There is nothing quite like coming back to the boat after some beach time, then showering with fresh water. Having a watermaker aboard can make this happen.
There are systems such as the venerable Katadyn PowerSurvivor 40E, which sips only 4 amps and produces 1.5 gallons per hour (and converts to a manual unit in emergencies), and the fully automated Spectra Newport 400 MKII, which can produce 17 gallons per hour. You can find watermakers that are AC- or DC-powered, or take a look at the Sea Recovery Ultra Whisper system, which can switch between both power sources. For some cruisers, an engine-driven system, such as the SeaMaker from Cruise RO or the ECHOTec, is a good solution. These watermakers tend to have a somewhat more complicated installation and can be operated only while the engine is running, but can produce 40 or more gallons per hour.
1. Sea Recovery Ultra Whisper
Ideal for sailboats, the Ultra Whisper is designed for small spaces and limited electrical supply. The unit features one-button automatic operation and self-adjusts to the feed water conditions. Components can be installed as a single compact unit or separately, depending on your boat’s space constraints.
The Aqualite from FCI Watermakers (fciwatermakers.com) is made for sailors looking for a system that has a small footprint and low power draw and yet produces a meaningful amount of water. With a 200-gallon-per-day rate, the Aqualite can easily keep up with the water requirements of a cruising couple. Another perk? The unit weighs only 68 pounds.
3. Katadyn Survivor 06
Outfitting for offshore? Consider a watermaker just for your ditch bag. The Katadyn Survivor 06 ($1,200; katadyn.com) is a hand-operated desalinator that produces about 30 ounces of water per hour of pumping (so you’ll get your exercise too). The Survivor 06 utilizes Katadyn’s energy recovery system, which recirculates the pressurized wastewater (brine) to the back of the piston to aid in the next stroke, resulting in less manual effort needed to make fresh water.