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Old 19-02-2015, 10:19   #1
RDW
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Water maker versus catching rain

I have a 46 foot sloop with 150 gal of water tanks (3). I plan to do the World ARC. My boat had a water maker that has given up the ghost. Previous owner used it. I think I have read that boats with water makers used 7 liters per person per day while boats without did well with 3 liters pppd ( recent world arc) I can easily see that having a water maker would be nice. I can also see that it is one more thing to maintain. I have a large shade cloth that I am tempted to adapt to catching rain water.
Anybody done both?
Thoughts?
RDW
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Old 19-02-2015, 10:23   #2
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Re: Water maker versus catching rain

What water maker do you have
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Old 19-02-2015, 10:32   #3
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Re: Water maker versus catching rain

Quote:
Originally Posted by newhaul View Post
What water maker do you have
What he said... if it's a quality unit it may just needs a membrane. Well worth it.
Thinking back on my cruising... we would have been SOL trying to rely on rain catchment. It seem it rains when the wind is blowing 25+, so having the tarp setup is a PITA.
Either buy, or ferry water or have a water maker is the best plan... if you get a bunch of rain at the right time consider that a bonus...
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Old 19-02-2015, 10:34   #4
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Re: Water maker versus catching rain

We do both. But we have not been very successful catching rain when underway or when it's very gusty or windy. We could probably devise better catching methods but we have the watermaker to fall back on. At anchor we try to catch as much as we can because of the obvious reasons - it tastes better and is free.

Dave
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Old 19-02-2015, 10:43   #5
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Re: Water maker versus catching rain

A catchment trough on the boom to catch rain off mainsail seems to be the best way to catch rain while underway
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Old 19-02-2015, 11:00   #6
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Re: Water maker versus catching rain

Quote:
Originally Posted by RDW View Post
I have a 46 foot sloop with 150 gal of water tanks (3). I plan to do the World ARC. My boat had a water maker that has given up the ghost. Previous owner used it. I think I have read that boats with water makers used 7 liters per person per day while boats without did well with 3 liters pppd ( recent world arc) I can easily see that having a water maker would be nice. I can also see that it is one more thing to maintain. I have a large shade cloth that I am tempted to adapt to catching rain water.
Anybody done both?
Thoughts?
RDW
Howdy!

What follows is based on some real personal experience, some of which was unpleasant and unexpected. That always has a way of making a strong impression, especially when one experiences such primal things as thirst and lack of water. My experience can be summed up as follows:

1. Pacific Passage from Kauai to San Francisco (about 2,500 miles due to our route) with four man crew. It was not my boat.

2. Boat with no water maker

3. 30 days transit (5 days longer than expected due to inoperable engine and becalmed in the Pacific High)

4. Engine unexpectedly inoperable for voyage due to malfunction after leaving Kauai

5. Water tanks almost empty by end of voyage, what water was left in the bottom of the tanks was foul (disgustingly thick with algae, slime etc.)

6. Left Kauai on the edge of a named Tropical Storm, so experienced lots of rain for the first few days and nights, but felt no need to collect any due to full water tanks.

7. Very little rain (almost none) for last 25 days (no way to replenish with rain)

8. Rationed fresh water early to only be used for drinking and cooking, used salt water for bathing and dish cleaning etc.

9. By the end of the voyage, thirst was very apparent as we had little fresh water and were not sure how much longer the voyage would take, due to weak winds and no engine.

Lesson: It is one thing to be thirsty when you KNOW that fresh water is a few minutes away (e.g. bay sailing) but entirely different when you are hundreds of miles from land and unable to get closer due to light winds and no engine. In other words,
real thirst and real risk is when you have no or very little water and NO way to replenish it soon and unsureness of how long you must make what you have last.
10. I resolved to be better prepared (on my own boat) on any future long distance voyage. My plan includes having:
  1. clean (inspected and thoroughly cleaned) and filled and tested multiple fresh water tanks,
  2. a tested and reliable water maker with a spare parts kit,
  3. some means of capturing rain when it rains (e.g. tarp with funnel and hose),
  4. At least 10 gallons of emergency water in reserve in multiple separate plastic tanks (jerry jugs).
Second Lesson Related to Watermakers:
An engine driven unit may lose its utility if the engine is not working during the voyage. It can happen.

I hope you find this helpful.
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Being on a becalmed boat in the middle of the Pacific with rationed water made me remember:
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And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, everywhere,
Nor any drop to drink.
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Old 19-02-2015, 11:20   #7
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Re: Water maker versus catching rain

We have a small output watermaker (only 13 litres an hour but it runs off the batteries when the wind gen is pushing in the power) and a bimini adapted to collect rain water. Rain collection is very hit and miss and depends on where you are, for example, we have seen no rain since October when we were in Cyprus. Had it rained here in the Red Sea, I doubt we would have caught it as there is so much sand in the air and over the boat. We've been replenishing our stocks from shore supplies and using the watermaker when able to stretch the time we can stay away from shore.

In the Med, neither system is necessarily required but they both make us more independent so we wouldn't be without either.
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Old 19-02-2015, 11:41   #8
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Re: Water maker versus catching rain

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Originally Posted by newhaul View Post
A catchment trough on the boom to catch rain off mainsail seems to be the best way to catch rain while underway
I have a Profurl in boom furling system, just by it's design it catches all the water coming off the main and funnels it to the mast where it pours out, I've thought to use it for a rain catchment, but wondered how effective it would be.
Have you used a catchment system like you describe?
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Old 19-02-2015, 11:58   #9
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Re: Water maker versus catching rain

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Originally Posted by a64pilot View Post
I have a Profurl in boom furling system, just by it's design it catches all the water coming off the main and funnels it to the mast where it pours out, I've thought to use it for a rain catchment, but wondered how effective it would be.
Have you used a catchment system like you describe?
Actually no I haven't used a boom catchment system. However I do know ppl that do and if your boom naturally collects and channels water would be easy to build a catchment where it dumps at the mast I have used my tender turned upright on deck though and it works great and stores extra if needed
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Old 19-02-2015, 12:01   #10
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Re: Water maker versus catching rain

Depends on your usage, geographical location, source of power for the water maker, etc.

We cruised French Polynesia for more than a year, caught water from the awning, and never had to schlep water for our 70 gallons of tankage for the whole cruise. We used very little water. Spent so much time in the water snorkeling didn't need to shower. Washed hair, shaved, etc in salt water and rinsed in fresh or took advantage of passing rain for freshwater showers.

That would have been less easy in arid areas like Baja or areas with long dry spells without a water maker. Our fresh water use was low enough, don't think it would have been enough of an incentive to spend the money and suffer through the engine running to power to run it to install a water maker, however. Cruising in northern climates might take more water for showers if it is too cold to clean up in the cockpit.

Know of a guy who tore out a quarter berth to install a generator to power the huge water maker he couldn't live without. Burned through 10s of gallons a day taking showers.
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Old 19-02-2015, 17:55   #11
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Re: Water maker versus catching rain

Newhaul, good brand name, spent some money to get it working but never did work.
Steadyhand, I would not feel any different if I had your experience. Would you ever go out with water catcher and hand water maker for dry spell?
A64 pilot, I have not used catchment at all. I do have boom furling.
Roverhi, thanks for your comments from real experience.

I do not mind the money and I have a place to put it and the plumbing in there. My misgiving is that for a lot of the time it is on the boat I will be maintaining it but will not use it. On the World ARC it would be nice to have but I am not sure I need it that bad. I am probably going to think about catching with the boom. My thought is hook up what ever device I use to get it into the tanks and keep sailing.
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Old 19-02-2015, 18:08   #12
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Re: Water maker versus catching rain

My engine drive unit made about 25 gals per hour and was trouble free for about 3 years until that boat was sold....
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Old 19-02-2015, 18:24   #13
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Re: Water maker versus catching rain

I have a small Katadyn Survivor Pro E40 which runs of 12V. It only makes 1 1/2 gallons an hour but whilst cruising I make two or three gallons each day and leave the tanks full to provide a fairly long cushion should the water maker go out of service. I originally intended to put in a large engine driven unit but decided the small electrically driven unit was better from a security of supply viewpoint. The one I have allows the motor to be removed to allow hand cranking should either the motor or it's electrical supply become unservicable.
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Old 19-02-2015, 18:31   #14
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Re: Water maker versus catching rain

Don't water makers need to be used regularly or 'pickled' if they aren't. That would seem to be a bit of a hassle and possibly expensive replacing membranes if you didn't use enough water.
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Old 19-02-2015, 18:56   #15
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Re: Water maker versus catching rain

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Originally Posted by roverhi View Post
Don't water makers need to be used regularly or 'pickled' if they aren't. That would seem to be a bit of a hassle and possibly expensive replacing membranes if you didn't use enough water.
Actually not that big a deal to pickle it just have to pump a biocide solution thru it to inhibit growth I just run mine every week to keep the growth down not a big deal red some info for the kaydine units but applies to most makes in general Katadyn and PUR Watermakers: Installation, Maintenance and Troubleshooting
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