The end of plastic water bottles on our boat!
As I mentioned in my last post, I have been looking for a good system for purifying the fresh water in our tanks to make it safe to drink. Not only is it a huge waste to use plastic water bottles, it’s also a major inconvenience to constantly carry them from shore to the boat. Not to mention they take up a lot of space, and then have to be disposed of properly when they are empty.
90% of the water that goes into our tanks is from our watermaker, so it’s pure and safe to drink. The problem is that after it has been sitting in the tanks for a while, bacteria will grow, and it starts to taste like plastic. There are also times when we can’t or don’t want to run the watermaker, for example when we are in a marina, so we have to use dock supplied water, which can never be guaranteed to be safe to drink.
There are three main options for purifying drinking water that I am aware of:
Charcoal filters and sterilization tablets: This would be the entry level solution. It involves running the water from the tank through a fine charcoal filter which will get rid of odors, bad tastes and chemicals, but it won’t kill bacteria. The bacteria has to be treated by putting sterilizing tablets in the tanks. The problem with this option, is your are adding chemicals (iodine and chlorine) to your drinking water, and it’s hard to keep track of how many tablets are needed and how often they should be used.
RO and UV systems: The next option is to use a powered reverse osmosis system or a UV sterilizing light that the water passes through before it is dispensed at the tap. These are active systems and they work well, but they are more expensive to install and maintain, and they use power and add complexity to the boat.
Water purifying filters: These systems use passive filtration cartridges to remove harmful contaminants from the water. In order to be classified as a purifier, products sold in the USA have to meet EPA standards for removal of bacteria, viruses and cysts. This is of course required to be an alternative to bottled water, but we also need to remove chemicals, pesticides, bad tastes and odors, and there are very few affordable products on the market that are cable of removing all harmful contaminants from drinking water.
Based on my research, and testimonials from other sailors, it seems the Seagull IV purifying filter from General Ecology in the USA is one of the best purifying filters available, although it is quite expensive at $640 for a complete system. When we were at the Paris Boat show, I stopped by the AquaPure booth. AquaPure is a European distributor for General Ecology products, and they had a very knowledgeable team at the show.
They are now selling a new system from General Ecology called Nature Pure QC2. This system uses the same microbiological filter technology as the Seagull IV, but it’s half the price, and has a more compact and easier to service filter canister.
I purchased a system from AquaPure and did the installation on the boat last week. The kit provided by AquaPure includes the faucet, hoses and fittings needed to install the system on the boat. The only problem I had was the size of the connecting hoses that run from the main water line to our faucet were bigger than the T fitting provided, so I have to purchase some adapters before I can make the final connections to the water supply line.
The installation was very easy. I decided to install the new faucet to the left of the salt water supply tap.
I had to drill a hole in the sink to mount the faucet (which is always fun). I didn’t have a hole saw for the 3/4″ hole required, so I drilled a 3/8″ hole and used a round file to make it the correct size.
Installing the filter unit under the sink was also really easy. The mounting bracket for the filter has three holes that get screwed to the bulkhead. Just be sure to mount it close enough to the pipes that it is going to tap into, because the connecting hoses provided with the kit are pretty short.
The T fitting provided in the kit for connecting into the water line was the wrong size for the lines on our boat. It is the same size as the small diameter lines used on high pressure residential sinks. Outremer installs larger diameter water lines on their boats to increase flow and reduce pump energy. It’s just a simple matter of fitting adapters, but I will need to purchase some before I can complete the installation and test the filter. No big deal, but impossible to find in Hammamet Tunisia!
As soon as I get the connector fitted I will test the system, and that should be the end of plastic water bottles on Wildling!!!