Keep your strainer baskets clean and your A/C running strong.
It always happens with a boat full of guests on the hottest day of the summer. The smiles on the happy faces in the salon rapidly disappear when the air-conditioning cuts off due to a high-pressure fault. The culprit? Marine growth and barnacles clogging up the raw-water conduit that carries seawater to the equipment to keep it cool
If you run a boat with air-conditioning, you can likely relate to the scenario above. No matter how often you clean out your strainer baskets, the system still carries stowaways in the form of microorganisms that eventually grow into serious headaches. Chillers must stay cool to work properly, and if they are not being fed a constant flow of water, they will go down, leaving you with a costly yard bill or the untidy job of descaling the system with acid.
The founders of ElectroSea were tired of dealing with this issue on their 72-foot Viking sportfisher. To put an end to barnacles for good, they developed the ClearLine antifouling system which used an electrochlorination process to create chlorine from the salt in seawater entering the boat. Once chlorine is introduced, the water becomes uninhabitable for marine growth so you never have to worry about barnacles clogging up the piping. The product proved to be a game changer, ensuring a constant flow of seawater to run various ship’s systems without the need to descale. More than 60 of the top boatbuilders, including Princess, Ocean Alexander and Viking, now offer the product on their vessels.
While the original ClearLine system continues to perform, the company just introduced a new unit called the ElectroStrainer that not only protects the raw-water conduit but also keeps the strainer basket free of growth. The ElectroStrainer is a three-in-one product with an electrochlorinator, sea strainer and flow monitor. This unit will replace a traditional sea strainer, freeing up space in the engine room and alleviating the need to clean gunky baskets on a regular basis.
“It’s one of those products that is a must-have,” said Mike Ancona, captain of Maddie J II, an 80-foot Skylounge Hatteras. Ancona decided to install ElectroStrainer after the owners invested $30,000 in new A/C chillers. “I haven’t had to clean the strainer baskets in two months. The top of the unit is clear so I just hit it with a flashlight to make sure there’s no debris in there and I’m done.”
Maddie J II is docked at Admiral’s Cove, a golf community in Jupiter, Florida. The water is nutrient-rich, and combating marine growth was a never-ending battle. Ancona said he would normally have to clean the strainer baskets at least once a week, leaving black residue all over the engine room. There were also times where he had to replace entire sections of pipe running to the A/C units because they were choked with growth and black muck. Since installing the ElectroStrainer, Ancona has only cleaned the strainer baskets a couple of times out of habit, and he said even that only required a quick blast of the hose. He added that the built-in flow meter makes it much easier to monitor the system: “I can spend more time keeping the boat tidy and dealing with other systems that are more needy.”
The ElectroSea ClearVis flow sensor uses speed-of-sound technology to measure the velocity of the seawater moving through the system. This does away with the paddlewheel used in mechanical flow meters which can fail because of debris or wear and tear. The ClearVis sensor will create an alert if debris or grass gets into the strainer basket and disrupts the flow. The ElectroStrainer comes with an LCD screen that displays the flow rate in gallons or liters per minute. Installation of the system is quick and easy when retrofitting a boat as the unit is designed as a drop-in for older style sea strainers. In most cases, a technician can complete the job in a few hours with the boat in the water. Many boatbuilders also offer the technology as an option or standard equipment on their new boats. Once an ElectroStrainer is up and running, there is no maintenance schedule other than visual checks.
“ElectroStrainer is an innovative product that significantly decreases time spent in the engine room checking and cleaning sea strainers,” said Daniel Cosentino, ElectroSea’s CEO. “Boat owners and captains loathe dirty, fouled sea strainers that require constant maintenance. ElectroStrainer prevents biofouling right in its integrated strainer basket.”