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Old 10-28-2013, 09:33 PM   #1
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Default Living aboard without refrigeration.

I am frequently asked how my husband and I manage to live on our boat without refrigeration. I recently wrote an article explaining how easy it is for us.

Who has a fridge and who doesn't?
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Old 10-29-2013, 12:04 AM   #2
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We have one on our current boat but it is a first for us. We lived aboard for several years with no fridge... It really isn't a big deal when you realize what all really doesn't need to be in a fridge... Most condiments, jams, eggs, anything pickled...

We use the fridge for me at, and dairy products but it's pretty empty.. The debate at the moment is to make it smaller or to leave it big and just pack it withwater wwhen coastal and not heavily provisioned for long trips...
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Old 10-29-2013, 03:01 AM   #3
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Our boat used to have an icebox--but when we did the rebuild we removed it and just haven't put anything back in its place. We haven't found a significant need for refrigeration. We also are fortunate to be in the cooler waters of the North Pacific. If we store things in the bilge, they are kept cool. I keep my eggs in the bilge for that reason. Fresh fruits and veggies find their way into low shelves near the sole. If we were in a hot climate, perhaps we'd store some in the bilge, I don't know. I have stashed romaine lettuce there during a hot summer, but no other veggies. Note--romaine hearts (the kind packaged 2 or 3 together already nicely cleaned) will last a week aboard and be tasty. It will last 2 weeks stored in a cool location but after the first week, it begins to taste quite bitter. We mostly do vinegar and oil for salads--we vary the type of vinegar and oil depending on the greens.

When we buy meat that we're not going to consume the same day, we try to purchase vacuum packed items that will last a couple days. For example, Trader Joe's sells rib eye steaks that (for rib eye) are reasonably priced and individually vacuum packed. We tend to eat a lot more eggs aboard than we ever did on land because we don't often have fresh meats/fish to eat. When I go to the grocer, I will buy a container of yogurt or cottage cheese to eat that same day. Otherwise, I do have some hard cheeses aboard from time-to-time. Since hubby doesn't eat milk products at all, we use boxed almond milk, coconut milk, rice milk, or soy milk with cereals. None of them require refrigeration.

We're in no hurry to change our simple lifestyle of living w/o refrigeration. I like not have the electrical overhead of a refrigeration system. If we ever did put in a system, it would be a freezer not a refrigerator. Ice cream is something I miss.
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Old 10-29-2013, 04:32 AM   #4
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We are totally on board with the freezer vs. Fridge idea... The boat had a fridge with a small freezer box when we bought it, but more than anything we like the freezer for the luxury item's... We never had them before but if we had to choose between the common fridge items and the freezer luxuries we definitely choose the freezer...

... It's amazing how you can do without the "necessities" when you have a few luxuries...
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Old 10-29-2013, 06:27 AM   #5
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I sailed for years in equatorial waters without a fridge. Happily hypocritical about chilly stuff, I braved torment at the sailing club boozer from those who could keep meat and beer cold; all the while hoping that I might win a lottery and install refrigeration.

Up the King George river in the Kimberlies in a typical northern Oz summer, I could hear on a nearby boat, the merry sounds of ice cubes clinking into glasses. On my return to civilisation, I went into hock for a Tecomseh compressor, brine tanks and 6" insulation.

My new engine driven eutectic system affected me in much the same way as steam engines affected the industrial revolution in Britain. It was a life changer. Not as in the way a bastard in jail finds god....but truly, really, seriously, no-going-back wonderful.

Life on a boat is always a compromise but the less compromise the better. Travelling with a freezer (and a separate fridge compartment with a thermostatically controlled spill valve) made life afloat far better. I needed only to run the diesel for 20-30 minutes a day to boil water for a shower, keep the temp in the freezer to -17c and to top the batteries in the days when I had only one 55w solar panel and my electronics extended to a depth sounder, VHF radio and a Kodan 8121 HF.

I enjoyed sailing without a cold maker...but I enjoy sailing with one far more. Nowadays, I have a 12v system which in my opinion is less efficient and a lot more trouble than the engine driven job. But, then again, I am a bit of a Luddite and sometimes fail to understand the technological changes which are sold to us as a means to make life easier (Great theory!).

Simpler is better...but prehistoric is positively Neanderthal and 'warm beer', 'green meat' and 'what-do-you-mean, no-ice-cream' have no place within the sailing lexicon.
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Old 10-29-2013, 06:55 AM   #6
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Nice article Laura. I have a broken eutectic on one yacht and none at all on the other. UHT milk keeps for long enough that an open 1L container never spoils. I eat a lot of canned fruit and vegetables, rice, noodles, spices (my favourites being jars of crushed garlic and ginger, and Mae Ploy Sweet Chilli Sauce) and as everyone here has already mentioned condiments keep indefinitely.

The occasional shore trip gives me a chance for a cold Coke (tm) and I don't miss ice-cream. I suppose if I were a beer drinker things would be grim, but I rarely imbibe these days.

Bacon in a vacuum pack stays good for a while, and last 2-3 days after opening. The main things that spoil seem to be baked goods like cakes, bread and so on. Once I renovate the stove I plan to bake my own bread, which should cure that problem. I also like to make pancakes to salve the occasional bout of sweet-tooth.

I don't eat much meat these days, mainly fish - freshly caught as well as canned tuna and sardines - and 12 months later still feeling as fit as ever.
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Old 10-29-2013, 10:13 AM   #7
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We have done without , but we currently have a fridge / freezer. I vote for having cold beer. Solar panels are enough to run it.
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Old 10-29-2013, 08:07 PM   #8
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Default lottery win

Quote:
Originally Posted by Auzzee View Post
all the while hoping that I might win a lottery and install refrigeration.
LOL, that is about what it would take to get us to install refrigeration.

We always joke that if we won the lottery we would not buy a new boat but instead completely refurbish ours.
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Old 06-15-2016, 01:23 AM   #9
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Get a big pressure cooker and learn to can meat and fish. You can sometimes find pressure cookers at scrap yards for $2 a pound. It gives you lots of opportunities to stock up on super deals on meat.
If you put the jars in the cooker, the cooker is not really taking up any extra space.
Cheese keeps indefinitely, if kept submerged in cooking oil . After using up the cheese ,you can still use the cooking oil.
I was told that you shouldn't use a pressure cooker for pea soup, as it can foam and block the vent. A bit of cooking oil on top eliminates foaming, and thus the problem. That also works on brown rice.
Once you start cooking your own pea soup and beans, instead of paying others to put it in cans for you, the price drops drastically , as does the space needed on board, and the weight of a years supply.
Buy copy of "The Bean Book ."
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Old 06-15-2016, 09:37 AM   #10
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Added bonus: you're never short of wind.
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Old 06-15-2016, 05:30 PM   #11
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This link takes you to a review of Tropical Cruising by Mark Smalders. It is one of the books which I will never be without. The information contained therein, is like gold and is valuable for those who choose to sail without a fridge.
https://www.amazon.com/Tropical-Crui...pical+cruising
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Old 08-13-2016, 12:11 AM   #12
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Cheese keeps indefinitely if kept covered in cooking oil. You can use the oil for its usual use after the cheese is gone. Margarine keeps indefinitely, submerged in brine, as long as it doesn't melt.
Don't know if that works for butter, my next experiment.
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Old 08-16-2016, 06:02 PM   #13
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Ghee is clarified butter, and keeps very well without refrigeration. You can clarify your own, but you need to be sure to remove all water/whey and milk solids. You can also buy it in cans in health food stores and most tropical locations outside the US. Lots on the internet about it lately, but look at it as a way to keep butter without spoiling, and ignore some of the supposed health benefits - IMO half of them are just pseudo babble.
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Old 08-17-2016, 01:22 AM   #14
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European style or Irish butter (not the American butter sweetened up with whey) will keep quite a few months without refrigeration....ask me how I know. LOL I just found a pound of Irish Butter that I had stashed inside our woodburning stove (the iron makes it behave like a cool-box) during our period of non-use. It's been in there since April...it's still good. We just tried it last night night, no harm. I've had cheese stay nice in our bilge but we sail in cool NE Pacific waters so the bilge rarely sees much above 70F and more typically it's closer to 65 or below...as low as 41F on our trip in AK. perfect refrigeration at those higher latitudes.
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