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We have been reading a lot of about cruisers collecting rain water and we have a few questions.

Keep in mind we are still a few yrs away from retiring and trading our power boat in for a live-aboard/cruising sail boat. As part of our plan we are trying to put together a list of systems we'd like to have. A water-maker seems to be considered by some as a unnecessary luxury. While others swear by them.

Our cruising plans are at first the US east and gulf coast before heading to the Islands, BVI etc. maybe after 3-5 yrs exp crossing the south pacific. Our plans do not include staying in marinas. So making our own water might be a issue.

Anyway our questions about collecting rain water, it seems simply enough but when you over think it maybe not.

Wouldn't you get all kinds of things besides rain water? Dust, bugs, salt spray, bird droppings etc?

Are you using a filter of some kind?

Are you not even putting the water in your fresh water storage tanks, maybe putting it in jugs topsides?

Do many ppl actually collect rain water? Just because we have seen stories about it online and in mags doesn't mean ppl really do. lol

I guess I'd be worried about getting things in the water tank that we can't get out.
 

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Part of the Rain collecting system is the Filters, also you might want to have a holding area to test the water before you let it in to the MAIN water tank.
 

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Bristol 45.5 - AiniA
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Generally in the tropical/semi tropical areas you cruise in, when it rains (and it often does not for long periods so we have a water maker too) it rains hard so you can let the first half hour or so wash off the bugs/salt etc before you start collecting.

We have a regular household filter through which all the freshwater goes. We also have a Seagull filter (very impressive specs but very pricey too) in the galley for drinking water and cooking water.

To not worry about water supply you need in order of preference and cost:
1. A couple of jerry jugs for moving water from shore sources to the boat. You will not be at docks very often to get water so you need to bring it in jugs. We also have a hand-cart for moving jugs since they get heavy in a hurrry.
2. Water collection system - specifics depend on the boat.
3. Watermaker for the ultimate water security, but if you one you need to use it fairly regularly to keep the membranes happy. A watermaker is very nice to have but obviously expensive and adds an extra level of complexity to the boat.
 

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Bristol 45.5 - AiniA
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I think some people do not filter what they collect while others have two separate freshwater systems (with a manifold so they change capacities as needed) with one for drinking water and one for washing, etc. The latter is obviously pretty complicated.

It is not just rainwater that may be on dubious quality or not. We found in Papeete which is a major city for the Pacific (300,000?) that the water quality varied with how much rain they had had. After a really heavy rain the water was not particularly clean-looking although apparently biologically safe - you could smell the chlorine.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I was thinking about that issue as well. The old saying "Don't drink the water". Water filters at the sink for drinking might be the best option?
 

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Along with good filters there is an ultra violet thingme you put in line to the drinking water outlet. Kills the bugs. Not that I recommend this but in India we bought ice for the beer and drained the water into the fresh water tank.We didn't get sick so it must have some merit.My experience with rain off the sails has always good.Never worried about it.
 

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Rainwater in the pacific is very pure, one just needs to keep it that way. I am a professional captain, sailed to over 45 countries. I use a product called Rainsnare , it goes up when or just before the rains and comes down once dry. Takes 2 minutes to setup, uses food grade materials. I have used this in many places, now cruising on my own boat in Queensland and use it as my main water supply ( am solo on a 7.5 meter Farr), really good to make beer with too.
 

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BJV
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We have a suncover which runs from main to mizzen, doubles as a rain catcher, has two barbed fittings which are above my two deck fills.
 

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I have crossed the Pacific several times without taking shore water, relying entirely on rain water.If you can see an island ten or more miles away, the air is clean, and so will be the rainwater. Shore water is far more likely to be doubtful.
A lazy bag under my mainsail caught a lot of water in squalls. A bucket under the gooseneck, with a thru hull on the bottom corner, and a hose led below decks, with a plastic valve on it, lets me drain it directly into my tanks, without going on deck .

My 540 gallon per day watermaker cost me under $800 to build , an expense I don't mind, for peace of mind.
 

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Keep in mind that an activated charcoal filter, which is most of the ones used on faucet fittings, does not kill or filter out the bugs - just takes out the chemical agents. Cholorination kills the bugs, and you'll need to add 8 to 16 drops of choline per gallon of water to be safe. Yes, you will be able to taste and smell it, but it's not going to kill you.

Good luck,

Gary :cool:
 

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Mechsmith
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On the East coast US. rainwater is often not fit to drink. Acid rain and other pollutants are in most small thunderstorms. After a pretty good rain the atmosphere cleans up along with your sails. I taste it before it goes into the tank. Hopefully that's enough.
 

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My preference is for a water tank to collect the rainwater, then run collected water thru a water maker. Those things not only clean out salt, but also bugs, bacteria, and almost all viruses.

Of course this doesn't keep you from needing desalination equipment.
 

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I find it interesting how there is always a monster behind every bush so to speak.

We have a rain tank in the garden that takes rain water straight off our roof. It is our only supply. The birds also use the roof for a totally different reason and then there is all that acid in the air and dust and other impurities that everyone makes a song-n-dance about. By all accounts the water should have killed us a long time ago.

Except it hasn't.

We (and 6000 other people on our island who have the same resource) have been drinking it for years - very few have filters of any sort. I have foliage growing on the top of the tank with roots into the water.

Makes the water taste like it came from a spring. It's the nicest tasting water we have ever had. Beats any city-purified water hands down. I've never been sick from it and here's the best part: I use a water quality tester that I use on my watermaker water and the TDS (total dissolved solids) in my rain water is 27 - the TDS in the mineral water that my wife buys is 72. And she pays for for her water than I pay for gasoline. Huh?!?!??

Catch the rainwater however you can. If it's coming off the sails, let it rain for 5 minutes before gathering the water just to wash the salt away. We've been collecting rainwater on our boat for 4 decades and it is far better than anything you'll get from a city supply or for that matter on most islands (they'll generally give you poor quality ground water).
 

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I find it interesting how there is always a monster behind every bush so to speak.

We have a rain tank in the garden that takes rain water straight off our roof. It is our only supply. The birds also use the roof for a totally different reason and then there is all that acid in the air and dust and other impurities that everyone makes a song-n-dance about. By all accounts the water should have killed us a long time ago.

Except it hasn't.
Same here, though I'll probably keel over any day now, from drinking rainwater collected on deck, and straight from my tanks... :)


 

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I've read studies by health departments (can't lay my finger on them--Texas and Australia) on drinking water from roofs. The Texas study focused on analysis (they built ~ 10x10 model roofs and samples the runoff) while the Aussy study focused on health records. Both concluded that with basic good practices, it was safe.

I think it is also good sense to pre-fliter if practical (to keep the sludge out of the tank), chlorinate (to control growth, about 1 ppm), and to tap filter (NSF 53 carbon block, ceramic, or equivalent) to control taste and insure safety. Very easy. But everyone has there own safety threshold.
 
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