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Old 10-04-2018, 07:00 AM   #1
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ICW/Watermaker

So, I'm reading "What's up ditch" by Chris Dicroce. A very good book indeed. But he mentions watermakers here and there. I was under the impression that watermakers made salt water into regular water. Have I understood it wrong? And does a watermaker even work on the ICW? If it does, is the water clean enough? Is ICW salty?

Zarih
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Old 10-04-2018, 07:16 AM   #2
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You are correct. Marine watermakers take salt water and filter out the salt and most other materials through a high pressure membrane. The trick on the ICW is to make water when you are not in a polluted harbor.

Decisions you have to make are the capacity of the watermaker in gallons per hour. Figure you don't want to run the watermaker more than 3 hours a day. Also a major issue is whether you get a 12v or 120/240 volt watermaker. The 120/240v watermakers have larger capacities but generally require running the generator. The 12v units are frequently run underway.

A third decision is whether to get an automatic unit that requires you only to push a button or a manual unit which requires you to turn it off, test the water output before sending it to your tanks etc.

No conventional wisdom as to which are the right choices. For me I liked to run the watermaker off the batteries or alternator underway or at anchor, thus the 12v was good for me. I had an automatic unit and regretted it as I spend more time on maintenance because of the various sensors failing.

Good luck.
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Old 10-04-2018, 07:33 AM   #3
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So, I'm reading "What's up ditch" by Chris Dicroce. A very good book indeed. But he mentions watermakers here and there. I was under the impression that watermakers made salt water into regular water. Have I understood it wrong? And does a watermaker even work on the ICW? If it does, is the water clean enough? Is ICW salty?

Zarih
What was he saying in the book about watermakers that made you ask those questions?
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Old 10-04-2018, 07:38 AM   #4
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I personally would't use a water maker on the ICW or anywhere where there was a supply of fresh water readily available. I had a Village marine unit on a boat years ago & it was a fine unit but they indicated that it was to be used in clean (translation non-ICW) salt water only because the ultra-fine membrane elements got clogged easily with organic material. Plus, the pickling procedure was a pain & expensive.
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Old 10-04-2018, 08:28 AM   #5
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What was he saying in the book about watermakers that made you ask those questions?
He was talking about his water tank and how often he refilled it. Which was not a problem for him, since he had a small diesel tank and refilled water when he refueled. He then said, if you have a watermaker, it's not a problem. For some reason, I thought the ICW was not saltwater. Since it's an inland waterway.

Better to ask than wonder.

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Old 10-04-2018, 08:47 AM   #6
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Depends on where you are in the ICW. Some areas are fairly clean sea water, some are brackish (mix of salt and fresh water), and many areas basically rivers, loaded with river runoff and bio matter. And in a day's travel you may pass through each type of water a couple of times.

I have cruised the ICW much between North Carolina and the Caribbean, and chose to NOT get a watermaker. Sure there are times I wished I had it, but they do tend to be a pain in the butt to maintain.

I have crewed as engineer on several large vessels and my main job was taking care of propulsion and generator engines. But I spent the most time babysitting the watermakers!!!

There are plenty of places to get water on the ICW. I find I need to get it about as often as I need fuel, and if you buy fuel there is usually no charge for water. Or trash!!

In the Bahamas we had to pay for water in most places, but compared to whole trip expenses, it was a very minor cost.
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Old 10-04-2018, 08:52 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Zarih View Post
He was talking about his water tank and how often he refilled it. Which was not a problem for him, since he had a small diesel tank and refilled water when he refueled. He then said, if you have a watermaker, it's not a problem. For some reason, I thought the ICW was not saltwater. Since it's an inland waterway.

Better to ask than wonder.

Zarih

Well, the AICW is mostly salt but there are certainly exceptions. Watermakers don't *need* saltwater, they will filter any kind of water. As far as pollutants are concerned, one would have to consult the watermaker's manual to see what would and would not get filtered out. Considering the up front expense and maintenance required, I considered but decided not to purchase a watermaker for my coastal cruising.



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Old 10-04-2018, 08:55 AM   #8
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It all depends on the salinity of the water. There are membranes for brackish water but you can also dial the pump pressure down to around twice the the osmotic pressure of the input water. Last night near the Severn River that worked out to 340 psi or so.
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Old 10-04-2018, 08:56 AM   #9
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To extend Ski's comments, I have cruised the full length of the ICW and only stopped for water only (not fuel) a few times and all of those were at public watering spots like the city marina in Marathon.


If I had a watermaker on board, I wouldn't have used it in the ICW.


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Old 10-04-2018, 09:05 AM   #10
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They work great in clean ocean water, The ICW is silty in many areas and the silt clogs filters quickly.
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Old 10-04-2018, 10:18 AM   #11
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There is no issue using water makers on rivers or estuaries as long as you do not exceed the maximum product water flow rate. This means you'll run the water maker at much lower pressure than in salt water. Depending on how clean the water is you'll also have to clean/change filters more often.
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Old 10-04-2018, 10:24 AM   #12
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We have a 350 gallon water tank so fill it at home before we leave and we never have to get water while transiting the ICW.
We are having a water maker installed next month, recognizing it is not a financial decision but a convenience one. We have 1000 gallon fuel tankage so when cruising (Bahamas, Chesapeake etc.) We often have to call in just for water especially when we have guests on board. Plus the ability to have full showers every day, do laundry when we want, wash down the boat, has value to us.
We are putting in a fully automatic 475 gallon a day watermaker.
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Old 10-04-2018, 10:53 AM   #13
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Thank you all! So I conclude, no watermaker on the ICW and use it when out at sea. I'm just starting to research it and it seems marinas are pretty abundant. So filling up, shouldn't be a problem. How big is too big though, regarding length? I'm thinking 50-65ft.
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Old 10-04-2018, 11:39 AM   #14
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I make all my water because I like the taste and it's better than most coastal marina or city water. With proper filtering, you can make water almost anywhere. I use 4.5x20 filters that last at least a year on a liveaboard that has laundry and a dishwasher. I use a washable 20 and 5 micron filters that stop almost all of the silt found in rivers and bays. Then a 1 micron, CTO and GAC for taste. The 1 micron filter lasts a year, the others longer. After the membranes, a carbon filter. Because I have large tanks, I sometimes supply water to friends when rafting. I get great tasting water, people comment on it.
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Old 10-04-2018, 12:59 PM   #15
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Thank you all! So I conclude, no watermaker on the ICW and use it when out at sea. I'm just starting to research it and it seems marinas are pretty abundant. So filling up, shouldn't be a problem. How big is too big though, regarding length? I'm thinking 50-65ft.
Regarding length, 50-65ft is getting pretty big for ICW travel. Depends on how many souls on board. I run a smallish 38' and it is easy to handle by myself and comfortable traveling for two, somewhat ok for three, real tight for four.

Most I know with two on board tend to gravitate between 40 and 50ft.
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Old 10-04-2018, 01:08 PM   #16
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Thank you all! So I conclude, no watermaker on the ICW and use it when out at sea. I'm just starting to research it and it seems marinas are pretty abundant. So filling up, shouldn't be a problem. How big is too big though, regarding length? I'm thinking 50-65ft.
On the ICW draft is more important than length most places. You’re going to be calling ahead for a slip before the morning departure anyway, so you will know before leaving that the next marina has a long enough slip for you.
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Old 10-05-2018, 09:09 AM   #17
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WM is needed where no reliable pot water sources. That excludes great loop and tribs. So if off shore for extended travel WM makes sense, otherwise makes little sense.
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Old 10-05-2018, 09:35 AM   #18
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WM is needed where no reliable pot water sources. That excludes great loop and tribs. So if off shore for extended travel WM makes sense, otherwise makes little sense.
I could pickle it during the ICW and start using while in the ocean.
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Old 10-05-2018, 10:27 AM   #19
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The problem is....

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zarih View Post
So, I'm reading "What's up ditch" by Chris Dicroce. A very good book indeed. But he mentions watermakers here and there. I was under the impression that watermakers made salt water into regular water. Have I understood it wrong? And does a watermaker even work on the ICW? If it does, is the water clean enough? Is ICW salty?

Zarih
Not salt water, but all the organic material in the water. Water makers can also make water out of brackish water. The problem is that you will be changing the prefilters every 30 minutes if you try to make water in the ICW. The water will be fine you won’t taste any difference but you will be going through filters like crazy. I’m not sure why you would want to make water while in the ICW when you can go to any Marina or fuel dock and get great water for free.

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Old 10-05-2018, 11:13 AM   #20
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Thank you all! So I conclude, no watermaker on the ICW and use it when out at sea. I'm just starting to research it and it seems marinas are pretty abundant. So filling up, shouldn't be a problem. How big is too big though, regarding length? I'm thinking 50-65ft.

That's about max length for the ICW. The more important thing is air draft (height bove water) and hull draft (hull running depth). After hurricanes, shoaling is really bad along the ICW. A draft around three feet seems to be best in my opinion. Some friends drug bottom in their GB42 with a four-foot draft when running the ICW. That was in a marked channel and after a hurricane.


This website is dedicated to the Great Loop but a lot of it pertains to the ICW because it makes up a lot of the Great Loop. Here is the page about boat sizes. It should be useful.



Your Great Loop boat requirements and restrictions
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