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Old 03-17-2009, 03:09 AM   #1
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Because of space issues, my husband is thinking of having no refrigeration on our 28ft Morgan. Being the 21st century type person that I am, I'm a little skeptical...We aren't going to be doing circumnavigations any time soon, but would like to have our boat outfitted to do so. Would appreciate any opinions, from both sides....those who have refrigeration and those who don't. Thanks!
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Old 03-17-2009, 06:31 AM   #2
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Because of space issues, my husband is thinking of having no refrigeration on our 28ft Morgan. Being the 21st century type person that I am, I'm a little skeptical...We aren't going to be doing circumnavigations any time soon, but would like to have our boat outfitted to do so. Would appreciate any opinions, from both sides....those who have refrigeration and those who don't. Thanks!
I'd skip the reefer. If you take a look at Annie Hill's book Voyaging on a Small Income or read anything by the Lin and Larry Pardey, you'll learn that you really don't need it Small and simple is the way to go. You've got small, now the trick is keeping it simple

Seriously. Having cold storage space is a must--you'll find that in your bilge and you can put in a well insulated icebox that can use ice if you've got something on board that MUST be refrigerated. With serious consideration of cruising without refrigeration, my husband and I have been living on board (in a boat yard!) our boat without refrigeration for going on 7 months as we rebuild the boat and can safely say that its not a problem when you're only a 5 minute drive from the grocer. And, since we're not in the water yet, we don't really have that wonderful cold storage in the bilge yet. Having spent many weeks on extended wilderness canoe trips, I can also safely say that its not a problem when you're two weeks paddle from the nearest roadway to civilization.

Lots of stuff doesn't need refrigeration--we all have just been conditioned to throw everything in there "just in case". I recently read an article in Good Old Boat about a family that converted their refrigerator to a cold storage box (when the compressor died) and never went back to using refrigeration. Lots of folks do feel the same way. We can get into a discussion of all those things that DON'T require refrigeration on another topic besides here...

I'm sure you'll get plenty of folks telling you that you must have a reefer--but my vote is "no" you don't need it--especially on a small boat. Our boat does have room for a refrigeration system (it is 54' on deck, 29 Tons) but we're not putting one in at this time. I must admit that we do plan on a heavily insulated cold storage box "ice box" though. Further, because we have the room for it and we already own it...we'll be taking a counter top ice maker with us "just in case" we actually really NEED ice

Best of luck to you in getting everything set up for your own cruising enjoyment,

Brenda
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Old 03-17-2009, 10:35 AM   #3
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A reefer ?? Which, what ???? Check here

No ways will a cruiser who cruises the oceans do without refrigeration. Possibly after salt water

pump problems - the fridge not working is regarded as a major problem = which without resolution has caused many to journey to distant lands to seek remedy.

If the boat has an engine, then addition of an Holding Plate with a Eutectic Solution is a real option - have a look at Glacierbay :- Click
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Old 03-17-2009, 05:33 PM   #4
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Yea, well that's what we folks from Indiana call it

"No ways will a cruiser who cruises the oceans do without refrigeration." Pssss ...I can think of numerous cruising families who do so. Including the famous Annie Hill and the Pardeys already mentioned. I won't go into discussion of the various sea-steaders as they're on the fringe anyway. What they all tend to have in common is--yep-- a small boat and the desire to keep it simple.

Here's an excerpt from Dave and Jaja Martin, who wrote about their family of five cruising for several years in the book Into The Light and who had a PBS special about their cruising lifestyle, ....

"We chose not to install refrigeration on DRIVER, or even an simple ice box, because of left-over attitudes we'd preserved from our days aboard DIRECTION. On a small boat, a well insulated ice box devours valuable space better allocated to water and food storage. Although our previous cruising grounds had been in the tropics, we'd learned to lead a well adjusted existence without suffering ice addiction or refrigeration mania. By keeping in mind what a reliable chilling system can cost, we decided we could buy cold drinks in restaurants for the rest of our lives. On hot days, when we longed for something cold, we just imagined we had refrigeration then pretended it was already broken.

Even on a boat with ample space, refrigeration is a luxury that can become a power consumption nightmare. If an alternator is used to charge the twelve volt batteries, refrigeration can eat the life out of an engine. Wind and solar powered alternatives often look good on paper but they can prove unpredictable for constant high energy demands, such as refrigeration. A refer or deep-freeze full of perishables is a great way to improve quality of life at sea, or in remote anchorages, but perpetuating battery life can become a choking responsibility.

Years before, we had been anchored in a remote bay when a fellow cruiser came around with a bucket of half-frozen meat. His refrigerator/freezer system had conked out, and without any chance of getting it fixed, he was distributing prizes to all the cruisers who would accept the meat as gifts - better to give it away than let it spoil. We accepted two pounds of hamburger and a pound of bacon then put them on deck in the shade to defrost. We were excited. We had not tasted red meat in weeks and our mouths watered in anticipation of the feast we would soon be enjoying.

When we returned from a trip to shore, shortly before dinner time, we discovered that hungry seagulls had eaten every scrap of our defrosted meat. We shook our heads angrily.

Refrigeration is for the birds.
"

That pretty much sums it up from the "no refer" crowd

I've taken the "nope, don't need it" position here simply because we're not putting it in for a while (or maybe never). However, there are many, many good things that can be said about having refrigeration on a boat with adequate power resources. I hope that others will come along with good insights regarding having reliable refrigeration on a small boat.
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Old 03-17-2009, 08:17 PM   #5
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Well I've got to go with redbopeep on this one (as I usually do) refrigeration is a convenience... people sailed the 7 seas and lived for eons without it.... you do not NEED it.... on the other hand it is very handy and nice to have, particularly if you are in the tropics.. nothing like cold water (or beer) on a hot day...

The biggest question in my book is power consumption and your sailing plans.... if you plan to be in and out of marinas, or motorsailing a fair bit of the tme then sure... why not have a small reefer (that's what we call it in Kentucky too)... If on the other hand you plan to be out on the deep blue away from land and civilization, aren't motor sailors, and don't have a high speed solar/wind suite then I wouldn't bother because you probably won't be able to support it most of the time anyway and the mental dependancy on it will probably just make you want to run your engine more than you really need to....

Saying you can't cross oceans without a fridge is like saying you can't cross oceans without a gps, chart plotter, or all the other gadgets most people have these days.... are they convenient.... yes... are they necessary... no... at least not if you know your business.... and if you don't then you really shouldn't be out on the deep blue anyway.
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Old 03-17-2009, 08:38 PM   #6
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While I do agree with atavist that refrigeration is a convenience and not a necessity I cannot truly advise against it.

Like everything on a cruiser boat refrigeration, autopilots, instruments, radios, engines, etc. are a compromise. They all add convenience and some also add safety at the expense of space, power, and complexity. So, the choice of one sailor may not be the choice of another while both have their own good reasons for their trade off.

Now, if you do or do not need a refrigerator depend on several factors. Where are you going to sail? Along the US coasts there ice is available so a simple ice-box will do. In high latitudes food last longer without refrigeration. If you are crossing an ocean you will be far from stores. How important is fresh food for you? etc.

For me ( sail mostly in the Med), refrigeration is a must along with autopilots, engines, etc. But, and it is big but, if they fail I will not turn back. I will try to have them repaired when convenient. I do cary a spare autopilot but not a spare refrigerator nor a spare engine. No room!

Good luck and fair winds.
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Old 03-18-2009, 04:45 AM   #7
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But, and it is big but, if they fail I will not turn back. I will try to have them repaired when convenient. I do cary a spare autopilot but not a spare refrigerator nor a spare engine.
I have said it before and I think it is worth repeating. As the number and complexity of on-board systems nears infinity the period of time between breakdowns and maintenance periods approaches zero.

Your boat - your call. But the more kit you have the more problems will arise.

Refrigeration is certainly very nice and convenient but not essential. I would go for a well insulated cool box with a drain. A large block of ice, providing the box is not opened too often, will last for days. Ice can usually be bought where fishing boats land their catches. By ensuring that whatever foodstuffs (or drinks) are really cold or frozen before adding them to the box it will stay cool even longer.

Aye // Stephen
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Old 03-18-2009, 09:30 PM   #8
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As a singlehander (occasionally 2-handed) on a 28 footer I find absolutely no need for a power-hungry refrigerator ...

Freshly caught fish needs no refrigeration as it finds it's way onto my grill before it stops wriggling ...

Daily salad-type vegetation is sprouted from seeds ...

Longer-lasting fruit & veg such as carrots, potatoes, onions, oranges, apples etc also need no refrigeration ...

When at anchor or on a mooring you can always lower a six-pack or a bottle of wine over the side in a net ... it's quite chilly 10 or 20 feet down.
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Old 03-21-2009, 03:25 AM   #9
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Thanks for the replies, I think my wife is seeing that I'm not crazy.
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Old 04-21-2009, 05:28 AM   #10
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I try to give my opinion in matters of equipment by saying that in four years in the Caribbean, nothing broke that I had a spare for. The biggest issue we debated for 4 years prior to cruising was the fridge. We opted for a Danfoss 50 compressor and a condenser that ran off of seawater. A small pump started 5 seconds after the fridge kick on. We were off a few boats our size that always had ice cubes. And when the opportunity for fresh lobster presented itself, we always were able to stock up.

Total power consumption was 4.2 amps. while running and it ran 35 minutes an hour daylight and 25 minutes during the night. Two dedicated solar panels were almost all that we needed. The biggest deal was an airlock in the water line because of cavitation under the hull while underway. It was an effort at times, and the biggest deal was working in cramp hot quarters but overall I wouldn't have made a different decision. You can sail without a shower, a fridge, I've even seen a guy (Kamu in the Bahamas) who had no engine and towed his boat while rowing his dinghy, but the question then remains, why in this day of technology would we bother? Power generation on a boat is becoming a non issue and less expensive every year.
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Old 04-21-2009, 04:54 PM   #11
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Makes me smile reading the stories relayed about the cruisers who got offered the frozen meat. They say in one breath they don't want a freezer - and in the next that they were almost slathering over the thought of the frozen meat given to them by someone who had!

If you can cruise without a cold beer then fine.

But I can't. We've got two fridges - and if one ever breaks and its not happened yet in 25,000 sea miles - I'd throw ice in and use it as a cold box until we got it sorted.

Cheers

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Old 04-21-2009, 05:05 PM   #12
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Technautics CoolBlue 12Volt system draws 24amp/hrs a day and simple to install. No excuse not to have a reefer.

http://www.technauticsinc.com/blue.htm
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Old 04-21-2009, 06:11 PM   #13
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Technautics CoolBlue 12Volt system draws 24amp/hrs a day and simple to install. No excuse not to have a reefer.

http://www.technauticsinc.com/blue.htm
Thanks for the link, Ken. That seems a nice little system that can be installed by just about anyone. I'm sure many CL readers will appreciate it. However, there's still two very good excuses not to have a refrigerator...

1. Because you don't want one

Maybe having a refrigerator doesn't fit into one's idea of cruising and a simple life. The beauty of living a voyaging life--do what you want, how you want to do it. If you're like the Pardeys and don't want an engine (or refrigerator) that's OK. Conversely, if you're like the Dashews and want every possible latest, greatest convenience...then that's ok, too.

2. Because it doesn't fit into your budget to have one.

If you're cruising on a shoestring budget, spending a couple thousand dollars on a refrigerator and then spending the incremental cost of running it (prorate the additional capacity for your solar cells, batteries, fuel, whatever) just might not make the "cut" when it comes time to decide what you've got to have and what you can do without while cruising.

The decisions are endless and really very individual as to what is "right" for the particular person and their voyaging plans.

Again, thanks for the link to a good option for cruisers who want refrigeration.
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Old 04-22-2009, 01:09 AM   #14
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If one is cruising full time within the latitudes 25 either side of the equator that little 'Cool Blue' would have pride of place - long before all the other "nice to haves"
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