On a boat, you are living are living in a mesocosm of the world: limited space and limited resources. Generally, tourist liveaboard boats have reverse osmosis systems or water coolers for drinking. We had 1700 gallons of fresh water on the boat and which was used by 20 people in about 5 days, partly because we used the freshwater to flush the toilets... The two blue containers at the back of the boat were added halfway through the trip because we were using the fresh water too quickly. That did not even include the drinking water. We had boxes and boxes of bottled water that were our only source of potable water. Culturally, drinking bottled water seemed to be the norm in Malaysia. The tap water seemed perfectly potable though and to my surprise, most of the bottled water was only bottled tap water! I never buy bottled water; even when traveling I make a concerted effort to avoid bottled water. Faced with a very basic boat though, I was at a loss. I accepted that it was okay because there was no other way.
Steaming out of Kudat, it was a beautiful day. The sun shining high in the sky, billowy luminescent clouds shining all around, the ocean breeze hitting your face, and then a current of plastic bottles gliding back to town. It was stunning. This boat had arguably the most conservation minded people in the region aboard and yet we were contributing as much to the problem as everyone else. It bothered me, yet I was reliant on the bottled water like everyone on the boat.