Water is important, REALLY important. It’s hard to overstate quite how important water is to any living person…but especially the ocean rower. In historic ocean rows crews carried their freshwater supplies with them in bottles or large dromedaries. Occasionally these would burst leaving the crews to ration their freshwater supplies even more drastically than before. Don and Geoff Allum (Atlantic E-W 1971 spoke of reducing their water intake to 1/2 pint a day each as they got to the last few days of their journey).
Thankfully now there are electrically powered watermakers which reduce the need to carry all of your own water supply. Many of these are suitable for use in the Great Pacific Race. The best watermakers are those that produce a large amount of water in the shortest space of time for the lowest Amp hours (Ah) of charge used.
All watermakers operate on the same principle to remove the salt from seawater making it potable. An electrical pump pressurises the water to 60-200psi before a hydraulic pressure amplifier (often called a Clark or Pearson pump) increases that pressure to between 600 and 1000 psi.
Storage of your watermaker.
It is important that your watermaker is either used frequently (every few days if in warm temperatures) or is treated with biocide which inhibits the growth of algae and other wildlife which can destroy the membrane making the unit useless. It is equally important (if you live in a venue where the temperature can drop below freezing) that your watermaker is removed from the boat and kept somewhere warmer so that the water inside it can’t freeze (which would destroy the unit.)
Placement of your watermaker.
The race rules for the Great Pacific Race require that all electrical pumps for watermakers are places inside a locker situated within a cabin. The reason for this is that in many occasions previously water has leaked into the external locker housing the watermaker electrical pump (either through a leaking locker hatch or a wave entering whilst the hatch was open) causing the electrical motor to fail. Keeping the electrical pump for the watermaker inside a locker within cabin ensures that it is more likely to remain dry and thus less likely to break. To minimise the numbers of holes housing hoses passing through the main bulkheads of the boat we also recommend that the rest of the watermaker is also housed inside a locker within a cabin.
Each crew participating in the Great Pacific Race will also have to carry a Kayadyn 35 manual watermaker. This device is powered using a lever on the side of the unit to generate the pressure required to force water through the membrane. As the pressure that can be generated is less than the electrical pump in other systems the amount of water produced is less (closer to 4.5 litres / 1.2 gal per hour) but it provides a reasonable back-up if your main electrical watermaker fails for whatever reason. However, these units are notoriously awkward to operate so we recommend that you ensure your boat has a well thought out solution for where the pump can be secured and used (rather than holding it and pumping at the same time).