Ample (or at least adequate) amounts of power, water, and ice. It can mean the difference between a comfortable cruising life and a life of “tell me again what part of this was supposed to be fun?” We’ve described our efforts to ensure that we have plenty of electrical power in our More Power, Scotty! posts (still one or two more posts to go before that series is done), and we addressed how we’ll make sure the taps are always flowing in Making It Rain. But we hadn’t yet tackled the issue of how to ensure that there will always be plenty of ice to make frosty boat drinks.
Until now, the way we’ve dealt with ensuring we always had ice for the Mojitos has been simple. We walk up the to marina office and buy a 10 pound bag of ice, repeating as necessary. While that approach has served us well during our life on the pier, we knew it wasn’t going to support our Margarita habit once we depart for our Life On The Hook™. But what to do?
Fortunately, Eagle Too has a fairly large freezer (remember we’re talking about a boat here, so fairly large means about four or five cubic feet) and separate refrigerator, and since we do now have a more than adequate amount of power available, we keep them turned to their lowest settings. So it seemed like going old-school and getting some ice cube trays should work. Unfortunately, because of our freezer’s odd size, a regular ice cube tray can’t lay flat anywhere inside, and even it if could, it’s unlikely that the water would stay in the tray long enough to become ice, since boats have this weird tendency to rock and roll and pitch about and cause things to not necessarily stay where you put them. And there’s just no way we’d be willing to pay the obscene, highway robbery price (almost $80 each) that Adler Barbour wants for their vertical ice cube trays.
We were looking for a solution. We first experimented with these no-spill trays from OXO. They have a silicone rubber flap that in theory is supposed to seal the open top of the tray so that it can be tilted without losing the contents. But the problem with a lot of theories is that they don’t stand up to actual real world practice. When we received our two floppy-topped trays and tried to put them in our freezer, we found that they were too long to fit inside the evaporator box, which means they had to be slid underneath it. This meant tilting the trays nearly vertical to fit them past the evaporator and get them down to the bottom of the freezer compartment. And while the rubber flaps on top did sort of slow down how fast the water drained from the trays when they were tilted, you definitely could not call them no-spill. While not quite a total fail, we knew we needed something better.
I remembered reading on another sailing blog about molds to make round ice balls, which sounded like it could possibly be our solution. But I seemed to recall that their approach involved individual molds that made one ice ball each, and we knew we were going to have to fuss with a lot of individual little molds to keep the ice coming. But it gave us a path to follow. After exploring some twists and turns along that trail on Amazon, we found these:
Intrigued, we ordered a pair, and broke them out to give them a try as soon as they arrived. They seemed to be the perfect size for our freezer, and are stackable. The first thing we learned was to ignore the instructions, which tell you to fill the lower mold with water and then press the upper mold in place. This just made a wet mess. No, we learned it worked really well to go ahead and press the mold halves together (there’s a satisfying click-like feel as the two parts engage) and then fill them with a measuring cup through the little holes. This way you get each ball completely full, with no spillage. Pop them in the freezer, and viola, several hours later we had ice balls!
It worked so well that we immediately ordered another pair of molds. We’re still experimenting with how long it takes to make a batch of balls, but we’ve started keeping two half-gallon plastic jugs in the freezer, and at least twice a day we can birth a batch of balls and put them in the jugs to stockpile a ready supply of adult beverage coolers.
It’s been said that ice is civilization. Eagle Too is now a most civilized place. 🙂