Naval Reserve – Water Conservation I

During my career with the naval reserve, I spent a lot of time on small vessels. One of the drawbacks of training on a boat, as opposed to a ship, is that you have a limited amount of fresh water. It is not inexpensive to purchase water when visiting a port. One of our goals was to go a week, using only the water we had on board.

Under such circumstances, the rule was that only the cook could enjoy a daily shower. I guess that made sense. But if the rest of us were afforded the luxury of being able to have a proper dobie (navy slang for wash), then they had to be pusser showers (a Commonwealth sailor’s expression meaning navy approved).

When taking a pusser shower, one turns on the valve and covers his body with water. The valve is turned off. The sailor then lathers up with shampoo and soap and turns the water back on. After 10-15 s the water is turned off. Repeat the process one more time.

OK, so it was the summer of 1978. After training in a destroyer escort, my division was assigned to the small boat squadron. It was a beautiful British Columbia summer and we were training long days in uniform, but even pusser showers were forbidden. When we came to anchor, we had the option of lathering up and jumping over the side, but there is something about bathing in salt water that just doesn’t cut it.

Later in the week we came alongside in Bedwell Harbour. The information we had, indicated that coin-operated showers were available at the local yacht club. My buddies Gord and Doug agreed that it would be nice to have a real shower so we made our way to the club.

I think it was 50 cents to operate a shower. We pulled coins out of our pockets but we also noted that the showers we very spacious. Someone said, “Fellows, if we have pusser showers, all three of us might be able to dobie up for only 50 cents. That would leave more money for beer.”We all agreed that that was a good idea. We came up with a plan.

The coins were inserted and the first guy stood beneath the faucet. Once covered in water he exited and lathered up with shampoo and soap. While doing so the second guy jumped beneath the water, and so on. After three rotations we were done, but the water continued. We stood there, staring at the shower. We had three complete pusser showers and yet the flow continued. We weren’t quite sure what to do. It seemed like such a waste.

As we towelled off, the water continued. Unbelievable, how dirty do civies get around here?

Anyway, we were quite proud of ourselves. We felt refreshed and clean and had saved enough to buy an additional beer later that day.

I don’t recall how were shared that beer, but I know it had nothing to do with 3 straws.

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