Storing, rationing and making fresh water on board is a key concern when you're making an Atlantic crossing. Toby Hodges asks 193 skippers on the ARC for their tips


An agent’s 6 top tips for using a watermaker

Mactra Marine in the UK, agent for Schenker and Katadyn, was singled out for its excellent installation and servicing.

Here are six top tips from its founder and bluewater equipment specialist
Jim MacDonald:


Install the watermaker to the manufacturer’s instructions bearing in mind the following:

  • Install the pump low in the vessel.
  • Use short hose runs between intake and pump.
  • Have saltwater intake low and central in the hull. Avoid having the skin fitting too far forward or too far aft.
  • Use a forward-facing scoop skin fitting.


Make sure that at least one of the crew understands the system and how it works.


Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for maintenance. Flush regularly with fresh water when in use, or biocide ‘pickle’ when not being used for longer than a couple of weeks. Change pre-filter elements regularly.


If you wouldn’t swim in the water, don’t make water from it.


Carry a comprehensive set of spares, chemical and filters, as it often costs more to send these to far-flung places than the value of the parts themselves (not forgetting the Customs implications and costs).


Buy your watermaker from a reputable dealer who knows his product and has a good reputation for giving back-up service when required.

Watermakers – skippers’ views

  • “Test and service the watermaker. Use it ahead of time. Always have a back-up!” Oyster 56 El Mundo
  • “Buy a Dessalator Duo 100,” Discovery 57 Juno
  • “Get two watermakers,” Swan 56 Perseverance
  • “Monitor it daily. Run the watermaker ahead of time,” Oyster 53 Aretha
  • “What if there is no electricity? [Have the] possibility to isolate tanks easily. Do not count watermaker as the only way to get water,” Swan 41 Dyssel
  • “Don’t rely on the watermaker. Have a separate full supply of drinking water for the entire trip,” Hanse 385 Interlude. (Despite having a watermaker plus a back-up for example, the Fontaine Pajot 67 Lir provisioned for two bottles of water per day per head).

See our survey of previous ARC boats here









  1. 1. The stats
  2. 2. How a watermaker works
  3. 3. Watermakers – skippers’ views
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