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While the clear water at Chacachacare Island is perfectly suitable for operating our watermaker, that which flows in and around the port of Chaguaramas is entirely not so. During the short time that we spent in Chaguaramas, trash floating in the bay was all too common. We would also occasionally detect the colorful sheen of fuel floating on the water’s surface, decidedly not good for a watermaker’s expensive membrane!

Because we had planned on staying in Chaguaramas while the STCW course was ongoing, and because watermakers need to be run at least every few days, we were left with a couple of choices: either raise anchor every other day to sail out into clean water to run the watermaker or preserve the membrane, aka pickle it. We opted for the latter.

Pickling our watermaker membrane is not a complicated process. When we received the unit, it came with a preservative that, when mixed into a solution and run through the membrane, will allow it to remain safely dormant for, I believe, up to a year. Unfortunately, I have heard that it’s not great to pickle the watermaker all that often as, each time it is done, it decreases the membrane’s lifespan by a tiny bit. This may be true but, given the circumstances, we felt that it was the lesser of two evils. Now though, with the watermaker pickled, we’re left to rely upon the water that we have on hand, or that which we catch from the rain, or in the worst case, purchase from shore. Fortunately for us, since we’ve been here, rain showers do not seem all that uncommon.

Anchored in about 12 feet of water at Chacachacare Island, we could easily see the bottom in good light. Too bad it’s not like this everywhere!

This post, and the two previous ones, are the result of Rebecca and I raising anchor and returning to Chaguaramas. Unfortunately, for the blog anyway, our stay here is entirely temporary. It is so rolly here I almost got seasick just updating our website! We will be raising anchor as soon as our internet business is done and returning to Chacachacare Island. As such, you can expect another small break in our daily posts. If you’re really bored, why not start at the beginning of the blog (see the banner link to the right) and peruse some of the previous years’ posts?


  1. From my reading, pickling a membrane does not decrease it’s life. I’ve read (don’t know how reliable this information is…..) from a membrane manufacturer, the membrane is actually pickled from the factory. He stated pickling doesn’t affect a membranes life span. Take it for the price you got it.

  2. Did your watermaker not come with the option to back-flush? i.e.: use tank water to flush the membrane? We do this once a week when we are in dirty water. It just takes a couple of gallons and no need to pickle. After lots of flushing we even went for five weeks without doing anything while we were in California last month. My parents recently added a back-flush filter (just a carbon filter to filter the tank water so there is no chlorine) to their watermaker.

    • I don’t know about leaving the membrane untreated for that long! From what I have heard, in the tropics they should be run every other day. That is a lot of water to flush it every other day when we only carry 49 gallons. You may be right but if I’m going to leave it more than a week, which happens very infrequently, I prefer to pickle it.

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