Ice can be purchased, but what if you can't afford it, or if you find yourself far from civilization? If you have mechanical refrigeration, you can simply make your own ice!
While working on the hard in the beginning of our cruise, we met some other cruisers who seemed to have mastered the art of ice! They let me in on a few tricks that they have found to make ice living very easy.
During the day, when the sun is shining and the solar panels are producing, they run their refrigerator. In the freezer compartment, they keep several water bottles, which are not for drinking, but instead for keeping their food.
When the fridge is running, these water bottles will freeze! At night when the sun disappears behind the horizon, they turn off their fridge to save their batteries the abuse of keeping the food cold over night. By this time, all those water bottles have frozen solid and are now ready to do some work. With the fridge off, these frozen water bottles will become their ice source, and that keeps their meats frozen and cold as well. Over night, the water bottles might melt a bit, but the water is kept in place by the plastic bottle and when the sun rises, the entire process repeats itself!
We keep two 500mL bottles in our freezer for this purpose, but have also take it one step further.
When we are tied up in a marina and connected to shore power, we no longer have to worry about solar panel production. We can run our fridge full blast day and night! Instead of freezing water bottles, we switch over to gallon ziplock bags filled with water. We fill them pretty full, but still able to keep thin and stack them in our freezer in pairs. As the time passes, these bags of water will freeze into blocks of ice that can be used to keep our food cold when we are no longer plugged in.
The blocks of ice offer us a few options. We could either peel off the plastic and throw them into the bottom with the other blocks of ice, or keep them in their plastic and place them in our other fridge compartment that does not have a drain. As the ice melts, it would simply remain in the bag and not cause any problems of water needing to be removed from the bottom of the fridge.
The other advantage of making your own ice while tied up in a marina is it saves you the cost of buying said ice. A 10 pound block of ice can cost around $4 in the Chesapeake, and that is saying that you can even find a place that sells it. When you are tied up, you are already paying for the water and the electricity, so why not use your time there to save you some money and create your own ice?