Cruise RO 20 GPH Watermaker Up & Running

Life aboard Kaleo has reached a new level of liberation.

Longer, more leisurely showers. Hair washing daily if we’d like. All fresh water dishwashing. Full rinse outs of snorkel gear, swimsuits and wetsuits. Fresh water deck and dinghy wash downs. And last but certainly not least, a less irked captain when the tattle-tale pressure water pump kicks on frequently.

All the SeaMaker 20 components ready for install

With the installation of our new Cruise RO watermaker, we’re now transforming seawater into our own fresh water. And a lot of it.

While we didn’t leave the dock with a watermaker, we quickly learned that having one meant the difference between camping and a more comfortable life aboard. The first half of our cruise involved carefully rationing our water use, jugging it aboard six gallons at a time and being dependent on marinas, local supply or friends with watermakers. Huge thanks to Storyville and Morning Glory for keeping us hydrated.

But not all watermakers are created equal. After much research we chose the Cruise RO model because:

  • It makes a lot of water, fast. While most 12 volt watermakers pump out 4-8 gallons per hour, the SeaMaker 20 far outpaces the competition by producing 20 GPH (they also have 30 and 45 GPH models).
  • It’s designed for cruisers by a cruiser. Rich Boren of s/v Third Day, who has cruised extensively with his family throughout Mexico, set out to create a high capacity unit within reach of the average cruiser. We can only imagine that having more than two people onboard might have been his single greatest source of inspiration for these high capacity units.
  • It doesn’t use proprietary parts. Meaning, everything for maintaining or repairing can be found at most local hardware stores leaving choice in the hands of the capable cruiser rather than forcing a single branded solution from a manufacturer. This transparency is a welcome countercurrent to the marine market which almost always limits choice and charges extra for it.
  • It’s powered by the cruiser-ubiquitous Honda 2000 generator. At 100 gallons of water for less than a gallon of gas, the Honda we already have onboard is a simple, fuel-efficient way to make a lot of water quickly.

Installation was fairly straightforward:

  • All of the components are separate, allowing them to be conveniently installed in different lockers within the boat.
  • The installation manual was detailed and easy to follow. The hardest part was determining where all the components would go. I was able to install the pre-filters and boost pump under the galley sink and the high-pressure pump and RO membrane under the quarter berth.

Test fitting the reverse osmosis membrane

  • Other than bolts, screws and wiring, the kit came with everything needed to install the unit, including extra plumbing fittings to plumb into our water tanks. A bonus since we did the install in a remote Bahamian anchorage with the nearest marine supply store several days away.
  • The color-coded plumbing uses very easy to connect fittings and included more than enough piping to run product water into Kaleo’s tanks.
  • Cruise RO includes a remote panel as a standard feature. Our control panel is mounted on the starboard side of the quarter berth and makes running and monitoring the unit far easier than having to access the lockers if we didn’t have the panel. Plus, for boat geeks, it looks really cool.

Back of the remote panel and instructions, easy to follow

The remote panel

Now every company claims customer service but often falls short when it’s time to deliver. When we received our unit, the high-pressure pump motor had a fault that wouldn’t allow it to start up from the Honda. After a quick phone call and a few emails, the guys at Cruise RO delivered on the customer service by having a new motor waiting in George Town, Bahamas before we could even get back there to pick it up. They were more dedicated to making the situation right than worrying about if I had done something wrong or incurring additional cost on their end.

For us, the greatest feature of having a watermaker is invaluable independence. But, the greatest feature of having a Cruise RO watermaker is independence from constantly running it. Producing 20 GPH means that we run the watermaker for about two to three hours, twice a week. Yes, even now with our new found liberal water usage. If we had a 12-volt watermaker, we’d need to run it four to five hours at least four times a week just to keep up with usage, let alone “stockpile.”

Our first round of water pouring into the sink

I didn’t include many technical details of the install in this post as most of the information can be found at the Cruise RO site but I’m happy to answer any questions about the unit itself, installation or our continued use of it.

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3 Responses
  1. steve says:

    I love keeping up with you two. Liberation is a great word. I feel a little bit of it just from tracking your travels. Many times, I find myself envious. Many times, I admire you two greatly. And I often think how wonderful it is that you found each other. Then, there are times when I learn something I wouldn’t get anywhere else – I mean reverse osmosis membrane is just not regularly part of my vocabulary.

    Keep it coming. All the best on your journey through life.


  2. Don Bruce says:

    The only question I have is how does the water taste?

  3. Hi Bruce,
    We have a water tester that came with the Cruise RO, which we use to test the output water before directing it into the tanks. The Cruise RO manual states anything below 500 ppm is acceptable drinking water and we normally output between 200-220 per our production log. In comparison when we fill up with city water it’s usually around 300 ppm. As far as taste from the Cruise RO, we drink the water straight from the tap and it’s always been fine.

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