Thursday, August 8, 2013

Daily Life - Defrosting the Fridge and Freezer

I read a lot of Cruising Blogs and one thing I've learned is that it is different for everyone.  There are people out there Living the Dream from all walks of life and all economic brackets.  There are bare minimalists getting truly "off the grid", and then there are those living in the lap of luxury on Megayachts.  The important thing is to know what things are important to YOU and go from there.

I know that living without refrigeration was not an option for me.  Furthermore, I wanted a freezer onboard, as the thought of living without, or buying bags of ice wasn't something I was ready to do.  The boat had a barely working refrigeration system and a non-working freezer when we took possession.  The fridge was replaced with a SeaFrost unit before she left Rhode Island.  Almost a year later, we installed the  freezer.

Since then, we've been learning to live with these conveniences and it's not as easy as just plugging them in.    The learning curve has been steep but I think we're getting the hang of it.  My original thought would be that I would put defrosting both units on a schedule.  Weekly, Monthly, whatever...  That didn't seem to work.  The time between defrosting seemed to vary with the weather, where we were (dock or anchored out), how full the box was, and how many times we opened the doors.  There is no way to put this on a schedule.

I just defrosted it so it's cooling back down
Our fridge has an external panel which displays the internal temperature.  We began to notice that when the temperature on the readout dropped closer to freezing, it was time to defrost.  This meant that the sensor was near to icing up.  This is a nice feature that not all boats have.

We have noticed that when the fridge is full and airflow is restricted, we have trouble keeping all parts cool.  We have a cute little fan that will be installed as soon as we figure out where we want it.  This should help keep things more consistently cool.

Defrosting with a hair dryer seems fastest
The freezer was my biggest concern.  I couldn't conceptualize how the L-shaped cooling plate in one corner could cool that entire box.  I've since learned that it will not.  But, this is OK.

We have lined the hull side of the box with insulation that has greatly increased the unit's ability to keep things frozen.

We have learned that he way items are placed in relation to the freezing plate is important.  Keep things, like meat, that really need to be solid closer to the plate and low in the box.

Newly defrosted and ready to go again
We store our bread (to keep it from going bad in two days) in the topmost corner on the hull side where it never really freezes.  Sometimes we use that area for overflow if our fridge is too packed.

I'm sure we will continue to refine our method as the need arises, but things seem to be settling into a routine that works.

Leave a comment if you have other ideas that will help us make food storage more efficient.


  1. do you have one of those magnetic knife hanger thingies? how did you attach it? we have one but cant figure out how to attach it without making holes!

    1. The knife magnet was already there when we bought the boat. It was a curiosity to us as to how the stainless knives stick. Stainless is not supposed to be magnetic. Well, evidently, even "good" stainless knives have some magnetic metal inside and will stick to the magnet. I've seen some comments about them being unsafe in offshore conditions. Well, of course we will remove the knives when we get into rough waters. But we have never had any problem with the knives falling. In fact, you can feel the pull from inches away when you are placing a knife on the rack. We like ours and will be prudent when traveling. It's nice not to have knives in drawers. Sorry I was no help with your question.

      Thanks for commenting!

  2. Make sure you have airflow! (learned that in culinary school) I'm currently trying some hole-y totes/plastic cd cases I got at the dollar store to organize things and encourage air flow. It helps keep a more consistent air temp. Love all the pics! And also curious about the knife rack installation...

    1. Thanks Jennifer, you're right about the airflow and I've noticed that when the fridge is packed, things tend not to be as cold. My two racks inside the fridge have flow holes in them. I use baskets with open sides but have resisted making holes in the bottom as I like being able to contain spills. I'm hopeful that installing the tiny fan will help us to overcome this and I won't have to change my baskets. Thanks for commenting and see the reply to the comment above regarding the knife rack. Love it!