Originally Posted by redhead
We're planning our trip north and of course are trying to talk to as many people as we can find who have gone before. Recently I met a woman who has made the trip from Puget Sound/Salish Sea to SE Alaska
twice before. She was very firm in that we should not attempt the trip unless and until we have a water
maker on board. Her experience has been that the further north you go the more the water has been acidified by the evergreen trees (is it tannic acid, I can't remember what she said) making the water brown and pretty nasty tasting.
Now we have been planning on a water maker, but it hasn't been on the top of the list as the water quality here in WA and as far north as Pender Harbour, BC has been wonderful. Do I have to think water maker sooner rather than later?
I've tried researching this but can't find any mention of it either way. Do any of you have experience? (I'm betting the answer is Yes).
Thanks as usual.
It sounds like a great trip you have planned. [We live on our boat in SE Alaska
through BC, Canada
Without more information from your friend, I have to assume they were obtaining untreated [not to be confused with unfiltered...] rain-catchment water or, perhaps directly from streams and the like. Or they had one or two bad experiences with rusty pipes somewhere, or have contaminated tanks
I've been living and boating
in Alaska since the mid 1980s and have yet to experience non-potable [or undesirable] water anywhere across the entire southern coast. [Seward to Ketchikan... And please do not read any defensive tone in my statement... I'm very objective- except when I'm being subjective...]
You can gain a better understanding to answer your own question about whether you need a watermaker- not based upon available water quality- but instead by genuinely reflecting on how long you can [or are willing to] go [really; repeatable- not theoretically] between water fills. How often do you want to be forced to make port [which are often days away- not including wx delays- from your anchoring
Don't forget to include fuel
considerations when mapping your calls to port. Your heater will likely be running much of the time, and don't plan on doing much sailing in the summer season...
e.g., If we could not go longer than, say, 5-7 days between water [or fuel
...] fills, we would be planning our routing in SE Alaska based upon ports-of-call possibly missing some of the remote
places we may want to visit and spend time in... Or we could use rain catchment on our boat, or go ashore [plenty of fresh water everywhere up here...] and filtering that on its way to our tanks
. [I did that for many years... I like the Katadyn Base Camp
filter and Platypus bladders
for such needs (because I'm inherently lazy...) and still carry one for back-up on the boat, and for our extended remote
We have several bog posts on this and related topic with lots of consumption
data if you are interested [...or just can't sleep...] [e.g., Here is one on water, fuel, and anchor chain consumption
... There are other related posts as well, and our titles are typically self explanatory...]
boat, which we brought up to SE Alaska from Seattle
in 2014 is the first with a water maker. It is wonderful to have, and we run it every week or so to fill our tanks. But, one is not required for cruising these waters- if you have adequate tankage for your needs between water [and fuel...] stops
Except for keeping a slip on Wrangell Is, Alaska, for home port, we typically anchor
out 6-10 months of the year. The water maker facilitates that extended independence [and we carry 220 US gallons of water in our tanks...]
All the small towns in Alaska have treated water, and in our experience, it is always very potable... That said, regardless of the water source, we filter all of the water we drink using a .5µ silver halide filter at the galley
sink just to protect us from anything that makes its way into, or has spawned in our tanks- which are also sanitized routinely... [i.e., 2+ times/year]
One consideration not often mentioned is the hose used to put water in our tanks... [We cannot do anything about their pipes...]
I have aways carried special potable water hoses which we only use for potable water [typically white in color, and BPA free.] And we always
use those hoses whenever we are obtaining water from a hose bib, let it run a while before diverting to the tanks, drain them completely when finished, and sanitize them whenever the tanks are sanitized.
The point is we never use a hose already laying on the dock
for potable water- to do so is to invite easily avoidable trouble. [Cut open any used garden hose and/or Google microbial slime
... And no, I'm not a germaphobe, but I do have enough of an understanding about microbes and therefore attempt to avoid easily preventable maladies...]
Many prudent travels [RVers/boaters/etc.] who rely on remote water sources also use inline filters on the outlet end of their hose when filling their tanks.
I hope you enjoy your trip, drink lots of delicious water [and whatever else you find delicious...] Rest assured you can make this trip without a water maker- again assuming you have adequate tankage for your consumption
All you really have to do is balance how long you can go between water [and fuel] fills with how often you want to make port; then decide...
I have to say, however, now that we have a watermaker
, we wouldn't go without... It seems balancing convenience and comfort against additional technical complication and expense is a slippery slope for us...
Please feel free to look us up on your way through if you are so inclined...