Crystal clear water surrounds the islands in the Bahamas, but you can’t drink a lick of it. No surprise, it’s salty. The islands themselves have virtually no groundwater either, so where does it come from? There’s three options: It’s either shipped in, desalinated, or collected from the sky.
Without a watermaker, our typical routine is to bring jerry cans ashore to fill up with freshwater. In the United States, water is often available for free, especially with a fuel fillup or marina stay. In the Bahamas, the precious resource usually costs around $0.50/gallon.
It rains a ton in the islands, so we decide to start taking advantage. Our efforts are modest, but the amount of water we do collect gives us enough to wash a bunch of laundry, the dishes a half dozen times over, and ourselves.
Hope you enjoy!
Lauren & Kirk
FILMED: May/June 2019
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THE ABACO ISLANDS, POST-HURRICANE DORIAN:
This footage was filmed prior to the utter devastation wreaked by Hurricane Dorian in September 2019. Dorian hit the Abaco Islands as a category 5 hurricane, with sustained winds of 185 mph, flattening most structures and leaving 70,000 people homeless. They are still rebuilding — and will be for a long time.
If you’d like to help the Abacos, check out PERC https://www.percabaco.org/. This is a 503c organization which supports a number of Abaco-based charities and is tax-deductible for U.S. residents.
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– Oh, it’s a chilly rain.
♪ Feeling close ♪ ♪ I don’t wanna stop it ♪ ♪ But I don’t know my mind ain’t even close ♪ ♪ To where my heart is ♪ ♪ I should let go ♪
– [Lauren] For the past few episodes, we’ve been hanging out here, in the Abaco Islands of The Bahamas. What are you doing, Kirk?
– Takin’ a shower, collecting some rain.
– Before arriving here in The Bahamas, we viewed rain mostly as an indicator of foul weather or an excuse to scrub the deck.
– [Kirk] Scrubber.
– [Lauren] Now, we’ve started treating it as the precious gift it really is.
– Ok that one’s clean, got any others?
– Yeah, we got a few. Kirk’s been obsessed with catching rainwater. But this was our first go at trying to collect any. Ever since we got The Bahamas because it rains pretty often and water is a lot harder to come by. They actually have no groundwater here, in The Bahamas.
– [Kirk] Look at the water we’ve collected?
– How much?
– I don’t know, 1/2 gallon. That’s just off this tiny little bit right there.
– I guess it’s only 1/3 of a gallon, but you know.
– But that’s not optimized at all. Here, this is what I should do.
– [Lauren] Yeah and then, put the bowl under that corner. Yes. There we go, love.
– The rain’s mostly died down.
– We filled up one gallon jug so far. Actually didn’t take that long, once Kirk rigged up our Helmsman’s awning.
– Gotta make it so that it drips in the right spot.
– [Lauren] Yeah. This thing holds two gallons. See if we can fill us up, do the dishes, and fill it up again, although we wash the dishes, probably five times with three gallons of water. Maybe six. Depends how messy the cook was.
– That was gallon number two and we still have all of this. That’s like a full two showers for you and me. ‘Kay, just under three gallons. I’d say that was a worthy effort.
– [Lauren] An hour of messing around with the Helmsman–
– Well, but now, we kinda know how to do it. There’s a thing called R and D costs.
– [Lauren] Yeah?
– [Lauren] Hey, you wanna drink some of that rainwater, see what it tastes like? No?
– I don’t know. It’s probably better than the water we have in the tanks, at the moment.
– Yeah. Fresh water supply can be made simple with a water maker, but they’re expensive, require lots of maintenance, and need to be used regularly. It definitely would be nice to have, but for now, we go to shore with our Jerry cans. We just got 10 gallons of water at Orchid Bay Marina ’cause Kirk actually found on this Facebook group.
– The Sailing Bahamas group.
– There was a list of the water quality all throughout The Abacos and Orchid Bay had some of the best water quality, it was like 150 parts per million of dissolved solids or something.
– Yeah, per million?
– I think so, I think that’s the usual standard.
– Yeah, there’s no smell to the water.
– And that’s the World Health Organization–
– Wants less than five 550.
– Yeah, their scale is 550 or less, I think for safe drinking water. So I wou–
– There’s a lot of places here that had like 1400 or 1500.
– So three times the limit.
– We’re not even really down that much water, but we don’t wanna get low. When you run out of water, life pretty much stops. You can’t do anything.
– Well, it’s better to just get it. like right now.
– A little bit. We went a tiny bit out of our way, but it was just as easy to throw two Jerry cans in and we 10 minutes out of our way. How beautiful is this frickin’ water!? Huh? Uh-oh. Skipper’s filming and not paying attention. This is the entrance to Little Harbor, pretty much the end of the line for cruisers exploring The Abacos. South from here, there are little to no options for anchoring until you make the hop down to Eleuthera. So we made it to Pete’s Pub, Little Harbor. This is as far south as we’re gonna get. It’s almost June and we are headed back to the states for hurricane season. So after this drink and a little bit of mahi, we’re turning around and going back up to Lynyard Cay. And then, we probably have a week and a half, and we’re gonna be looking for a weather window back to the east coast. So this is Pete’s Pub on a Monday, in between lunch and dinner in the off season.
– Not quite, we’re still in season.
– Mm, we’re almost into hurricane season.
– Woo. Is it time to go back to the boat?
– I think so.
– We still gotta find somewhere to anchor tonight.
– This is a cool place, though. This is the end of our southern voyage, this year.
– Mm-hmm. It’s so peaceful in here.
– [Kirk] It’s even peaceful in here with our motor running. Can you hear it?
– Just barely.
– Right there. And another one right there. Oh, that one’s a big one.
– [Lauren] Oh my goodness.
– [Kirk] Did you not get him?
– [Lauren] I don’t know. They’re like whack-a mole.
– Yeah. You thought turtles breathed underwater.
– Yeah well, you said they were mammals. The beauty of the anchorage was in stark contrast to the state of the windward side of the island.
– This is insane. There’s 1,000 pieces of plastic right here. Despite the lack of human inhabitation, Lynyard Cay is still being affected by us.
– [Kirk] Is it? ♪ Lying awake ♪ ♪ Silence so fake ♪
– Hey, buddy Hi.
– Oh, my God. Aw man. Oh, my gosh, that was so cool.
– [Kirk] You think he’ll come in again?
– [Lauren] Yeah, he might. He’s already done it twice.
– [Kirk] Hello there. Sunset.
– Oh, he’s coming back. We’re on the wildlife hunt tonight. Didn’t think we would be. I thought we’d only be finding plastic. Yeah, they’re way too fast.
– Yeah, we saw a lemon shark and a spotted eagle ray.
– That was frickin’ cool.
– Yeah, it was.
– So that the eagle ray had a gash on his forehead and it was pink, it looked like it was a prop.
– Oh, like it was recent?
– Yeah, like it wasn’t bleeding, but it looked raw.
– Yeah. ♪ So I’m dragged down by fate ♪
– It’s raining, and we’re doing laundry and washing the sheets, Kirk’s filling up water. We got extra cockpit washing jugs all full. Whoa, that’s awesome.
♪ With you, the sun’s shining 24/7 ♪ ♪ ‘Cause when we’re together ♪ ♪ It feels that we we’re in heaven ♪ ♪ If it’s work at dark, you’ll be my million stars ♪ ♪ I know I can lean on you ♪ ♪ Oo, ya catch me like a leaf fallin’ from a tree ♪ ♪ If I’ll be your shooting star, you make a wish ♪ ♪ No, I don’t fake this kinda feelin’ never felt so real ♪ ♪ My heart is on the table ’cause you’re my everything ♪ ♪ I do, do, do, do, do ♪
– I feel good.
– I feel like I can think again.
– [Kirk] Yeah, I don’t totally feel clean. I feel way cooled off.
– Yeah. I feel like I actually have goals now. Like I wanna make lunch. I didn’t think I was gonna get to wash my hair until I got back to the states.
– [Kirk] Yeah?
– That was amazing, it’s been threatening rain, all week, and it’s only ever sprinkled. A downpour like that?
– [Kirk] That’s good.
– That’s something we can work with.
– [Kirk] Except for you know what? Our dinghy wrapped around our prop.
– [Lauren] No.