Cost: $6,000 to $15,000
When our fishing team was getting ready for its last week-long-plus excursion, at about my tenth trip to the car to get more cases of bottled water I blurted out. “It’s time to get a watermaker!”
Now this is a well-equipped boat: It has two refrigerators, a massive Eskimo ice maker, air conditioning everywhere, and the latest electronics. Why shouldn’t we save some stowage space (and even a little money over the long haul) with a watermaker?
The advantages of this device, which comes in both modular (above) and packaged systems and can cost between $6,000 and $15,000, are straightforward: First, no more carrying cases of water onboard when making extended trips. And second, when boating to a port where the local water is questionable or just bad-tasting, you can simply make, drink, and bathe in your own chemical-, parasite-, and metal-free potable water.
These days major watermaker manufacturers like Sea Recovery, Spectra, and others even build units that can fit in the engine rooms of boats as small as 35 feet, while offering up almost 350 gallons of fresh water per day. Megayacht-size units can produce as much as 6,800 gallons per hour!
According to Sea Recovery, you can leave the water tank empty on a long run and fill it when you get to your destination, which will save weight and may save on fuel costs while potentially enhancing your boat’s speed, too. Best of all, your cruising destinations are expanded as you’re not limited to areas where you need a guaranteed a supply of fresh water. Drink up!
Cost: $30 to $1,300
Just a few years ago, the only solar-powered products you’d find in most marine stores were those circular ventilation devices.
Things sure are different these days. Most marine stores now carry a slew of solar products, and probably the hottest of the lot is the photovoltaic panel that turns sunlight into D.C. electricity that you can use to charge batteries and/or battery banks and also power up D.C. equipage like cellphones.
There are various types of panels, manufactured in various ways, and designed to supply various marine needs. Monocrystalline types are the most efficient. They’re made from a single cylindrical crystal of silicon using a complex process and so they tend to cost more than the others. Polycrystalline types are less efficient and slightly cheaper—they’re made by cutting microfine wafers from ingots of molten silicon. And finally, there’s photovoltaic film—it is made by depositing thin layers of photovoltaic film onto a substrate of amorphous silicon or some other substance.
Whichever type you choose, adding a solar panel to your boat can reduce your genset usage and wear-and-tear, as well as reduce your CO2 and other emissions. Prices for these panels range from a couple hundred dollars for a flexible panel to trickle-charge batteries or power small appliances (like cellphones and MP3 players) to a couple of thousand dollars for fixed-mount panels that can replenish a 12-volt electrical system overnight. Add the appropriate number of charge controllers (to obviate battery damage), and you just might be able to spend your nights on the hook without having to crank your genset at all.
—Capt. Bill Pike
This article originally appeared in the October 2009 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.