Monday, July 8, 2013

In the Land of the Hrvaskats - Unburdened by Worries of Refrigeration

2013 07 08
Lumbarda, Korcula, Hrvatska Republic

While in Montenegro our refrigerator quit.  It was a slow death preceded by days of the compressor running longer and longer during each cooling cycle until finally it just ran nonstop.

There was a leak of refrigerant somewhere in its copper tubing but this could not be found 
nor the refrigerant replaced.  Our much loved fridge was created in the era of R12 refrigerant, now widely reviled as a major cause of ozone layer thinning, cancer in rats and paedophilia.  

Short of it is that we cannot, despite herculean effort, lay our hands on any R12.  The new  refrigerant, R134, which does not thin the ozone layer or threaten the immune system of our increasingly fragile test rats, does not mix with R12 or so I read.  R134 may however still be guilty of inducing paedophilia; the jury is not yet in on that.

So for now we travel with no fridge.  This has not proved fatal.  When death of the old 
system was imminent we just cooked what was in the freezer and ate the cooked food on a slightly different schedule than originally planned.  This amounted to maybe four days of meals.  Had we lost everything in the freezer it would just not have mattered that much, except of course for the smelly cleanup that would have ensued.

Contrast our "small fridge" problem with a "large fridge" problem.  A boat we travelled with until a few days ago also had trouble with cooling.  Their ice maker broke.  Days later their generator failed.  This boat was stricken.  

A lovely catamaran sailed by two generous and exuberant Californians this boat had a large  
fridge with freezer, a large separate freezer and an icemaker.  To keep all of this volume cold the generator ran several times a day.  When the genset quit the only charging was the main diesel which needed hours and hours to kp the batteries supplied.  This couple had months of food on board.  Loss of the freezer would have been very expensive.  

To keep the batteries up to acceptable charge levels the skipper was rising at 0430 to start his diesel for the first of four charging sessions.  It was grim.  Fortunately this boat was able to obtain repairs to the genset at Porto Montenegro.

Thinking on it we are happy we did not succumb to the lure of such "amenities" as big 

freezers and multiple fridges.  Our friends were held captive by their generator and now 
travel with a unit that has been repaired but not properly.  Such worry to have to deal 
with and all that food at risk.

Sometimes travelling "poor" has distinct advantages.

We can replace the  fridge efficiently with a new compressor and evaporator from Germany.  Made by Waeco, a German company, the parts are readily available from our trusted German mailorder house found at  Amazingly the parts are much less expensive than in North America.

Croatia, despite being in the EU,  has not rationalized its customs laws and procedures yet 
although the various departments have all issued stacks of announcements of the new efficiencies.  In consequence our Croatian supplier of fridge stuff, the very efficient Frigomarine D.O.O. of Zagreb must regretfully charge me almost 50% more than if I purchased the same products in Italy or Slovenia.  We really like the guys at Frigomarine and recommend them if you need parts while in Croatia.  However they must live with the regulations imposed by their government and so it looks unlikely that we will do business.

For the next six to eight weeks we travel with no refrigeration, not the horror story you 
might imagine.  Bread, cheese, sausage, cured ham, eggs do not require refrigeration if consumed in a reasonable period after purchase and so we shop more often and make less use of bargains than we once did.  

Before we leave Croatia to return to Syracusa or Almerimar in Spain we will arrange for 
purchase of the new fridge parts from Germany and they will be in Sicily to greet us.

Purchasing Note:

When purchasing items in Europe you are usually best served out of Germany.  Their prices  
are less than any EU country including the UK.  Shipping costs from Germany are reasonable and the Germans deliver on time.  This is one of the good ways in which Germany emulates America.

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