Spain's ruling will change the industry
Water water everywhere but not a drop to drink. It may be a well-known saying but it's less and less likely to be the case with the developments that are taking place within the water systems on many boats, says Phil Pickin.
This is not just another accessory to be added to the inventory of more and more leisure craft but, in some cases, a very necessary part of the overall equipment of the boat.
As David Melville of GenACis, one of the biggest names in this area, pointed out: "In some areas of the Med, and in a number of other areas as well, water supplies are being rationed. Island destinations off the Croatian coast are just such a case in point."
Melville points out: "In many of these areas water is being rationed to 200 ltrs per person."
Quality and cost can also be a consideration so the ability of boat owners and visitors to some of these destinations to be able to provide their own water supply from on-board desalination equipment is a very positive bonus.
As a result of these factors GenACis sees the desalination market as "very much expanding". The company has been making this equipment for over 30 years in the US and produces equipment for both marine and land based systems. Like many others, the company's marine applications are getting smaller in size without any reduction in output.
One side effect of this is the lowering of power consumption which, in turn, helps to increase the number of potential applications for these units.
The installation of these small, lower volume units also provides builders and designers with an added incentive to include them as part of the boat's standard equipment.
Independent water supplies means smaller tanks with less fresh water needing to be carried. This reduction is having a dramatic effect on the overall weight of many leisure craft, which has obvious benefits for both performance and fuel consumption on powered craft.
Industrial design GenACis is far from being the only player in this expanding market and a lot closer to home is Seafresh of Romsey, Hampshire whose Ian J. Bagnall described the company's range as "industrial" in its overall design and construction. This more rugged approach to building has obviously struck a cord with a number of high profile customers as recent applications have included Mirabella V, which has two 20 tonne/24 hour desalinators together with various other filtration systems fitted.
Included is a water softening system to improve the quality of fresh shore supply.
As with many other manufacturers of such units the Seafresh range is a modular design that enables the units to be built to suit a particular location which, in the case of Mirabella V, was in a horizontal format to fit in the very confined spaces between decks. This more "industrial" approach to manufacture is ideal for military applications, a point not missed by the Hellenic navy, which has recently ordered two new 62mr fast attack craft both fitted with Seafresh units.
Incidentally, Bagnall's definition of industrial not only relates to the construction methods, components and materials used but also the controls. He will proudly point out that many of the controls for their units do not use electronics and so can be "over-ridden and hard-wired" to keep them running should the need arise.
Another company that champions the modular approach in the design and building of watermakers is the Italian company HP Watermakers which also boasts high quality and high efficiency. The company's other rather unique claim to fame is that a number of its water purification systems are being used in Glasgow schools.
The equipment is being used to clean and improve the drinking water in an attempt to get kids to drink more water and so reduce their appetite in the fight against obesity and dehydration. HP, too feel that water treatment is a growing market with desalination units appearing in more and more vessels both in the workboat and leisure sectors.
New developments So, having got ourselves a decent supply of fresh drinking and washing water are their any new developments in the use of this resource on board?
We spoke to one of the largest makers of a wide range of products for use both in marine and other leisure applications, Whale, for news on what's new in its range.
Apart from a number of new pumps for bilge and shower applications, one of the areas of most recent development is in the distribution of the water within an installation.
The Waterweb is a 14 port distribution system designed to deliver water throughout a boat and uses Quick Connect plumbing. The Northern Ireland based company has also introduced a new silverised carbon filter that connects to the Quick Connect plumbing system being used in Waterweb with the aim of "removing nasty tastes and odours".
The company continues to supply its extensive range of taps and associated fittings.
First seen a few years ago, Whispaire's Tea Mate could be developed to suit more leisure applications. The small blue unit is nothing more than a wall mounted electric kettle, ideal for workboats and similar applications.
However, developments are afoot with a new on-demand unit currently being trialled to provide an almost continual flow without the need to be refilled. When asked recently about more leisure orientated products the feeling was this would be a natural area for development.
Cleghorn Waring's approach to water systems is to produce complete units, like the company's Maxi range. The company's aim, it is said, is to, "simplify onboard water demand and keep installation costs to a minimum".
The system consists of a pump, accumulator tank, prefilter and fittings all in one unit and mounted on a stainless steel base. The installation of the 12V or 24V system amounts to just four mounting screws on the base, two electrical leads and two pipe connections making it ideal for DIY boaters.
Suit demand In total there are 10 models in the range, with sizes to suit demand from one to six - or more - shower or tap outlets and uses the Jabsco ParMax range of diaphragm pumps, with Hep2O push-fit pipework.
Having looked into the production and distribution of water around the boat it's only natural we have to look into (not literally) the disposal of waste water.
The Spanish have recently introduced legislation to ensure all craft must have holding tanks for waste, no matter how small the crew (numbers not height). The minimum capacity required is 14 ltrs per person". As a result all marinas and yards must provide pump-out facilities, the introduction of which is currently underway.
As a result of Spain's decision, many other EU countries are keeping watch whilst the Spanish boating community implement these new regulations. The time given for these now regulations is "quite short" according to Gary Sutcliffe from Lee Sanitation who expects the UK to implement some form of similar legislation over the next few years.
Lee Sanitation has been in the game for many years and Sutcliffe says the company is expecting to see increases in the number of enquiries as other EU countries introduce similar regulations.
Lee San specialises in selling systems tailored to applications, rather than "selling a box" as Sutcliffe puts it. And to help in providing this service the company has a network of dealers in the EU.
Although it may not be the most inviting of areas, many marinas and yards, according to Sutcliffe, have found pumpout to be lucrative, with some charging £20 per pump out.
This, together with fuel sales, chandlery and other supplies, makes for a good income generator.
Similar regulations The inland waterways have been used to this for some time but if, as expected, seagoing craft are to be subject to similar regulations as those in Spain, they may have to also get used to having tanks and waste water systems on board.
Boat manufacturers too will need to amend the designs of vessels currently not fitted with this type of facility.
As we are talking toilets here it's worth mentioning the development work being carried out by Dometic, whose Vacuflush system has just had a new toilet and bidet products added to it. One of the major advantages of these new products is the water-efficiency in use with flushing being reduced to 0.5 ltrs at the lowest setting, thus allowing boat owners to maximize their tank capacity.
Some may think there's little more to develop in marine pump technology, but Jabsco says there is. The company's latest Sensor Max VSD unit, solves what Jabsco says is a common problem.
On-board water pressure systems, particularly on medium to larger craft, tend to rely on powerful constant velocity pumps to ensure adequate flows when multiple outlets are in use.
These, Jabsco says, tend to be noisy, power hungry and need the addition of an accumulator tank to overcome irregular flows, pipe hammer and temperature fluctuations.
The Sensor Max pump has a variable speed drive, controlled by an electronic microprocessor sensor, ensuring that output is matched to demand.
The pump operates without the need for a separate pressure switch or accumulator tank and adjusts its flow rates as and when outlets, such as showers, galley taps or deck washers, are switched on or off.
The electronics built into the unit are not voltage conscious, therefore the same unit can be installed either on a 12 or 24V DC system and automatically adjusts to its supply voltage and will operate at between 10 and 29V.
Water systems, like all other areas, are continually being developed, not only to try get one over on the competition, but also to meet the new demands being placed on boatbuilders, designers and ultimately buyers.
The Spanish move is certain to set in motion (no pun intended) a chain of events that will see a great deal of change over the next few years.
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