Unfreezed

The Tuamotus Diaries #47, Day 89 – August 25th 2016

 

Among the many sources of fear inherent to a cruise like ours, breakages were always high on my list. Of course, many things can be worse – and I won’t even mention them here out of respect – but breakages are essentially a lottery, or a Russian roulette. Many breakages can be barely noticed, others an annoyance, while others can be truly show-stoppers. Indeed, one of the latter kind caused us to bail our first departure from Mexico and return to La Cruz for repairs.

After that event, however, things have been very smooth. Not to say that nothing broke. While during the Jump, our boom vang broke, pretty much the same way as the backstay tensioner did, and I rigged a “temporary” fix which is still in place and working. In the Marquesas, the murky waters contaminated our watermaker’s membrane, but I was able to revert the problem by giving it a thorough, 4-hour flush with a chemical agent and it resumed its flawless operation since. Few other breakages happened, some of which I have been fixing, while others I have been deliberately “pushing under the carpet”, leaving to fix them while in Tahiti during the off season.

And then I made the mistake. Satisfied with the excellent performance of our systems, I spoke about it. Taking due care of course, always knocking my hand on wood three times, I did talk about the fact that things were not breaking onboard. And it didn’t take long for the conviction to be executed.

About a week ago our freezer started to mis-behave. Pesto has a large-sized fridge on the starboard side, in the galley, and a medium-sized freezer on the port side, between the navigation station and the main stateroom. The freezer is generally a convenient luxury, giving us more freedom for provisioning. We loaded it up before departing Mexico with an assortment of meats, dairy, a little bit of booze and some delicacies like frozen quiches from the French Baker in Barra de Navidad. Things were carefully stacked up inside in a way that there was little if any space for air circulation, and since then the compressor has worked hard to keep the whole thing at the target temperature. But eventually it did.

Last week, however, the compressor started working for longer and longer periods, eventually running continually. It was still managing to maintain the temperature stable, but the continuous usage was taking a heavy toll on the batteries. Besides, it was obvious that soon enough it would not be able to keep up anymore.

I tried a quick fix, but it showed that a more incisive procedure would be necessary. I might still be able to fix it now, but I preferred to stop loss instead, and preserve my current stock of spare refrigerant gas for the fridge, just in case.

So, it is now switched off until we reach Tahiti.

We immediately proceeded to transfer the items in it to the fridge, before they started heating up. And it was like opening a treasure box. Items that had been loaded in Mexico, layered up by other stuff, and long forgotten, started to reveal themselves. A number of beef cuts, frozen fruit and vegetables, a few pieces of the French Baker’s whole grain bread – a delicacy – and, the best in all – Cheese. Real cheese, not the processed Cheddar that we have been distracting ourselves with.

Fortunately, the Fridge is holding up well. It was thoroughly rebuilt back in La Cruz, including a new Compressor, and it is handling the extra load. We put all the frozen items at the bottom of it, where it is colder, and the fridge items up above, and tuned the thermostat to a temperature just above freezing level. It seems to be working, and the freezer stuff remains frozen.

Irrespective of that, we are now on a mission to eat up everything before they thaw and go bad. We are eating like kings, from breakfast to dinner, and our waists have already started to show it. The dull silvery bricks of processed Cheddar are sitting idle in the lockers, awaiting for the more premium stuff to end to recover their position of importance aboard.

I have yet another item on my project list for Tahiti.

And I had a good reminder to not talk about things that are not to be talked about.

Paulo cleaning up the slush that remained inside the freezer after the iced water melted from the evaporator plates
Paulo cleaning up the slush that remained inside the freezer after the iced water melted from the evaporator plates. It was very honorable of him to take on this mostly disgusting job.

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