Shipping a Water Maker

Water Maker Shipping Boxes


Before you install a water maker aboard your cruising boat, we first have to get it to you in one piece, which is where our custom made shipping boxes some into play.  David and Amy’s 30 gallon per hour water maker made it safely to Texas and you can see some of the unpacking photos on their Blog entitled Chasing Stars.They are in the process of outfitting their new  Helia 44 Cat made by Fountaine Pajot in La Rochelle, France.


The water maker ships in 4 boxes anywhere in the continental US for $285 using UPS Ground and for International orders we use DHL.  DHL Shipping costs obviously vary based on Country but Australia and Europe for example are both about $700.  The most expensive shipping cost we have had so far was $1200 to Tahiti!  A pallet of 3 water makers by contract to the Philiphines cost $1200 and took 28 days via sea freight.
The box sizes and weights for a 30 gallon per hour water maker are:
Box 1 Pump and Motor 25″x15″x14″ 54lbs
Box 2 RO Pressure Vessel Assembly 47″x13″x11 33lbs
Box 3 Prefilters, Boost pump, and all Misc hoses and fittings 18″x12″x16″ 33lbs
Box 4: Remote Panel 14″x10″x10″ 5lbs
Optional Box 5: Consumable Cruising Kit 14″x10″x10″ 14lbs


I’m knocking on my wooden desk aboard SV THIRD DAY when I type this, but so far we have shipped hundres of water makers without having one “lost in the mail”!

Water Maker Safe TDS Levels

Question: What is the safe Water Maker TDS Levels for drinking water?
Answer: 500ppm (parts per million)
Now for some details: First, TDS stands for Total Dissolved Solids and when dealing with sea water RO, the TDS level is mainly composed of sodium and chloride ions.  A new RO membrane should start producing 100-150PPM water and then slowly climb until it reaches 500ppm and it’s time for a new membrane.  While out cruising I would constantly meet cruisers that didn’t have a TDS meter to check their water and were relying on how it tastes.  After their plants started dying and their cat wouldn’t drink the water, one of our friends bought a TDS meter and found out that they were drinking 1500 ppm water….yikes.  Don’t rely on the taste test becuase the TDS can start hurting your kidneys before you can “taste” the salt and at $25 for a good TDS meter, it’s a must have on a cruising boat.

Facts About Marine Water Maker RO Membranes

Marine Water Makers have a reputation of being expensive to maintain.  That can be true for water makers that insist on using proprietary consumable parts such as RO Membranes.  However, an off the shelf 40″ long by 2.5″ diameter RO Membrane made by Dow Chemical costs $187 and is the gold standard for quality and salt rejection the world over.  Unfortunately, rather than using this industry standard membrane to help keep future operational and maintenance costs down, some water maker companies have “special size” RO membranes made which can only be bought from the Company for $699.  Other water maker companies don’t go as far to have special size membranes made to lock you in, rather they simply say that their membranes are “special, super, high rejection, or magic” and then charge $499 for the same $187 membrane.  In your water maker shopping process, be sure to ask about the brand and replacement cost of the RO Membrane.  If they won’t tell you, run.  If they blow smoke at you and try to call it “special” to justify the $500 cost, run.


There are two great videos on our website that show how RO Membranes work and how they are made.

Custom 60GPH Water Maker in Genoa Bay Marina BC Canada


How large a water maker do you need?

For most cruising boats our most popular selling water maker is the 30 gallon per hour unit, but the Genoa Bay Marina in BC Canada needed a larger unit. To save on shipping costs, we sold them the 3 major components (Pump/Motor, Pressure Vessels/Membrane Assembly, and the Remote Panel) and then worked with them to design and build the water maker using locally available parts. If only cruising boats had this type of room for the installation 90% of the difficulty in installing a water maker would vanish.

Saving Water Maker RO Membranes

There are a couple of things that can foul or kill an RO membrane in a marine water maker; oxidants like chlorine, biological growth, or oils.  Linda sent me a panicked email after discovering they had somehow sucked oil into their water maker and were looking for help.  This story had a happy ending with their two membranes being saved after some serious cleaning and replacing of oil coated parts.  It also goes to show that just because you suck some oils into your water maker doesn’t mean you have to automatically toss the membrane out.


—–Original Message—–
From: Linda
Sent: Friday, May 09, 2014 8:47 AM
To: Rich with Cruise RO Water
Subject: Re: Membrane Failure


Hallelujah!!!!  The system is back online and working.  After rinsing with about 50-60 gallons of soapy water, we used the acid cleaner and the neutralizer.  Then we ran salt water through it for an hour.  We ended up having to replace all the hoses (not the high pressure ones).
But now the PPMs are right around 200 from BOTH membranes.  We ran it yesterday afternoon for around 2-3 hours and it’s doing fine.


Thank you for all your help, support and encouragement!  You are the best team we could have asked for and I will tell anyone who asks just that.  We’re be leaving for Ensenada Saturday for a slow bash up the outside.  Rich, if you’re ever in Ensenada stop by and we’ll treat you to our favorite fish tacos.


Linda & Frank
M/V Discovery