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How much is a cold beer worth?

Discussion in 'Other Sailboats' started by Howard, Dec 26, 2000. Add this thread to a FAQ

  1. Howard

    Howard Guest

    This is a belated response to an earlier posting from a gentleman whose wife wanted to convert their ice box into a reefer unit. Until he did so, she intended to use DRY ICE to keep the beer a little cooler. I hope by now someone has smartened them up. As the dry ice takes up heat, its component CO2 sublimates from the dry to the gaseous state. CO2 is lots heavier than air. Assuming these naive folk press on with their suicidal intent, here's what will happen to them: (Note that I'm *not* speaking hypothetically here.) During the day, CO2 will accumulate in the bilges, rising just like water. The motion of air through the cabin, in likely combination with open hatches etc., will mix/spill sufficient CO2 from the hull to keep the atmosphere at shoulder height viable. At some point, they will have a night when they have closed in the hull, but it's still sufficiently warm that substantial sublimation continues. Now, with hatches closed, they retire to their bunks. Mixing and spilling of the CO2 from the salon ceases, and the relatively cold, dense CO2 now forms a definite layer somewhere below the level of their bunks. The dry ice continues to sublimate through the night and concomitently the CO2 slowly and silently rises to their nose level. First one and then the other inhales a lungful of CO2. The myth here is that they will somehow sense something wrong, and get up. The reality is that a lungful of "air" having a substantially elevated CO2 level will, in all likelihood, render each of them instantaneously unconscious. Until they die they will continue to breath increasingly pure CO2 and their heirs will inherit the boat. Discussion with several Naval personnel who have stepped into CO2-filled spaces renders unanimous this fact: there is no time to think, to do something, to step back out. One breath, and you're on the deck, unconscious. Mind, the sailors I spoke with were the lucky ones: they were wearing hand-tended lifelines and when communication with these men ceased, the repair party hauled them out. Sailors who go alone into compartments which are not "gas-freed" are usually brought out in a bag. Given the instant lethality of this situation, the Navy is slightly manic about gas-free safety. No one is allowed into a long-closed compartment without an air mask until a thoroughly qualified "gas-free engineer" has taken numerous air samples throughout the compartment and found it fit for entry. I love a cold beer, but using dry ice to cool your suds in a sail boat (or any other boat for that matter) is just plain stupid.
     


    JoeRickard likes this.
  2. Bob McDowell

    Bob McDowell Guest

    Dry Ice

    Now I don't claim to be a chemist (and if I ever do it must be the CO2) but dry ice has been used on sailboats successfully for years. Can someone explain the difference in the theory, as Howard details, and the reality of dry ice use in coolers and ice boxes. I have used it many times and I am still alive (I think, therefore I must be?) Bob McDowell Sleipnir
     


  3. Howard

    Howard Guest

    More on CO2 as a boat refrigerant

    Bob McDowell wrote, noting that he had been using CO2 for years, it hadn't caused him to shuffle off his mortal coil as yet, and wondered how this could be so. Could be a number of things. First, it could be a relative volume issue. Dry ice expands around 845 times as it goes from the solid state to the gaseous. This means that a cubic foot of dry ice becomes a bit more than 840 cubic feet of undiluted CO2. If you brought two cubic feet of dry ice into a Capri 18 and it boils off fairly quickly, you've got a problem: the volume of CO2 produced will, unless vented (see below) fill the cabin at least once. On the other hand, if you load your ice box with about 0.05 cubic feet of dry ice, and your icebox is in a Hans Christian 48, you're not going to do much more than fill your bilges. Second, when the companionway/hatches are open, you may be mixing/venting/ spilling sufficient CO2 so that the amount of the gas generated during the time the cabin is sealed is insufficient to rise to the level needed to suffocate a sleeper. Third, a user's ice box may be so well insulated that the amount of sublimation is small, leading to lower CO2 levels in the cabin. Fourth some bunks, particularly pilot bunks over setees, are higher than the level of the companionway sill, and this would allow significant CO2 to escape out the companionway below a sleeper's level. Finally, some boats aren't particularly "tight". If CO2 can find its way out before it rises to bunk level, a sleeper may come away unscathed. In summary, there may be a number of reasons why someone can put some quantity of CO2 into a given boat and live to tell the tale. But as long as the laws of physics apply, I respectfully maintain that it is simply not prudent to introduce into a closed boat a quantity of clear, odorless suffocating gas which is significantly heavier than air. Where physics is concerned, the penalties for "breaking the law" tend to be drastic and catastrophic. I seem to recall one of the Kennedy clan who felt that these laws didn't apply to him during a skiing trip.....
     


  4. Bob McDowell

    Bob McDowell Guest

    Dry Ice Redeux

    I think you missed the point of my response (ok, so it might not have been a sharp point). Dry ice has been used extensively by the boating community for cold storage, ask at any marina and they will have the phone # for a supplier. While the "physics" say you shouldn't the historical "facts" say otherwise. Dry ice is used consistently on boats without "killing" anybody. If you know of an incident please let us know. Bob McDowell Sleipnir
     


  5. John Nantz

    John Nantz

    Joined Jul 1, 1998
    2,903 posts, 15 likes
    Hunter Legend 35
    US Poulsbo/Semiahmoo WA
    Came Close Enough

    "If you know of an incident let us know" - well, I know of one that came close. Back when our boat was new (Hunter '88 Legend 35) we would stock up the icebox with ice before leaving for the weekend. The ice was free - dry ice - from the local grocery store. They would receive their frozen food packed in dry ice and since they were at the 'end of the road' the truck driver would just dump it out. Since the delivery was always at the same time it was easy to be there when he showed up, fill up some plastic buckets, and stoke up the ice box. Getting ready for the big trip of the summer we We'd load up with several boxes of the stuff and hauled it to the boat and really loaded up the ice box. Even with the poor insulation in the Hunter ice boxes (had to put a plug in here) the dry ice would get the temperatures way down so the frozen stuff would last a lot longer. Regular food that just needed to be cool was placed on top. Finally the big day arrives. Got off work, meet family at boat, and after making a quick get-away we made it to our first anchorage, getting some miles under the keel. Along toward morning I noticed something wasn't right, that my breathing was difficult, but my senses were kinda groggy. After getting up and climbing into the cockpit I noticed that I could breath better and my senses were sharper. I quickly sounded the alert to the family and opened the rest of the hatches. My wife also noticed she was affected and our daughter in the V-berth less so because it is higher. I didn't know right away what the cause was but after reasoning things out, what was different, what could be causing the problem, we deduced it was the gas from the dry ice. Those familiar with this vintage boat know there is a port in the aft cabin that provides fresh air and this was open. We never used dry ice again, although in small quantities and with ventilation one could have, and not long after we installed refrigeration (and more insulation - another plug). An interesting item noticed - a number of items became carbonated! These included the watermellon, honeydew mellon, and also the milk even though it was in a cardboard container. CO does not add to the flavor. Generators and boat exhausts can cause problems too, especially via the stationwagon effect and even though one is at anchor. I have just read where in Arizona, of all places, they have had a number of boater/CO related deaths due to generators or people running their engines! For safety we use a digital CO meter, household type, pluged into the AC outlet. The inverter is on anyway to keep the electric tooth brush charged. Boats are not as simple as they used to be and there are a lot of systems, all of which require knowledge to operate and maintain properly and safely. I like the old german saying: Too soon we get old and too late we get smart.
     


  6. BrassRat

    BrassRat

    Joined Aug 3, 2014
    11 posts, 0 likes
    Catalina 30
    US Old Saybrook
  7. OS2Dude

    OS2Dude

    Joined May 7, 2011
    147 posts, 4 likes
    Catalina 30
    US Lake Lanier
    Another reason some get away with it is they don't actually have it in the cabin. I had an O'Day 23 that had a 'cooler' under a cockpit seat. No problem. Same thing if you have it in an igloo type cooler that stays in the cockpit. Any gas overflow either is picked up by the wind or spills out the cockpit drains. Just because it does not kill every person that uses it does not mean it is safe under ALL circumstances. (Same thing applies to propane.)
     


    pateco likes this.
  8. jssailem

    jssailem

    Joined Oct 22, 2014
    4,562 posts, 1,349 likes
    CAL 35 Cruiser
    US Salem, Moored Port Everett WA
    At best. Perhaps a headache, or the worst sleeping with the fishes.
    The co2 in the bilge will keep the risk of fire in the bilge down. To address the buildup you would want to stir the gasses. A fan would help to vent any gas issue. Me. I have a deep bilge. Just ask @LeslieTroyer. He was looking at it the other day wondering if the creature for the black lagoon was going to appear.
    If I had any build up I’d have to stick a vent tube down there and turn on a fan to evacuate the gas. One reason I have a sensor in the bilge.
     


  9. LeslieTroyer

    LeslieTroyer

    Joined May 20, 2016
    1,338 posts, 405 likes
    Catalina 36 MK1
    US Everett, WA
    That sensor is 15 feet above the bottom of your bilge ( ok I exaggerate only 5’)

    Les
     


  10. Don S/V ILLusion

    Don S/V ILLusion

    Joined Sep 25, 2008
    4,930 posts, 218 likes
    Alden 50
    US Sarasota, Florida
    Most people don't sleep in the bilge
     


  11. thinwater

    thinwater

    Joined Mar 26, 2011
    1,765 posts, 246 likes
    Corsair F-24 MK I
    US Deale, MD
    I did the calculations once. As I remember, the amount CO2 subliming from a well-insulated ice box (5 pounds per day) was equivalent several people breathing (2-3 pounds each). Used carelessly, with poor insulation, Howard is right. Well insulated, in the sort of warm weather when a boat is opened up (in cold weather you don't need ice to keep the beer cold), it is a non-risk.

    That said, a combination CO/CO2 detector is vital for any boat with a heater or generator, or an engine that will be run at anchor for charging, of that will cooking on a stove for extended periods while buttoned up. In other words, most boats.

    Personally, while a cold beer is nice, I've cultivated a taste for cool, or even warm beer and ale. Much easier. Tastes better.
     


  12. AWalker

    AWalker

    Joined Nov 13, 2011
    131 posts, 14 likes
    Oday 23
    US New River Az
    Or the heavier tha. Air gas drains out the above the water limethru hull, as mine has for 30 years. The OP needs to get over his ego.
     


    smokey73 likes this.
  13. walmsleyc

    walmsleyc

    Joined Feb 2, 2006
    355 posts, 14 likes
    Hunter Legend 35
    CN Kingston
    I have used dry ice in the past, and wasn't planning on using it again, but this thread has re-enforced my feelings. In my very deep icebox (87 Legend 35), when we did use it, just reaching down deep, head partly in the top, would leave me feeling weird. But as John notes, all the fruit ended up getting carbonated, and unpleasant to eat. If it wasn't sealed in plastic, or otherwise contained, things tasted pretty weird.
    Chris
     


  14. Meriachee

    Meriachee

    Joined Aug 1, 2011
    2,324 posts, 574 likes
    Catalina 270
    CA Wabamun - on the orange ball
    If John ever finds the beer he put in the bilge, it'll probably still be cold. Maybe a respirator equipped search party?
     


  15. jssailem

    jssailem

    Joined Oct 22, 2014
    4,562 posts, 1,349 likes
    CAL 35 Cruiser
    US Salem, Moored Port Everett WA
    @Meriachee I would never subject beer to riding in the bilge... Though I could hold quite a lot. No, Beer is a prized possession and is given a place of honor in the refrig. There is it chilled to the proper temp and served to friends when aboard. There is a stash in the ice box but it is only there to reduce the number of needed trips ashore.
     


    Meriachee likes this.
  16. Meriachee

    Meriachee

    Joined Aug 1, 2011
    2,324 posts, 574 likes
    Catalina 270
    CA Wabamun - on the orange ball
    @jssailem speaks with acquired wisdom. Beer chills faster in a gaseous environment so fill that icebox with sub zero co2!
     


  17. thinwater

    thinwater

    Joined Mar 26, 2011
    1,765 posts, 246 likes
    Corsair F-24 MK I
    US Deale, MD
    Not too cold. The typical frig is set at ~ 36F, which is cold for Bud (though it helps to kill the taste) and a travesty for proper brews. I like them a little warmer than this, so a bilge (dry and very clean) is quite suitable for stouts.

    (from miro-brewer association)
    1. Cold, no lower than 41° F (5° C) Lighter styles of beer — Sparkling wines/Champagne
    2. Chilled, no lower than 46° F (8° C) Most craft beers — White wines

    3. Cellar, around 53° F (12° C) Higher alcohol, richly flavored beers — Red wines

     


  18. Meriachee

    Meriachee

    Joined Aug 1, 2011
    2,324 posts, 574 likes
    Catalina 270
    CA Wabamun - on the orange ball
    Why are you trying to stuff mr @BudGates in the cooler? :)
     


    BudGates likes this.

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