Well over a year ago I was doing research on water makers – reverse osmosis water makers specifically.
I wanted a modular system, and had found one, but the price was about 5-6 thousand dollars.
I also researched building my own, and found I didn’t really have the time and money to slap-dash something together, only to find parts wouldn’t fit and I couldn’t make it work.
Then, one day I came across SeaWaterPro and decided to contact them. My first contact was with Mindy at SeaWater Pro.
I asked her a lot of questions in both email and messenger. Eventually, I was convinced for the cost of the system (1/3 the cost of the RainMan system at the time) I’d go with it for a test.
The system was modular, and I could build it into the boat in a piecemeal fashion, because as everyone knows, boats are limited on storage space, especially cruising vessels like our own.
As luck would have it, I purchased the kit over a year ago, and things began to happen. Engine issues, hurricane Florence and JoAnne was diagnosed with a return of cancer. In September last year we prepped the boat for Florence, and headed for Florida, storing the water-maker and most of our important things, expecting that Florence would make landfall as a Category four, here in Cape Fear Region.
She didn’t. Fortunately. (Read more here: Hurricane Florence)
In the end, we returned to Colorado, then back here to the ship to prep for winter, as we’d spend it there. Time got away from us. Six months in Colorado in the winter time, staying with my wonderful son, Nick. I know we probably stressed him out though we tried very hard to stay out of his hair the whole time.
Eventually, in April we returned.
I started devising ways to install the watermaker in the boat. Over the course of the next few weeks, I ended up making the decision to remove the 30 gallon stainless steel tank sitting under the settee, and replace it with the watermaker. The system would JUST fit in there.
Video of device in operation.
In fact, I could with relative ease, plumb the hoses and tubes I needed for input, output, overboard discharge, and electrical wiring under the seat.
Throughout it all, I kept in contact with Mike, the designer of the system, and he responded rapidly with both answers to my questions, and advice on various issues I had. Being an engineer myself in another life, it wasn’t difficult to understand the system, how it worked, but some things were rather vague for me – because I wasn’t familiar with the system yet.
Installation took me about two weeks, along with another delay of several days due to heat in the boat (the temperatures and humidity got to me).
When I finally plumbed everything I did I pressure test and it leak like a sieve. This was not the system’s fault, but mine. I had forgotten to use teflon tape on all the junctions and found I’d only applied it on some of the junctions. Disassembly was easy because I installed it so I could remove various parts, especially the pre-filters, for changing and cleaning.
Mike actually ended up shipping me some new parts due to the length of time from when I had originally ordered the system to present. He upgraded several items at no cost to me, which I sincerely appreciated.
A 1 hp electric motor and high pressure pump instead of his original design went into the boat.
I had to go buy a few extra feet of plastic hose to route the output, and I had to change a few fittings to get the right hoses in the right places.
In the end, I fit all the parts except the lift pump, and strainer under the settee. The lift pump and strainer are in the forward compartment under the Vee Berth, right next to the intake through hull. The saline overboard discharge also runs forward to an existing through hull above the water line.
There were no holes cut into the boat to do the job. I spent about 10 hours doing the install from scratch.
The second test was done under generator power. I wanted to run the machine off the generator, as I will do on anchor. I need to do a longer test to determine exactly how much gas it takes to fill my 60 gallon tank, but that is for another day.
I fired up the lift pump, let the system fill with water, checked for discharge water, and then fired up the pressure pump. Next you turn a pin valve to increase the pressure. At about 475-500 PSI the RO filter because to produce water.
The first bit (roughly an hour’s worth of run) must be run off to ensure the preservatives are removed from the RO filter. The device is adjusted to be a steady 21gpm (on my system) and when that part was finished, I began running fresh water to a bucket, and checking the Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) meter. It showed a consistent 78-88 reading. Checking with Mike once more, I found that because we are in the ICW and brackish water, we will run that low.
Pure sea water should run around 200 ppm, and FDA standards state that anything under 650 ppm is safe to drink.
When finished, I ran fresh water (from the outside faucet) through the (provided) carbon filter system to 1) remove chlorine, and 2) to flush the RO filter to prevent bacterial growth.
I have run the system twice in the past two weeks with very good results, as well as having plumbed the fresh water directly to another, already existing host to the 60 gallon tank down in the bilge.
I will include pictures later – probably tomorrow, as I’m just too tired to figure out where I put them all right now and upload them!
Over all, I give this system a 4.6 out of 5 stars….
Customer Service: 5.0
Difficulty of Assembly: 3.5
Documentation is mostly images, and probably works for most people, but the images do not necessarily show the exact parts in MY kit.
As to difficulty of assembly, the system is NOT hard to put together and make function. The hard part is really based on your particular needs, space availability and your own technical ability. While *I* can assemble nearly anything, including radio systems from scratch, and many mechanical items and devices, I also can read schematics and engineering documents. Not everyone has these abilities, or would have to work harder to accomplish the same thing I did. It might take longer.
But, Mike and Mindy have provided EXCEPTIONAL Customer service, responding instantly in some cases to emails, and in enough detail to help me figure out my immediate problems.
My final email to Mike was “Ok, it’s all installed and working. Any further advice to give?”
Mike responded with, “Yes, take your boat to the Bahamas !! “
Now that Dorian has gone through here, and I’m back in my regular slip, it’s time to run the machine again, make some water and do a few more tests, but at this point, I’m extremely happy with the system.