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Yes, that’s a bastardization of a Bruce Lee quote about fighting but isn’t it really the highest level we can aspire to? Here’s what I’m talking about.

The other day, when I was installing the battery monitor that I described on our blog, I had turned the power on and off multiple times (via the main battery bank switch). At some point during this installation I heard some mystery sound, sort of like “chunk.” I actually went up to the bow a couple of times because it sounded as if something was banging into our port side hull. Finding nothing, I would resume work only to hear it again later. After finishing with the battery monitor, some further investigation brought me down into the galley and then ultimately I found that the mystery “chunk” sound was coming from our refrigerator’s compressor. 🙁 Just what I needed… now the fridge wasn’t working!

Like many things on this boat, the compressor is at least somewhat accessible, in this case either through a hatch in the galley or by hanging upside down like a bat into one of the salon seats’ storage areas. I retrieved the unit’s manual and noticed that the compressor has a troubleshooting LED on the back which, when observed (by imitating that bat), can lead you to determine a possible cause for the problem. What does our LED tell me? Low voltage. LOW VOLTAGE? WTF! How is that possible? I searched some stuff on google, looking for an answer, but all I found was how much money I would have to spend to replace the beast. 🙁 🙁

The refrigerator’s compressor lives behind that wooded hatch. Unrelated to this story, we had such a rough sail the other day, that banana pealed itself and tried to escape!

Part way through writing an email to my PDQ friend, asking for advice, I had an epiphany. The low voltage reading was caused by… yes, the smart readers might have been able to guess… I forgot to turn the ship’s batteries back on. Duh! Turning the big switch from Off to Both fixed the problem then and there. And that only took 30 minutes of “research” to figure out. Sometimes I really think I have been hit in the head too much!

Some good did come out of all this though. I am a bit more familiar with our boat’s refrigeration system and I got a great tip from our friend Jeff. As a way of foretelling if there are problems with the fridge requiring further observation, Jeff installed an inexpensive outdoor thermometer (the type with the small external probe attached by a wire) to monitor the box’s temperature. The temperature of the reading itself is not so important, as it will vary according to where the sensor is placed in the box. What is important is noting if there are any radical changes in the temperature displayed. Of course, adding a bunch of groceries to the unit, or opening and closing it multiple times will effect it too. Checking the unit in the morning each day should give consistent readings though, if all is functioning properly.

This thermometer runs on one AAA battery and it cost ONLY 9.95 at Canadian Tire!

Like it was made to be there!

It is important that the sensor not move because that will effect the readings. I attached it at a relatively protected spot in the box. The muffin fan beside it was installed by our boat’s previous owner. It comes on when the compressor runs and helps to circulate the air in the fridge, making it work more efficiently.


  1. From what I have seen, that Canadian Tire Store seems to have everything! Is it a kind of general hardware store? (I presume they sell tires too…)


    • Perhaps at one time it was merely a tire store but now, you are right, they have just about everything. The newer stores even sell some groceries now.

  2. Mike, you are not alone…..I am world famous for making mountains out of mole hills in much the same way. For example, I could not get the outboard running the other day, ended up cleaning the plugs before I realized I left the engine kill switch in the ‘OFF’ position. So, don’t be feeling you’re alone there.

  3. A. You believe you are the first person to wonder why something that is turned off doesn’t work? I don’t think so. I my case, more often it’s because I forgot to plug the shore power in weeks ago, and wonder why the AC won’t hold.

    BTW, a microwave won’t run for bean on the inverter either, I presume because of the power wave form. You may run in to that type of problem someday, too.

    B. My wife would never believe the fridge in our boat was cold enough to be safe, until I put a thermometer in there and found that the freezer was -20F and the fridge was 38F. To be honest, I wasn’t sure, either.

  4. I remember once when my eldest son was about 4 or 5 years old. He was watching the neighbor attempt to start his mower. Jack had done everything he could think of. Billy said to him, “Is there gas in it?” Jack looked, and there wasn’t. He said, “Nothing like a 5 year old to make you feel dumb!” So at least there wasn’t a smart kid around to ask if you had turned the switch on! 🙂

  5. You Canadian’s with your Metric system. We here in the U.S…we can’t make up our minds. Only place I know where you have to buy a GALLON of milk and 2 Litre Bottle of Pepsi!!!

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