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Guaranteed daily drinking water for deep ocean passages

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What is the issue?
Freshwater is a necessity for life aboard a vessel. Humans need approximately a ½ litre of water per day to survive and 2 litres to avoid thirst. One of the worst deep ocean fears is to run out of drinking water. Should the vessels main water tank leak, accidentally pump itself out or become contaminated, there is an immediate danger to life. Worse, if the crew have to enter a life raft, providing an adequate amount of drinking water to sustain life becomes challenging to the extreme.

Why address this?
Freshwater is a necessity for life and one of the '3' survival elements. That is you can survive for:
  • • 3 minutes without air (oxygen) or in icy water

  • • 3 Hours without shelter in a harsh environment (unless in icy water)

  • • 3 days without water (if sheltered from a harsh environment)

  • • 3 Weeks without food (if you have water and shelter)

Dehydration is an unthinkably painful affliction. Not many provisions are as vital as fresh water. Every cruise plan should begin with a tally of this precious commodity and plan for emergencies. The crew on a vessel that runs out of freshwater in deep ocean face great danger and never more so than when they are forced to enter a liferaft. But the every day provisioning of additional water is also heavy, unwieldy, takes up lots of space in lockers, beneath the V-berth or main cabin settees and its added weight slows the boat down.

How to address this?
Invest in a manual, hand-operated desalinator for the vessel’s emergency grab bag. No deep ocean sailor should ever be caught in a situation where they are completely devoid of fresh drinking water. A small hand-operated emergency water desalinator can resolve this and be the difference between survival and a slow miserable death.

Although expensive, a hand-operated desalinator is a broadly accepted piece of equipment to support the life raft and individual survival kit. Compact and lightweight, a hand-operated desalinator produces emergency fresh water directly from seawater. This is achieved by manually pressurising and injecting the salt water through a reverse osmosis membrane to remove more than 98% of the salt. Manually operated units are capable of producing more than 5 litres of excellent bacteria free drinking water an hour.

Our vessels grab-bag desalinator
Photo: Michael Harpur

It will be the best thing you ever bought and never used. We were thankful that we never had to use our emergency desalinator. Yet it was the only safety device that proved useful each and every day we sailed without ever operating it. Outside of any
auspicious rainfall that we could harvest Experience, if we did not have the emergency desalinator our fresh water was effectively finite. Without that guaranteed fallback there is a nervous tendency to carry excessive amounts of emergency water aboard during long passages, just in case of an unthinkable accident. These cans or blathers of water are heavy and consume large amounts of valuable space. Outside of the fractional percentage of a chance that they may be needed they only serve to slow the vessel down, making each passage longer.

By having a manual desalinator aboard, the tendency to store excessive amounts of fresh water is removed. Hence it is a small safety device that will not only save life in an emergency, but will also bring peace of mind, free up space aboard and make the vessel lighter and its passage times quicker. For more information on how to provision water see looking after the vessel's freshwater Experience.

With thanks to:
Michael Harpur, Yacht Obsession.

Survival at Sea: Reverse Osmosis Pump

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