Water is an invaluable commodity when cruising, and though it is easy to come by in each port, you are never guaranteed drinkable water. We anticipated this problem across the ocean and in the various small islands that we plan to visit, but the problem surfaced before we even left Maryland.
We had allowed ourselves to completely run out of water with the knowledge that we would be able to fill up in the marina where we were docked, but as luck would have it, the entire water system there had coughed out its last spurts that morning and the owner had no plans of fixing it as the price was far too high for him. It was a minor inconvenience for us since luckily there was another marina within a short distance. As we were filling up there, however, the owner came out and informed us that though we were welcome to fill up with this water, he did not deem it drinkable due to its high levels of Nitrates. It did indeed taste rather terrible, but we didn't have much choice. We needed water for much more than just drinking since we had dirty dishes piling in the sink and we ourselves weren't exactly specimens of cleanliness.
So, this isn't an unusual thing. One can never depend upon clean drinking water where he is headed, so we prepare for these sorts of circumstances. Rain water is a big way of dealing with the problem, but what if it doesn't rain when you need it to? We needed a backup for our backup, so we went to Costco and bought 180 liters worth of bottled water.
You read that correctly. It may have been slight overkill, but if we are forced to go for a few months without finding drinkable water, we will be glad that we added this ridiculous amount of ballast to the boat. We were able to fit all of the bottles into compartments underneath each birth quite neatly. They're stacked in such a way to minimize friction. We didn't forget about the fact that too much friction could cause the bottles to release their contents and waist everything. To be honest, it's worth it simply to know that if we did get stuck at sea due to weeks of doldrums, at least we wouldn't go thirsty.