Saturday, April 21, 2018

_____________________ A JAPANESE BUCKET LIST ____________________

I spent the best part of today helping my good mate Bernie rig and check that this old time 'X' Class three man sailing dinghy was all shipshape and Bristol fashion. In their heyday the 'X' was one of New Zealands premier racing classes that raced annually for the coveted Moffat Cup.

This 'X' was inherited by Bernie who completed a major repair to the hull with the idea of selling the boat and donating the money to 'Sailability' which is an organisation that provides sailing opportunities for disabled children. The boat had been advertised on NZTradeMe for some time with the final price being the princely sum of NZ$1500, which is actually tantamount to simply giving the boat away - which shipmates is a real sign of the sailing times.

The boat has been bought by a group of Japanese who have a bucket list. One of the items on the list  is the desire to sail a New Zealand 'X' class yacht in the notoriously stormy Cook Strait of New Zealand. Ye Gods, wonders never cease, but who am I to make judgements on other peoples Bucket Lists? Negotiations and dates have been finalised through a local interpreter and the boat is to be picked up this coming week. Bernie and I completed a comprehensive pre-sail / sale check this afternoon and she's all good to go.

I wish the Japanese Bucket List crew the very best of luck in their sailing adventure in Cook Strait and only hope they don't try to sail in any weather comparable to the stormy conditions we encountered recently at the 2018 Zephyr Nationals in Wellington. I shall await news of their adventure with keen interest.

Friday, April 20, 2018

______________________________ POEM ______________________________

 
  Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening  

By Robert Frost

Whose woods these are I think I know.   
His house is in the village though;   
He will not see me stopping here   
To watch his woods fill up with snow.   

My little horse must think it queer   
To stop without a farmhouse near   
Between the woods and frozen lake   
The darkest evening of the year.   

He gives his harness bells a shake   
To ask if there is some mistake.   
The only other sound’s the sweep   
Of easy wind and downy flake.   

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,   
But I have promises to keep,   
And miles to go before I sleep,  
And miles to go before I sleep.

Monday, April 16, 2018

____________________ JOHN GUZZWELLS 16mm FILM ___________________

Yes shipmates, this is John Guzzwells little circumnavigating yawl 'Trekka' that he built in Victoria, Canada all those years ago. Trekka, Guzzwell and their voyage is significant to sailors for a number of reasons.

- In terms of the history of sailing the Laurent Giles designed 'Trekka' was the next step in proving that small light displacement yachts were sea worthy enough to complete long voyages. Trekka is the bigger sister of the Giles designed 'Sopranino' which completed a transatlantic voyage crewed by Colin Mudie and Patrick Ellam. Both these boats are the legacy of the light displacement possibilities explored by John Illingworth (and others) with boats such as 'Myth of Mallam'.

- At the time of her circumnavigation (1955 - 59) she was the smallest boat (20' 6") ever to have completed such a voyage. After his circumnavigation 'Trekka' was sold to Clifford and Marion Cain who completed another circumnavigation in her during the 1970s. A sister ship to 'Trekka' named 'Thlaloca' built and sailed by Hein and Siggy Zenker also completed a circumnavigation in the 1970s. Their exploits are detailed in Zenkers book 'West! Sail West, Man'. These adventures cemented the fact that small, well found, light displacement yachts could make safe long ocean passages.

- Within the classical period of small yacht circumnavigations (Beginning with Joshua Slocum and 'Spray' and ending when circumnavigations became somewhat ubiquitous) we can read in the associated literature how the paths of various circumnavigators crossed and how they shared experiences along the way. But in the case of John Guzzwell and the celebrated voyagers Miles and Beryl Smeeton the sharing morphed into collaboration and possibly one of the most dramatic of small boat adventures. This adventure took place when John Guzzwell crewed for the Smeetons on their ketch Tzu Hang which while on a voyage from Australia to the UK was pitch poled, capsized and dismasted in huge seas while approaching Cape Horn. The story is captured in Miles Smeetons book 'Once is Enough'.

Film of 'Tzug Hang' and the Smeetons shot by John Guzzwell in the Southern Ocean a few minutes before they were bowled can be viewed here: https://www.gettyimages.co.nz/detail/video/cape-horn-sailing-round-the-horn-1957-cape-horn-at-sea-news-footage/827433294

I read this first edition of 'Trekka Round the World' when I was 12 years old. The book left a lasting impression on me. I remember completing three back to back readings of the book.
Today I completed my second reading of this (above) the second edition of the  book which was re - published by John Guzzwell in 1999.  It contains an expanded text, a very interesting 'Afterword' and two informative Appendixes.
'Once is Enough' is an enthralling tale of courage and endurance. After the dismasting of Tzu Hang and her repair in Chile, the Smeetons (This time minus Guzzwell) set out for the Horn once again, were caught by a huge sea and were rolled, capsized and dismasted. Many years later they conquered the Horn (this time sailing from East to West), an adventure told in Miles Smeetons book 'Because The Horn Is There'.

What is interesting (and perhaps sobering) is that these ocean passages during the golden age of small sailboat voyaging were all completed without Life rafts, SSB radios, EPIRB, GPS or many of the other compulsory so called modern safety requirements. The safety was inherent in well designed, strong, well built and competently sailed small yachts.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

_______________________ OYC ENDURANCE RACE ______________________

Today I raced in the Onerahi Yacht Club Endurance Race. This race closes the Summer season of racing at the OYC. There were 16 yachts of a wide variety participating in this handicap race - various catamarans, Lasers, Ok, 470, Jolly Boats, Flying Fifteens, and a variety of other sailing dinghies. The race started at 10.30am this morning and finished at 4.30pm this afternoon. I raced without a stop for 6 hours. At around 3pm I lost my concentration and capsized when gybing. I took on a few mouthfuls of salt water and lost my hat - but never mind because I won this 6 hour marathon race on handicap. I am now off to bed. I think I may sleep for a week.


Saturday, April 7, 2018

___________________________ HOT DIGGITY __________________________


Tonight Christine, Lynn, Bernie and I went and had a meal together at our yacht club (Whangarei Cruising Club) and listened to a visiting Blue Grass Band called 'Hot Diggity' - New Zealands only all female Blue Grass band. Of their genre of amateur musical bands they were a very good example. This Utube video is not from tonights performance but it is "as good as" (as the saying goes) as an example of their performance. It displays the ambience and informality of local 'Hot Diggitys' gigs as they make their way around New Zealand entertaining Kiwis and showing off their enthusiasm, virtuosity and musical talent.

Of course the evening was not all about Blue Grass music. Over a beer or six, Bernie and I planned our strategy for tomorrows six hour endurance race at the Onerahi Yacht Club where we will be competing in our Zephyr sailing dinghies.

As the evening progressed and the instruments and voices wove their contrapuntal and harmonic paths and as the lyrics soared to the rafters and the beer flowed it was amazing how our predictions of tomorrows personal sailing performances rose in unison to the driving rhythm. Shipmates, such is the sailors life.

If I purchased a brand spanking new fiberglass Zephyr as a celebration of the sailing life I feel the name 'Hot Diggity' has a rather nice ring to it.

Friday, April 6, 2018

_________________ MORE REPAIRS AND ADJUSTMENTS ________________

I am onto the second round of repairs to the booms goose neck. In the OYC champs I gybed heavily and ripped the goose neck off the mast.

The first fix was to simply rivet the goose neck back onto the mast. This was unsuccessful. After a couple of races the new rivets came loose. I think this happened because the rivet holes had become oversize due to corrosion and damage.

The new fix has involved making and riveting a new aluminum plate over the damaged area. Strengthening this high stress area provides a new base for the rivets. I have also added two more rivets to the goose neck making 6 in total.

 Other adjustment include:

- Adding a long bungy cord attached at the vangs position on the boom through a pulley at the bow and back to the vangs position on the boom again. This arrangement helps hold the boom out hard on the side rigging when running or broad leading before the wind. This arrangement is especially helpful in light weather.

- I have altered the mast step slightly at the base allowing a lot more rake in the mast. Raking the mast helps boat performance to windward. This is especially so in heavy weather when combining mast rake with a flat sail produced from mast bend induced by the boom vang.

- Tightening the rigging screws so that I am not sailing as I have been doing with a lot of slack in the leeward rigging. I will be able to adjust mast rake from the raked position to a vertical position using the fore stay adjustment now without the whole rig rattling around as it has been doing.

This Sunday I will be sailing in the Onerahi Yacht Clubs 6 hour endurance race - plenty of time to see if the repairs and adjustment I have completed will make a difference.


Monday, April 2, 2018

_______________________________ POEM ______________________________


WITHIN THE CIRCUIT OF THIS PLODDING LIFE
 Henry David Thoreau

Within the circuit of this plodding life
There enter moments of an azure hue,
Untarnished fair as is the violet
Or anemone, when the spring strews them
By some meandering rivulet, which make
The best philosophy untrue that aims
But to console man for his grievances
I have remembered when the winter came,
High in my chamber in the frosty nights,
When in the still light of the cheerful moon,
On every twig and rail and jutting spout,
The icy spears were adding to their length
Against the arrows of the coming sun,
How in the shimmering noon of summer past
Some unrecorded beam slanted across
The upland pastures where the Johnswort grew;
Or heard, amid the verdure of my mind,
The bee's long smothered hum, on the blue flag
Loitering amidst the mead; or busy rill,
Which now through all its course stands still and dumb
Its own memorial,—purling at its play
Along the slopes, and through the meadows next,
Until its youthful sound was hushed at last
In the staid current of the lowland stream;
Or seen the furrows shine but late upturned,
And where the fieldfare followed in the rear,
When all the fields around lay bound and hoar
Beneath a thick integument of snow.
So by God's cheap economy made rich
To go upon my winter's task again.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

____________________________ SEA FEVER ___________________________


SEA FEVER - John Masefield

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white sail's shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea's face, and a grey dawn breaking.

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull's way and the whale's way, where the wind's like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick's over.

This beautiful little Knud Reimers designed 'Tumlare' class yacht ( Tumlare is Swedish for Porpoise) isn't a "tall ship" and she has a tiller rather than a ships wheel - but shipmates the sentiments ring true all the same.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

____________ CANOE YAWL 'AUTUMN LEAVES' 2018 UPDATE ____________


Shipmates, you may remember a couple of raves (or is that rants!) regarding Chesapeake Light Crafts 'Autumn Leaves' canoe yawl designed by John Harris. I have posted about this little packet a couple of times here:

and:

I have been wondering and searching online ever since the design became available for any photographs of a new build to this design. Then bingo, yesterday I received a comment from Al Stead on my 'Autumn Leaves' - Update story. Al encouraged me to take a look at his postings on the BYYB site. Al Stead is either an American or Canadian who I think lives somewhere in the Great Lakes area. I am only guessing this based on his postings regarding his build of 'Autumn Leaves' on the Back Yard Yacht Building site (BYYB) here:


The BYYB site is a free forum, but you have to register and get a user name and password to be able to view Als' photographs and read his narrative. It is well worth the small effort.

My heart soared when I viewed photographs of the build (there are a lot more on the BYYC site), because she looks even more interesting and enticing in three dimensions. I think she is a right little cracker of a boat and I am now more determined than ever to build a canoe yawl to this design some time in the near future.

Al Stead is aiming to get this little gem of a canoe yawl in the water in the next few months. I will be keenly watching Als' progress as he completes what I strongly believe is going to be a very capable shoal draft sail boat. In my book, this is truly a design that dreams are made of - and because of the relatively simple construction method those dreams are very accessible.

I think this little boat is a very worthy descendant in the Canoe Yawl tradition begun all those years ago by Albert Strange, George Holmes and members of the Humber Yawl Club in the UK in the 1890s.

I eagerly await her maiden voyage and an assessment of her performance under sail!

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

________________________ GEAR BREAKAGES ________________________

 Rivet holes exposed after the goose neck fitting sheared off.

Last weekend I raced in the Onerahi Yacht Clubs two day, 8 race annual championships. There were 4 races on each of the two days. I came second in my division but not without incident. It blew very hard over the two days, these days being just before the downgraded Tropical Cyclone 'Hola' arrived. During the second to last race on day two, I gybed heavily and sheared the booms' goose neck off the mast. As you can see from the above photo the force of the gybe popped all rivets holding the goose neck to the mast.

 Goose neck fitting before reattaching with new rivets.

I continued racing although my speed to windward dropped as the boom lay on one side of the mast not unlike the boom of a lug sail rig.

Double sheave pulley with rope attachment becket.

As I continued sailing there was jerking of the main boom again and a rattle. The pin that held the mainsheet pulley becket (black plastic roller above) that the mainsheet ties to somehow fell out (probably due to all the flapping and rattling during and after the punishing gybe. The bowline I tie  that holds the mainsheet to the becket stopped the mainsheet from running through all the mainsheet blocks, and I continued with reduced purchase on the sheet. Luckily the pin and the little plastic roller fell into the cockpit and I was able to reassemble it after the racing was completed.

After the race when the goose neck failed and with one race to go I had the choice of either retiring from the racing or continuing and completing the last race. I chose the latter and tried to tie the goose neck back on the mast with a piece of cord. I succeeded in doing so but not before capsizing the boat while standing forward in the boat in a gale of a wind (first time I have capsized the Zephyr) ...... the boat went over and I went under with a big splash. Unfortunately the mast dug into the mud on the bottom and bent the wind vane which I had for the very first time attached it in its alternative position at the top of the mast. But despite everything I was able to right the boat and roughly tie the goose neck to the mast and complete the last race.

 Reattached goose neck filling.

I have been able to re - rivet the goose neck back onto the mast, fix the becket on the main sheet pulley and was able to sail again yesterday in the regular Tuesday twilight series. All the gear worked well again and we are really not that much worse for wear.

The OYC champs and the Tuesday twilight race were both held in high winds and I am pleased with the improved speed to windward in heavy air I am achieving since setting up the boat according to the advice I gleaned from Andy Knowles while sailing in the NZ Champs at Worser Bay. The Zephyr is a technical boat, challenging to sail well, and as I have said before I have only scratched the the surface of what's possible. Only time will tell whether I am able to race the boat at the top of its potential performance - in the mean time I will be enjoying immensely finding out!

Thursday, March 8, 2018

___________________ SARTORIAL CONSIDERATIONS ___________________


"Been there, done that, got the T shirt", is how the saying goes. I didn't ever think I would find myself getting caught up in that kind of 'hoop - la', but I am glad I did. It's a very nice (and useful) 'keep sake'. A 'keep sake' shot through with the wind blown memories of a hard contest in tough conditions on Worser Bay Wellington in 2018.

 Nice Zephyr graphic on the back of the shirt.

Courageously I ordered an 'L' rather than an 'XL' size. This has meant that when engaging in conversation whilst wearing my commemorative shirt I prefer to display a frontal rather than a side  profile (The side profile is somewhat reminiscent of a Blue Whale). But shipmates you know that hope springs eternal within the bosom of this overweight dinghy sailor. By the time I am race fit and down to weight for the Zephyr Nationals in Tauranga in 2019, this shirt will fit me like a glove. I will be as sleek, lithe and wily as a Whangarei racing sardine and this shirt full of memories will ripple on my six pack with the subtly of a slow gybing spinnaker. LOL!

__________________________ CROSSROADS ___________________________

Yes! That's correct! If you look and think carefully about it ... these ARE the answers.

- Silence
- Meditation 
- Beginning exactly where you are now.
- Having a resoundingly good cup of tea.
- Being kind to animals - give them a break - (Don't bloody well eat them if you can avoid it). 

Do this and watch the flowers bloom around you.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

__________________ ALL STORMS HAVE SILVER LININGS _______________

Ben wrote: " Hi Alden, Finally after many years we could skate on natural ice again. See pictures with windmill and the “Koek en zopie. The latter meaning a stand for hot drinks and food. In a separate mail I will sent a clip of me skating made by my friend Gerrit. Cheers, Ben."

Mijn vriend Ben die in Nederland woont, heeft me deze video en deze foto's gestuurd. Ben en zijn vrienden schaatsen voor de eerste keer in vele jaren op de waterwegen rond Tiel in Nederland. Een gewoon winters tafereel zoals dit in Nederland lijkt lichtjaren verwijderd van het normale dagelijkse leven hier in Nieuw-Zeeland. Dit schrijven is een product van Google Translate - ik hoop dat het grammaticaal correct is.

My friend Ben who lives in the Netherlands sent me this video and these photos. Ben and his friends skate for the first time in many years on the waterways around Tiel in the Netherlands. An ordinary winter scene like this in the Netherlands seems light years away from the normal daily life here in New Zealand. This writing is a Google Translate product - I hope it is grammatically correct.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

________________________ Zephyr Nationals 2018 ______________________

'Slipstream' and I were placed 60th out of 73 boats in the 2018 Zephyr Nationals. After less than two years experience in the Zephyr this placing wasn't really unexpected and I have to emphatically say it didn't dent my enjoyment of the event in the slightest. I had a truly wonderful time. It blew like hell ( 20 knots gusting to 28) for the first race (23 boats withdrew) and wasn't much better for the remaining 8 races.  I really struggled in the first few races in the high winds. I reached the top mark in these early races with the cockpit half full of water having been unable to control the heel of the boat when the big squalls drove through.
.
You Tube video - 2018 Zephyr Nationals

All kitted up and ready to go. Launching off the beach had its moments with small waves creating a bit of chaos at times. One boat got away from its skipper and rammed me in the side - my ribs are still recovering.

My mate Bernie never made it to the first race. He sheared off his Zephyrs rudder stock on the way to the start.

Bernie managed to purchase a new rudder stock and we spent a couple of hours drilling and bolting on a new set of rudder gudgeons to the stern of his boat. He raced the next two races but unfortunately strained his back so severely he had to retire from the contest.

The Cook Strait ferry was a constant background presence throughout the sailing on windy Wellington Harbour.

Happily we didn't race on the official last day (Sun Feb 24th) of the contest because the predicted weather prevailed and it blew a steady 35 knots - gusting to 45 knots all day. An extra race was held on both Friday and Saturday in light of the predication of high winds for Sunday. 

Secretly I actually wished we could have sailed - the downwind runs would have been spectacular. I took this photo (above) on the wharf on the seaward side of Te Papa Museum. I also took this photo (below) which is a good symbol of Wellingtons legendary weather.

All construction site scaffolding and various tents on the wharf were held down with arrays of concrete blocks.

Christine and I stayed at the 'Beachfront Wellington Bed and Breakfast' (Extreme left in the photo). This was a beautiful spot across the road from the yacht club, the rigging area and the beach. We went to sleep each night and woke in the morning to the sound of the surf breaking.

After the 3rd race I had a talk to Andy Knowles a former Olympic sailer and very experienced Zephyr sailor about my struggles going to windward in the tough conditions. He gave me some excellent technical advice regarding raking the mast, sailing with the centre board raked and raised about 120 -300mms and freeing the mains'l leech by putting on as much boom vang as I could. This worked well, I was able to keep the boat upright and water free and my placings improved somewhat.
The lesson I learned from the contest was that the Zephyr is a very technical boat to sail fast and that I have only scratched the surface of what the boat is capable of doing. Of course I also need to improve my basic small boat racing skills - getting clear wind right from the gun in a big fleet will be a start.
 The starts were pretty crowded places with a lot of jostling for position.

Zephyr 322 was sailed by Peter Stokell. Peter is from Christchurch, Canterbury in the South Island of New Zealand. We both attended the same school  -  Central New Brighton Primary School. It was good to catch up with him and have a good talk about the old days. He is a long time Zephyr sailor.

The positives I took from the whole experience were:
- Completing all 9 races.
- Not capsizing.
- Learning how to sail better to windward in high winds.
- Stonking along with the boat balanced on a knife edge as she planed like hell in a ferocious following wind. 
- Enjoying the company of wife Christine and Lynn and Bernie our traveling companions.
- Meeting some old friends and new friends.
- Being amazed by the skill and fortitude of Zephyr sailors (Over 40 of the skippers were aged 60 or more - with one over 70).
- Enjoying great breakfasts every morning cooked by Craig the B'n'B owner (I told him I am going to nominate him for TVs Master Chef).
- Racing in a really big fleet
- Watching 73 beautiful, beautiful Zephyrs sailing.
- Experiencing a really well run contest; well done Worser Bay Yacht Club!
- Going to sleep and waking to the sound of surf breaking.
 
The 2019 Zephyr Nationals will be held in Tauranga - I will be there.


Sunday, February 18, 2018

____________________ INTO THE EYE OF THE STORM ____________________

 Fiberglass series 6 Zephyr sailing at Worser Bay 2016 - A series 6 would be a nice upgrade : >)

If the weather gods are kind to us we will be soon be sailing on Worser Bay in Wellington in the 2018 National Zephyr Championships.  My fellow Zephyr skipper Bernie and his partner Lyn started their journey down to Wellington today; Christine and I start our trek south tomorrow. The weather for the Wellington region doesn't look good at all - severe gales forecast for the next few days. I hope things have settled down by Thursday when the sailing begins. Yesterday I went for a practise sail on Parua Bay to make sure all the alterations and recent tweakings of things nautical on 'Slipstream' were all working well before heading south into combat. With Cyclone Gita influencing the weather over the coming week that combat may well become a war of attrition - watch this space.

Worser Bay Wellington in non cyclonic weather.
 

Thursday, February 15, 2018

_____________ ZEPHYR NATIONALS IN WINDY WELLINGTON ____________

The last National contest I sailed in at Wellington was at Evans Bay in 1968 - that's 50 years ago. I remember it well mainly because it blew like hell - I mean it really blew; ("It's smoking at Point Jerningham" the locals at the Evans Bay Yacht Club shouted excitedly) .........  and I broke the mast on my little 7 foot 'P' Class yacht. Next week the weather looks like repeating itself for the 2018 Zephyr Nationals at Worser Bay.

Shipmates, without wanting to get too obsessive about all this cyclone malarkey the above weather map is one of the predictions of the cyclones position in 5 days time. At the present moment it is about 1000km or more north between Fiji and New Caledonia.

Tuesday 20th February shows the Cyclones closest predicted approach with the north eastern quadrant of the storm raging over Wellington.

Tuesday the 20th is the day we arrive in Wellington.

Wednesday the 21st is boat inspection and measurement day.

Thursday the 22nd is the major race briefing day with the first race at 1400hrs.

............ so my guess is that if the above weather map projection is accurate the worst of the storm will have continued its southward direction and moved away from the gladiatorial Zephyr Colosseum of Worser Bay ........... butt (and I use that word advisably) there is going to be plenty of wind, so when my butt is stacking out over the the gunwales I hope my weight of 90+kgs will come into play and help me to fly to windward like a Zephyr with a 90+kg canting keel. (hope springs eternal).

........ and no, that's NO! I don't want history to repeat itself in the mast department ...... or I shall be very, very, very pissed off indeed.

Monday, February 12, 2018

__________________________ CYCLONE GITA __________________________

Shipmates; here in Northland (above) we are watching with interest the track of Cyclone Gita which is bumbling around just below the equator at the present time and is predicted to hit New Zealand sometime next week. This is interesting and somewhat disturbing as I (and to date 70 other contest registered Zephyr sailors) will be lining up on Wellington harbour for the 2018 Zephyr nationals as this great lumbering Category 5 cyclone strikes - yikes!!

(Click on the link, then click/hold/rotate/enlarge the globe to take a look)


Wednesday, January 31, 2018

________________________ CHANGING STOVES ________________________

This (above) is my yacht 'Mariner's stove. It is a primus stove that uses kerosene under pressure (Stored in the tube on the bottom of the stove). The kero burners are pre-heated at their bases with meths which has the effect of vapourizing the kerosene which then burns with a clear blue flame. When they are in good working condition they are great little stoves and I love them. When they get old and worn they develop a number of alias's - 'Flame Thrower', 'Grenade' and 'Bomb' come to mind. New Kero burners for primus stoves are now available again but they are very expensive and have to be specifically imported into NZ.

So reluctantly I modified the old primus by lowering the burner tray and purchasing a couple of gas camping stoves which fitted neatly into the recessed trays. I don't much like gas on a boat but I thought this might be a compromise as I would only be using small canisters rather than having a professionally fitted installation complete with a large gas bottle.

Right from the start I had a bad feeling about what I was contemplating. Instead of listening to my gut instincts I simply forged ahead. I sobered up when I read the instruction leaflet that came with the camping gas stoves, which gave this advice:

- "This appliance uses oxygen when in use. DO NOT light or use indoors, in a tent, vehicle or other enclosed areas. A fire or carbon monoxide poisoning could cause injury or death" - Yikes!

- " DO NOT obstuct the flow of combustion and ventilation air. - OMG !

- " DO NOT use any windscreen (ing) with the stove. Any windscreen, including a standard windscreen, may cause the canister to explode. - Fucking hell !

- " DO NOT use the stove.......... in close proximity to another stove, or near any heat, fuel or ignition source." - Shite! You mean I have two bombs side by side!

- " FAILURE TO FOLLOW THESE WARNINGS AND INSTRUCTIONS COULD RESULT IN FIRE, PROPERTY DAMAGE, SERIOUS INJURY, OR DEATH! "  

- Sounds as though if I was to take the gas option I would have a stove ensconced in my boats galley with the explosive power of an Exocet Missile! Yikes! and Yikes!! again!

Only a fool would not take this advice. So I used that old adage that changing my mind is a males prerogative and went in another direction.

So shipmates, I did the research I should have done right at the beginning of this little sojourn and decided to change fuel.

I have purchased a new stove with a couple of nifty adjustable pot holders. It's a Swedish built Dometic 3000 two burner stove specifically designed for use in tents, campers and boats. It burns meths which is not pressurized in any way which is a big safety factor. It eliminates the pressurized flare ups that can occur with a primus. Any meths fires can be put out with water.

According to the Utube videos I have viewed and literature I have read a meths burning stove is the safest option available and has the advantage that meths can be extinguished using water in the unlikely event of a fire. The only disadvantage that I can see is that meths doesn't burn at the same fierce temperatures as gas or kerosene, so the kettle will take a little longer to come to the boil..... but shipmates if you are a sailor traveling everywhere at 6 - 7 knots or less, what's the bloody hurry?

The big advantage is that the stove is relatively safe, simple, easy to use and fits neatly into the modified gimballed frame of the old primus stove. It is also a compact, non intrusive and reasonably attractive looking little unit.

So I am happy to have this job ticked off the list. One down, three more jobs to go and then we can go sailing again.