Saturday, October 1, 2011

Looking Back, do we really need a Water Maker?

Before heading up to the Puget Sound area I asked lots of folks about their experience with and without water makers.  As expected I got both answers, some said No Need, Water is available anywhere, others pointed out they used theirs all the time.  Here is kind of my summery after spending the summer in the Islands.

We hold 225gal of water and that will last us 8-10 days - depending on how much laundry we do. This is our Life and it is not camping.  We shower daily, wash dishes, and even clean our clothes!  Not looking to spend the next 10-20 years finding Pride in stretching 5 gallons of water over two weeks.

One person pointed out that we will need to get into port every week or so to re-provision, and that has held true for us.  Picking up a slip for a night would allow easy access to groceries and the water bib to refill the tank.  I think this is a VERY workable scenario and as such one would not really need a water maker here.

However, we have found that we will often Dingy in to get groceries.  Either because we are just too cheap to pay for moorage for one night, which can run up to $80 for a boat our size during peak season,  or because there is no dockage available (e.g., Blind Bay).

Some folks have said 'No Problem, just pull up to a Fuel Dock and fill your tanks there'.  Well, we carry 8 mo+ of fuel, and I would not feel right pulling up and just taking water.  'Just buy Gas for your Dinghy then' was a suggested solution.  We have used 2 gal of gas ALL SUMMER for our dinghy, again taking on 200 Gal of water and purchasing perhaps a cup of gas every week does not feel right either.

One of the few truly great pieces of advice for cruisers when trying to make a decision like this is to just start Cruising and see what you end up doing / needing. Last summer on the Columbia we found lots of water sources without the above issues and did not use our water maker.  However this summer we ended up using the water maker several times.  We also used water bibs when they were available to us, but I think without the water maker we would have felt severely limited in our water usage.  And a bonus?  Some dock's water just tastes terrible (Friday Harbor!).  I mean worse than the City of Vancouver WA water if you can imagine. . .   Our RO water basically has no taste as long as we have not let the pre-filters stink up too much from lack of use / flushing.

In the end:  IF you are of the type that picks up slips often, I would say no need for a water maker.  HOWEVER:  If you are the type that anchors out a lot, even anchoring out at a Marina (ala Roche Harbor), then get a water maker.  And make it the largest one you can.  They are all noisy during operation; I would not want to have to listen to one run for 2-4 times longer than our current setup.

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