Water by Gravity

Simplifying the water supply led to galley efficiencies

by David Strong

Our 1976 Tanzer 26 served us very well for several years as a cruising boat on Lake Winnipeg in Manitoba, but on such a small boat the galley area was always in competitive demand as a multifunctional space. Inspired by Lin and Larry Pardey’s famous penchant for simplicity and their gravity-fed water system, I transformed an awkward original galley arrangement and leaking water tank into a premier workspace and galley storage system.

The heart of the design is a simple wooden stand, built from scrap 1- x 2-inch stock, that elevates a 10-liter plastic water jug above the level of a pot rim or a 1-liter drinking- water bottle. The plastic water jug is a standard item from Reliance Products, called an Aqua-Pak 2.5G/10L. Others generally like it are available in big-box stores.

The stand for the jug is fixed in the difficult-to-use area on the aft end of the galley counter under the cockpit seat. I left enough space outboard between the stand and the hull to store our cutting board and a one-burner butane stove in its case with a friction fit. A bungee through the handle and secured to two eye screws on the stand holds the jug in place and a raised edge at the back of the stand prevents the jug from sliding aft.

It’s very simple to load a fresh jug with 10 liters of water onto the stand, after which a turn of the tap produces gravity-fed water on demand. Working with jugs of water makes measuring our water consumption simple. We typically use only one 10-liter jug per weekend but for longer cruises we carry extra water in a couple of 20-liter containers (Aqua-Pak 5G/20L). Since it’s easy to refill the 10-liter jug from one of these, we have abandoned any interest in replacing the expensive central water tank and hand pump. The original tank area is now dedicated to storage space.

Inherent in the design is a subtlety that makes the water system integral to the overall galley performance. The water stand is fixed to a wooden crosspiece on the counter located just aft of the cooler lid. That crosspiece forms an effective fiddle to retain two plastic storage containers (the type with lids that are sold just about anywhere). We bought containers to fit the space, and they hold a substantial volume of galley condiments and cutlery. An original fiddle on the counter prevents the containers from shifting inboard and they cannot shift aft because of the structure of the boat. To remove them, we lift them over the crosspiece. They have remained locked in their positions in all conditions over several years of sailing.

In the end, I only had to drill four new screw holes in the boat, and we could not be happier with the performance, economy, and simplicity of this improvement to the galley.

David Strong is a professional engineer who works for the Royal Canadian Air Force in Winnipeg, Manitoba. For the last 10 years, Dave his wife, Eveline, and their rambunctious golden retriever, Montana, have cruised through the summers on progressively larger keelboats around Lake Winnipeg. They’re currently sailing and recapitalizing Scheherezade, a 1976 Ontario 32.

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