How to build your own charter boat water softener and water spot remover filter for under $150

Being a charter boat owner in Orange Beach, Alabama comes with its own set of challenges. One that we all face is trying to keep hard water stains from building up on our charter boats paint and windows. If you wash your boat as much as we charter fishermen do at the Orange Beach Fishing Charter Cooperative, you will almost certainly get a build up over time, of calcium and magnesium on your boat. If you do not dry your boat off after each wash, the dissapating water will almost certainly over a season, build up hard water deposits. If you have a high dollar paint job like I do, you want to protect it from the build up.

The search for the right water softener and water spot reducer filter system for your yacht or boat

After searching high and low, I found several products out there that supposedly do the trick. Some million dollar yachts all have these long pvc tubes with caps that soften the water. I did some investigating and found out that this products use rock SALT as their softener. Just like my brother’s home in Texas, they use a huge cannister filled with rock salt to soften the hard water. Yes, just plain ole ice cream salt that you would get from a hardware store. I talked to several private yacht captains and found out that the product does not live up to what it is supposed to do. There are still hard water build up on their boats if their deckhand does not get out after a washing and dry the boat completely with a shammy.

So much for us charter boat guys in Orange Beach, cause after 12 hours on the water fishing each day, washing and drying a working boat does not seem logical. If we only used our boats one time a month, there would be no problem and we would probably buy one of these salt based water softening units for around $700 to $800. The fact is, the way charter fishing is today, we have to try and save as much money as we can in order to stay in business. The cons of having the large pvc pipe water system are that they are lying around the dock and they pose a a trip hazard are usually in the way of people walking on the docks trying to get on the charter boat and go fishing. They are portable, but captains often don’t put them up after their use. The second con is that you have to dump your old system out and purge the cylinder. You also have to carry around heavy bags of rock salt to recharge the system.

I contacted several friends who are in the industrial water treatment business and they said I should get a reverse osmosis system like we have in our house. The price was around $1,200. Again, I am trying to get around having to spend $700, so why would I want to spend $1,200? Well, I was told by a car wash supplier that they inject phosphates into the water during the rinse cycle at car washes, which make cars appear to dry faster. Well, I don’t want to build a system that I have to add phosphates too every time I want to rinse my charter boat down.

Solution to my problem found in automotive industry

I finally found a friend who shows antique muscle cars and he said to get a regular household water filter system with a 1 micron carbon filter. Remember, there are sediment filters and carbon filters out there. You want the carbon filter. He said that is the trick that all show car owners have used for years. Well, I decided to do it. I went to Home Depot and got all my parts and listed them below. The only thing I did not show you is that you need some teflon tape and a 6 ft garden hose to attach your home spicket to the cannister. The filters Home Depot sells are only 25 or 30 microns and are not small enough to remove magnesium and calcium, so I had to order the 1 micron filters online. I have a parts list of the water spot remover and water softener below and spent less than $150 on the whole system. Guess what? It works. The 1 micron water filter removes every contaminate from the water and my boat rinses clean, without any residue. The advantage is, it’s small 12″ x 12″ and can either be mounted to a pole or underneath the dock. The other advantage is that all you have to do is change a filter that weighs less than 10 oz. It just goes to show you, if you want to figure something out, do some investigative work. You just might save a bundle on your charter boat water softener system.


Charter Boat Water Softener and Spot Free Rinsing Parts List:

This is the GXWH35F cannister. This is only $54 at Home Depot. The filters are 4.5 inches by 10 inches and the ones listed on the bottom of the box FXHTC or FXHSC are only 25 micron filters. You need to go to and order the filter listed next. The item number is TO6 Omni Filter 1 Micron – Pleated.  They also have a Hydronix CB-45-1005 carbon filter. These filters are only about $18 each. These filters last 30,000 gallons or about 3 months. If you are rinsing a boat, they might last you all year. If Home Depot does not have this model above, you might try the newest model, whatever that may be. The key is the filter size mentioned above.  You might also try a company named Complete Filtration Systems and order their Carbon Filter for the GXWH35F.

This is the bushing that you screw the 3/4 inch fitting into the cannister. Use teflon tape to secure the threads.


As you can see, you can mount this unit on a post, out of the way of people walking down the dock. You need a 6 ft water hose to attach it to the “in” side of the cannister. The other side or “out” has a second bushing on it with a water hose adapter on it. As seen above, after this is plumbed and your filter is inserted, you are supposed to purge the system for about 5 minutes to activate the carbon filter.  We did not lose any noticable water pressure when we hooked the hose up after purging.  Our goal is to give the boat a final rinse with clean water to keep hard water stains from building up.


This is a 1 micron filter that fits in the cannister. It is a 4 1/2 inch by 10 inch filter. You can purchase it at the link above at Just like the PVC system that yacht owners use, they are not UV protected from the sunlight.  I am putting a uv cover or housing over this unit to make sure the pvc does not crack in the near future.


I hope this filter system can save you some money and help save your paint job. Remember, if you want to be sure you have no build up, please dry your boat after every wash and do what your manufacuturer tells you too. If your not satisfied with this system, you don't have to use it. This is merely a story about how I went through a lot of research to find what works best for me on my budget. By all means, if you have $800 to spend on one of those fancy long pvc tube types water spot reducing softeners, you need to get one. No matter what you use, I am sure you will be pleased.