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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance
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  #1  
Old 09-15-2006
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watermakers

Now that I have had heart failure at the prices of watermakers... (looked up at the suggestion of cruisingdad, but my goodness!), any other suggestions?! I don't anticipate a long cruise for a few years, but the thought of not needing to hook up to a hose if we are enjoying an anchorage somewhere is appealing, too. I think we can keep our personal water needs down as far as showers and teeth and all that, but at least in the colder weather, a lot of cooking requires water...
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Old 09-15-2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jswwrites
Now that I have had heart failure at the prices of watermakers... (looked up at the suggestion of cruisingdad, but my goodness!), any other suggestions?! I don't anticipate a long cruise for a few years, but the thought of not needing to hook up to a hose if we are enjoying an anchorage somewhere is appealing, too. I think we can keep our personal water needs down as far as showers and teeth and all that, but at least in the colder weather, a lot of cooking requires water...

I would not make water unless I was somewhere with lots of clean water, harbours and popular anchorages just scare me for making water.
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Old 09-15-2006
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Making water in harbors or popular anchorages, especially ones where they dump raw sewage into the water, is a really good way to kill the RO membrane on the water maker. The RO membranes don't like polluted water, bacterially contaminated water or chlorine bleach at all.

Also, watermakers dislike not being used, as that is just as bad for them as using them in polluted/contaminated waters. You're also generally better off getting a larger watermaker and running it for fewer hours, than getting a smaller one and running it for longer time periods. Both because the larger watermakers tend to be more efficient electrically, and you don't need to be out in "clean" waters for as long. A friend of mine does a trip out to the ocean, from his normal anchorage and mooring spots, once every two days to top off his fresh water tanks.
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Old 09-15-2006
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Jerry cans and a fast tender. It's less expensive
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Yes, but the tap water in many places is far less pure or potable than what comes out of a good RO watermaker in the open ocean.
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Old 09-15-2006
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"Good Old Boat" had an article (I believe it was Jan/Feb 2003) on how to build your own RO watermaker. Since that article came out, the price of the RO pumps has gone up. I intend to build my own custom unit using these instructions.
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Old 09-15-2006
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I would not invest in a watermaker if you are planning on being at a marina most of the time or a crowded anchorage. You should not run it in either. If you are planning on doing some cruising around or the Bahamas or other more remote areas, it makes more sense.

That being said, I will comment on watermakers:

In my opinion (this is my opinion), I would be less worried about sucking up bacteria or viruses than even small amounts of oil/diesel/gas. You can put a UV on the back side for the biological issues (and they make filters to help (HELP BEING THE OPERATIVE WORD) pull contaminiants out of the intake for diesel, etc, but it is the fuel that will take it out.

Watermakers LOVE to be run and HATE to set up. Here is how I would budget my watermaker: Add up you total estimated usage. I will use 20G for an example, because that is our basic usage/day. Plan on running your watermaker everyday (or no less than every other day) for no less than 2-3 hours. Dividing 20G by 3 is a bit over 6gph. Thus look for a watermaker in the 6gph range. Depending on the model you get (Using PUR for an example) I think the 80GPD is more efficient (not less) than the 160 GPD. I cannot recall what Spectra and Village run on efficiency (I think the village 160 is about 13 amps), but a PUR 160GPD is about 18Amps/hour. Plan your electrical budget likewise. You can also consider under-rating your watermaker (using a 4 GPH versus 6). The ratioanle for this is that you will still run it everyday, but slowly go through your fresh water tanks until they are empty. At that time you can go visit you local marina, make a run in the dink with water jugs, or just take a day of running it. The cost b/t a 80 and 160 GPD is not that great... but at least this way you are not letting too much water sit in your tanks unused. I would guess you would have 80-100 gallons on your boat so even under-rating your watermaker you will be able to sit on the hook a long time.

Many people have suggested using a 110 powered watermaker, but I dissagree (though I think they are more efficient) because I budget running it every day and do not want to listen to the clang of my generator.

Without naming the companies, I have heard two very well known boat manufacturers pushing against the PUR because of warranty issues. Spectra and Village got high marks though. Ocean Nav did a nice write up a month or two ago on customer satisfaction with them and also watermakers in general. It would be worth your time to read it. But, that is your call.

The watermaker should be the very LAST piece of equipment you drop on your boat (for reasons mentioned above). Try cruising without it before you make the plunge. You can always invest back into it. Still, I think without exception, every cruiser will tell you it is one of their most valued "comfort toys" on their boat. You can get by without it though. Just buy a bunch of jerry cans!!

- CD
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One other comment regarding other watermaker options: Have a gutter sown into your bimini with a downpout that can reach your water intake. In the tropics and sub tropics it pretty much rains every day in the summer like clock work. Course, better be ready to keep the gerry cans filled in the winter. It is usually quite dry.

- CD

PS I am not advocating this as the cleanest way to get water... just another option with a lot of filtering.
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Didn't think about the water quality issues...that's another scary topic! I think the cans will work great for awhile. Guess I could get one of the 5gal bottle dispensers and bungee it down!! That's a bridge to cross when we get to it. My brain tends to run a lot faster than my time or budget.
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Old 09-15-2006
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JSW... We decided not to invest in a watermaker and have not regretted it in our travels.
We use our tanks for washing/showers and cooking water (using a pur water filter for the cooking water) and have had no issues or problems. We buy our drinking water by the gallon or larger jugs wherever we are and I believe we are still several thousand dollars ahead of the cost of a watermaker after 5 years.
Everywhere there are people you can buy clean water by the gallon for the minimal daily needs you have for drinking water. When you find drinking water of good quality in a harbor you can fill the Jerry jugs with it and just use those for drinking...leaving the tanks for your other water needs.
Everyone has their own preferences...but that's how we do it.
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