The refrigerator

The idea for this post came up when I was desperately looking for a can of beer in the fridge and only found cola, iced tea and lemonade. In between I came across a storage jar with goulash that had been hiding in the fridge for a few days and smelled delicious, but had to be put in the organic waste bin due to its age.

Sissi's fridge

Most of the electricity that we generate with our two power plants goes into this refrigerator. That's fine because we love the convenience the refrigerator gives us. However, an on-board refrigerator is a completely different number than the refrigerator at home in the kitchen.

Fridge - the horror film

A movie poster for the film “The fridge - ice cold, bad and mean” hung over my office fridge for years. My colleague Uli brought it with me shortly after I carried the refrigerator into our joint office.

Every sailor knows the problem. At the beginning of the trip, the refrigerator is scrupulously clean, empty, clearly arranged and does not smell.

Then comes the first big purchase. Drinks and food for several weeks are procured, dragged on board and the refrigerator is loaded. One is very concerned about the order in the realm of the cold. Nobody wants to have to search in the fridge, all the goods they want should be within easy reach.

With a lot of care and brainpower, the sailor builds the refrigerator as full as possible, because a full refrigerator works better than an empty one. There is also a lot of stuff to stow away at the start of the trip.

Most of the sailboat fridges I've seen in my life are top loading. That is practical. If we had a refrigerator on the sailing boat like at home, all food would fall to the floor when the refrigerator door was opened, depending on the angle. Okay, that's not entirely true, there are also front loaders for sailboats. However, they are very expensive and installation is not always easy. With us on the Sissi we couldn't install a front loader, because what still looks rectangular in the photo follows the shape of the drop side on the rear side.

Top loader

Then the first evening comes on board. We haven't sailed a meter yet, we haven't untied the ship yet. A first handle in the refrigerator reveals a beer. After the second handle and closing the refrigerator lid, you can hear a rumble in the refrigerator. The third beer has now disappeared under an avalanche of coke cans, blocks of cheese and vacuumed steaks. In search of the third beer, a can of crème fraiche falls upside down on the cork of the wine bottle that has been refrigerated for tomorrow's gourmet meal, the foil on the lid is damaged and the crème fraiche is noiselessly distributed over the coke cans and between the sausage packs. Meanwhile, the Camembert takes over olfactory sovereignty over the entire refrigerator.

Now the fridge is being emptied in a panic, but now neither the traces of the crème fraiche can be found, nor the beer that was guaranteed to have been put in the fridge the night before. There is a can with the label “Vegetable sauce, April 13th, 2018”. Where has she been hiding all this time?

Sissi fridge inside

However much care you take when loading the refrigerator, order is destroyed the moment the first food is removed from the refrigerator. If you don't take any food out after filling but set sail straight away, there is guaranteed to be a wave that can heel the boat so much that the inside of the refrigerator is immediately rearranged, thus restoring the regular mess in a sailing boat refrigerator.

Where else did I bury the pork loin for tonight?

The countdown before departure

If we have tied up somewhere, then the boat is really tight. This is not meant literally, every boat needs a certain amount of freedom of movement on the jetty. Otherwise it's not good for the lines, the cleats and the nerves of the crew. I mean the conversion of the mobile, sailing Sissi into a holiday apartment in the harbor and back again. It's all routine now, but it's exhausting and that's why we only do it when it's worth it or when we're thoroughly fed up with the old place. In addition, some places develop certain adhesive forces that hold you in place.

We often lie in one place for a long time. When things are finally supposed to go on, there is a countdown in our heads and in reality that is exercised at least as precisely as when a rocket is launched into space. At least most.


-86400 seconds
One day before the planned departure, we check the weather again. We actually check the weather all the time, but we do it a lot more often before we leave. We look at which supplies still need to be replenished and then buy them in. Of course, we keep forgetting important things in the store, which somehow we can't prevent. Even if we plan shopping well and write a shopping list, we forget the note on board.

-43200 seconds
We clean up twelve hours before the planned departure. Even if Sissi has only been lying on the jetty for ten minutes, objects are scattered around the ship, all of which want to be cleared back in their place. If we lie down longer, it gets worse and worse. We're not the only ones feeling this way, everyone has this problem. Should we still need bread, we will bake another bread. Sometimes we cook food in advance, sometimes we plan meals to be prepared at sea. That depends on whether we are only planning a short trip of less than 24 hours or a longer trip lasting several days.

-7600 seconds
Two hours before the planned departure, we are slowly starting to make Sissi really clear to sea. We bring the garbage to the dumpster. We often shower again. Dishes are still being washed away and put away. The hatches are closed, laundry is collected and cleared away. We have a critical sea valve that needs to be closed. In addition, the sun protection tarpaulin often hangs over the tree, which needs to be removed, folded and stowed away.

-3600 seconds
One hour before the planned departure, we collect the power cable for the shore power and stow it away. We start to convert the lines that hold Sissi to the jetty so that we can take them with us from the boat. We say goodbye to the neighbors. Possibly. a reef is tied into the mainsail. We regularly check the engine (engine oil, coolant, V-belt) before departure.

-300 seconds
We start the engine a few minutes before departure. It can hum a bit before we ask it to perform.

-60 seconds
We untie the lines. One, another, another, and another. Only a line holds us at the end. Often we already have to shift into gear, engage the gearbox, because the situation is no longer stable with a leash.

-10 seconds
One last panorama, are other boats in the way? Can we drive out of the box?

-9, 8, 7, 6 .... 3, 2, 1, 0 seconds
The last line is loose, we're moving.

+60 seconds
Now the fenders and lines are stowed away. Meanwhile, the diesel is humming and pushing us out to sea.

+300 seconds
When all the fenders and all the ropes have been stowed away, the question of conscience arises: Is the wind enough? Then we pull up the sails. If there is not enough wind, the engine will continue to hum for a while. We always try to drive out of the harbor only when we expect usable wind.

+1800 seconds
The sails are up and the engine is stopped, the ship is running on the electric autopilot and the wind vane control needs to be adjusted. Once that's done, we switch off the electric autopilot and drive under wind control.

+2143 seconds
Already finished! It's that quick and easy. Then we sail and can theoretically do it for an indefinite period of time. We can travel any distance because our fuel never runs out. This is what real freedom feels like. We make a jump of one to four days and have a new parking space for our mobile home.

When docking, everything works in reverse order, only we don't get fresh rubbish out of the container. We produce it ourselves. The countdown to create is much shorter. The sooner we finish, the sooner we will have the investor beer we deserve.

Then we are solid again. For a few days. Or for a few more days.