Friday, February 28, 2014

Construction of Our Rain Catcher, Red Shanks Cays, Exuma

The rain catcher in place on top of the dodger
   It seems that when squalls are in the forecast most long term cruisers have some sort of device designed as a "rain catching system." Potable water can be scarce when cruising the Exumas, Out Islands and Jumentos in the Bahamas.  Of course a water maker is a high end desirable alternative that costs thousands of dollars to install. Since we do not have a water maker we choose to catch whenever possible. Designing a system allows a cruiser to be slightly more autonomous and remain on the outskirts of any of the Bahamian settlements. I can imagine that you're probably scratching your head thinking what is she's talking about now? Why doesn't she go to the store and buy some bottled water? Bottled water in the Bahamas is expensive and we are not always near a settlement. Often we choose the outskirts of the more settled areas. Rain water is free and it can be caught directly on the boat. No need for a trip ashore. A rain catching system is just what it sounds like. It is a device, usually designed according to a boat's "sweet spots" where rain water collects. Designing a system to capitalize on the boat's rain catching abilities is the challenge. Of course rainfall in the Bahamas can also be challenging.Winter is the dry season.
Notice the hose attached to the bottom of the scoop

     We'd been thinking about designing a system for awhile. After a few rainfalls we monitored the direction that rain water flowed when it pooled and ran off the dodger. It seemed that water favored a dip in the dodger design and ran to either side forming a stream that ran down the sides onto the deck. I had been pondering the issue for some time hoping that something would spark an idea for a working template.
   Joe mentioned that we had an unused clear shower curtain aboard that could potentially be used for something. I opened the package, folded it in half and noticed that it was about the width of the dodger. I placed it on top and it saw that it would work perfectly. It even had pre made holes that we reinforced with duct tape. Last summer we installed stainless safety handles on the outside of the dodger. When the shower curtain was folded up and tied inside the handles it formed a scoop for catching the water that  ran off the dodger. Joe installed a drain in the low spot of the shower curtain and attached a longer hose that ran from outside nto the cockpit for ease of changing jerry jugs when they filled. We tied off areas inside the stainless safety handles to form a pocket for catching runoff and taped areas that leaked with duct tape.

     It was a fun afternoon designing the project and I'd hoped that it would work. That night squalls were forecast and hit with a vengeance. Howling winds, torrential rain, cracking thunder and blinding lightening. In other words, the works. One thundering boom woke us from a sound sleep. I was anxious to see how "our project" prevailed. During most of the night I was awake. Not from the anxiety of the storm but, due to excitement of how much rain water was running into our fresh water drinking supply! At dawn Joe was up and about listening to Chris Parker's weather forecast while making coffee. I asked how much water was caught during the storm. He glanced into the jug and said, "Some." He didn't make a deal about it and i was disappointed. When I got out of bed I checked the 6.5 gallon jug and couldn't lift it! Apparently, Joe had peeked into the jug, hadn't lifted if and didn't realize we'd caught nearly seven gallons of drinking water overnight during the storm.
The rain catching system as seen from inside the cockpit


Filling water jugs with the hose in the cockpit

      This morning after listening to our forecast for squalls and high winds the rain catcher was once again put in place on top of the dodger. In anticipation of squalls a trip to the grocery store in the George Town settlement was our first order of business for the day. The settlement is a couple of miles by dinghy from our sheltered anchorage in Red Shanks Cays south of George Town. It was a wet ride back to the boat in the dinghy. I suppose Joe and I are showing our true New Englander colors by preparing for any kind of storm by buying bread and milk, beer, wine and quite a few vegetables since the trip to Exuma Market is such a distance. So far we have been living on recipes from the meat and chicken that I canned in New England last summer. We have not purchased any meat during our stay in the Bahamas and I have become quite a creative cook. We have been fishing and Joe caught a Crevalle Jack last night. Not one of the tastiest fish. The Mahi Mahi still eludes us but, we still have time and hopes of landing the big one.
IMG 8977
Night fishing from Simple Life