Re: Upgrading older boat with AC and watermaker
I think AC is a waste of money if you plan on anchoring out. I live and cruise in the tropics and it gets HOT here in the summer. I keep my boat cool inside with sunbrella shade awnings that shade the whole deck. They are not expensive to make. As soon as the anchor is down I put up my 2 awnings (it only takes 2 or 3 minutes). The awnings stay up unless I'm sailing. Even in a hard rain and wind I can keep my hatches wide open to catch the breeze that comes in under the awnings. They also serve to catch rainwater. End result: the boat is always cool below decks, water tanks are always full and amp hour drain is always low. A watermaker is a more personal decision I think. Read the discussion of whether or not you need a watermaker in Beth Leonard's The Voyager's Handbook (actually, read the piece "What we left off HAwk and why"). I think if you have big water tanks and a way to catch (and perhaps filter) rainwater it's not worth the hassle to have a watermaker. Another thing to consider is that every time to add something like AC, watermaker, microwave, TV/DVD etc. to your boat it's not just the purchase price of the unit itself you have to worry about. It will probably involve upgrading your battery charging sources and increasing your battery bank. Both cost money and take up space. It may even lead to installing a generator, with all the associated expenses, hassles and breakdowns. As you outfit your new boat for cruising you might want to think about how each new piece of equipment will increase the complexity of your boat, maintenance time, expenses and whether or not you'll be able to get it fixed in foreign ports. It's always a drag to have to hang around in a port for weeks on end for parts because you just can't sail without working AC or a watermaker or whatever. In some ways keepng your boat simple gives you the time to enjoy the places you cruise to. I have seen so many people who have become slaves to their boats- perpetually fixing, maintaining, adjusting, cleaning etc. - that they almost don't leave the boat to enjoy life with the locals on shore. Perhaps that is why so many cruisers give up after a short period claiming "it's just too much work!"
Just my 2 cents...
You can always add these things later if you really find you need them.