Water consumption data

Time for another NUMBERS post. I’m preparing to review our old watermaker (which we returned) and our new watermaker but first I thought I should start with our water use.

Over the past 3.5 years we have kept rough track of our water consumption while cruising.  We average a little under 5 gallons per day of fresh water for two people.

We expected that we would use more water when we reached the tropics because we would be swimming more, sweating more and drinking more, but for whatever reason we don’t use more water. Similarly when we upgraded our watermaker from a wee one to a larger one, we didn’t seem to start using any more water.

What kind of water users are we? We have pressure water only on Estrellita -- no foot pumps. We do not have a salt water tap aboard and rarely use saltwater for cooking. We do all of our dishes with fresh water. We shower every day (unless we were REALLY lazy) and sometimes rinse off another time during the day as well. We occasionally shampoo while swimming in the saltwater, but don’t make a regular habit of it. We do pay for our laundry ashore whenever possible. When we do a load on the boat, our water consumption is more than 5 gallons that day. We don’t collect water although we think we’re stupid for not doing so and have plans to build a catchment system.

Could we conserve more? Um, obviously yes. Everything I listed above that we don’t do or don’t have we could start doing or having.

Why don’t we? Well, as a rule, we try not to solve any problems that we don’t have. There are four problems that would make us conserve: 1) if we couldn’t afford a watermaker, 2) if we couldn’t afford to pay for or find room to store the gas for the watermaker (we currently have an AC watermaker that runs off a portable Honda gen – more on that later), 3) if the watermaker broke or 4) if installing, servicing and running the watermaker was more of a pain than a pleasure.

So far, we can afford one, gas hasn’t been a big problem, our new watermaker works, and for us having the water is worth the time spent running and servicing a watermaker.

How much water do you use?


  1. Curious for more numbers! Can you share, first, how much freshwater tankage do you have? And what's the average amount of water you make, say, in an average week? Since I'm busy restoring our eventual cruising boat, I'm interested in the details!


    1. Livia Gilstrap · Following · Co-Captain at SV Estrellita 5.10b
      We carry 250L (66 gallons) of fresh water. We make about 20 gallons (1 hour) every 3-4 days and use 3-5 of those gallons to backflush the watermaker at the end of the cycle with a net of 15 gallons in the tanks.

  2. Greetings from Pelagia in La Paz. We have been back-and-forth on the watermaker question. We do not have one and sorta wish we had put one in before leaving for Vancouver. On the other hand, we have not yet had a water shortage here in Mexico with our current 110 gal tankage. It is more wondering about the furture. Here in Mexico we filter and treat (e.g., Microdyne) marina tap water (except Ensenada, which is too salty) and -- touch wood -- have not had any problems. We do wish we had purchased the "Waterfixer" UV system. We are planning to install a 3rd (~25-30 gal) water tank. Still, we wonder if we should have put in a (very expensive...) watermaker.

    1. So expensive aren't they!? Lots of people cross the Pacific with less tankage than you and no water maker. Just depends on what you can afford, how willing you are to conserve, catch and carry water. And then of course there are atolls which we can't take water.

  3. Hello. Interesting to see some water numbers. Have to say other then folks talking about living a year on 3 quarts of water, not sure I have seen this talked about before... We are kind of like you, not out there to Camp the rest of our lives. We too shower daily, wash dishes, etc. I have started using fresh water to rinse off the anchor and chain, and we DO use our on-board combo washer/dryer almost exclusively. We carry 225gal of water which lasts us ruffly 14 days, though we have stretched it to 25 mostly by holding back the laundry and cutting down on showers. When near large cities we have found water easily available, but as we got into the Islands and Canada - it might be available, however perhaps not desired. We mostly anchor out so coming in to a marina or fuel dock "just for water" does not always work. And we have noted several places that place water restrictions on guest moorage - no coming in for a night and filling your tank.

    We do have a water-maker (Home built) and are very happy with it. Sure we could get by without it, and it cost $ to put in. But having it frees us from one more thing to worry about.

  4. I just wrote a post about our water conservation tactics: http://bit.ly/1qAS71m
    Sadly we have to resort purely to conservation as a water maker isn't in our budget just yet. A girl can dream, right?



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