I know this topic seems obvious, however, a sailboat is very small. If we were going to sail around lakes for weeks at a time, we needed a place as well as a way to keep food.
The Obvious A Refrigerator
If only it were that easy. A refrigerator or 12 volt cooler takes up too much room and electric. On a sailboat you can’t spare either. Another problem is the heat they give off. It is already hot in the cabin without air conditioning.
We needed a solution that didn’t take electricity. The thought of chasing after ice everyday didn’t appeal to me. I want to sail, not go hunting for ice. Plus, there is the issue of what is left when the ice melts.
A Yeti type coolers seemed to be my dream come true. There were so many different coolers in this category. I went shopping on “You Tube” and watched all the videos that compared the different brands. The three I was most interested in were the Yeti, Engel, and Orca. My requirements were simple. I was going to buy the one that kept the ice frozen the longest and didn’t weigh as much as a small car. The Orca won on all counts. It still had ice in it after 10 days in the sun.
We settled on the Orca Extra Heavy Duty 40 quart white cooler.
My Tricks for Keeping Food Cold
We have used it for two years now. I have developed a few tricks. The night before a trip I put two frozen gallons of water in the cooler and close it up. This way I start out with a cold cooler before I fill it with food. Then I use frozen water bottles in between the items I want to keep cold. Then the bags of ice go on top.
One of the things that just drives me crazy is when ice melts it makes everything soggy. Even the food in Ziploc bags gets water in it. If I put meat in my cooler, I don’t want it getting water mixed in with it. Then you have bloody water in all your food. Are you grossed out yet?
Can’t Give Up The Room
I can’t bring myself to give up any of the prime space in the Orca cooler for condiments. So, I ordered packets that do not have to be refrigerated. They are stored in with the dry food under the seat.
My Love Affair With Food Saver
The food is put in Food Saver vacuum bags or in those cheap Rubbermaid disposable bowls. The frozen water bottles go between the bowls. On top of the food, I put Ziploc bags full of ice. After 4 or 5 days the water bottles still have chunks of ice in them. Once they thaw out we can drink them.
If I am putting hamburgers patties, spaghetti sauce or left over meals in the cooler, they are frozen first. See what I am doing? Everything stays cold and the ice lasts for almost a week. If you put dry ice on the bottom first, you can go almost two weeks. The best part is that at the end of the week, there is almost no water in the bottom of the cooler. If I want to add ice, I just dump the water out of the Ziploc bag and add more ice.
What Do We Take
What do I pack for our trips? When I cook it is always large batches. I will make spaghetti sauce, chili, all kinds of meals and then freeze the leftovers in 2 serving size Food Saver vacuum bags. When I am packing the cooler, I pick some frozen meals to take. In a few days they are thawed enough to heat up.
Another example, I buy hamburger and make patties to freeze. You can freeze steaks, pork chops even chicken in these bags. There will be no bloody water in the cooler.
Eggs are too darn fragile. I love these egg keeps. You can buy them as a single holder or set of two. Using them has kept my eggs crack free.
Under the seats there is a compartment that is supposed to serve as a cooler. I could never figure out how it was supposed to keep anything cold. So, I use it as a dry cooler. I pack pastas, pancake mix and soup mixes (in 2 servicing size Fresh Seal bags). Tuna, raisins, granola bars and other dry items can be stored in this compartment.
In one of the pull out drawers we store canned goods, applesauce and canned fruit. We take chips and cookie type snacks in a store bag every trip. The best part about these storage areas is that I leave the food all summer. I just replace what we use.
The table and the Cooler
The Orca cooler is stored under the table out of the way. We just lift up the table to get in the cooler. The table is attached with hooks. We will talk about how Dave made this table in another blog.
Our Locker Cooler
Cold water is a must for me. However, we didn’t want to use up all our cooler space to keep soda, water and Gatorade cold.
Dave wanted to make the locker more usable. The bottom was shaped like the hull of the boat. Everything slide down to the V. He put a level floor in the locking using styrofoam. I will explain how he did this in the blog on the locker.
The important thing is that he built in a cooler surrounded by styrofoam. He put a drain in the cooler and attached a drain hose to our cockpit drain. It keeps the beverages cold and out of my main cooler. There is no need to keep opening the main cooler to get drinks and guess what? I never have a wet mess from the melting ice. It melts and goes down the drain.
Life is good on a sailboat and our food is cold!