Posted on November 23, 2015
Fresh water systems
In the manner of people who know nothing, I spent much time before purchasing a boat worrying about embarrassingly small things. Chief among them: what are the water tanks made of? Are we going to have to compromise on the perfect boat, with our drinking water stored in some kind of weird, leach-y plastic–or worse: aluminum, coated with BPA? (Never mind that the entire boat is essentially made from BPA.) Fortunately, our tanks are made of stainless steel. There endeth the good news.
The water in the little corner of northern Texas where our boat used to live has a distinct sulphur odor/taste that had permeated all aspect of the water systems. The hoses themselves were filled with a rainbow of algae and microflora (possibly microfauna as well. We didn’t test). Inadequate winterizing had burst hoses and wrecked pumps. The tank monitoring systems were corroded and not giving us accurate readings. The two tanks couldn’t be isolated; if one tank was contaminated with salt or diesel or some unknowable water catastrophe, they both were. The tanks weren’t located in our shallow bilge–they filled out most of the storage under our port and starboard settees.
Finally–the whole system was pressurized, making water come out of the tap just like at home. Sounds good? Actually, it takes electricity to run–in short supply–and wastes water, especially if you have in your tribe Children Unaccustomed to Extreme Water Conservation.
The tanks remain under the settees, but most of the other problems have been addressed: new hoses, new tank monitors, new pumps, and death to the pressurized water. We now have two foot pumps in the galley–one bringing water from our tanks, and one bringing water from the outside, so dishes can be washed in salt water (or, for a few more luxurious months, the fresh water of the Great Lakes). We even have an in-line filter for our drinking water.
And no, we don’t expect to be getting a watermaker. For those not in the know, a watermaker turns sea water to fresh. It’s magic and sorcery, and if you told Vasco da Gama about such a thing he would slap you in the face. Much as we would love such fancy tech, we will not indulge:
1. So. Much. Money. $2-3000 for the cheapies.
2. Power use. It takes a lot of energy to perform that kind of alchemy.
3. Space considerations. It would be a tight install, to say the least.
4. Cruising grounds. We have no plans to cross oceans. While it would be very useful to have a watermaker when we cruise the Sea of Cortez, we’ll be close enough to civilization to find drinking water.
5. Maintenance. And this is the big one. While there are some great (expensive) watermakers that rarely (expensively) break, they do break, and they are a huge hassle to fix.