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Old 05-09-2019, 08:51   #1
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Cruising without refrigeration

Ubiquitous use of refrigeration for food handling (both for refrigerated and frozen foods) is a relatively recent culinary development, dating to around the 1940s.


It's possible to eat a healthy diet without having cold storage available. There are dried foods produced for the backpacking and "prepper" markets, but it is also possible to obtain shelf-stable foods by careful shopping at any grocery store.


It is also possible to use purchased ice.


The refrigeration systems on cruising boats are an enormous source of upfront and ongoing cost as well as placing greater demands on power sources -- usually the electrical system but the older engine-driven systems pose their own costs and requirements.


Do you utilize a culinary strategy that minimizes or eliminates your reliance on refrigeration? What kind of food do you eat? What techniques do you use for food acquisition, storage, and preparation?
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Old 05-09-2019, 09:21   #2
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Re: Cruising without refrigeration

https://www.google.com/search?q=site...+without+dried
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Old 05-09-2019, 09:30   #3
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Re: Cruising without refrigeration

The day we crossed the equator after 8 days at sea near the Galapagos we had fillet mignon and home made ice cream! We did not spend 30 years as hard working professionals to go camping.
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Old 05-09-2019, 09:38   #4
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Re: Cruising without refrigeration

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Originally Posted by Jammer View Post
It's possible to eat a healthy diet without having cold storage available. There are dried foods produced for the backpacking and "prepper" markets, but it is also possible to obtain shelf-stable foods by careful shopping at any grocery store. )just wait till you try to find those in even semi remote places, some of us know for a fact that even finding eggs and bread in those are a challenge sometimes)


It is also possible to use purchased ice.(Again if you can find it and want to haul it back and forth over and over and over. Couple years ago it was $10/bag in the Bahamas , but now I doubt $1000 could get you a bag)


The refrigeration systems on cruising boats are an enormous source of upfront and ongoing cost as well as placing greater demands on power sources -- usually the electrical system but the older engine-driven systems pose their own costs and requirements.(it isn't really in the past 11 years I think my maintenance costs of the refrigeration system is less than $200 (mostly new seals on the lids). In the modern world the 60AH/day for a system is easy to produce and maintain)


Do you utilize a culinary strategy that minimizes or eliminates your reliance on refrigeration? (yes, it's called a freezer than I can store 2 months of food in to be able to have it when inthe boogies( What kind of food do you eat? (the same I would enjoy back in my dirt dwelling days)What techniques do you use for food acquisition, storage, and preparation?(when in a place that has a good well stocked supply ands choice of products I buy a lot of them, because I have a freezer and refrigerator)

Met a couple on a 30' boat a couple of years ago in the Bahamas on a KISS 30' boat. Had met up with them a few times along the way, but one time it was in the Exumas after a 2 day gale. They were eating dried cereal because they couldn't heat water even to cook pasta because they were out of alcohol for the stove. The ice had long melted and even the super salted hot dogs had got bad. They were pretty happy to come over and have dinner on my boat.

Sorry, but having refrigeration on a boat is a plus on being self sufficient over not having it. Boat "camping" gets old.
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Old 05-09-2019, 09:45   #5
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Re: Cruising without refrigeration

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We did not spend 30 years as hard working professionals to go camping.
+2 Some folks aren't satisfied until we're all "keeping it real" by clinging onto a homebuilt Kon-Tiki repro with a sextant, telescope, and hourglass.
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Old 05-09-2019, 09:50   #6
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Re: Cruising without refrigeration

We cruised without a refrigerator for the first ten months and it was fine. We did not feel like we were camping, but I'm not interested in starting another tedious "you're camping if you don't have a fridge/watermaker/hot water heater/40 foot boat/planing RIB/add your favorite toy here" argument. A surprising variety of food does not need to be refrigerated (hard cheese, condiments including mayonnaise, eggs, etc.). When we would hit a grocery store we would buy items that unquestionably needed to be refrigerated and would keep them in our Yeti with ice, which would give us a week to use it up. We didn't eat anything freeze-dried once.

That being said, when we got back from the Bahamas we decided to purchase an Engel refrigerator/freezer. We knew we wanted to keep cruising for at least a few more years, and we wanted to have a bit more variety in our diet that refrigeration allows for. Did we HAVE to have it? No, but it sure is nice.

I disagree that it is an "enormous source of upfront and ongoing cost". Like all things boat, it depends on your own situation. The Engel was on sale for $699 and we didn't have to add solar or battery capacity. Power capacity is one of the reasons why we had decided to hold off on adding a refrigerator, but once we discovered that we had plenty of energy to spare it was an easy decision for us.
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Old 05-09-2019, 09:53   #7
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Re: Cruising without refrigeration

Jammer, there is a happy medium for smaller, simpler boats like yours.

Much of the stuff we put in the fridge at home doesn't really need to be kept cold (condiments, eggs, many vegtables and fruits etc.). I think today just about any boat can manage the power consumption (25ah or so) of a smaller Engel fridge (like the popular 40 quart model). 100w to 150w of solar panels can usually run an Engel fridge. If you are careful about what you put in the fridge and how you organize it, you can enjoy life on board with cold beer and all the other good things.

A fridge does make life better on board.

EDIT: I just saw Cthoops beat me to it!
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Old 05-09-2019, 09:56   #8
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Re: Cruising without refrigeration

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Met a couple on a 30' boat a couple of years ago in the Bahamas on a KISS 30' boat. Had met up with them a few times along the way, but one time it was in the Exumas after a 2 day gale. They were eating dried cereal because they couldn't heat water even to cook pasta because they were out of alcohol for the stove. The ice had long melted and even the super salted hot dogs had got bad. They were pretty happy to come over and have dinner on my boat.

Sorry, but having refrigeration on a boat is a plus on being self sufficient over not having it. Boat "camping" gets old.
Wow - they planned really poorly. We easily found alcohol for our Origo in the Bahamas (it was in every hardware store we went to), although we only needed to buy one gallon because we had crossed over with two gallons (we average a gallon every six weeks). Heck, we only bought ice every three weeks or so and we did not resort to eating cereal.

That being said, we have definitely been enjoying the luxury of our Engel since we bought it a few months ago!
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Old 05-09-2019, 10:03   #9
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Re: Cruising without refrigeration

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I think today just about any boat can manage the power consumption (25ah or so) of a smaller Engel fridge (like the popular 40 quart model). 100w to 150w of solar panels can usually run an Engel fridge.
Definitely. We have two Firefly batteries and two 100W panels and the Engel hasn't strained our capacity at all.
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Old 05-09-2019, 10:09   #10
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Re: Cruising without refrigeration

I agree that refrigeration can be a large consumer of power and require maintenance and repair. Regarding power, we use solar panels and a windgenerator and most of the time they can keep up with the fridge. Regarding repair, they are not more attention seeking than any other part of a sailboat like the sails, windlass, winches, engine, etc. We also have on board and use an Engel as a freezer. It is great and allows us to enjoy eating food that we pre-prepare and enjoy eating after extended periods away from the dock. This approach is much better than freeze dried food which can be very helpful when preparing meals under difficult conditions. The Engel uses very little power and has been in service for more than 2 years with no issues.

We have also discovered "green bags". These bags have kept items like green peppers and other fresh produce, "fresh" for remarkable periods of time WITHOUT refrigeration. We ate peppers that were still tasty and crisp after more than 3 weeks at sea by storing them in green bags in a bin in the cabin. The bags will even extend the useful life of a banana by a week or so even if the banana was yellow when placed into the bag. They are cheap and re-useable. They are one of the best things that we have brought on board in recent years to make cruising comfortable through enjoyable eating.

We like camping too but life on a boat can be much more comfortable and for very long periods of time. A number of years ago we were kayaking and camped on a small island in a particularly well outfitted government park campsite in Desolation Sound, Canada - it had a tent platform and an outhouse - all pure luxury. We were also cruisers at the time, but our sailboat was back in Vancouver. One afternoon two sailboats dropped anchor in the small bay which we looked out on. Within a few minutes I realized that I had reached an age where the creature comforts of being on a sailboat made cruising more attractive to me than kayak camping despite my great attraction to both kayaking and camping.

We will keep running and repairing our Frigoboat system and expect the Engel to be trouble free for a long time.
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Old 05-09-2019, 10:12   #11
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Re: Cruising without refrigeration

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Wow - they planned really poorly. We easily found alcohol for our Origo in the Bahamas
they weren't the best planners (we called them "the kids" as they were in their low 30s), but they were "out there", no place to buy stuff in the Exumas really except Georgetown and that was still days away, good thing thing they met a nice couple

BTW - I gave them some alcohol for their stove as I had some for boat maintenance
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Old 05-09-2019, 10:15   #12
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Re: Cruising without refrigeration

We have been cruising for 6 years and never once considered adding refrigeration. It is not a big deal at all. It is very easy to adapt to no refrigeration. Refrigeration is a luxury that is not missed if you have gone without it long enough. Refrigeration adds costs, complexity, and takes up space, this is why we don't use it. We also don't bother with ice.
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Old 05-09-2019, 10:18   #13
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Re: Cruising without refrigeration

My boat wasn't built with a fridge, there's no convenient space to put the components to convert the ice-box, and even the smallest fridge would overtax my 80Ah house battery.

In summer, ice lasts about a week in the ice-box, I try to go shopping roughly every two weeks, I don't need stuff chilled all the time. In winter a box in the cockpit stays plenty cool.

call it camping if you want ... but I like camping.
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Old 05-09-2019, 10:22   #14
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Re: Cruising without refrigeration

Our previous boat had no refrigeration. We would be off the dock for many weeks at a time and do just fine. Canned, dried and well packaged foods last forever. Cheeses, dried sausages. Tons of fresh food can be kept without refrigeration. All manner of harder veg. keeps well if kept out of the sun. Cabbage is great. Even fruits like apples, oranges and grapefruit last for weeks or more.

Our current boat has a fridge/freezer. It is the largest single draw on our boat, but our passive charging system keeps up just fine. I like the fridge very much, but we still carry lots of the above mentioned items. It allows us to be off the dock for many months at a time.
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Old 05-09-2019, 10:35   #15
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Re: Cruising without refrigeration

My first two boats had no fridge and we managed to get by but I got really tired of buying and hauling ice, draining the scummy water out of the bottom of the cooler, trying to keep the few veggies we found out of the scummy water and finally, I got really, really tired of canned food and a limited diet.



This was 30 years ago based on a couple of short trips to the Bahamas in the last couple of years things are a lot better as far as availability of fresh food. I assume most other tropical cruising grounds as well but still a constant fight to get and keep anything fresh without refrigeration.



Rebuilding and super insulating the box on my boat was the largest single project in the refit and I don't regret a second of the whole job.
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