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Thoughts on Watermakers


Mark Pearson
Staff member
We are getting ready to do 1-2 month jaunts into the wild (off grid) - where we will not be able to fill up with public water.

We love having enough fresh water for showers, cleaning the boat, dishes, etc. It makes voyaging much more pleasant in our opinions.

So Zia is going to get the final big-ticket item that she hasn't gotten yet: a watermaker.

We have tried many different watermaker manufacturers on charter boats, read many reviews, talked with vendors, etc. We want a 12 volt model because we don't want to haul a generator or big inverter. And we want a very energy efficient model so it doesn't gobble our batteries.

For these reasons, we have settled on a Spectra Ventura 200T. A close runner up is Village Marine.

Amazing to me, but we should be able to run this watermaker off of our solar panels.

We are going to put the water feed pump, sea strainer, and preliminary filters under the sink in the head. This is because we already have un-used thru-hulls there after we replaced our marine head with a composting toilet. We also have lots of room under the sink because the head piping and valves are now gone. I'm pretty sure the Clark pump and membranes will not fit under the head sink, though.

So we are considering putting the Clark pump and membranes under the starboard cowling (aft of the navigation table) - this is an un-used space. I know some people (like Terry Thatcher and others) mounted the membrane in the closet opposite of the head. But we really hate to lose the (coveted by us) closet space.

Does anyone have any advice or experience they could share about watermakers?

This is quite a big expense, but we don't view it as a 'sunk' cost (pun intended!). Most people don't need watermakers and if we sell Zia, we will probably take it out and either sell it separately or put it into a new boat. The resale values seem quite high for used Spectras.

Thanks in advance, and I hope everyone is doing well!

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Good to hear from you Mark. I have a Spectra 150. Works great after being on the boat for 6 1/2 years, much of that time pickled with antifreeze. ( have to do it each year, even if you have not run the machine--learned that during the Pandemic years.) Made the trip to Polynesia possible and now most marinas in BC won't give water, a water maker has become important there too. (They are in a massive drought, their forests are burning and global warming is a hoax.) Doesn't make quite as much as the 200. Mine is located under the cockpit coaming in the port locker, hanging from a bracket my machinist made. Bracket is thru-bolted to the side deck outside the coaming. Completely out of the way and the water lines run under the icebox. Brine discharge goes into the torpedo tube. 3/4" through hull is just aft of the engine through hull. They recommend a scoop kind of fitting for when the boat is moving, so you may need to alter your head through hull. You will need to plumb in a way to send your onboard water to the machine to flush it after making water. My pump and filters on forward bulkhead of cockpit locker. Were I to do it again, I would spring for the Z-ion system, which makes trips off the boat for more than five days easier. The area under my starboard cockpit coaming contains my drop-down chart locker. I would recommend you consider putting the Clark pump under the port coaming as I did. But you know ZIA better than I do. A friend got a new, in the box, 150 7 years ago off Ebay for $1K. I had no such luck. Oh, one more thing I learned just this year. If you are trying to make water while you are significantly heeled, the pump can suck air and stop producing water. Easily remedied by opening the pressure valve on the Clark pump once you are on a more even keel.
Forgot one thing. The feed pump by ShurFlo rusted up the first winter it sat unused, but I have not had that problem subsequently.
Hi there, Terry! I remembered that wrong - I thought you had yours in the closet across from the head. I guess that was someone else.
We have our Webasto heater under the port cowling and there is not enough room for the membrane there.

I’ve been considering the Z-Ion system add-on. But my thinking was either we will be living aboard and using the watermaker at least every 5 days, or we will be gone for a while (probably more than 30 days), and will pickle it. It costs another boat buck ($1k) for the Z-Ion system as I understand it. I’m also a little worried about the long term health effects for silver ions being in our water, but corporations would never sell us something that is not healthy, would they?! ;)

I didn’t know that most marinas in BC didn’t let you take on water anymore. That’s where we’ll be this summer so further reason to shell out the boat bucks for a new water maker.

We would sure like to buy you a sandwich and beer at the club and pick your brain. We are considering circumnavigating Vancouver Island and would love to hear your advice.
So, you left Zia alone in Washington State.. Hope the tax collectors don't take her away. You can always email me to meet. I have been around Vancouver Island twice. It is a marvelous trip.
Terry - I was considering doing the Brine discharge into the torpedo tube. Then I read someplace that it should be installed somewhere that you can see the discharge. I'm not sure exactly why you'd need to see the discharge.

You have your Brine discharge going into the torpedo tube - is that a good choice in your opinion?

Yeah, we bit the bullet and paid the Washington taxes so we could be fully legit in Washington. Seems crazy to need to pay essentially a sales tax on a 40+ year old boat we bought 11 years ago. It was quite pricy too.:(
I can see the brine trickling out of the torpedo tube, but not easily when we are underway, because of wake effects. I guess it is a way to guarantee that the Clark pump is working properly. If you are putting the Clark pump up under the cockpit coaming, you could put in a thru hull fairly high on the hull Might be easier than crawling around under the cockpit. If you do, remember to ream out and epoxy over the core.

You also need access to the small black tube that discharges the product water when you first start. My test tube just runs into the cockpit so I can test the water, before turning the valve to the tank.

I am confident you can figure it all out from the manual. I did it and you are obviously better at plumbing than I am, given the beautiful job you did on your fresh water system.