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Old 11-07-2010, 06:04   #1
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Catching Rainwater

Anyone done this for real on trade wind / tropics passages? How did you collect? Any advice?
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Old 11-07-2010, 06:38   #2
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I haven't but I know someone who did. He let the rain run off the decks for a few minutes to clean them of salt & dirt, then put plugs in all the scuppers and opened a couple of ports (one on each side) that led into the water tanks. Once the tanks fill up, if it rains that long, close up the ports, and reopen the scuppers. He also used rain + nonskid to do laundry.
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Old 11-07-2010, 07:27   #3
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We are set up to collect from the decks, and we do!
Let them wash through for 10-15 minutes, plug the drain holes(with ordinary bathroom plugs) open the tank fillers and away we go.
In a good Tropical downpour we can fill two x 200 litre tanks in around 10-15 minutes.

We have a double filter system on the water, that is one filter at the pressure pump and another just before the faucet outlet. These are cleaned regularly. I rarely treat the water with chemicals and in ten years of cruising we have yet, fingers crossed, to experience any contamination.

I would add that we do not use any chemical cleaners on the deck, it's teak, except before a passage when we clean the whole deck carefully with clean water and a sponge, maybe a little washing up liquid if it's particularly dirty.

Hope that helps.
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Old 11-07-2010, 07:27   #4
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We sewed sunbrella 'gutters' on the bimini which deflected the water to the front corners, but a 6'x6' piece of canvas will collect enough water to fill the tanks in the tropical deluges. We tended to collect at anchor more than on passages.
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Old 11-07-2010, 08:11   #5
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I did the same as annk. It was simple, required a few rags or towels to act as dams and diverters, and worked well when the winds piped up. I had a 3" caprail and that made it easier than caprails with the aluminum railing. I also found that by using a towel as a diverter to move the wide deck torrent towards the deck fill really helped.

I've seen folks that had fresh water fills in less suitable locations use the deck drains. They installed a "Y" valve with one hose going to the tank and the other overboard.

The tough part, at least it was for me, was waiting for the decks to run clear. Depending on the amount of rain, sailing conditions, and other factors, it may take 10-15 minutes to get the water clear enough to put in the tank.

As for concerns about water quality, I've found that a good filter and some common sense seemed to work best. Rain water is quite clean and after getting the decks clean, quite sweet. If you're in a metropolitan location, you may have to wait longer for the rain to wash the air clear and get the deck clean.

The biggest problems I've had with getting water was from shoreside places. Some of the water sources clearly weren't as pure as waiting on the rain. In that case I put the jerry jugs through a basic filter (spun particulate and carbon) and added a 1/4 cup of bleach to the tank.

A number of times the rain never lasted long enough to get the water clean enough for me.
Capt. Douglas Abbott
USCG/MCA IV/M.I./C.I. 500-ton Oceans
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Old 11-07-2010, 08:19   #6
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Did exactly the same thing that donradcliff did and it worked well in the tropics. I boiled the drinking water because--even offshore--you get bird visitors who are not too careful, but was often able to fill several three gallon cans (like they sell water in in El Salvador) in a few minutes of downpour off my 6X6 bimini. I actually had a hole cut in the center in the bottom with a cringle and had a threaded hose connection that went to it. Worked great. Sometimes I could fill the regular tanks with it as well.
Ray Durkee
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Old 11-07-2010, 08:21   #7
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I have a friend with a Mainecat 30 which has a water catch system on the hard top which works pretty well. I personally have a water maker and have not yet resorted to catching rainwater. I am considering making a sunbrella catchment device to hang from my boom. The water maker is a power hog and if I can get the water free so much the better.
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Old 11-07-2010, 09:50   #8

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with 1 reef.

Originally Posted by oldvarnish View Post
Anyone done this for real on trade wind / tropics passages? How did you collect? Any advice?
Ive used the main with success. 1 or more reefs with the reefed section forming a sort of trough, the water runs down the main, along the trough the tie off a funnel at the mast under the boom and divert into bucket, water cans or whatever. You might need to lift the boom a little with the topping lift but my main works fine without changing anything. At anchor the bimini has throughhull into pipe which leads to the water tank .
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