Ice is terrible

The worst kind of ice--frozen bilge water.
The worst kind of ice–frozen bilge water.

Not the type about to land on our Wisconsin doorstep in about a month, and certainly not the kind in a Dark and Stormy; the ice I’m talking about is the kind of old-fashioned technology designed to keep your milk from going bad.

Our boat was purchased on the cheap, and consequently, every single system aboard needs work of some kind. Anchoring, electrical, plumbing–they’ve all got issues, most of which we’re addressing. So, of course, the refrigeration on the boat was toast; we knew this going in. My honest belief, in those early days of optimism, was that we could easily live our lives with an old-school ice box if that’s where the money led. Plenty of sailors have relied on block ice and a well-insulated cooler to keep their fish from rotting and their beer cold, and we come from hearty stock, right? No frills needed here, folks!

Diamond in the rough, people...
Diamond in the rough, people…

Unfortunately, I am not as tough and awesome as I once thought. The reality of ice is this: if all you can find is cube ice instead of block ice, it will melt immediately. You will constantly be searching for ice. You will always be shelling out cash dollars for ice. You will live with background anxiety that the food is going bad, heat is escaping, ice is melting at all times. Worst of all: everything will be sopping wet, as melting ice sweats, drips and pools throughout the fridge.

We do a lot of cooking in our land life, and we don’t expect that to shift too much once we live aboard.We discovered over the summer that dinner is often a faster and easier production when it comes from our own kitchen, rather than a restaurant. For the sake of everyone aboard, we need to have a well-functioning galley.

So this week, we gritted our teeth and ordered a keel-cooled refrigeration unit from Isotherm. Michu’s been hard at work beefing up our sadly-lacking insulation from one inch to three, with a combination of spray foam (outside the ice chest) and rigid foam panels (inside, to increase insulation while at the same time decreasing the interior volume that needs to be cooled). There’s a lot of tricky engineering involved, getting everything to fit together efficiently in the tiny space that is our boat galley, but I think we’re all pretty excited at the thought of NOT schlepping ice around in the dinghy, in a desperate attempt to keep the mold off the hummus. It’s even been rumored by my husband that our new system will have the capacity to make ice.

The good kind.

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