Welcome to the Maunie of Ardwall blog

This is the blog of Maunie of Ardwall. After a six-year adventure sailing from Dartmouth to Australia, we are now back in Britain.

Monday, 15 February 2016

Keeping the beers and wines cool

Earlier blog updates have mentioned The Fridge Project which has rather dominated our lives for the past month. Now that (thankfully!) it’s completed we can explain what’s been going on.

Maunie was built with two fridges. One is a top-loading one under the aft seat of the starboard settee in the pilothouse and is well-insulated and energy efficient, the other was a small front-opening fridge of the sort you’d find in a campervan. Maunie’s first owner was Irish so we think that this was the designated Guinness fridge but it was never terribly efficient and it was difficult to remove things without triggering an avalanche of food, particularly when the boat was heeled over. Last year, after 17 years’ of service, we had to replace its compressor but this year the door hinges dropped a little so keeping  the cold air in and the warm air out became increasingly difficult and the thing was using a lot of amps.

To add to our cooling challenge, not long after we arrived in New Zealand the ‘good’ fridge’s compressor died so we were left with some expensive replacements to consider. We really didn’t want to replace the Guinness fridge with another of the same design so a refrigeration engineer in Auckland  suggested we get one of the new-generation Waeco portable fridges; they are designed to be bounced around in the back of pick-up trucks in the harsh Australian climate, are very efficient and will run at minus 22⁰C if you need a freezer. So we bought a CFX-40 model at a very good sale price (about £450) and managed to get the nearly-new compressor of the old fridge switched to the top-loader to return it to life. Now all we had to do is to find a way to install the Waeco into the boat in a way that would be practical and not unsightly.
The space vacated by the old Guinness Fridge; a new floor put in and coat of paint applied. The new compressor for the aft fridge was moved outboard and the grey and yellow box (the 240v AC battery charger) was shifted back as far as it would go

Graham cutting the front panel to make way for further surgery

Ready for the next stage

We discovered that Waeco make a ‘slider unit’ for about £150 which looked just the thing we needed. However it was slightly wider than the space we had to play with and would only just fit lengthways so some serious surgery to the woodwork was required.

The Waeco slider unit

The bottom of the locker bulkhead had to be cut to allow the slider to be rotated into place

The power cables to the left had to be re-routed to make space. Note the computer cooling fans which draw just 0.2A if needed in very warm conditions to remove hot air from the cabinet

The fridge on its slider, which locks in the open and closed positions

The final part of the project was to enlist the skills of Bill Kidman, an ex-boatbuilder who now runs the aptly-named ‘Interesting Projects’ joinery business in Opua. Bill made a new door and frame to hide the fridge whilst allowing good air-flow for its cooling fan.

The new woodwork 

The door open to reveal the fridge

We feel we should wire up some kind of fanfare sound when the fridge slides out!

The fridge opened - no beers or wine to be seen
After a lot of head-scratching and hard work we are delighted with the result. The two fridges now use about one third of the power of the old arrangement (about 12Ah from 10.00pm to 8.00am for example). We hope that it'll all work well in practice.


  1. Just showing my friend John your boat and noticed that you too have been making refridgeration decisions. Love the slide-out as a bit of lateral thinking in both senses of the word but wonder at how it works when heeled.

    1. So far, so good, Rona. It has a positive spring-loaded lock in both the closed and fully-open positions so e just make sure we pull it out until it clicks into the locked position. We wait to see how much power it uses up in the tropics but so far it's really economical on amps.