12 September 2016 | Marina di Sant'Elmo, Cagliari (position: 39 12.082'N 09 07.622'E)
Since leaving mainland Spain finding drinking water has proven rather challenging. Naively it wasn't something we'd even considered when we were preparing Flirtie or Drummer assuming "drinking" water would be readily available throughout Europe at most marinas... by hose!
We didn't need water whilst cruising Formentera or Ibiza but when we visited Mallorca we were just about out so we tasted and filled our water tanks at Port Andraitx. This water was fine for showering and once passed through a Brita filter
and boiled, fine for tea and coffee but not very pleasant for drinking cold so in the end we resorted to buying drinking water in 5 and 8 litre bottles. In the main it was cheap to buy but what a pain it was to cart a week's supply (35 litres/35kg!!) from the supermarket back to Flirtie mainly by trolley and dinghy. With temperatures rarely below 30°c it's amazing just how much you drink - we were averaging nearly 5 litres a day between us.
On Menorca the water quality was worse so we continued to buy bottled water for drinking cold. ;-(
On reaching Alghero in northern Sardinia it was immediately apparent just how soft the water was. Perhaps it was fine for drinking? Unfortunately the Sards don't drink it and buy bottled instead and just to make matters worse for us cruisers you can't even buy it in 5 litre bottles and instead 2 litres is about your limit.
Like in the Balearics we found it perfectly acceptable when passed through a Brita filter and boiled for tea and coffee. We also found it fine for drinking cold once passed through the Brita filter but that was short lived when we both ended up with tummy complaints - back to the bottled water!
Regular lugging of all this water isn't our idea of fun so following some research we concluded we had a few options open to us or if we were feeling flush a combination of.
These options were:
1) Fit a watermaker;
2) Install a drinking water purification system;
3) Install a dockside filter or filters to our hose that we use to fill our tanks.
Option 1 sounds very appealing but unfortunately won't help us out during the winter months when we're berthed in a marina typically in dirty seawater - a watermaker needs clean seawater to start with.
In summer when anchored in crystal clear waters it's probably the perfect solution offering free water at the touch of a button. Obviously this assumes your batteries are in good order or you have a good generator because watermakers are notoriously power hungry.
There's also the issue of cost and maintenance. A new watermaker without fitting starts at around £3,500 for a basic model - gulp! It also needs to be used regularly (typically 3-4 days) otherwise it must be flushed with chemicals to preserve it which also cost money.
Option 2 involves the installation of a purification system that removes bacteria and the like. Typically it involves the installation of a dedicated drinking water tap otherwise you risk having to change the filter cartridge pretty regularly. Whilst initially not particularly cheap to buy, ongoing costs are more reasonable necessitating the replacement of the filter cartridge once it is clogged or about every 2 years.
Option 3 involves the purchase of a filter (or number of filters) to improve the quality of the water that reaches your tank. Unfortunately without drastically reducing the flow of water to your tanks (we would be there all day filling our 500 litre tank) you cannot remove all the bacteria with this solution so it does not provide drinking water however it complements option 2 and helps extend the life of its associated filter.
Whist we could happily install all three options, it makes sense for us to go with options 2 and 3 for the time being. We will review the situation next year but assuming this provides a workable solution we will save the expense of a watermaker until we start crossing oceans - SWMBO being in agreement that is. ;-)
Whilst there are numerous companies offering purification water filter solutions, we went with a well known and established company that has many units installed in the marine environment and more recently in caravans and motorhomes. This company is Nature Pure
and they offer a number of products that filter to the desired level. We chose one of their latest models the QC 2
but they are most well known for their seagull model
Quick Change Filter
With regard to the dockside unit
, we decided not to go with the Nature Pure offering because this unit also removes the chlorine from water (they subsequently advise you to add chlorine when it is stored in tanks). Instead we went with an off the shelf unit that is designed to be installed in a household kitchen unit to filter the domestic supply. Surprisingly we couldn't source one here in Sardinia or indeed mainland Italy (they're readily available in France, Portugal and Spain) but our friends Barry and Steph came to the rescue and picked one up for us from Leroy Merlin in France and shipped it to us - thanks both for your help. :-)
We've installed and now been using both filters for about 3 weeks now and so far we're extremely pleased with the results. We're also pleased to report we haven't had any tummy complaints and haven't bought any bottled water since.
Whilst other cruisers may be happy to lug bottled water, we would certainly encourage you all to buy an inline filter before filling your tanks. The picture below clearly shows how dirty some water supplies are and you just don't realise it (it started off white!).
20 micron filter + anticalc - Used 3 times only - approx 1,500 litres!