Literally, the coolest. Take a look at this picture:
When you are out on the water, in the sun and the heat, that sight right there is the bestest thing you can see all day. A big ass cooler full of cold wet drinks all covered in frozen dihydrogen oxide. Ice, for those of you educated in public schools. There ain’t nothing better than coming out of the water from diving or snorkeling, or pulling in a big fish, or whatever you were doing on the boat, opening up a big cooler and sticking your hands into the frozen goodness to pull out something cold and wet to pour down your parched throat.
If there are two businesses that make money here in the Keys, other than booze, drugs, and hookers, it’s ice and cooler sales. And a big business it is.
Coolers can be found all over the place. From those cheap, single use styrofoam junk coolers that you can find in any store, to the big “coffins”, so named due to their size and shape, that keep ice cold for days on end. Go into any West Marine and there will be piles of coolers for sale, stacked as high as the ceiling. All shapes, sizes, and brands. And at just about any budget. There are soft sided coolers, hard sided, coolers with wheels, coolers that float, and if you are a bit of a DIY, you can even convert a cooler to a crude ac unit. It’s quite a business down here and rare is the boat that goes out to the briny deep without a cooler filled with ice.
And as for the ice, it is damn near as valuable as the drinks it keeps cold. Most every food store, convenience store, marina sells ice. Mostly by the bag, some by the block, some even sell dry ice. The prices can vary but the best deal I have found around my area is a ice vending machine that dispenses 16lbs into a bag or directly into your cooler for $2. Best deal I have seen so far.
For commercial boat operations, ice is a necessity just like fuel. Usually, the marina where the boat is docked will work out a deal for the boat so they can get ice as needed. At our marina, we are charged $2 for a bucket full, a bucket being one of those Home Depot buckets. On an average trip we will need 2 to 4 buckets of ice to keep the drinks and food cold all day, so the cost does add up.
Commercial fisherman need way more to keep their catches on ice until they return to port. Otherwise, the catch becomes bait in the heat.
Keeping a cooler full of cold refreshments makes the difference between a fun day on the water, and a not so fun day. Many a time, when I was diving, when I came out of the water, parched, dry mouthed from breathing the compressed air, nothing felt better than reaching into a cold box of ice and pulling out a cold drink of something. Taking that first slug of a cold drink, brings you back to consciousness, ready to face the next challenge of the day.
Sure a fridge works more better in that you ain’t lugging bags of ice around, but no fridge ever comes close to producing the kind of cold a cooler full of ice can. On my current boat, I have three coolers, the built in one, and two that I got for free. So one of those will go onto the new boat, whatever that may be, and I will be doing the ice shuffle for awhile. That’s ok, it’s all worth it. It may cost a bit more, but at least I will have cold drinks when I want them.
Very cold drinks.