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Thinking about adding a water maker this winter

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  • Thinking about adding a water maker this winter

    We are thinking about adding a water maker this winter. Leaning towards a US Watermaker, Clearwater 400 gpd. I’ve know several people who have them and they all speak highly of them. Anyone else want to chime in on favorite brands and what they like/dislike about them?

    I am considering three mounting locations.
    1. Inside my hull extension
    2. In the P lazzerette
    3. Inside the utility area up against the hatch leading to the engine space. (We have the center hatch for engine access so this access is unnecessary)

    Can anyone share their experiences on the pluses and minuses of these locations?
    2000 4788 w Cummins 370's, underhulls, swim step hull extension
    12' Rendova center console with 40HP Yamaha
    MV Kia Orana
    Currently Enjoying the PNW

  • #2
    I am looking to do the same - this is the unit I have been looking at
    SeaWater Pro's portable watermakers use reverse osmosis to convert seawater into clean drinking water. Our systems produce 20-40 gallons per hour, are easy to install and maintain, and are perfect for boaters and RV enthusiasts. Based in Fort Lauderdale, FL, we provide affordable, high-quality water desalination...

    Because of the cold water in PNW I would be looking at the 40GPH model but expect more like 28-30GPH. My typical generator time is 3-4h/day so it would be almost like being at home for how we use water.

    Hull extension would be good for noise and easy plumbing but probably really bad for corrosion. Every watermaker I have seen for whatever reason is always a giant rustball I want to give mine a shot at staying in a dry space.

    My boat is similar but not same as a 45/47 and I am seriously thinking about under the master bed. Noise would be about as far away as you could get it from where you are living since genset only runs when you are out of bed. Plumbing would be a PITA from there as well and I will probably install in an area I have forward of engine room under the galley that is a nice dry area and easy access to the water tank.
    1999 Sandpiper Pilothouse - Current
    1989 3888 - 2011-2019, 1985 Contessa - 2005-2011, 1986 21' Trophy 1998-2005
    Nobody gets out alive.


    • #3
      Steve, I’ve sent you an email with a brand Schenker Zen, an imported European (Swiss) URL that I found at a local boat show a couple of months back. It impressed me being compact and could run on 12 or 24v. I did some initial research and was thinking about putting it in the portside engine room rear corner… I have the rear corner engine hatch so access is easy and lots of space there. I was also thinking of “T”ing off the rear wash down pump feed hose, saving on another thru hull fitting.

      Hope this helps…. Cheers

      ps. I’m adding the url here for anyone else that’s interested, but bear in mind the website is from the Australian distributor. I’m sure it would be available via a US agent…. Google the brand and see what pops up 🤭.
      John H
      Brisbane QLD Aust

      2000 - 4788/Cummins 370's


      • #4
        I have a 40 GPH watermaker and use it every day. In the last 5 years I have not taken on dock water, and I think everyone here knows that I'm a stayaboard.

        The main components of my watermaker are mounted in the lazarette. The control panel is mounted in the aft cabinet port side in the salon.

        The product water goes directly into my tanks or to a spigot on the galley sink. That way I can fill up my water jugs for the refrigerator or the tanks.

        My opinion is whatever you buy make sure it has no proprietary parts. This allows you to buy replacement parts like membranes off of amazon for example.

        My system was originally pruchased from Rich Boren over at Cruise RO water and power . But, again it is all non proprietary parts and it has been somewhat modified to fit my needs.

        The membranes are dupont filmtec sw25-40 which are the gold standard in membranes. Mine are a standard 2.5" X 40" and are rated at 42 GPH production.
        Driving the membranes is a general pump stainless steel pressure pump.
        There is a low pressure pump feeding that ,and I have settled on a variable speed 12 volt pump i think a jabsco.
        In front of that are two prefilters one a 20 micron, one a 5 micron both in industry standard 10" housings available at any home depot or home store.

        As a FYI I am getting about three years of every day use out of my membranes, and just replaced them again, with units I purchased on Amazon for around $250 each.


        Whats the weather like on the boat

        Where am I right now?


        • #5
          Like Kevin, I have a Cruise RO unit. It Is installed in the Starboard lazerette with the control panel in the Starboard storage compartment in the cockpit. I chose Cruise RO for all the reasons Kevin mentioned, and one he left out. Today is Saturday and we are done using the unit for the season, I had a question about pickling the unit. I emailed Rich with my question and had the answer back in 5 minutes. Cruise RO customer service is probably the best I've experienced in the marine industry.

          The only other suggestion I would make is to add a plankton filter to the unit. For us this is a 50 micron filter in front of the 20 and 5 micron filters.


          • Nikko
            Nikko commented
            Editing a comment
            We too have a Cruise RO unit - an old one rated for 20GPM. It had been idle for years before we bought the boat, and per above, they were fantastic in assisting me with getting it fired up again. We just returned from a 3 week trip in cold PNW waters. We ran it every day when we ran the gennie and never saw below 18gpm... It's mounted on the port laz with the control panel mounted on the inside transom skin, also port side - very handy and simple to access/plumb/wire etc...

        • #6
          We have a much older unit…ocean marine like Kevin share what makes it a great choice is that 20 years later we can still get membranes and the pumps are all name brands with
          models that parts are available for at place online or even grainier

          Ours is in port Laz I would suggest the stern or boat for a few reasons water pickup while under way, noise and vibration and easy of maint to membranes and prefilters

          our unit is over 25 years old and has 1000’s hours…the more you use longer it last is my opinion
          USCG OUPV
          1990 4588
          Carlsbad, CA


          • #7
            I have US Watermaker 400. It's in the laz plumbed to the wash down thru hull. Teed into the water filler line. Added a fresh water wash down. Good service from the family run factory. Compact unit. I run it daily and work off the top of the tank.
            1989 26' then 1994 32' now 2001 39'


            • #8
              We installed our Cruise RO 30gph watermaker in Spring of 2021. After two seasons of frequent use, it continues to be fantastic. We have no issue achieving rated or higher output in cool SE Alaska waters. The customer support from Rich at Cruise RO is second to none.
              MV Dreams - 1999 3988
              330 Cummins
              Wrangell, AK


              • gfrodel
                gfrodel commented
                Editing a comment
                Can you share location of your components and how those choices turned out. From another 3988 owner who is embarking on the project. Greg F

            • #9
              Like Uncle Bob, we also have a US Watermaker Clearwater series 400GPD unit which we installed in early 2016. Performance has been good, and the doubts we had on the modest water production (400 GPD = +/- 17 GPH) were unfounded and we have lots of water without having to limit use.
              We’re fortunate to have enough space in the engine room to mount the unit, but I confess, the operating noise rivals the noise made by the generator, so mounting location may be important in many cases. I’m sure that being located in a dry space Is also beneficial to prevent corrosion.
              Bayliner 5788
              'Merlin V'
              Vancouver BC


              • #10
                I've got an old HRO that I bought used. Despite the PO's assurances, it wasn't operational but managed to get it going. Despite it being an old unit, the tech at Parker Hannifin was amazing. That counts for a lot, since sure as rain it'll need something along the line. Mine is only 7gph but rather than supply all my water needs, it stretches time between fills.
                1988- 3288, 1994- 3288, now Soul Asset: 2001- 3788 w/330s


                • #11
                  We purchased from SeawaterPro and have the 40GPH version -- it normally puts out 40GPH here in the PNW for us. Seems to be important to to not have the membranes in the engine room for all water makers because of the heat. We have a 3988 with only 100G water tank so this was a game changer for us -- we were out for about 6 weeks this summer and took showers every day. Similar to Cruise RO in that there are no proprietary parts .. you can install each component pretty much where it makes sense for you (the rest is just plumbing) and since you put it together you end up understanding the system better. We share the washdown pump thru-hull with a diverter valve. Support from Seawater Pro has been excellent and the system was very affordable.

                  We have a hull extension also and decided NOT to install there because of lack of ventilation and corrosion issues. Pumps are in the port lazerette and the controls, membranes and pre filters are in the port cockpit access hatch.
                  Althea -- 2000 3988 270 Cummins, Hull Extension
                  Semiahmoo, WA


                  • #12
                    Follow up. I bought a Cruise RO unit with auto flush and am laying out the install. Can you guys take pics of locations where you installed the components. Also interested in pics of how you installed components showing brackets/mounting. Any and all pics will be very helpful! Thanks!

                    Kevin, I think you told me you located the control panel in the aft port side cabinet. Can you post pics of how you did that? Did you mount the auto flush control box there as well? Thanks!
                    2000 4788 w Cummins 370's, underhulls, swim step hull extension
                    12' Rendova center console with 40HP Yamaha
                    MV Kia Orana
                    Currently Enjoying the PNW


                    • jimbo88
                      jimbo88 commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Here is the link to my 3988 Install (Seawater Pro Component system) -- .. take you time to think it out and plan for maintenance access. I goofed on access to the drain plug for changing the pump oil.

                    • Woodsea
                      Woodsea commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Very clean install Jimbo! Thanks for the pics! Did you mount your strainer down near your wash down thru hull? I was just going to tee into the line above the thru hull and put a shut off ball valve going to the water maker strainer. I would only be using one at a time but I wonder if the wash down would try to pull from the Watermaker system strainer circuit?

                    • jimbo88
                      jimbo88 commented
                      Editing a comment
                      I have a diverter valve on the existing washdown through hull -- each pump ( washdown & boost) have there own strainer. Neither have been very dirty. I do have 2 unused capped off through hulls forward of the engines that used to be for seawater flush toilets. I was thinking of changing to a magnetic boost pump at some point as it would all be below the waterline and priming should not be an issue. It is a longer run for the hose back ti the system and also a smaller diameter through hull so I am not sure if the flow would be good enough.

                  • #13
                    Post 5 mentions a 50 micron plankton filter in front of the 20 and 5 micron filters. I have a 75 micron plankton filter in front of the 5 micron filter. Purpose was to eliminate the need for the 20. Works without issues and eventually pays for itself.
                    1989 26' then 1994 32' now 2001 39'


                    • #14
                      When I had my 4788 I installed a Village Marine 400gpd unit that I bought used with low hours for $1,500. I fed it by taking over the wash down thru hull. I then teed into the supply side of the fresh water pump for the product water which allowed it to fill either tank and didn't require getting at the harder to find fill lines. I teed the brine discharge to the large cockpit drain overboard. I then connected the anchor washdown to the fresh water system and no longer had salt water all over my deck when I washed the anchor, with the water maker I preferred never to use salt water for the wash down.

                      On my current boat the water maker came with bad membranes, I sourced two complete Village Marine 1200GPD modular units for the purpose of taking their brand new membranes (and pressure vessels) and adapting them to my sea recovery system, it came with 6 and I am using 3, gave 3 to my parents for their boat.

                      It is very easy to adapt parts from one system to another and as Kevin and others have said it is very helpful to buy parts that are off the shelf compatible/generic. If my sea recovery control board system dies I will go much more simple but it works for now.

                      Some thoughts:
                      1. On my village marine on my 4788 I had a single pre-filter. I used a 5 micron cartridge, they were about $3-$5 a few years ago, I think they are closer to $8-10 now. Either way I changed it EVERY DAY, immediately after use. This kept the plastic housing from picking up the bad smells. If I left for even a few hours the plastic housing would smell and water would not taste near as good. It was a minimal cost to have GREAT water.

                      2. On my current system I have a plankton filter followed by one of those large commercial pre-filters, the damn elements are about $80. I DO NOT LIKE this. I don't have to replace it daily like I did the small ones but I do spend more on these filters and they are smellier to change and harder to change--the small ones were the way to go! I do like the plankton filter though regardless, it really does help out. Ideally I would use a plankton filter and then a single 5 micron that I would replace daily, but I think there can be capacity issues on the 10" 5 micron filters for systems over 40gph and I am pushing over 50.

                      3. CHECK YOUR HP PUMP OIL. Last summer my water making was running and I went down to change the laundry when I heard it sound a little off. I checked on it and the HP pump was HOT and not happy, it had run out of oil. I have no idea how or why. I let it cool and added oil. I then ran it, it sounded normal and I thought all was good until I noticed it completed MELTED the oil cap! I can only imagine how hot that pump must have got to melt the oil cap. I have been scared to use it since and am in the process of replacing it now.

                      My service people affectionally call my watermaker the frankenwatermaker given it presently has a boost pump from the village marine system, membranes from the village marine, fci commercial pre-filter, and a hose timer for the automatic flush all connected in some way to an in frame sea recovery system designed for 600gpd but easily making 1200+.

                      If anyone has need I have two ac motors and 8gpm pressure pumps mounted on boards and belt driven. These are in perfect condition. I would happily trade one for a 4.2gpm general pump and motor or be open to reasonable offers if these could be of help to someone else, they are big/heavy and I don't want to waste the space needed or have to run high pressure lines that far, etc. to make use, plus they will use far more power, but they are certainly great for someone that could use them!
                      1997 Pacific Mariner 65'- Permission Granted
                      Detroit Diesels 8v92TTA
                      NL Generators
                      1998 Novurania 430DL, 2021 70HP Yamaha

                      Formerly 2000 Bayliner 4788
                      Formerly 2001 Maxum 3300
                      Formerly 1996 Celebrity 265


                      • #15
                        Originally posted by Woodsea
                        Follow up. I bought a Cruise RO unit with auto flush and am laying out the install. Can you guys take pics of locations where you installed the components. Also interested in pics of how you installed components showing brackets/mounting. Any and all pics will be very helpful! Thanks!

                        Kevin, I think you told me you located the control panel in the aft port side cabinet. Can you post pics of how you did that? Did you mount the auto flush control box there as well? Thanks!
                        I'll send photos next week but I have the same unit, and here is what I did

                        Remember I was in a freezing weather situation, and now being in a warm weather climate I would maybe make other choices.

                        The low pressure pump is on the shelf at the far aft of the lazarette. Easy choice there. The pre filters are in the laz as well on the edge of ther port cockpit hatch.

                        The membranes are in the port lazarette, as well as the HP pump. The membranes are running port-starboard at ther aft end of the flat area in the laz. The pressure pump is to port and right against the muffler.

                        The valve assembly is in the engine room. The control panel is in the aft cabinet port side in the top In reality it uses up very little room. In a warmer climate I would use the space on the port side behind the plastic door in the cockpit.

                        The product water runs to a tee in on the inpiut side of the potable water pump.
                        The "test" or "sample" water runs to a spigot emptying into the galley sink, perfect fore filling water jugs.

                        i have a inline TDS meter installed that I bought from Amazon.

                        KEVIN SANDERS
                        4788 DOS PECES - SEWARD ALASKA - LA PAZ BCS MEXICO

                        Whats the weather like on the boat

                        Where am I right now?