Just wanted to add some other thoughts on ice chests. While I'm a firm believer that a refrigerator
is almost a must for multi-day cruising ... at least if the average person wants to make their life easy ... I see one great use for an ice chest ... storing vegetables ... I was on a boat that used this method on a 10-day cruise from San Francisco
to San Diego
I see two big problems with refrigerators: (a) The temperature distribution is often very non-uniform because the cooling
comes from a tiny ice box. Near the ice box the temperature is essentially freezing and elsewhere it is warmer. The result is that accidently letting vegetables get too near the ice box will ruin them. (b) On most boats space is a premium in the refrigerator
and vegetables take a lot of space.
36 I was on had a small freezer. We froze "blue ice" in it and each day rotated this with blue ice in a small ice chest that held vegetables and cheese. It worked great for 10 days ... at the end we had one head
of lettuce left that was in poor condition.
I also have a background in running rivers on rafts where we try to carry fresh food for a 10 days in hot weather
(100 F). There are several tricks that can be used to make this work.
Conduction is the enemy of ice. The worst thing you can do is have ice sitting in the bottom of your ice chest in a layer of water. That's why some people often drain the water from their ice chest. But in doing so they are throwing away cooling
capacity. While the following is not practical in most cruising grounds, it might be workable if you are departing from your home port.
I use a very large ice chest (128 qt) but you can scale this down.
I freeze an 8 gallon water container (the one I use is blue and a cube). I put in about 6 gallons of water to allow for expansion and while freezing the vent is open. I don't have a freezer this size so I have it frozen at my local meat market whose freezer is very cold ... I trade
a 12-pack for the freezing. Don't be surprised if the container expands some.
I place the frozen container in ice chest ON TOP of some rigid foam blocks and with blocks keeping it spaced from the sides of the chest.
The last part of the equation is that I cover the ice chest with a thick towel that I keep wet with river (you can use ocean) water. Evaporative cooling of the towel reduces the loss of heat.
This works well on the river. My brother has used this method on a fishing
boat for more than a week in Mexico
The bottom line is you need to think in terms of reducing heat loss if you want to optimize the life of the ice.