Water, the most appreciated asset on board
- Bruno and Willy García repair the water treatment device while crossing the meridian of India.
- Managing drinking water on board is fundamental in order to finish the regatta and a constant invitation to reflection.
Passing the Indian meridian coincided with a failing in the water treatment device on board the We Are Water (see the video of Willy García on board the We Are Water). “Today we have had a problem with the water treatment device, the machine that makes freshwater, and for an hour and a half, which is the time it took to find the fault, we were rather anxious”, explained Willy García by e-mail, “If the rudder or mast break you have to withdraw from the regatta, but if you find yourself without drinking water, you have a serious problem”. The water treatment device (see the video of Cali Sanmartí and Carlos Pich) is the only source of drinking water of board and we should realise that on an ocean regatta yacht water is not only needed for drinking but also for eating, since the lyophilised food needs water to be rehydrated.
The breakdown of the water treatment device occurred in a remote area, some 1,600 nautical miles from the nearest port, which was in the Australian city of Freemantle. The scientific colony on the Kerguelen islands were 600 miles southwest of the We Are Water, but was located within an exclusion zone of the regatta, the danger zone of floating ice, and this would have meant abandoning the regatta through disqualification. In the best of situations, if the water treatment device had broken down and Bruno and Willy García had decided to set course for the Kerguelen islands, they would have had to sail for two days without drinking a drop of water.
The importance of each drop
This situation shows the importance that water management acquires on an ocean regatta yacht. These boats do not transport stored water, since this would mean extra weight, unviable for the boat’s competitiveness. It would also mean a problem of storage on board of a boat with very spartan interiors, in which every centimetre of space has a very specific mission. The water treatment device (or desalinator) becomes the fountain of life of the boat; a fountain from which springs a meagre trickle of water of which not a single drop can be wasted.
“We are completely accustomed to turning on the tap at home or going to the supermarket to buy water, and on board you realise how important it is and the importance of the message we are taking around the world”, stated Willy García in the videoconference.
While this was happening, more than 3,600 miles north, in the state of Andhra Pradesh, in central India, the farmers were waiting for the return of the summer monsoon; the crops from which their families and millions of people live on depend on them.
Water is managed drop by drop there too. In the projects in which the We Are Water Foundation collaborates with the Vicente Ferrer Foundation, water is the most appreciated asset, a gift of nature that is collected in small reservoirs, reaching the farmers via wells and pumps, and distributed to the crops by means of drip irrigation. It is also vital to make the utmost use of every cubic centimetre of water, lose the minimum amount due to evaporation and ensure each drop reaches the roots of the plants.
Bruno and Willy could sail thirsty to a port, but once there their suffering would end. In many parts of the world, water, which normally the women are entrusted to attain, is several kilometres away, and this water is increasingly scarce. Moreover, water is the unifying force of poor regions, the solution to avoid the uprooting of small farmers and livestock breeders who are forced to immigrate to the slums of the big cities.
The problem with the desalinator of the We Are Water invites another reflection: consumption. On an ocean regatta yacht, the daily consumption of a yachtsman is around 2.5 litres, approximately half of that consumed by an inhabitant of Hindeysa, in Ethiopia, and some 150 litres less than that consumed by an average European!
The We Are Water continues its route eastwards and on the 12 February went around the Australian Cape Leeuwin, the second great cape of the route, and the day before yesterday crossed the meridian of the Philippines project, where the Foundation works with World Vision to rehabilitate the water and sanitation systems of those affected by the Haiyan typhoon. The message continues being sent around the world.
Remember that you can follow the evolution of the Argo buoy that Bruno and Willy García launched at the page of the We Are Water buoy.
About the We Are Water Foundation
The We Are Water Foundation, promoted by the Roca company, has as objectives, on the one hand, to raise awareness amongst the general public and the administrations about the need to promote a new culture of water and, on the other hand, relieve the negative effects related to the lack of hydric resources, through the development of cooperation and aid programmes alongside diverse organisations such as Education without Frontiers, the Vicente Ferrer Foundation, Intermón Oxfam and UNICEF.