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Every day, Something new
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We live aboard, and even cruising in the USA from time to time have trouble coordinating filling our water tanks. We are planning on cruising further afield and on the list is "Make a water catcher". I'm currently thinking as large a bit of material as I can manage, with one or two (close-able) drain pipes and a hose attachment to run from the rain catcher to the water fill, possibly via a filter.

I've never seen a water catcher on any boat, so I'm looking for tips on what works and what doesn't so I don't have to make the same mistakes.

Despite an internet search I can't find anything.

What material? What shape to sew works best to catch/hold water? etc - anything really. Any support / stiffening structure required? All tips / comments appreciated.

I'm also undecided if to use the area at the back of the boat (but near the water tank fills) or the larger area at the front of the boat to rig the water catcher when needed.
 

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Telstar 28
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There are quite a few different ways to make a "water catcher". Several links from this google search might be of interest to you. Ones that use boom tents or awnings seem to be the most popular.

A few pointers from using rain water collectors on OPBs...

First, make sure you have a way to divert the water, since the first few minutes will be cleaning the dirt/dust/grime off the water collection surface and isn't really suitable for putting into your tanks.

Second, make sure you've got a separate tank for collected water. That way, if the collected water gets contaminated, you haven't compromised all the water in your fresh water storage system.

Third, you really need to have several filters for the water collection system. The first can be something as simple as a coffee filter or piece of cheese cloth. This is really just to keep large piece of crud out of the tank. The second should be between the "rain water tank" and the pumps. This should be a standard household type freshwater filter with a 5 micron filter or so. The third should be between the water line and the faucet-and should be a "taste" filter that removes any chemical contaminants and such. This is similar to the NSA 100 or other household kitchen countertop filtration system.

On a lot of boats I've seen that have rain water collection systems, the rainwater collection tank has a separate deck fill from the regular freshwater tanks. The deck fill is often located to simplify collecting rain water.

Most of the rainwater collection systems were made using some-type of canvas, usually synthetic for lower maintenance.

One of the better ones I saw was a 12' x 10' boom tent setup, which had a water retention dam around the bottom end of each side about 4" high. In the center of the dam was a 1" hose fitting, each of which had a hose attached to a Y-splitter. The bottom of the y-splitter led down to where the deck fill was.
 

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A coffee filter or piece of cheese cloth will not hold up for more then a minute with a heavy down pour. With the first filter you're really looking to filter out leaves, or large bugs and the like. A nylon window screen will serve this purpose. You can even double the screen up and make it catch even smaller items.
 

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I was thinking of the metal, not paper coffee filters. But window screen would be a good idea too. :)

BTW, large bugs and leaves are generally not a problem, as most of the boats using these systems are generally in areas without either... leaves and large bugs are rather rare on the open water.

Of course, if you're using the rain catching system closer to land, and want to depend on it...get one of these:


and put it in the hose leading from the catchment system.
 

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BTW leaves and large bugs are rather rare on the open water.
So are chemical contaminants :) . Geez what kind of rain do you guys get?:p

I have successfully used my bimini with a hose connector into a gauze strainer and no filters and while at sea the water gathered this way has been delicious.

I would probably agree with the serious filtration if you're in a harbour or near an industrial area but at sea . . . . not necessary. Just a quick wash of the catchment device (my bimini) to get rid of any bird droppings (the only contaminants at sea and even then rare), dump the first few gallons and away you go.

Andre
 

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Check out atomvoyages.com. James Baldwin and Mei have circumnavigated on a Pearson Triton. He writes for mags, does refits, etc. On his site, he describes a rain collection system.

I've spoken and emailed with James. He built a single burner kero stove for my boat. He's a very nice and helpful guy.

Skywalker
 

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Andre-

I'd rather design the system to deal with all conditions, and be able to use it whenever necessary, than for just open sea conditions, and have to worry about it contaminating or screwing up the water supply. :)

So are chemical contaminants :) . Geez what kind of rain do you guys get?:p

I have successfully used my bimini with a hose connector into a gauze strainer and no filters and while at sea the water gathered this way has been delicious.

I would probably agree with the serious filtration if you're in a harbour or near an industrial area but at sea . . . . not necessary. Just a quick wash of the catchment device (my bimini) to get rid of any bird droppings (the only contaminants at sea and even then rare), dump the first few gallons and away you go.

Andre
 

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Every day, Something new
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Wow, thank you all so much for the hints and tips.. I've already added to my original thoughts for a design based on this feedback. Atom has a great web site with lots of information - his particular design won't work on my boat - I'll have to go with a awning/cloth catcher.

SailingDog - I get the filter idea (you are too funny), I also expect to have to add chlorine to keep water from going cloudy.
 

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Sew a gutter into your bimini. Put a down spout made out of cloth. Our friends on their Panda did that and said it was very effective. As mentioned earlier, you will want to dump the first few gallons for dirt, salt, and bird poop. We actually always got more dirt than bird poop anyways. I would also consider having at least a handheld water maker for drinking water. I think our friends used their water catcher for showering, etc. I do not think they drank it. If you put bleach in there you probably could, I guess.

Keep us posted on your progress and travels. Your tales and experiences can help a lot of people out here. Are you going alone or with kids? Where do you plan to cruise? Where have you cruised? What type of boat? What has worked and what has not?

We would all love to hear from you and your husband. Stick around!!

- CD
 

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RAIN WATER would seem to be naturally clean and pure most places. Water gets dirty when it hits the ground etc. Air generally contains very few bacteria etc. Bird poop etc is the most likely source of contamination. If you have a dedicated rain catcher that is stored clean until needed I doubt that any treatment is required..most places. Clean water does not support the growth of bacteria or algea. Microbes require nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen. rain usually does not contain many nutrients. I mean really rain is close to being distilled water!!!!!!
 

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... leaves and large bugs are rather rare on the open water.
So are chemical contaminants :) . Geez what kind of rain do you guys get?:p
Are you sure?

Has anyone tested rainwater from around the coasts and on the oceans?

I look at the damage done to the Shenandoah and Smokies from acid rain. The lawsuits filed by the North Eastern states against power plants and industies in the midwest for their pollution which carries all the way to Nerw England and beyond. The information available about contaminants in the air on the west coast that come from Asia. Particulate matter found precipitating across oceans away from their sources.

What makes you guys so sure that the rainwater falling on your boats and being imbibed into your bodies is clean?
 

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Seasoned Salt
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RAIN WATER would seem to be naturally clean and pure most places. Water gets dirty when it hits the ground etc. Air generally contains very few bacteria etc. Bird poop etc is the most likely source of contamination. I mean really rain is close to being distilled water!!!!!!
No way.

There is a lot of pollution in the air. The water that precipitates out of the sky passes through those pollutants. Ever heard of "acid rain"? If you go the the Smokies national forest you can see the effects of acid rain. Visit the Shenandoah and see the effects of industrial pollution. The Park Service can show you pictures taken from view sites many years ago to compare with today. In the mid atlantic and many other regions there is also major pollution from internal combustion engines.

All this in the atmosphere where the water vapor collects, the water molecules often clustering around particles until they make a mass heavy enough to fall, whereupon they carry the particles down to ground level.

I look at how dirty my car is after after a light to moderate rain. It is much dirtier than before. A heavy, prolongued rain may leave it less dirty, but still not the condition as after washing with clean water from a hose fed by the local water system.

Sorry. We can debate or discuss how much pollution is in the atmosphere, and how much comes down with the rain. But there is no plausible foundation for claiming rain water is anything like distilled water. Maybe 300 yrs ago, but probably not then, either.
 

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Not on this planet... most rain is caused when moisture condenses around small particulates in the air... that would tend to indicated to me, that the rain has a fair bit of particulate matter in it. This doesn't even address issues like chemical pollutants, like sulphur dioxide, one of the primary components of acid rain, volcanic ash, airborne dust from drought stricken areas or a million other sources of pollution. Airborne pollution can travel long distances, so the water from rainstorms over the open ocean isn't much better than that near coastal areas. Go ahead, get a bucket and catch some rainwater in, and cover it and leave it sitting in the sun for a week. It won't be the "clean" water you think it is after that time is my guess. Plenty of pollen, microbes, mold spores, etc in that rain water.

RAIN WATER would seem to be naturally clean and pure most places. Water gets dirty when it hits the ground etc. Air generally contains very few bacteria etc. Bird poop etc is the most likely source of contamination. If you have a dedicated rain catcher that is stored clean until needed I doubt that any treatment is required..most places. Clean water does not support the growth of bacteria or algea. Microbes require nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen. rain usually does not contain many nutrients. I mean really rain is close to being distilled water!!!!!!
 

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An easy additional supply can be trapped from the relatively large surface are of the mast. Cut a rounded edge from the rim of a large plastic funnel so that it fits against the mast. On each side of the cut-out a bungee cord can attach to secure the funnel to the mast. Just above this funnel wrap a piece of hose around the mast with a bungee through the center of the hose securing it tightly to the mast. Leave the break where the hose ends meet above the funnel. This apparatus is easily stored; easy to keep clean; and the effluent from the funnel can be lead to any container. You may need to attach the device above your sail cover if it wraps around the mast. 'take care and joy, Aythya crew
 

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Every day, Something new
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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thanks all.. It - I'd never thought of using the mast... It may be good to have 3 different setups. I like the idea of the sail to catch water (especially if you are under sail at the time).. The mast catcher would be easy to setup and rig, even in rain (although since we do have a sail cover, it's quite high to reach to set and unset..).. And finally some kind of awning that will double as a rain catcher. We do have a hard top, but I don't think it is sloped in a way that will accommodate easy rain catching.

Thanks SO MUCH all, for the tips.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
OK, So I might well have spent 6 months procrastinating, but eventually I did make my own water catcher... I posted details on my web site http://www.sv-footprint.com/projects/WaterCatcher.html but basically it is just a rectangle that fits in a good place on my particular boat.

Thanks again for all the help.
 

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Just read your water catcher account and then saw this entry!

Looks great and perfect for the task.

You continue to inspire me!
 

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newpig.com

Is a firm that makes spill kits (long socks full of absorbant material, pads etc.) They also make leak diverters. Plastic tarp funnels with hose atachment for collecting water from roof leaks or piping leaks up in the ceilings of factories. Common one is about 4ftx4ft.
 

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Not on this planet... most rain is caused when moisture condenses around small particulates in the air... that would tend to indicated to me, that the rain has a fair bit of particulate matter in it. This doesn't even address issues like chemical pollutants, like sulphur dioxide, one of the primary components of acid rain, volcanic ash, airborne dust from drought stricken areas or a million other sources of pollution. Airborne pollution can travel long distances, so the water from rainstorms over the open ocean isn't much better than that near coastal areas. Go ahead, get a bucket and catch some rainwater in, and cover it and leave it sitting in the sun for a week. It won't be the "clean" water you think it is after that time is my guess. Plenty of pollen, microbes, mold spores, etc in that rain water.
What you say about rainwater is true but how do you think it compares to water at many foreign and some domestic marinas? :laugher
 
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