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Water Filtration Onboard

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 24 Jun 2010 | comments*Discuss
 
Water Filtration Systems Onboard Boat

Access to fresh drinking water is obviously going to be crucial and the ease of access is always going to be due to your boat’s location, whether it’s static or not, the type of boating you’re doing and facilities on route or if you’re out on the open seas where it then becomes even more of an issue.

If you’re moored up in a marina or cruising along one of the UK’s waterways, you’ll either bring water with you onboard from stores nearby or you’ll be able to fill up your freshwater tank at many of the boatyards on route.

If, however, your boating in an area where there is little or only remote access to fresh water or if you’re out on the open seas, your options are going to include either water purification and filtration techniques or carrying or installing a desalination system if you’re out on the seas.

Water Purification

If it’s a case of you boating in freshwater but where the water is not suitable to drink at source, such as a lake or river, you can buy water purifiers from the likes of boating and camping stores. These are relatively light in weight and not that expensive and they are easy to carry around. In fact, they’re the kinds of thing that many wilderness campers might use and that may be sufficient for your needs depending upon the amount of people on your boat, how far you are from a freshwater filling point and how long you plan to be away for.

If you’re looking at a more sophisticated (and therefore more expensive) system but still on a relatively small scale in terms of your needs, you can buy portable pump filtration systems which will remove any bacteria from both fresh and salt water.

Larger Scale Water Desalination Systems

Salt water is not drinkable and no matter how clean the sea or ocean appears to be, drinking salt water can make you feel just as sick as drinking untreated fresh water which may contain harmful bacteria. The desalination process involves removing the salt, just to leave fresh water and you’ve got a few choices. In emergencies, you might consider having a reverse osmosis pump on board.

You can buy both battery operated and hand pumped varieties but remember that if you use the hand pumped type, it’ll usually take around an hour to provide about a gallon of drinkable water. If you’re out on the open seas a lot and for long periods of time and you’ve a considerable number of people on board, you’ll have to choose the more expensive option of having a proper desalination system.

You can buy portable types or, if your boat is big enough, you can actually have a proper small desalination plant installed on your boat.

Emergency Basics

Of course, you may not need to consider any of these options yet, at some point, might find yourself in an emergency and in need of some form of basic water filtration option. Boiling water at 212 degrees F for half an hour is the best way of killing any harmful bacteria that may be present in freshwater and it’s useful to carry some water purification tablets with you. These are usually iodine based which can make the water taste a little strange but at least it will be clean.

Depending on the type you buy, these can take anything from half an hour to 4 hours to work and to ensure the water is completely clean but in an emergency and if you’ve no resources available to enable you to boil water, they are a good alternative.

As for basic emergency saltwater desalination, providing you have the resources to boil water, you can create a desalinating still which involves the use of a kettle with a lid into which you can connect a copper tube and as the kettle boils the saltwater, the steam created will rise and drip through the copper tube as clean fresh water which you can collect in another container.

The fact is, however, that there should be no real need to have to resort to the emergency procedures of water purification and filtration as it’s better to buy even a cheap water purifier or hand pumped desalination system which you can keep on board, even if you won’t necessarily need to use it.

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