Category Archives: Systems – Watermaker

Best Systems: Spectra Capehorn Extreme Watermaker

I’m going to write a few post about some of the projects and systems we loved the most on the boat and less about things we didn’t use as much as we thought or wish we had done differently. To kick this off, let’s brag about our watermaker.

Our Spectra Capehorn Extreme Watermaker was expensive and it was worth every penny. We love water. We drink it. We cook with it. We wash dishes with it We shower in it. We never wanted for water and especially when we we’re surfing or cleaning the bottom we’d take two showers a day. There’s just nothing better than fresh clean water. I pitied those folks carrying water jugs looking for a free spigot, or looking for a cart to carry full water jugs from the store. If you want to do one thing which will make your boat more like your home, then I say a watermaker is it.

Spectra Capehorn Extreme Watermaker <- Can’t say enough good things about it!

Spectra Capehorn Extreme Mounting Location

Capehorn Spectra Extreme Mounting Location

Capehorn Spectra Extreme Mounting Location

Last night after about 2.5 hours in the sewer I finished mounting the Spectra Capehorn Extreme membrane and clark pump unit. The unit is mounted on a piece of 3/4″ marine grade plywood with 1/4″-20 machine screws and tee-nuts on the back, or in this case the top of the board. I took the unit into the sewer and propped it up on tupperware containers to get it roughly into place. As I laid on my side in the sewer I marked the final location.

The board itself is mounted to two cross-beams supporting the salon floor. I originally had planned to mark the location, pull the unit out, remove the board, then mount the board alone and then screw the unit back to the board. As I had everything in place, I realized getting to the machine screws was going to be a lot harder than getting to the lag bolts so I decided to mount it en masse, with the unit attached to the board.

Putting in the aft bolts (the ones you see in the pic) was fairly easy as the sewer is deep and there is a decent amount of room between the rear edge of the watermaker and the refrigerator compressor which sits aft (and out of frame) of the watermaker. Because the sewer is not as deep as you go forward and the mast and maststep impede access, the forward lag bolts are not as easy to reach. Given the impinged space I was only able to get 5 bolts into the board. The forward outer most corner is not bolted. However, the frame of the unit is wedged between the joists and the hull so it’s not going anywhere and there is not room for it to wiggle.

I have some concerns that the fact the unit is wedged will cause a lot of noise to be transferred to the boat, but I won’t know about that until we turn it on. If it needs to be moved I think the only option will be to angle it more or to find a completely different location. Hopefully it will be fine where it is.

This project isn’t done yet, but this was a big step. The membrane is about 40″ long and it either takes up an entire settee or the entire workbench in the aft cabin, so just getting it out of the way makes the boat tremendously more pleasurable to liveaboard especially since the other settee is covered with the contents of the hanging locker where all the pumps and controls for the watermaker are installed.

Next steps are to finish all the plumbing and then setup a test run with Emerald Harbor Marine who will come out and look things over before we power it on for the first time. Sooo clooooose to done… ;-)

Watermaker Decision–Spectra Cape Horn Extreme

I woke up this morning feeling pretty good that with the options I had narrowed myself down to that ultimately none of them would be “the wrong decision”. By that I mean, I felt pretty confident they’d all work reliably and I really what I needed to focus on was how I wanted to run the boat and her systems. I decided I want to run on DC augmented when needed by the generator, not rely exclusively on the generator. I’m sure others would be fine relying on the generator though. My main concern was figuring out a way to mount and run the Honda EU2000 while on an ocean passage. I’m sure it could be done, but I just decided I didn’t want to be doing that and that eliminated the AC option for me.

Once I had narrowed my choices down to the DC options, I decided to go with Spectra based on their wide spread usage and claims of great support when issues arise. It also helps that Jack on s/v Whoosh (another P424) did some excellent research on this topic. In order to enhance the high-end output which we could utilize when we are running the generator we decided to go with the Spectra Cape Horn Extreme (CHE).

The Spectra CHE (or Ché as I think we’ll call it) is similar to the Ventura 150200T series. but it has a larger ~40” membrane and two feed pumps which can be run individually or together. Individually they can operate as a lower-amp solution and redundant backups if one is having a problem. Together they can be run to double the fresh water production but at the cost of more power. This high power option will be perfect for when we are running the generator, whereas the single pump will be ideal for passages and when we want to rely only on solar, wind, etc. Ché is designed for the racing circuit and it’s pumps are a tad more resilient and can deal with running dry. On a race boat this might happen when the boat heels over and lifts the thru hull from the water for instance. On a cruising boat its more likely to happen if you suck something up into the strainer or you do something stupid like forget to open a seacock or something.

I’m very happy with our decision, the guys from Emerald Harbor Marine at the Seattle Boat Show were very helpful, I believe we got a fair price and I look forward to working with them further as we do the install.

One less decision to make, whew…

Watermakers–Ya gotta have Faith…

I’m deep into my research about water makers, having met with Spectra, Hydrovane, and Village Marine yesterday at the Seattle Boat Show. I’ve also had extensive conversations with CruiseRO. You can see all the makesmodels and specifications of the units I’ve been looking at in my Watermaker Comparison spreadsheet.

The main debate I’m having with myself is DC or AC based systems. A DC based system has to run much longer to make an equivalent amount of water to an AC based system, but you can run it any time without starting a genset. An AC based system would mean running the Honda EU2000 generator anytime we want to make water including on longer passages.

This is feeling more and more like one of those faith or belief based decisions, as opposed to one that’s entirely gallonamp-hour based. One the one hand with a DC based system we have the opportunity to leverage alternative fuels (sun, wind, etc). With the Generator we’re always committed to burning gas, LPG or Natural gas. We also would be committed to managing the generator and running it on long passages (> 1week).

I’m really torn on this one… I’m hoping there’s something I’m not seeing and that you all might have some additional insight to help me make my decision.