To see as much of the world as we can,
Using the smallest carbon footprint we can,
Spending the least amount of money we can,
Making as many friends we can.

Team Red Cruising

The Painful Fridge-ectomy

We never used the Crosby refrigerator on Red Ranger. Why? We never seemed to need it.

The Crosby was a classic piece of ultra-heavy-duty gear. Red Ranger has an 8 cu. ft. fridge enclosure and an immense 6 cu. ft. freezer section. (Compare with this; what would you do with all that freezer space?) We're finding that these two enclosures are a bit of overkill for two people. We used a 1 cu. ft. (28 qt.) Coleman cooler to go coastal cruising for 11 days. (See DelMarVa Circumnavigation.)

Apparently, Americans have a habit of needless refrigeration. Read articles like this: "Cheese, eggs, and fruit are just a few of the foods Americans needlessly refrigerate". Also, Cool Ways to Keep Food Without Refrigeration, by Beth Leonard. There's a section in John Vigor's The Seaworthy Offshore Sailboat about the needless complexity created by marine refrigeration.

Also. See The Spice Necklace. All around the world people eat. We don't need to bring a mountain of carefully preserved food when we travel. We can eat the local foods of places we visit.

Do we want to be totally fridge-free? We're not sure yet. We certainly want a lot less fridge. Toward that end, we've removed the entire Crosby system. I estimate that we removed at least 300 pounds of unused gear. Compressors. Hoses. Wires. Pumps.

First to go was the Freon. We paid a tech to drain the system cleanly and dispose of or recycle the Freon.

It was relatively easy to remove the 110V and 12V controller/relay boxes and the two mechanical thermostats. Eight screws, snip-snip with the diagonal cutters and it was done.

We still have to hacksaw out some copper tubing and carefully extract the last 15' of the 110V wiring. Then we can start to think about a replacement fridge system.

Choices Choices

The ultimate goal is to install a 12V system. No engine compressor. No 110V dock-side power requirements. A simpler fridge allows us to use wind or solar energy sources instead of the diesel engine.

There are, essentially, three directions we can chose.

  • Nothing. Learn to live fridge-free—like most of the rest of the world outside America. Drink warm beer. Use a clean knife exactly once in the mayonnaise. Want more mayo? Get another knife. Store cheese in the bilge where it's cool. Make our own veggie burgers.

  • Air-Cooled, self-contained system. These are small (1.7 - 2.1 cu. ft.) The Engel MT60 or the Dometic CF-50. These are portable coolers that require 12V power and cool, dry air flow. We just need to secure them someplace onboard. Fawkes uses one of these and loves it. It doubles as a hassock or ottoman. Another choice is a Dometic WAECO CB-40; this could sit inside the existing enclosure. It would need a 4" vent hole cut into the old fridge enclosure, however.

  • Water-assisted, "component" system. These can be any size from 4 to 8 cu. ft. Dometic sells the Adler-Barbour Super Cold Machine (CU-200), which looks good. Sea Frost sells a "BDXP Air and Water" that looks equally good. These are more complex to install. They involve buying a condenser-compressor unit (weight is just 18 pounds, not 60); a cold plate or evaporator that fits into the fridge compartment (weight is just 12 pounds, not 30); a separate water pump to cool the system with sea water in addition to air; duct-work to bring cool air into the compressor; a thermostat to control temperature, compressor speed and raw water pump.

The real question is one of volume. How much space do we need? Clearly, we want 8 cu. ft. of cold beer. A 6 cu. ft. freezer could hold 350 pounds of ice for Rum and Tonics. Cheese and mayo can be wedged into the corners.


A search of our apartment freezer reveals a few pounds of veggie burgers and pierogies. That's pretty much it. About .13 cu. ft. of frozen food.

On Red Ranger, We've been scraping by on 1 cu. ft. We spent 11 days living out of a 1 cu. ft. Coleman cooler by buying a few 10-pound ice bags. Clearly, we don't need 8 cu. ft. of refrigerator except as a locker to hold the cooler.

Indeed, given this veggie burger recipe from 101 Cookbooks, we apparently don't need to keep frozen veggie burgers around. Perhaps pierogies can be made fresh, also.