work well you call the plumber. And besides, Nica, you guys are sitting in beautiful clean water (I saw that picture, you know.) I repeat, what’s the big deal?
Umm, lots. For starters, that gorgeous water is SALT. Which means, absent a way of turning that salt water into fresh, it is relatively not usable for things like washing and drinking. For seconds, the waterworks on the boat are all maintained by US, not a plumber.
We carry about 100 gallons of water on board, which translates to about 2-3 weeks worth of water. WHAT!!!!! Yep, you read it right. We use that aforementioned salt water for washing dishes and our bodies and then use the fresh water to rinse the salt off. We figure we use about 5-6 gallons of water a day, total. This is not per person, not per tooth-brushing incident, but total on the boat per day. (We shower almost every day as well, for those of you holding your noses as you read this.) Figure out what you use, gentle reader. I bet it’s a lot more.
How do we do it? What do we do? First of all, we do not have pressure water on board. Not only is this a system that cannot break down (if it is absent, it can’t break), but it is a lot more work to waste water when you are pumping it by foot, a third of a cup at a time. Second of all, we use the salt water around us for a lot of the initial stuff, saving the fresh water for final rinse. I will stress over and over that we do not feel deprived in any way shape or form (except for those (thankfully rare) days of rain and wind when a down-below shower with hot water would be VERY welcome!)
We also have a watermaker, thanks to Lee and Chris on Namaste. These come in various shapes and sizes, outputs and power consumption and noise, and for the most part work by reverse osmosis, putting salt water via VERY high pressure through a VERY fine membrane to remove most of the minerals and solids. When we have wind for the wind generator, we can run the watermaker with impunity, and we always have it running when the engine is going. We have at times been able to take really long fresh water rinses when we have “too much” electricity and “too much” water. Ours is by Katadyn, draws about 7 or 8 amps when running, and gives us about 3 gallons of water an hour (which means in 2 hours we keep up with daily use.) It has been pleasantly reliable.
Oh, wait a minute. Reliable except when the piston rod failed. (Insert many expletives here.) Here we were, anchored in Musha Cay, headed to George Town and then parts south, and our watermaker, upon which we have become pretty dependent, is AWOL. Expletive time again. Shipping options for the (SMALL) part are tough, made tougher by the fact that if the darn thing had broken a DAY earlier we would have had many, many more options open to us. Expletives!!!
I will preface this next section by saying that we are not employed by Katadyn, own no stock in Katadyn, have no friends or family (that we know of anyway) with any financial interest in Katadyn.
Katadyn’s customer service is unmatched in my experience. Bar none. Not even LL Bean comes close. If we ever have to get another watermaker, Katadyn is where I would turn BECAUSE OF THE CUSTOMER SERVICE.
We did not buy the watermaker, not from Katadyn nor from Namaste. It was a gift, a 3rd hand item maybe 10 years old that might not have worked at all. When Jeremy (with Johnny and Wendy’s invaluable help!) contacted Katadyn, their immediate response was, “Oh, it’s that rod? That’s old and we replace it free of charge.” What???
It gets better.
Shipping into the Bahamas (or the Turks and Caicos, for that matter) is problematic (unless you are at Staniel Cay, which has it down pat.) It is expensive to ship, sometimes parts get stuck in Nassau, sometimes overzealous customs people have a different interpretation of the “duty free” aspect for boat parts for boats in transit. We were resigned to spending the $100 (plus probably another $75 in taxi/get-the-part-out-of hock fees). We were about to possibly miss a weather window to head south, so decided to investigate the TCI thing. (We were beginning to think we either had to sail back north to Staniel (50 miles in north winds), wait for a boat to head here from Staniel (arriving Saturday), play dumb and get it shipped into George Town (arriving with luck Friday or Monday), or have it shipped to Provo.)
No problem, ship it to our contact (Jody, the Ham radio contact here in Provo has been incredibly incredibly helpful). Oh, and by the way. Shipping is on Katadyn. WHAT????!!!!!!!
The part had arrived in Provo before we left George Town on Thursday last week. When Jody went to pick it up, there was no duty payable.
Our part is (almost) in our hands, completely hassle-free and cost us not a penny. Wow.
Katadyn from the start has been pleasant, helpful, and gone WAY beyond what we had expected. They “got” that we are out cruising and need the part, they took responsibility for something that many, many other manufacturers would not. Customer service means a whole whole lot. They have my vote and the highest recommendation.