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Old 03-05-2024, 08:41   #1
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Do you really need pressure water?

The water heater tank on my Tartan 31 has a non-functional electric element and has other issues so I have decided to remove it. I have never had occasion to use hot water from the tap on my boat and I can use the storage space I would gain under the galley sink by removing the tank. I also need to repair a leak in the engine coolant loop, so the marginal cost of also bypassing the heat exchanger plumbing presents another opportunity to remove the water heater tank.

I am always looking for ways to simplify my boat and reduce the amount of gear I have on board. I have already rebuilt some of the old plumbing and while planning the hot water tank removal it occurred to me that I could also remove the entire pressure water system. The galley sink already has a separate foot-pump driven tap in addition to the hot-and-cold pressure water faucet, and I don't find it inconvenient to use the foot pump instead. Also, if I have occasion to drink water from the tank, it tastes better because it hasn't gone through the pressure pump and all the additional hoses, check valves, and other equipment required for pressure water.

Looking at the pressure water system, I see several other potential issues. In particular, I don't like the location of the accumulator tank and the inaccessibility of the plumbing between it, the pressure pump, and the rest of the system. This plumbing also runs along the engine exhaust pipe which presents other problems I likely don't need to explain here. There are certain places where the hoses take very sharp turns and are bent as a result, which increases the risk of leaks. The area under the quarter berth where I could relocate it is too small, so I've decided to leave that be for the moment.

It really is amazing how complicated pressure hot water makes the plumbing, even though my boat has only two water taps, one for the galley sink and one for the head sink. When I first opened the plumbing access under the quarter berth it reminded me of what Harry Tuttle, the traveling heating engineer in Terry Gilliam's "Brazil", faced when opening the access panel in Sam Lowry's apartment (see ).

This complicated plumbing is also a complete pain-in-the-neck (literally, as I have to bend myself into many uncomfortable and unnatural positions for extended periods of time) to winterize and then de-winterize it, as I have experienced over the past couple of days as I try to reconnect everything. For the supposed "convenience" of hot-and-cold pressure water, the pain of maintaining it just isn't worth it.

One of the things I love about sailing is the simplicity of it. Anything that introduces complexity, unless absolutely necessary, should be done away with.
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Old 03-05-2024, 08:48   #2
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Re: Do you really need pressure water?

No... of course you don't need pressure water, nor a hot water tank.

(Disclosure: My current boat has pressure water on the potable system, but no hot water tank.)

That said, pressure water is pretty simple. But the main reason I've kept it on my boat is because we run the tank water through a couple of filters, and I don't think the manual pumps are up to the task. Otherwise, I'd probably convert fully to manual -- as I did on my previous boat.

I actually do have a manual foot pump on my current boat as well. It is for the seawater tap at the galley, so only runs through a basic strainer. No dense filters to get through.
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Old 03-05-2024, 09:09   #3
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Re: Do you really need pressure water?

Sounds like you already decided but seek confirmation.

Of course you don’t “need”it. Depends entirely what your sailing consists of and if you like “camping” or just day sailing
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Old 03-05-2024, 10:44   #4
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Re: Do you really need pressure water?

Well, having lived in some dodgy places on and off over the years that don't have running water, I offer you some observations.


The first observation is that you need hot, pressurized water to have a shower. In warm, sunny weather this can be achieved by hoisting a black vinyl bag of water and leaving it in the sun. I note your boat isn't equipped with a shower, so if you have no plans to add one, it may not matter.


It is difficult to maintain a high standard of hygiene over a period of days/weeks without a shower particularly if it isn't practical to swim and there are no shoreside facilities available to use. The extent to which this is true varies based on individual physiological factors -- some people can get away with more than others.


The second observation is that it is more difficult to maintain a rigorous standard of cleanliness for hand washing and kitchen cleanup when hot water is not readily available, particularly in cold conditions when contact with water from the tank is uncomfortable. In places I have lived without running water we always had a pitcher or kettle of warm water on the stove to address this.


So, do you need hot water? No. Will having hot water available help prevent you and whoever else have aboard from contracting various unpleasant enteric disorders and skin conditions that could have been prevented through more careful washing? You decide.
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Old 03-05-2024, 10:49   #5
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Re: Do you really need pressure water?

You need water, but it doesn’t need to be pressurized; that is just a convenience- like refrigeration…

Keep simplifying…

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Old 03-05-2024, 11:01   #6
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Re: Do you really need pressure water?

Anyone with a cooker on board, and a pot, has access to hot water. Takes mere minutes to warm up enough water to do hot washes of self or dishes.

Showers are nice, but a daily sponge bath keeps one as clean. We use a converted garden sprayer as our cockpit shower. It heats up well in the sun, and can be pressurized to give a nice, strong flow of water.

Pressure water is also nice, and pretty simple, but a good hand or foot pump can deliver all the water you need without the (slight) complexity of an electric pump.
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Old 03-05-2024, 11:07   #7
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Re: Do you really need pressure water?

Personally, I'd hate being on the boat for any length of time without hot pressurized water available. To me the boat is supposed to be more comfortable than camping. If it's not it's just an expensive way to go camping.
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Old 03-05-2024, 11:13   #8
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Re: Do you really need pressure water?

For those who use the term "camping"... what do you mean by this? I used to actually camp. Not having pressure hot water is a long way from what I used to do.
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Old 03-05-2024, 11:38   #9
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Re: Do you really need pressure water?

My wife referred to overnighting on our old C&C 30 (no hot water) as "camping," which she has always hated, but she'll now happily spend weeks aboard our Pearson 424 with hot water.

It's a comfort thing for her. I am happy to just dunk in the ocean for a bath.
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Old 03-05-2024, 12:03   #10
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Re: Do you really need pressure water?

You don't. I do

A potential buyer of your boat down the road would likely expect it on a boat of your size and make, especially if the buyer is a couple.
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Old 03-05-2024, 13:31   #11
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Re: Do you really need pressure water?

If it were just me aboard, yeah a tank and a foot pump.

Trouble is when guests are aboard. Expectations for an acceptable experience include hot water, internet, and plenty of charging outlets.
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Old 03-05-2024, 13:39   #12
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Re: Do you really need pressure water?

Everything breaks or requires maintenenace. The less equipment you have the less time and money you spend fixing stuff.
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Old 03-05-2024, 14:25   #13
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Re: Do you really need pressure water?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike OReilly View Post
For those who use the term "camping"... what do you mean by this? I used to actually camp.
When I used to be more willing to engage in these sorts of how-many-angels-on-a-head-of-a-pin sorts of dialogues I used to characterize camping as an extension of urban life into the wilderness for a limited period of time. Key elements include a periodic return to civilization to resupply and rest before returning, and an approach that depends primarily upon bringing supplies into the wilderness from the city rather than self-sufficiency. Other defining elements can include that camping is temporary and mobile. Certain styles of camping, such as the through hiker wearing name-brand technical outerwear and ultralight gear that will barely last a season and checking into hostels from time to time, fit fairly neatly into this definition.

Some groups make a distinction between camping and bushcraft, where bushcraft has a greater emphasis on self-sufficiency at the expense of LNT, e.g. by using found wood for fires and construction of shelters and using hunting and fishing as food sources.

In the RV and tiny house communities there are also definitional discussions. For most people, an RV is defined by the presence of systems: a means of providing shelter (including heat), cooking (including refrigerated storage), sanitation, and hygiene (including hot and cold pressurized water). Some might add lighting, privacy, and facilities for sleeping. Most of these communities (but not all) draw a distinction between their mode of travel (or lifestyle, as the case may be) and camping.

There is also the distinction out there between recreational camping and organized itinerant groups. These are people who are mobile as a matter of necessity or community lifestyle, who tend to travel in groups and stay in one place for longer periods of time. Historically these have included the Irish Travelers, Romani, circuses, medicine shows, and other traveling entertainment acts, and seasonal farm workers, among others. Echos of these groups remain in county fairs, renaissance festivals, music festivals, and related events insofar as there are small groups that will build up an all-year itinerary visting various related events in turn. There also still exist some small traveling contractors, mainly in painting and asphalt, many with roots in the Irish Travelers. The last ones I encountered were painters around 20 years ago. I hired them and they did great work.

Sociologically, there has been ever greater (and ever more effective) pressure to regularize these groups and to redefine camping as a strictly recreational activity with well-defined behavioral limits (defined campsites, capacity controls, fees, quiet hours, LNT) despite the considerable demand for lower-cost, lifestyle-based, and more lightly policed alternatives. These battles have been ongoing for centuries.
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Old 03-05-2024, 18:25   #14
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Re: Do you really need pressure water?

Our boat has pressure water for warm showers only, in the head and cold only for the one on the stern. For the past 37 years, I have heated water for doing the washing up of the dishes in a kettle on the stove, and even warmed water for sun shower showers when it was cold. It's not like the kind of camping I used to do, either, Mike.

We use foot pumps to access tank temperature water in the head and in the galley, and I quite like it. It helps guests be frugal with tank water.

We used to have our guests help water up the boat before we took off on cruises with them. Nothing like carrying 10 gallon of water from pipe to dinghy, to deck fill to help you realize there is reason for the plea to conserve fresh water where possible. Honestly, I don't think I would welcome guests who were unwilling to conserve. It would have to be special circumstances. Better to have guests who are already water conservers, whether from sailing, bushwalking/backpacking, or survivalist training. Some people you want to see and visit with will be better off at a hostel or a hotel, and you hook up as nearby as feasible.

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Old 03-05-2024, 18:42   #15
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Re: Do you really need pressure water?

Jammer: Well, I did ask... thanks for that thorough examination of the question. I was asking in context of those who suggest that not having pressure hot water is somehow the same as "camping." But I appreciate your exhaustive overview.

By your description, ALL cruising boaters are "camping," since all of us "periodically return to civilization to resupply and rest before returning." Further, almost all of us "depends primarily upon bringing supplies into the wilderness from the city rather than self-sufficiency."

When I think of "camping" I think of living outdoors, with few amenities. I think of tents, and hauling all necessary gear & food. Water comes from the lake or river, heat from a fire that is built from local wood. Bathing happens in the lake or stream. The 'facilities' are out beyond the campsite, behind a tree. One's bed is a sleeping bag on a ground pad. Shelter is a thin layer of cavas or nylon.

I've never thought of RVing as "camping." Any sort of permanent structure is likewise, not camping.

No cruising boat, no matter how rudimentary, is "camping." At best (or worst), it's RVing in the water.

But this is my perspective. This is why I'm curious what people mean when they suggest that not having pressure hot water is somehow the equivalent of "camping." This is so far from my reality of actual camping, that I really don't understand.
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