Saturday, November 7, 2015

To Mermaid Condensator Or Not?

When we bought our very first sailboat "Moon Chaser" a 1999 Catalina 250 on Canyon Lake in Texas I received some really good advice from the Commodore of Hill Country Yacht Club, Charlie Teat. He said "Steve, the first thing you need to know is to keep the water on the outside".  Probably the most valuable piece of advice we ever received as we began our sailing adventures.
Living and Sailing in Southern waters you definitely search out ways to stay cool. Since we spent lots of Hot weekends on our 25' sailboat we had a "In the Hatch" style of AC unit that we kept in the dock box and then just put over the hatch and plugged it in. It did a great job of keeping us cool and you did not have to worry about the AC condensate inside the boat, You just directed the little condensate tube overboard and it ran off into the lake.

Then we bought our 30' 1986 Catalina and put "Hey You" on Lake Travis. The boat had a great 16K BTU reverse cycle unit (since it came from the Houston Area and you need the best there!) The problem was that the condensate ran into the bilge. These units can easily pour 6-10 gallons of water into the bilge in a days time so frequently you hear the bilge pump going off to discharge the water overboard. That is when I remembered what Charlie had taught me and I searched for a solution. Friends told me just to get a Mermaid Condensator, that will solve the problem!

The Mermaid Condensator comes with everything you need, the Venturi Valve, a strainer to prevent any debris from clogging the valve, a check valve to prevent AC cooling discharge water from backing up and flooding your vessel and connecting hoses. see:
I can't believe the price has dropped to $200, what is this deflation?

I searched the internet and bought the Mermaid Condensator for only $260! But I thought it had to be worth it to keep the water on the Outside. For the first time we had a completely dry bilge and we did not have to hear the bilge pump cycling on constantly. Definitely worth it, and the little valve that everyone said was way overpriced worked great the entire four years that we owned the boat. I can't even remember having to maintain the thing but I must have  cleaned the little strainer occasionally.

When we bought our currant vessel it had a AC unit that also drained the condensate into the bilge, but since the boat was in the PNW it was only occasionally used and so the bilge pump did not have to work as much to remove the water. But we took the boat to Texas and put a second unit in the vessel. The cool thing was a good sailor friend, Jim Clower,  called me up just after we bought the vessel and said he was at West Marine that was closing in San Antonio, Texas and they had their Mermaid Condensators marked down to $40.00! He asked if I wanted one, I told him to get me Two! Perfect. I had those little buggers installed the first day we boarded the boat in Texas. We lived aboard every weekend for a couple of years and then eventually moved aboard to get the vessel ready to go cruising. The AC units ran a LOT!. Now maintaining the little valves became critical. Once I let one of the valves go to long without cleaning the crud out and even though I revived it for a short time it died. That's ok I just bought another one and I have been much more attentive to doing regular maintenance, taking them off and cleaning any specs of debris and re-installing.

Then Our Neighbors, Wendy and Randy discover another source for venturi valves from Ryan Herco Flow Solutions.

Randy and Wendy keep a spare on board, that way they just take the working valve off if it gets clogged and replace with the spare quickly getting the AC back on. Then they take the time to clean one they removed and have it for a spare for the next cycle. They report that is works great. 
I decided to buy one of these and keep it for a spare especially since the are only about $52.00.
This unit has a built in check valve so you only need to add a small strainer and the connecting fittings/hoses.
Why am I even blogging about this? Well I recently read some comments about all this on  Cruisers Forum It was interesting to see others frustration with the Mermaid Condensator and read about their rather creative solutions for keeping the water on the outside. One solution was found at a Aquarium shop where they found a venturi valve for less than $25.00. Then there is a couple who built a separate sump and pump like many vessels have for their shower
So you could add a sump and pump for about $100 plus any installation hardware/labor and the connecting hoses. 
This seems like a whole lot of trouble to me and you get to hear the pump cycle on constantly. Another couple used a cheep 12V fish bowl pump to just pump the water directly out of the condensation pan. The pump was wired into the AC electrical system so it only came on when the AC was on. Then there is Ebay: Be very careful what you buy here.

I felt it was my Sailor Civic Duty to write this post. I am sure there are at least another dozen creative ideas out there on how to Keep the Water On The Outside!

To Mermaid Condensator or Not?

1 comment:

  1. But, did you actually test it? ;-) I just installed one of those (available from eBay for under $5). It doesn't suck up enough. Took an hour for the condensate to overflow the tray. Will try a Mermaid rig next.