Monday, January 12, 2015

Winter Water Delivery

Potable water is a precious commodity for liveaboards in winter climates. It's common to hear people discuss the size of their fresh water tank and how they stretch out the water it contains. We have a 130 gallon fresh water tank. During the summer months we easily go about 3-4 days without even having to think about conserving water. During the winter months we have to watch our usage. We are typically able to get a full tank twice a week but winter likes to throw curveballs so that water is never a guarantee.

Harborview really caters to the liveaboard community here. Once the water is turned off to the docks, the marina staff delivers water to all liveaboards on a weekly schedule. They fill our dock up on Tuesdays. The water is also turned on for self-service on Saturdays for a couple of hours.

I know this sounds absolutely amazing to many other liveaboards. I've read/heard stories of people disconnecting washing machines in marina laundry rooms and running hundreds of feet of hose to get water. There are people who hand carry/cart hundreds of gallons down the docks each winter. Boaters get creative and run hoses underwater so the water inside won't freeze.

The problem with our situation is that it is easy to get lazy. It is easy to think the water will always be there. Well.... it's not.

Remember winter's curveballs? Two were thrown at us last week.

1) Last Tuesday brought 4 inches of snow to Baltimore. That's not a ton of snow but it did keep the marina staff busy clearing, shoveling, and salting all day. So, our water delivery was postponed by a day. Wednesday was cold, cold, cold and I think there was still some snow safety maintenance type of work to do. So, Wednesday came and went without water. Thursday arrived with WATER! Our tank was filled and all was well in the land. The marina staff works very hard to keep everyone on a water schedule but there is nothing they can do about the weather. We have a dependable fresh water tank gauge and we made sure we had enough water to last until that Thursday fill up.

2) Saturday brought 18 degrees and wind. We went to hook up our hose for the self-service and found there was no water again. This time the water was freezing in the pipes before it could get down the docks. We had just been filled up on Thursday so we had lots of water but it's always nice to top off when you get the chance. Harborview has a backup plan for these days:
Yup, those are five 5-gallon potable water containers. You fill them at the marina building and cart them to your boat. They are heavy and bulky but they do the trick. We chose to do one trip to give us a 3/4 tank of water.

This week is looking much warmer (i.e., above freezing) so let's hope everything is back on schedule. I do want to thank our marina for have excellent year-round plans in place and doing all they can for the liveaboards.

Check out Prepping for Winter -- Part 2 for more information about water onboard.


  1. That is nice that they have a water delivery for those boats. I can't even imagine having to haul the water all the time yourself. Once in a while when the pipe freezes or something, I can handle. One day it would be really cool to live onboard a boat like this. It's good to know the practical side about water supply and stuff like that.

    1. Thank you for your comments. It takes a little time to get accustomed to the winter water supply but it's totally worth it.