A freshwater ban for yachts visiting Cape Town has prompted emergency planning at the city's marinas as the Cape battles its worst-ever drought.

Royal Cape Yacht Club general manager Toni Mainprize told IBI the club is advising all visiting yachts to fill up with water further along the coast where stringent water restrictions do not apply. City authorities have warned of 'Day Zero' in June – the cut-off point when the city would be forced to turn off household taps due to insufficient potable supply.

“It is affecting us,” Mainprize said. “In the port we don't have permission to fill up the yachts with (fresh) water, so we are communicating with them [visiting yachts] to pre-warn them.

“Visitors must fill up in other ports – we won't be able to help them,” she said, adding that boats also have the option of purchasing water from the private sector (ie, non-municipal water). “They can pre-order water or head on up to Saldanha where the restrictions are not as drastic,” Mainprize said.

She said the club has also seen a marked increase in the number of onboard water-makers.

Royal Cape has also implemented several water-saving measures such as rainwater harvesting, water-efficient shower heads and a saltwater washer to clean boats. As a result, the club had reduced water consumption by 40%. “I must say I am very proud of our team’s water-saving efforts,” Mainprize said.

The Victoria & Alfred Waterfront has also announced drastic water-saving measures, including plans to install their own desalination plant. V&A harbour master Stephen Bentley said the V&A was using grey water to supply luxury boats moored at their marina.

In a statement issued last month, V&A chief executive David Green said drought conditions are likely to persist for some time. “As such, we cannot over-emphasise that our tenants and visitors need to work closely with us to save more water, as this will allow us to continue trading throughout this time,” Green said.

“Of course, this crisis is not limited to the next few months – it will take several years, at least, before we have alleviated the current pressure, and there is a good chance that the water crisis may be a long-term or even permanent issue,” he said.

The combined water supply in the city's main six supply dams is currently just 24.4%, with winter rainfall still months away. Emergency groundwater drilling and desalination programmes are currently underway to help avert 'Day Zero'.