>In early October I headed to Annapolis for the boat show to begin the final stages of preparing Pandora for more extended cruising. The big item on this year’s list was a water maker. Actually, more correctly a reverse osmosis unit. While water is readily available in the States, it’s tough to come by outside of the US and is often of questionable quality. In the Bahamas, where we will spend next winter, water isn’t free and it can cost upwards of $.40 a gallon. It will also be considerably easier to manage water usage when we can make our own. Interestingly, we only use about 15 gallons a day without doing much conservation so that’s not a lot to make.
We generally don’t go to docks very much. I have to say that Brenda isn’t all that fond of approaching a dock although she has become quite adept at managing the 25,000+ bulk of Pandora in confined spaces. It’s amazing just how big Pandora seems when you are near a dock and yet how small she seems far from shore in rough conditions. As far as dock-going last summer, we only went to a dock a single time between July 2nd and September 2nd, two months, and that was to get water, not fuel. During that time we only used about 35 gallons of fuel and yet I was filling Pandora’s water tanks on a regular basis via 5 gallon plastic jugs. I have to say that the idea of making our own water instead of the laborious “water runs” in the dink is really appealing.
There are a few problems with these units. First, they are really expensive and run in the range of several thousand to ten grand or more. Other factors include water volume output, energy consumption per gallon of pure water and complexity of maintenance.
After looking at perhaps a dozen different units at the show, I settled on a unit that is widely used by cruisers and it is also quite energy efficient. While I don’t want to think about the cost per gallon of water produced, I feel very comfortable with my choice. The unit that I purchased is considered to be fairly bullet proof and is actually the same model that is used on the Volvo Ocean Racers. The brand name “Cape Horn Xtreme“, certainly suggests that it is tough. It sure looks complicated. I am not sure if they choose the model because of it durability or just because they wanted to get one of the most expensive units.
This video clearly demonstrates that my new watermaker is probably about the only thing that Pandora has in common with the Volvo boats. Well, Pandora does have a plumb bow. I guess that I had better not go out in weather like these guys seem to enjoy if I expect Brenda to continue sailing with me.
Perhaps I should hire a video production company to do a promotional video for Pandora. Perhaps not as it would likely take my entire year long cruising budget and that still wouldn’t be enough.
I expect that the VOR boats have this unit on board also because it’s very energy efficient. Energy efficiency is very important on a boat like Pandora as the making and using of electricity has to be very carefully managed to be sure that we aren’t making less than we are using. I have written a lot about Pandora’s solar panels and small portable generator so I won’t repeat myself. It’s sufficient to say that this unit should be great and only uses about 1/3 of the power of most others on the market. Water makers are actually very popular today and are based on a fairly simple concept. Perhaps more than you want to know about penguins but this article is a good primer on the subject.
There’s lots more to do to Pandora this winter to get her (and us) ready for your big trip south next fall and I will be writing more about it in the coming weeks. For now, I have to get through Christmas and into the new year. 2012 will be a very interesting year with lots of exciting experiences aboard Pandora with sailing in New England waters this summer followed by a trip down the Inter coastal Waterway to Florida and the Bahamas beginning next Fall.
It is indeed a bummer that Pandora is on the hard again but at least I can look forward to next winter when she will be heading south and won’t need to be winterized. However, I don’t want to get ahead of myself so that’s enough for now. More about that in a future post.
For now, I will have to satisfy myself with planning and reading the blog of our friends Roger and Ilene aboard their SAGA 43 “Ilene” who are headed back to New York over the next 7 months from the island Grenada.