Do you need a watermaker on your small boat? A Quick Guide to Desalination and Reverse Osmosis for Sailboats, Yachts and Motorboats.

There are a multitude of choices available, from small portable units, to high output models designed to service commercial ships and shore based facilities. For the average boatie, a desalinator might provide water for showering, deck washing and of course, drinking.

How it works

A basic diagram illustrating reverse osmosis with semi-permeable membranes

The watermaker takes in seawater, and through pressure both filters out pollutants in the water, and removes salt and other chemicals. The resulting liquid is clean and fresh tasting. Consumables come in the form of membranes which are tube-shaped, lightweight and semi-permeable, allowing smaller molecules to pass through. Once installed the watermaker is powered via AC or DC electrical current.

Interactive: Find your ideal watermaker


The Village Marine LTM Manual Watermaker

Price wise, an economical choice resides in manual watermakers. Still designed to the same quality standards are their automatic counterparts, manual watermakers lack electronics, which brings the overall investment and service cost down.

Explore low cost manual watermakers

Sea Recovery full automatic Aqua Matic watermaker with remote touch screen

For those wanting a completely automated unit that is hassle-free, many models are available in a smaller 'mini' or 'compact' footprint, or better still, a modular configuration which is ideal for small spaces or confined engine rooms. Some innovative options include remote operation, accessible via a panel in high traffic areas of the boat.

Explore fully automatic systems

Maintenance and Winterising

Like anything with water, even when regularly used, a desalinator requires maintenance in the form of regular flushing. This process is taken care of in automatic models, but may require a more hands on approach for manual units. When sitting idle for longer periods (such as the winter months when the boat is unused) the watermaker needs to be put into a process called winterisation. The process for this is detailed in the installation manual, and involves flushing the machine with a special membrane storage liquid, and ensuring there is no water remaining that could collect and become stagnant. Various products are available to further assist in this process.

We recommend

The Smartflush available exclusively through the AMI Group

AMI recommend Village Marine, Horizon Reverse Osmosis, and Sea Recovery watermakers from Parker Hannifin. Parker offers an extensive range of models from entry level up to high output systems, and spare parts are readily available.

Exclusive to AMI, the Smartflush is a clever maintanance system that keeps your watermaker ready for use at a moment's notice without having to preserve the membranes. Speak to your AMI representative about Smartflush, watermaker options, servicing or spare parts. Full watermaker test benches on site at select AMI branches.

Sea Recovery Watermakers

HRO and Village Watermakers