12 September 2012 | Bahia De Los Angeles
Water, the life blood of Mexico cruisers. We drink it, we cook with it, bath our selves as well as our cloths and the boat with it. Some times we even freeze it to make the small diamond like gems that we pour a generous amount of rum, and then add a little coke to make the ultimate “sun-downer” to celebrate the end of another day here in paradise.
A dear friend, who is planning on following in our wake, wrote me recently to inquire about the need for a water maker on a boat cruising in Mexico. While there are some possible exceptions to the following comment, I believe that a good water maker is as important as a good set of sails and a good engine on your boat. Now I know, there are those of you out there that have sailed all over the world with out a water maker, and there is no doubt that it can be done. But why? I am cruising here in Mexico to have fun, and enjoy my time here. There are a few creature comforts that we choose not to live with out. Abundant water is one of them. Now please understand, we are very careful with our water usage. It's not like we are wasting it, casually just pouring it over board. We are very careful when doing the dishes, limit the laundry use to a fresh water rinse only, and wait until it rains to give the boat a good wash down. But, when it comes to wanting a glass of water, and the weather is nearly 100 degrees with a humidity to match, I am going to drink as much as I want, and I feel that my body needs.
So then the question arises, how much water do you really need? We did our best to answer this question before we left the States, when we were getting ready to purchase our water maker.. What we found out is that until you are truly living full time on the boat, virtually never at a dock, and enjoying the summer heat that we are, it is a pretty tough thing to try and guess. In addition, each person, couple, or family for that matter will all have their own water requirements. There are so many things that can make a huge difference in your consumption. Daily showers, rinse off showers after getting out of the salt water, the amount of cooking done with water, do you shampoo your hair daily, every other day, or....laundry, pets, this is just a small list of water usage that can vary from boat to boat.
Before all the die hards out there start listing all the great ways to cut down on usage, ( cook your pasta in salt water, pre-wash your dishes in salt water, etc etc) please understand that this is only our way of doing things, and many of those great short cuts we do use. We are not perfect, and are not what you would call miserly in our water usage, but at the same time, we are doing the best we can in our way, I guess we will call it the “Comfort Based Cruiser Plan” way.
OK, I got side tracked, back to the decision on our water maker. Of course cost played a huge part, but so did the amount of water it made, and the amount of battery power that it required. The best option was to get as much water as possible, for the least amount of money and the lowest amount of Amps being used to do so. Also we had to be able to fit it in to the small little spaces that we had available on Eagle. All of the companies that we looked at had a system that was a series of components that could be placed around the boat as needed in order to maximize the space issue. Spectra has a system that makes about 5 GPH (gallons per hour) that runs on about 5-6 Amps per hour, but was quite a bit more expensive. The system we choice was the Village Little Wonder makes 6-8 GPH was quite a bit less money, but requires 18 Amps to drive it. We figured that we would make water when every we were running the engine, there for we had no shortage of Amp power. If the need to make water came up while we are in an anchorage, then we will fire up our trusty Honda 2000 generator. Better to add engine hours to the generator than the new and much more expensive diesel engine.
That was a great plan when we were moving a lot, like up in Canada, and coming down the coast of the USA and Mexico. Now that we are in anchorages, sometimes for a week or two, and the heat is up quite a bit, we find our selves running the Honda generator quite a bit. With the very high salinity levels (something that reduces the efficiency of the water maker) our system is making a steady 5-6 GPH. We find that our usage is now well above our projected 10 gallons per day, and if we go a day or two with out making water then we are behind the proverbial 8 ball, and need to run the system for 6-8 hours at a time. ARGH!!
Now that we have traveled up virtually all of the east side of the Baja, have been in all the marinas of the larger cities, anchored and dinghyed to the medium sized cities and the fishing villages, the water options are this...jerry jugs! We have not seen potable water on a dock since we left La Paz. There is almost always a place to get those jugs filled, but it may entail a fair walk. Most cruisers that have different qualities of carts designed to help lug that needed provisions back from what ever tienda or farmers markets. Even with those, lugging 5 gallon jugs back and forth in the heat is a rough task, not counting the job of putting them into your dinghy and taking them out to the boat. If you are one of those boats who can really conserve water, and say only use 5 gallons per day, think about how many times you have to ferry those jugs back and forth in order to put on water board say, two weeks worth of water.
And then along come the new system from Cruise RO Water and Power, the SeaMaker 20. This is a water maker that will make 20 gallons Per Hour, and is designed to run off of our Honda generator. And is $1000 less than the Village Little Wonder that we currently have. We have found that we are running the Honda pretty much every time we make water, so why not make 4 times as much water, use 25% of the gasoline, and listen to generator running (even if the Honda is incredibly quiet) way less! It just was exactly what we are looking for.
Now of course, we were not planning on making such a large change in our systems, while here in Mexico, and especially here in the north part of the Sea of Cortez. The nearest marine supply shop is back in Loreto, which is 200 miles the wrong way, and not gonna happen during hurricane season. The up side to this was the timing. Rich Boren, who happens to own the company that makes the water makers is coming back to the Sea of Cortez for an up coming event, in the Village of Bahia De Los Angeles. He has offered to bring us down a complete system. So in mid stream, as it were, we will be doing a major over haul of our water maker system.
I will try to do daily updates of the project, as the list of jobs include:
Removal of current Village Little Wonder water maker.
Installation of new Sea Maker 20 water maker
Removal of current 20 Amp battery charger
Install of new Sterling 60 Amp battery charger w/remote control panel
Remove/replace Engine temperature gauge
Use copper Braid to connect diesel fuel tank to SSB/Ham radio ground counterpoise
As you can see I will be busy for a while, so it should make for some interesting reading.
I am including the link to Cruise RO Water and Power's web site. Please feel free to drop me a note if you have any question about any of the products offered.