Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Mermaid on a Mission

Everyday dawns a new error..

One thing about living on boats afloat and in third world countries, is I'm probably more prepared for dealing with chaos especially when it comes to appliances or utilities and the lack of things working or available.  Or having things, then have them go wrong and stay malfunctioning or nonfunctioning for a long while due to logistics of far flung ports or tiny little islands in the middle of nowhere.

I've lived for years on boats afloat or on small islands without electricity or refrigeration. For several years on my sailboat, I even relied on catching rainwater on a special system I designed out of canvas, that would top up my tanks every time it rained. Naturally I lived on strict water rationing, but if my tanks began to overflow while it was raining, I became a person possessed, washing me, the boat, the dishes and everything in sight. 

For several years I lived without refrigeration on my own sailboat, though naturally I had refrigeration on the sailboat charters I worked aboard.  These weren't household refrigerators either, but had to be cycled on and off with the help of engine driven systems or a generator. I would be gone for weeks or months working on yachts, then return home to my sailboat for weeks of down time, then return to work again. 

It was a chaotic schedule I loved that kept me working and traveling all over creation. I kept a tiny pocket calendar diary with me at all times, to tell me where I would be when, on which boat or which island or which country. 

Just writing about it now makes me exhausted, oh how I wish I had that boundless energy again. I rebuilt my little old sailbaot in between working on yachts, but that's another subject for another book. Coming soon...

I just wish I was as handy now, as I was then. Sometimes I think those were the cherry days and now I'm dealing with the pits. I don't mean that in a bad way, just that I feel so wore out.

So I've lived with household refrigerators, marine cold plate refrigerators, caravan refrigerators as well as lived with no refrigeration at all. There are so many different ways to keep food cold including ice and cooler, assuming one has access to ice for replenishment. 

Or there are ways to quite happily live with no refrigeration at all. I know. I've done it.

Ah... the days of rum and rain for happy hour... seem like only yesterday but somehow time kept marching forward and this morning I woke up in a little old motorhome, several miles inland in Florida. Who'd a thunk it?

Last night my refrigerator in my little old wheel estate decided to entertain me with percussion instrument noises and a dramatic light display while heating up. This would be fine if my fridge were a stereo or TV but it's supposed to be cool.

In the island lingo that's "You Be Cool, Mon."

This RV refrigerator is designed to run on propane or electricity. Either way, it also requires 12 volt power. Motorhome fridges are a bit different than household refrigerators. They cool the food but using a different technique. The top panel of my refrigerator has an array of lights to tell you what it's doing. Last night all the lights were blinking and dancing. The back of the fridge was making a loud clickety click noise.

I ran around checking fuses, the battery, the propane. I tried resetting the fridge, I tried it on electricity, I tried it on propane. I read the manual, searched the internet and made a few phone calls to chat with repairmen. Surprisingly I found one willing to come out the next afternoon.

But in the interim, I just felt compelled to try everything I possibly could to fix it myself. I took the back panel off the fridge and located the various parts by flashlight while comparing it all to the manual and the repair book I bought awhile back plus the information I located on the internet. If anything, I was getting a rapid education in useless information as I tried various things to coax life back into my refrigerator.

Ah, the story of my life...

By 1am, I was freezing cold, our 74F temps at noon had plummtted to 38F degrees. In a motorhome, you have to go outside to access the working parts of the refrigerator through a special compartment. I can pretty much identify all those parts blindfolded by now.

Heck I could just put the food outside to keep it cool, but there is that matter of those pesky raccoons. By morning they would have carted it all off for their own feast.

Gotta laugh at the madness, it sure more fun than crying.

Before all the craziness of trying to fix it myself, I did find a mobile RV repairman who was willing to come out the next day and take a look-see. But in the interim, I was so hoping I could just fix the refrigerator myself and cancel the appointment. I felt super lucky to even find anyone on such short notice. Angels must be looking out for me again.

By 2am, I was convinced that the beast had defeated me. I went to bed meditating on this, maybe it was a bad dream and I would wake up to a magically working refrigerator. Perhaps I should think about Plan B or C or D...

The repairman arrived the next day, actually he managed to come much earlier than planned. When bags under my eyes, I rattled off to him everything I had done thus far in my feeble attempts to coax my refrigerator back to life ending with "And by 2am, I just gave up." 

When I was finished he just  stared at me seeming a bit astonished as his eyebrows shot up and he said "You did all that yourself?"

Perhaps he'd never met a crazy mermaid before. 



  1. Did you find out what was wrong with your refrigerator? Mine won't switch to propane but I seldom need it on propane and I have never gotten it repaired. It's 10 years old and I keep expecting it to quit. You are lucky your's is still working or was. lol

    1. Stay tuned, more coming soon about the cantankerous fridge... final repairs are in the works.


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