For a 31 foot sailboat, we have decent water holding capacity. We have a 35-gallon poly tank under our forward berth and a 20 gallon water heater for a total of 55 gallons. We can generally go about 5-8 days cruising on that without trying to conserve water too much.
But we aren’t drinking that water. We have been getting by with gallon bottles of water we purchase at the store. Between lugging those down to the boat, storing them until we use them and then lugging the empty bottles back up, it’s a lot of work and extra space. Not to mention all of the first use plastic that we could avoid.
So my plan to stop this cycle of bottled water was to put a good filtration system on the boat so we could start drinking the water in our tank. At first I was looking at the Seagull and Watts Premium water filtration systems. However, after some more research it appears that these units are fine when cruising in the states but when you get to the islands, the replacement filters and parts are harder to obtain. So instead I started to look at units that had the more universal style 10-inch filter cartridges. These seem to be readily available at most home stores including in the Islands. Watts makes an RV/Boat unit that comes as a one-piece two-stage filter set up. But it cost about $100. I liked the setup of the unit, especially the aluminum bracket on the top that would make mounting easier and I wouldn’t have to fabricate anything.
Watts also sells a filter pack of two-stage filters designed with a particulate filter for anything above 5-microns in size and a carbon filter. With this combination it will remove any chlorine smell and taste, dirt and sediment, plus more nasty contaminants like lead and other heavy metals, parasitic cysts, and most volatile organic compounds, herbicides, pesticides and insecticides. It won’t remove bacteria or other biological contaminants. Only UV is really effective at removing that on boats. These filters have a decent estimated life at 600 gallons, which is a little less than the Seagull’s estimated 1,000 gallons.
I decided that to prolong the filters, I would add a dedicated tap for the drinking water. I don’t see as great of a need to filter the water we use to wash dishes or even shower. Really the focus of this upgrade was to make the water in the tank drinkable.
With a little more searching I found a Watts under the counter system that came with all of the parts and dedicated tape for under $80 (the price has gone up some since I purchased it).
From the dimensions listed online, it appeared this system would fit under the galley sink.
I had to reroute some of the plumbing in this area. The hardest part was drilling the holes in the correct spot for the bracket. I wanted the filters as close as possible to the bottom of the sink so it didn’t interfere with the garbage can. The “add-a-valve” kit that came with the filter fit the boat’s exiting plumbing perfectly. I did have to separate the hot and cold supply lines to the faucet and bend the metal pipes very carefully. All I had to buy in addition to the system was some 1/4-inch bolts with finish washers, nuts and lock washers.
I tested changing out the filters and it will be easy. Kill the pump at the panel or turn the new valve, remove the trash and then remove the filter. The filter wrench is a little difficult to get in there but my strap wrench I use for oil and fuel filters works fine.
I installed the dedicated tap at the galley sink.
So far we are pleased with the outcome. We still have some of those gallon jugs to get through. But after that our plan is to fill up a gallon jug and keep it in the fridge. This should open up space in the fridge (we usually keep 2 gallons in there but might go down to one) as well as other storage space.