It began with a letter. “Dear Editor,” Christopher Fletcher wrote last January, “I am a 10th grade student … doing a project on the cost benefit of having a watermaker versus buying water. I was wondering if I could submit an article for your consideration in an upcoming edition of All At Sea.”
We liked his article, and “Dear Santa, bring me a water maker!” appeared in our June 2009 issue (read it at www.allatsea.net). The student explained his research and illustrated it with a quick reference chart he prepared based on interviews with BVI boaters. Chris Fletcher extolled the convenience of an onboard water maker, versus hauling jugs in the dinghy, and concluded with, “I’m still waiting for Santa.”
Chris is no stranger to the concept of water-hauling. As his father, Bruce Fletcher, explained recently, “We have been doing the ‘travel, then stop and work’ routine in the Caribbean since ’99 … The first year or two in the Bahamas, Thursday was renamed "thirsty day" because we had one week’s supply of water—find it or be dry. It wasn’t all bad though—it meant a day off the school-in-the-morning and beach-in-the-afternoon routine, while we motored to a watering hole and I hauled the jugs.”
Today, the three boys (Chris, 16, Kyle, 14 and Sean, 12) live aboard their own boat, Gypsea, a Catalina 30. “We live ‘rafted up’ on a mooring in Hodge’s Creek, Tortola, with Karen and myself on our 33′ motorsailor, Nerissa Kristine,” said the boys’ father. “Their own boat was their Christmas present two years ago.”
The three brothers are enrolled in Cedar International School in Tortola where Karen teaches. “Previously, it was a one room schoolhouse aboard,” Fletcher advised. “Chris is currently in grade 11, doing the international baccalaureate program at Cedar, then will head back to Canada for college/university.”
After the article appeared, a number of readers emailed and asked us to print more on the topic. In response, All at Sea will further explore watermakers in upcoming issues.
And as for Chris Fletcher? He recently discovered that there is indeed a Caribbean Santa Claus in the form of Michael Bauza in Chaguaramas, Trinidad. Bauza, Managing Director of Echo Marine Ltd., read Fletcher’s story and offered to make his holiday dreams come true. The company shipped a 120v ECHOTec™ watermaker to the Fletcher family as an early Christmas gift in mid-October.
“When they got the news about ECHOTec’s offer, each heaved a sigh of relief,” said Bruce Fletcher about his sons, “because for the last couple of years, hauling water had become THEIR responsibility, not mine.”
The whole family eagerly anticipated using their gift from Santa. “Once installed, it will be nearly effortless; we run the generator for an hour morning and evening to charge, with the refrigeration and most systems running 120v off the inverter. We’ll simply have the watermaker run when the generator is on,” Fletcher says. “My wife is already planning the plumbing changes to finally put in the aft deck shower I’ve been thinking about for a long time.”
Bruce Fletcher reports that Kyle, his middle son, is looking forward to writing his own grade 10 article next year. “He’s trying to figure out how to get someone to donate him his own boat.”
Chris Goodier is the editorial director of All at Sea. Her freelance articles and photographs have appeared in numerous publications in the U.S. and Caribbean.
Echo Marine and ECHOTec™
Echo Marine Ltd. was begun in 1996. Key positions in the company are filled by Michael Bauza, Senior Engineer; Saran Joseph: After Sales / Customer Support; and Darryl Ramdhanie: Sales Engineer.
Trinidad is the international headquarters, with factory trained authorized dealers in Australia, UK, Canada, Paraguay, Turkey, Germany, Italy, Chile, St. Maarten and Martinique. The newly appointed dealer for the United States is ECHOTec.USA, www.echotecusa.com. (Note: the company welcomes dealer inquiries from other locations as well).
ECHOTec™ products can be viewed at upcoming U.S. boat shows in New Orleans, Louisiana—International Work Boat Show, Booth 263, December 2 to 4, 2009; and Florida—Miami International Boat Show, February 11 to 15, 2010.
The company’s ECHOTec™ watermakers are shipped worldwide and rank as the number one choice of watermakers/reverse osmosis (RO) desalination systems in the Caribbean, where RO purification plays a great role in the supply of high quality fresh water.
The company manufactures watermakers and desalination systems for yachts, commercial vessels and offshore installations. They also do commercial and land-based systems (such as small communities, hotels and beach houses), with the largest build at this time with an output of 100,000 gallons per day incorporating the latest energy recovery technologies. More than one thousand ECHOTec™ desalination systems are presently operating throughout the world, many of them on continuous duty.