Mid-Summer

Well it’s almost Ferrogosto again. I remember writing about this date last year. We are in the same place and I realize that not much has changed. What I failed to mention was that at the latitude of St Lucia the sun is directly overhead at this time of the year. It is heading south after traveling to 23 North. We are at 14 North, and from here on out it will transit south of us until next spring. This means we shift our cockpit sunshades to the starboard side, since we are always facing east.

I thought we would be finished with most of the M&R for Kalunamoo by this time but our 26-year-old refrigeration system decided it had worked long enough. The compressor went into permanent retirement two weeks after a minor fix failed to persuade it to continue to work. I guess when your time is up, its time to go. I can understand that. I think twenty-six refrigerator years is like 80 human years. All that food that passed thru its doors, what a story it could tell! What ultimately failed was the heart of the system, the hermetic sealed compressor refused to pump. Unlike a home refrigerator, the boat’s “reefer” comes in bits and pieces spread around and is a built-in system with separate reefer and freezer compartments. Of course, the compressor section is no longer made. A replacement section was manufactured to replace it, but it is also not made anymore. The original manufacturer, Grunert, was bought by Dometic. Dometic is an older offspring of the Electrolux company. I guess it’s a family tree thing. Maybe it’s like trying to replace your grandfather who may have been disinherited. In any case, they don’t make them like that anymore. But in today’s world, anything made last month is probably out of date. Ironically, food may be the only thing that can outlive its users. Provided, of course, if it is refrigerated.

Reefr compressor

For big money, a replacement system can be had. It comes in a shiny stainless steel case to hide its pumping heart. For even bigger money the whole system can be replaced with “up to date technology” powered by solar and wind, all very environmentally friendly (Refrigeration is the largest user of energy on a sailboat). In a way, it’s like replacing grandpa with a newborn. The cost is about the same. The new technology would enable us to know the temperature inside the box to a tenth of a degree. Refrigeration like this extends food shelf life proportionally longer than the life of any of us.

Would eliminating refrigeration altogether be the ultimate environmental solution? Is there non-refrigeration alternatives? Maybe, but what about ice in that rhum punch?  Well Frederic Tudor solved that problem back in 1806. He was the first to ship ice from New England to Martinique. He had ice houses built in New England especially for this and eventually expanded his business to Cuba and to the southern U.S. His clientele, the European elite, could bear the cost (probably from the wealth of the sugar plantations they owned in the Caribbean). The ice, of course, was harvested from the frozen rivers and lakes and shipped south. Profits were tremendous, before they melted away with the advent of machine made ice. I will leave it to others to see the irony and linkage among natural ice, machine ice, and climate change.    

Slaves unloading ice in Cuba

I decided that a pump transplant was the way to go. Among other reasons, our other systems on Kalunamoo may be insulted if a whole new reefer system appeared. Who knows what jealousies might arise. Would the generator feel neglected, since it would not be needed to electrify us as much? Would the aging air conditioner, despite being used infrequently, demand the new “up to date” technology also. I shudder at what the navigation crowd would think. I haven’t dared mention the word “network” around them. They still believe their main competition is celestial navigation. The 33 year old Volvo doesn’t give a hint of any major resentments, but who really knows what the Swedes think.

So, the new compressor pump was ordered and will be on-island eventually. In the meantime, we are on a one-bag-of-ice-a-day habit plus the use of a small electric Dometic cooler to keep things cool.

A new round-about rod construction

In other news…The National Hurricane Center just upped their forecast of tropical storms for the season. By 1. The tropics have been quiet most of July after a fast start although things are heating up. Tropical waves are starting to become more intense as the peak season is now thru September…Road work in St. Lucia seemed to come to a halt just after the national elections. I mention road work as that is usually the indication that elections are imminent. The sound trucks blasting out soca and promises before elections are ubiquitous, much like tree frogs at sunset. Unlike the U.S. which has a two-year orgasmic foreplay leadup to elections, national elections here are more like hurricanes. They pop up and a week later there is a new Prime Minister. As far as road repair, either potholes are filled just before elections, or work is stopped just after. In either case life goes on. The former Prime Minister says he is proud to lead the opposition.

Sunday Dominoes

The Ladies Luncheon on Thursdays, Sunday Dominoes and bay swimming continues. We may even get out to do some day sailing and land touring. Otherwise, it’s mid-summer and the living is easy.      

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