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Old 16-07-2009, 12:03   #16
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This one came on the boat we bought, so we didn't pay anything (extra) for it. However, having priced watermakers before buying the boat, I can tell you that you do pay a premium for the Spectra -- easily 65% more than what you would pay for a bare-bones AC powered watermaker. Around 35% more than a similar spec'ed AC model from a competitor like Village Marine.

When shopping watermakers, I had pretty much decided to go the bare bones route, primarily for the money saved, which is considerable. However, having lived with the Spectra for a couple of years, as well as having buddy boated with a couple that had a more bare bones model, I'm really glad to have the Spectra. It makes routine monitoring of salinity/water quality really simple (which means you're much more likely to actually pay attention to it). It makes doing a routine flush (which should be done after every time you make water), push-button easy. The controls monitor your filters, which means you're less likely to forget about them (and keeping good filters in place has a direct correlation with the longevity of that very expensive membrane). While these are things one could do oneself, manually, they would take extra time and hassle. You might be surprised to find how quickly such things get put on the back burner when cruising.

There is another advantage I didn't previously mention. Spectra will train cruisers to be "floating reps", with the notion that you will have a good chance of running into one in the major cruising grounds. I've personally used one (for the fixes described above) and found him to be wonderfully competent and quite fair with his prices. He spent lots of time (unbilled!) with me, educating me about the system and even did some troubleshooting/problem solving via email that solved a minor problem while cruising -- no charge! I don't know of any other manufacturer that does such a thing and I found it very handy. He seemed to say that almost anyone could attend the training and become a cruising rep, so long as you pass the tests.

BTW, I'm not a Spectra rep, don't own stock in the company, and have nothing to gain from expressing my opinion about them.

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Old 16-07-2009, 15:34   #17
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That's quite a testimony. It's an expensive bit of kit but it sounds like it could be worth it. I guess we'll wait until next summer and see how much cash is available for it.
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Old 16-07-2009, 15:41   #18
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We have an older Spectra and we don't use it much here. Friends have a new one on a big trawler. They hate it. The auto cycles and complicated stuff seems to break down easily and frequently. They live aboard 3 months a year. When it works it's nice (as expected). The key to the Spectra was and is the Clark pump.
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Old 16-07-2009, 16:31   #19
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To respond a bit to Paul's friend's observations -- I've heard the same from a few others. There is no doubt that the Spectra is a more complex machine and will, therefore, be more prone to problems. Like so many things mechanical, they like to be used. We used ours just about every-other-day for about 3 hours for two years, until we recently pickled it (back on land for hurricane season). Under that sort of usage pattern, it was one of the most reliable things on the boat. Used only every now and then, the reliability may be quite different.

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Old 16-07-2009, 19:39   #20
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On VALIS we have a Spectra "Catalina" (12V, 12.5 GPH), and we're way out on the "occasional use" end of the spectrum. I installed it in 2003 before our first Hawaii trip, and since then have used it during two more Hawaii round trips and one Southern California vacation. Other than that, it sits unused, with the occasional fresh-water flush. It has been totally reliable -- not many hours of use, but lots of time sitting around in the salt air environment.

I have never pickled the membrane, but rely on the fresh water flush to keep things clean. I change the filters annually (except the charcoal back-flush filter, which I try to change twice a year), and once during a passage I had to change a pre-filter due to plankton (or something) being sucked up.

As an investment, it hardly makes sense for me so far, since our regular tankage is adequate for these passages if we conserve. It is very nice to have the extra water, and I do plan to eventually spend some extended time aboard where the watermaker should be quite handy. I am a real nerd when it comes to our power budget, so I appreciate the Spectra's efficiency.

That said, there is at least one other watermaker company that now uses a pressure-recovery (Clark-style) pump, and I believe they claim similar watts/gallon numbers. I recall they use a stainless pressure vessel, but I have no idea what their service record is. (I just did a google search, but couldn't find these Spectra competitors.)
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Old 16-07-2009, 20:14   #21
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A quick internet search says "Schenker" might be the Spectra comptitors?

No affliliation, just very intersted to see where this thread goes. (And a bit luckyer with google!)

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http://www.schenkerwatermakers.com/en/home.php
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Old 16-07-2009, 20:15   #22
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We have a simple Offshore Industries water maker, AC powered, 50 g/h (!) and in the first 4 years of full time liveaboard use we had zero problems and never got water from a dock or something so it got a lot of use. After the 4 years, the pressure meter started a small leak and I replaced it for $80 or so. No issues since that so now, after more than 6 years I think I can state this is the ultimate water maker for genset equipped boats; even the membranes are still fine. We paid $4,500.- for it and that included the titanium 3-plunger high pressure pump.

cheers,
Nick.
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Old 16-07-2009, 21:20   #23
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Originally Posted by ViribusUnitis View Post
A quick internet search says "Schenker" might be the Spectra comptitors?

No affliliation, just very intersted to see where this thread goes. (And a bit luckyer with google!)

Website

SCHENKER ITALIA DISSALATORI WATERMAKER
OK, I tried again and found that HRO makes the unit I had seen: Watermakers by Horizon Reverse Osmosis - Seafari Escape Modular SEM. This (and the Schenker product) seem to have roughly similar efficiency to the Spectra. HRO's earlier models use conventional pumps, but their newer "Escape" series uses the energy-recovery pump.

Of course, even before you try to pick a particular watermaker technology or manufacturer, you should figure out if you truly need (or want) one of any type. I do like my 12V unit as it gives me flexibility in when I choose to use it.

I find that the "electrical power when motoring is free" philosophy doesn't really work for me. When on a passage I spend little time under power, and mainly run my engine to recharge the battery bank (my solar panels can't completely keep up with my on-passage requirements). The alternator is the limiting factor for me, and any energy used elsewhere is energy not going into the batteries. There is a slight efficiency in using the alternator power directly for the watermaker (etc), in that I avoid the charge/discharge inefficiencies, but I still appreciate a low-power watermaker. I haven't attempted to figure out the amortized extra engine-use costs vs more-expensive watermaker equation, but in general, it is easier to use less power (when you have that option) than to try to generate more.
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Old 17-07-2009, 07:52   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Intentional Drifter View Post
This one came on the boat we bought, so we didn't pay anything (extra) for it. However, having priced watermakers before buying the boat, I can tell you that you do pay a premium for the Spectra -- easily 65% more than what you would pay for a bare-bones AC powered watermaker. Around 35% more than a similar spec'ed AC model from a competitor like Village Marine.

When shopping watermakers, I had pretty much decided to go the bare bones route, primarily for the money saved, which is considerable. However, having lived with the Spectra for a couple of years, as well as having buddy boated with a couple that had a more bare bones model, I'm really glad to have the Spectra. It makes routine monitoring of salinity/water quality really simple (which means you're much more likely to actually pay attention to it). It makes doing a routine flush (which should be done after every time you make water), push-button easy. The controls monitor your filters, which means you're less likely to forget about them (and keeping good filters in place has a direct correlation with the longevity of that very expensive membrane). While these are things one could do oneself, manually, they would take extra time and hassle. You might be surprised to find how quickly such things get put on the back burner when cruising.

There is another advantage I didn't previously mention. Spectra will train cruisers to be "floating reps", with the notion that you will have a good chance of running into one in the major cruising grounds. I've personally used one (for the fixes described above) and found him to be wonderfully competent and quite fair with his prices. He spent lots of time (unbilled!) with me, educating me about the system and even did some troubleshooting/problem solving via email that solved a minor problem while cruising -- no charge! I don't know of any other manufacturer that does such a thing and I found it very handy. He seemed to say that almost anyone could attend the training and become a cruising rep, so long as you pass the tests.

BTW, I'm not a Spectra rep, don't own stock in the company, and have nothing to gain from expressing my opinion about them.

ID

Do you happen to remember that Reps name?
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Old 17-07-2009, 16:50   #25
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Old 23-07-2009, 12:31   #26
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JT's a great guy - we bought our Cape Horn Extreme thru him. We've only had it since March, so I can't yet vouch for extended reliability. To date - zero problems.

And it's much simpler mechanically than some people make Spectra's out to be. Did the install myself (mounted the Clarke pump upsidedown under a settee!). I guess it's all the bells and whistles on the Newport that people have problems with...
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Old 23-07-2009, 15:52   #27
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I knew that the Cape Horn was right model for you guys. .................Opps, I just got corrected, my wife and daughter knew it was the right unit for you. They both say hello and hope all is well with you and Shawna. You've got my number if ever you need anything.
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