Why are we buying water when we own a Spectra Watermaker, built by one of the leading (and most expensive) water maker companies? It's a good question. And I'll get to the answer after I talk a little about water and cruising in the Sea of Cortez.
When we set about outfitting Just a Minute in that crazy two weeks before we left, we knew for sure that we wanted a water maker for our cruise. It was one of the best decisions we made. We purchased the Spectra 15 gallon per hour model. Spectra is really great due to its low power usage. Our solar panels supply enough power to run it. I love being able to take solar power and make fresh drinking water out of sea water. And the water tastes so good. It is magic! An abundant source of fresh clean water makes life a joy.
There are lots of cruisers who either do not have water makers or they have water makers that do not produce many gallons per hour. These cruisers are constantly thinking about their fresh water usage and use salt water for taking baths, washing dishes/clothes, washing off their boat - then quickly rinsing in fresh. It's a lot of work. When one of these cruisers see us giving Rudy a thorough fresh water shower on the back steps after every swim (sometimes three or four times a day) they are flabbergasted. We have to do it for his health - it keeps him from breaking out in hot spots. And we do the same for ourselves - it keeps our boat interior from getting inundated with salt residue, which helps it last longer. We are water pigs, and happy to be that way. OINK!
If you were only cruising in America and Canada, you could easily get along by refilling your tanks at the marinas, but in Mexico that is not really an option. Most Mexican marinas do not offer potable water on their docks. Or if they do offer it, it often tastes bad. So if you don't have a good water maker, then you have to buy water and fill your tanks from five gallon jugs. Which is what we found ourselves doing just yesterday. It's a lot of work. Buying, loading, hauling, and filling tanks with 160 gallons of water is an effort, and expensive.
Which brings us to the answer of why we bought water. After two years of babying along our Spectra, it finally had a catastrophic failure two weeks ago. Thank God we were at anchor (not running the engines) and we heard the faint little "PHeewwt" sound that heralded the absolute cascade of water that came gushing into our boat under our bed. If we had been underway, we never would have heard it and the boat would have been filling up like a bathtub. (Once again we are incredibly lucky in our bad luck!)
During our two years with the Spectra we have had almost innumerable problems, even though we have faithfully followed the manufacturer's care instructions. It has only been making 1/2 of its advertised output for about one year; both feed pumps have failed seperately; a stainless steel pipe developed hi-pressure pin hole leaks; and now the membrane housing has cracked. One of the feed pumps was covered under warranty, but everything else has happened outside the warranty. We have been using it extensively for two years,
Would I recommend getting a large output water maker before starting a cruise - absolutely. Would I recommend Spectra brand - probably not. We are already thinking about replacing our Spectra with a CruiseRO water maker. It's a much cheaper, simpler, higher output water maker which needs a generator to operate. Interested? You can find them at http://www.cruiserrowater.com/