Castle Green, Carrickfergus

For some days each of us has mentioned that the fridge is a bit pongy when fetching milk for teas and coffees or getting out food to prepare for a meal. We realised rather guiltily that it had not had any tlc since our departure from Southsea so having arrived in Carrickfergus with depleted supplies and with a Sainsbury’s store across the marina carpark it was time to bite the bullet and sort out the pong.

Temptress was originally fitted with a cavernous top loading freezer and an alongside fridge but we have always shirked at the power consumption of the freezer part so use that as a fridge (set the dial down below 2 else the milk freezes!) with an efficient icebox at the top and the next door compartment as a useful coolbox for beers and veggies. Both are so deep that we have to stand on tiptoes, then bend over to reach the bottom whilst the top back edge is almost out of arms reach. The outboard side (ie the side away from you, the galley slave) curves away from the relatively small footprint of the bottom following the line of the hull so the top area of our fridge is close to a metre front to back, the cool box slightly smaller.

Cavernous top loading fridge

Over the years we have developed a defrosting/cleaning strategy; ensure the drain is shut off, there is a stop cock is under cabin sole nearby, then pour in hot water, add bicarb and rinse everywhere. A saucepan of hot water usually persuades the last bits of ice to drop off from locations behind the icebox that the human arm cannot contort itself into. Water poured in either fridge or coolbox will fill both. Once defrosted and cleaned the water can be simply drained away into the bilge to be pumped automatically away over the side.

To oganise such large spaces for use at sea (there are no convenient glass shelves like your home front opening fridge) we use stackable plastic crates. These allow the air to circulate, can be cheaply replaced when the plastic succumbs to the chill as it does every six or seven years and are easily accessed. Unfortunately being baskets stuff spilt in the top one rapidly finds its way downwards (beetroot juice covered most things in the fridge’s top two baskets when we were coming down the Caledonian Canal). So even if we regularly wash up the most used baskets you get a pong eventually. With the stacking baskets too we can have some hygienic order to our food – raw meat at the bottom, cream, cheese, cooked meats & yoghurt at the top, though the bottom of the three fridge baskets tends to be full of beer if the skipper has been doing the stocking up. Along the back of both compartments runs a metal fronted shelf useful for bottle storage (two of the litre cans of milk fit neatly one in front of the other standing up with another lying behind them where the hull curves away).

Fridge baskets washed up

The coolbox for years was a bit of a mess as stacking boxes don’t really fit as well until we realised that by having one small at the very bottom, one larger one at right angles and then another smaller one across the top of that we had ourselves a three story fruit and veg basket. The gaps around the side and back can be filled with bottles of wine/squash/lemonade/tonic to stop the whole sliding around at sea and there is still room for a couple of carrier bags of bread rolls or similar stores on top before the heavy lid goes on!

On the fridge side the ice box is efficient and can quickly freeze meal sized portions of fresh meat enabling us to take advantage of the Co-op’s two for N pounds bargains over recent weeks without having to eat sausages or mince every night for a week. It is also usually well stocked with ice and frozen peas. I’d guess it would be classified as a one star freezer as it certainly doesn’t get down to -12 deg (two star rating with frozen food storage for one month) so it’s good for keeping stuff frozen for a week or so, even ice cream seems to remain hard. So if we freeze our fresh meat purchases as soon as we make them then I’m happy to cook them a couple of weeks or so later.

Veggie Baskets

The final touch is a basic fridge/freezer thermometer which usually is perched on top of the controls inside the fridge so gives us a good view of how cold the top of the compartment is (we assume that basic physics still work in this particular cave so that the lower parts are chillier).  Physics also ensures that the whenever you want to check the thermometer it has actually fallen to the bottom under everything whilst Temptress was beating to windward.

The one big investment we have made in our fridge a few years ago was to replace the fan with a silent running server fan, the original was so loud it probably woke up people asleep on boats alongside us when it started up. Now the compressor running is hardly noticeable and the new fan proved more efficient as the compressor runs for shorter periods though it still probably is on for twenty minutes or so each hour. A small cost for fresh food on a long passage.