Harvesting Rainwater on a Sailboat

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On land, some boats have a garboard drain to let out any water that collects in the keel sump. A piece of pipe stops the drips dribbling down, staining or seeping into any cracks. A fine net prevents any bugs getting in.


The same idea can be used by extending deck drains with bits of pipe. These stop water stains from marking the hull when she’s stored ashore.


To prevent hull stains, some boats have internal deck drains. But these can disturb the crew’s sleep, as she rolls and the water “glugs” in and out all night.


Some people add dams to these drains, to prevent deck puddles forming.


Another idea for clean topsides is to make small sumps to collect the dirty water. Dirt settles and clean water overflows or is sponged out occasionally.


Condensation forms on cold surfaces like windows or their metal frames. To stop this dripping on to the upholstery below, some boats have a wooden handrail and drip tray to catch the moisture.


Sometimes drips are good. Many bluewater sailors catch rainwater by lashing a big funnel and pipe to the mast. Or suspend a plant tray with a hose attached under the boom.


Another simple rain-catching idea is to add a small
wooden edge around the cabintop, with a spigot and hose to direct the water straight into your tanks. But remember to let the first of the rain wash the deck!


Most Bimini sun shades can be rigged up with a drain and hose to collect rainwater.


But if torrential rain comes with a strong wind, the big sunshades might need to be stowed. Then a small tarp and pipe, lashed down into a V shape, can be used to do the job.


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