Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Dealing with Water

Well, I've been back on the boat at the marina for a couple weeks now.  In some aspects it has been nice and in others...well, no so much.  As I mentioned, one of the main purposes of this trip was to get some basic maintenance done.  Unfortunately, even if you aren't actively using a boat, there is still ongoing maintenance.

In addition to the above-the-waterline cleaning I did a few days after arrival, I've also spent some time cleaning the interior and had divers come out and clean the bottom of the boat and check the condition of the sacrificial zincs.  The boat is starting to look a bit more cruise-ready once again. Below the waterline the report from the divers was that everything was looking good, with little other than some soft growth that was wiped away.  I guess that bottom job done in Baltimore has performed well and the Petit Hydrocoat is doing a good job at keeping growth at bay.

One of my many tasks was to test, sanitize and refill the fresh water system on the boat.  When we left the boat we made the calculated decision to not winterize since temperatures generally do not get all that cold for very long in Southport.  So, naturally, I arrived just after a once in 50 year cold spell and was concerned there might have been a bit of damage.  Fortunately, almost everything survived unscathed.  The only loss was a plastic fitting that feeds the main shower's handheld wand.  I guess there was a little water trapped in the hose and it managed to freeze and break the fitting.  The rest of the system was fine.  After the water was drained from the tanks, a sanitizing solution of bleach and water was used to clean the tanks and plumbing.  After the solution was circulated and allowed to work for several hours, I drained the tanks and then refilled with fresh water. I then replaced the drinking water filter that we have mounted under the galley sink and the system is again ready for use.
The 3M Drinking Water Filter

Recently The Boat Galley re-posted a write up on water filtration systems.  They mentioned 3 basic options for filtering tank water on a boat.  What I use is a variant of one of the "at the tap" systems they mentioned but I thought I would note a few things about the route I took and why I think it is a good solution for the average boat.

The system pictured above is a full flow filter designed to be used on a home sink.  Since the main difference between a home sink and a galley sink is the size of the basin, I figured this would work fine for a boat.  You can plumb it to a separate drinking water spigot if you wish (and have the space) or you can plum it directly into the cold water supply line of the galley sink.  Not wanting a second spigot in the counter of the galley, I chose the latter.  The filter claims it will last approximately 2000 gallons (6 months), and in using one at my prior home on land, I find that to be a reasonably accurate number if plumbed into the sink and it would likely last longer on a dedicated drinking water spigot.

Installation is simple using push on connectors.  The gray and black part at the top is the only piece that needs to be mounted.  Filters are installed and removed with a simple 1/4 turn by hand (no tools required) and water flow is automatically shut off when the filter cartridge is removed, so changing is a snap.  The diameter is smaller than the typical cartridge type filter and not having to use any tools makes it easy to mount in an out-of-the way location. The filter and mount are plastic, so there is little concern about corrosion, which is always an issue on a boat.  Filters can be found at most big box home improvement stores in the U.S. but may be a bit more difficult to source in out of the way locations.  The filters themselves are only slightly larger than the average cartridge filter element, so having a few spares on board will easily cover replacements in excess of a year of use.  The units typically sell for around $50 (and filters are around $25), so they are more economical than many of the systems marketed to the boating industry. I've found the filtration to be good, taking any plastic or chlorine taste out of the water and they claim 0.5 micron filtration.  Overall I am happy with the performance of this type of filter.

Another water related task has to do with the house battery bank.  One of the last times we were in Southport our house battery bank started going south and we were in need of a replacement.  Instead of going with the West Marine AGM batteries, we opted for a higher power and yet more economical solution.  We installed a bank of 6 - 232AH 6-volt wet-cell batteries.  The entire set of batteries were less than the cost of one of the AGM batteries and we gained about 100 AH in capacity.  The only down side is that you need to occasionally check and refill the electrolyte level (watering the batteries).  Fortunately, with the amount of money saved, it was easy to spring for a watering system that makes this task quick and easy.  I've had the caretaker perform this task regularly, but while I'm here I thought I would take care of it as well as inspect the battery bank and perform an equalization charge.  I'm happy to report that the battery bank is doing very well and the watering system works like a charm to keep the batteries topped off.

The other water-related item on the list was to exercise all the through-hull valves to confirm operation and make sure no growth is causing issues.  Not an overly time-consuming task, but still one that I think is worth performing on at least a semi-regular basis.

Well I think that covers much of the water-related tasks for the boat from washing to drinking water.  Work continues in other areas, but every day the boat is getting closer to the condition she was when we left.


  1. While it's good to see an update, I'm sorry to hear you are having issues selling the boat. You would think with all the people who lost boats lately some one would snap it up.

    1. You would think. There are several issues surrounding the ability to sell that were the result of our original purchase of the boat that I think are causing problems...but that is a story for another time...hopefully when we get it all resolved.