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Catching Rain

By The Ithaka - Published August 25, 2006 - Viewed 9801 times

Catching Rain

"Recently you wrote about changes you made in your rain-catching system," wrote Alex B. of Charleston, North Carolina. "You said that you're using sink and drain parts? Can you describe it?"

From Douglas: We always have the Bimini up over the cockpit to keep the sun out, and formerly there were two five-inch diameter openings in the canvas, underneath which there were funnel-shaped canvas "udders" that made up a rain-catching system. At the bottom of the udders were male hose fittings that we could connect to standard garden hoses and from there snake them to jerry cans or the water tanks. However, this system had several flaws. First, the openings were not set in the lowest places, so the rain water didn't always go to there; second, when not in use, when it rained, the udders leaked onto our heads - not ideal.

We examined every boat we saw that had water-catchers and saw some pretty nifty stuff, ranging from home-made copper gutters that ran along solar panel edges to PVC tubes that snaked through portholes. For a variety of reasons, on Ithaka, it made some sense to install the "sink-drain system."

So one day we took off the Bimini, cut off the canvas udders, sewed Sunbrella patches over the openings, and started over. Once the Bimini was back up, we poured buckets full of water on it to find the two lowest spots where water puddled. Then we splurged on $8.45 worth of sink-drains parts. If you look at your kitchen or bathroom sink, you'll see the drain opening in the bottom has a stainless steel or plastic piece with lots of holes through which the water flows. Chances are it's screwed onto a piece under the sink that keeps it firmly in place and leads to the pipes. Same idea for us. We cut two half-dollar sized holes in the Bimini (slightly smaller than the drain holes, so the fit would be tight), put the metal piece on top, bedded it with silicone, screwed it into the fitting underneath the Bimini, fitted some PVC piping and a garden hose, used electric cables to attach it all to the boom gallows posts and now its always in place, ready to go, and it works well.

We've gotten our rain-catching system ready none too soon, as the season is changing as we write. After a dramatic winter of almost one cold front a week, we're watching the first high-pressure system of the season bringing its large, tall and puffy clouds and rain squalls into our region. I remember last year at this time, the rains started - pounding, dramatic rains that scoured our decks, and pricked our skin, and then were gone. It's wonderful to recognize the telltale clouds and have an idea of what to expect as we go into another cycle. It's nice, finally, to feel that we're part of the pattern.

NOTE: Since arriving home with Ithaka in 2004, we are having a new bimini made, as our current one is 10 years old and worn out. We're not installing sink-drain parts in the new bimini, but will use a more elegant system. Check our Log Of Ithaka on the www.BoatUS.com website in future weeks for details.

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