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If someone said to you that you would require 600 gallons of water each month that you were cruising on a boat, what would you think? The experienced cruisers would immediately counter that assertion, citing that they go through either much less, or much more water, on their own boats. I mean, think of the variables!

  • Do you shower each day? Every other day? Once a week? Do you let the water run while showering or turn it off as you’re soaping up?
  • Do you bathe in salt water and rinse with fresh or shower entirely with fresh water?
  • Do you do laundry on board and if so, do you have a machine or do it by hand?
  • Do you wash the dishes in salt water and rinse with fresh or wash them entirely with fresh water?
  • How do you rinse the dishes? Do you fill the sink(s) with water or let the tap run?
  • Do you have an electric water pump or a foot/hand pump?
  • Do you let the water run while brushing your teeth? How often do you brush your teeth?
  • Do you wash the boat deck/fittings with fresh water? If so, how often?
  • What about those dreaded unplanned circumstances such as you fall in a puddle of mud and have to wash off, or even worse, your boat get’s covered in some material that needs to be rinsed off? Where would you get the water for that?

I could go on but I’m sure you get the point.

Let’s look at our own boat for example. We have a small watermaker which puts out about 4 gallons each hour that we run it. That’s not a lot but it saves us from jerry jugging water from shore, or filling up at marinas. We also catch rainwater, when it rains, and use this for laundry, dishes or showers, depending on which of the three needs to be done more urgently (hint: if we have no dirty dishes in the galley, and our clothes look clean, you might want to stand upwind of us). So what do we do if it doesn’t rain? We use fresh water for the previously-listed tasks, knowing that we could just run the watermaker a bit to produce that which we used.

Now for those on yachts which have very high-output watermakers, and plenty of energy to run them, they wouldn’t even be bothered with rainwater. For those without the luxury of such a device, they might use saltwater to wash the dirty pans. The point is, there are way too many variables to tell you how much water you’re going to need on your boat. Knowing that now, if I told you that we used 800 gallons of water last month, and you didn’t think that you could acquire that amount of water, what would it really mean? Would it mean that you couldn’t go cruising, or would it mean that you might have to get creative with how you do laundry, or the dishes, or how you bathe?


Sign outside the public school here in Portsmouth, Dominica. Not bad advice!

Substitute the word money for water

Alright, substitute the word money for water. What if I told you that it cost us $2000.00 to cruise last month? It didn’t, but I’m using that as an example. Would that information be any more relevant to you than the water amount I quoted above? I mean, some people we’ve met out here spend much more than that each month to cruise and others we know spend much less. If you thought my list of variables about water usage was long, just imagine what you could list about money! It should go without saying that people with less to spend, obviously spend less, just as those with less water to splash around use less water.

I understand that those still in the planning stages would really like to have someone tell them that it costs X amount of money to cruise each month. I empathize, but it’s not going to be me. Trust me when I say that it’s not possible and anyone who gives you an amount is only quoting their particular circumstances (at that time, in that place, on that boat, with their personalities), which in all probability, has little relevance to you. What it’s going to cost you to cruise will only be determined by you, when you get out there. I’m convinced it’s very much a personality/lifestyle thing. You need to make a leap of faith on this and trust, as we do, that when it comes to money (or water if you like), you’ll figure it out along the way.

Sometimes you just need to make a leap of faith and trust!