12 volt refrigeration Boat Maintenance

Sum It Up Sunday: There's No Place Like Home

Sunday, February 10, 2013S.V. CAMBRIA

David getting a little help from Sally while he evacuates the fridge compressor.

“There’s no place like home” is a saying I normally reserve for our trips back to Kansas, but not this time.  With a long list of boat jobs looming over our heads, we were anxious to get back to work … and back aboard Cambria.  So we started packing, said our good-byes and hit the road last Tuesday morning to begin the 1900 mile journey that would take us home. 

And home we are – for better or for worse.  Even though she fares better over the winter months without us aboard, it’s no exaggeration to say that we found the boat in the worst condition we’ve ever seen her in. The deck, cabin top and cockpit canvas were green with mildew, dotted with bird droppings and littered with mussel shells causing us to once again ask the questions: What purpose do birds serve?  and Would it be wrong to shoot them?  

But the decks, in the immortal words of Monty Python, are “only a flesh wound” and clean up nicely after a day of two of elbow grease.  The refrigerator, on the other hand, is a little more complicated.  It’s been running perfectly for years but, for one reason or another, has chosen this occasion to stop working completely.  The last time the issue came up, it took seven days over the course of a month to fix, which gives you an idea about how finicky marine refrigeration can be (you can read our original post here). 

We’re currently on day four in the process and things are finally starting to look up.  David came to the conclusion that there was moisture in the system, so he sourced a vacuum pump from a local rental company to evacuate the compressor.  After removing the coolant with the pump this morning, it appears that any blockages that may have formed (all it takes is 1/10 of a drop of water to shut down the system) are gone because, after re-adding four ounces of coolant, the evaporator plate has finally frosted over and is holding temperature.  But the real test will be how it performs over the next twenty-four hours … fingers crossed!

Meanwhile, the boat remains in a state of disarray.  The fridge has taken priority over everything else and there are piles of (what I consider to be) junk lying all over the place that need to be put away.  But for the past four days, the starboard side of the boat, which is also the main thoroughfare, has been a workshop in effort to fix the fridge.  Add into the mix that we’ve yet to rediscover the “dance” that stems from years of living aboard, and progress has been limited – very limited.  When we’re not bumping into each other, we’re climbing over Sally who can’t seem to help from getting underfoot as she wanders from one end of the boat to the other, stumbling on obstacles along the way.  But that should improve once the “workshop” is officially put away. 

Looking around, there’s no doubt that we have an uphill battle on our hands as we try to get the boat ready for the upcoming season and this certainly wasn’t the way we’d envisioned getting started.  But despite all the difficulties, there truly is “no place like home” and it’s good to be back!

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