The day the cooker fell off

August 23rd 2018

Today the cooker fell off. There was a crash to which, I must admit, I didn’t pay much attention at the time, being out in the cockpit, getting us sailing again. We had spent twelve hours hove-to under trysail even though the wind never did make it to full gale force.

However, beating into a force seven is just so unpleasant – and there is so much leeway that progress is negligible – and anyway, I needed the practice with the trysail…

Returning, eventually, to the cabin, there was the cooker lying askew across the galley. “That’s odd,” I think to myself. “It’s all crooked.” Then reality dawns. That was the crash. On closer examination, it turns out that the massive stainless steel fittings which inspired such confidence were, in fact, only screwed into the bulkhead and not bolted – and not deeply screwed at that.

All it took was for the boat to jump off a particularly awkward wave left over from the near-gale and the whole thing wrenched itself off its mountings.

With a thousand miles to go, this would be a problem – in the normal course of events. Indeed, if times were normal just at the moment, I would be considering how to effect repairs. But in fact, this is not an issue because the cooker has not been used at all for the last 36 hours.

We are out of gas.

No, I can’t believe it either – but on the third day of the voyage the cylinder gave out and the spare is empty. No matter how stupid this may seem, in fact it is deliberate: The cylinder was changed on July 19th and I was ashore for a week in Ponta Delgada and not using it at all – and considering that normally a cylinder lasts anywhere from six weeks to just over two months, I reckoned I had plenty to get me home. The fact that I then spent three days sailing to Horta and stayed there for four days somehow got left out of the calculations.

As for the reason I didn’t get the spare refilled: Well, I’m afraid I’m over budget for this month and I reckoned it would be cheaper back in the UK – particularly with the exchange rate on the Euro at the moment…

Oddly, at the time, I considered this less a problem than having no music on the way out: I’ve got plenty of food that can be eaten cold and plenty of beer to make up for tea and coffee. The biggest problem would be my daily cup of herbal tea – but it seems that if you soak the teabag in cold water for long enough, it seems to infuse well enough.

So, there is no need to fix the cooker immediately. Instead the urgent question was how to secure it, otherwise it was likely to smash itself to pieces as soon as we tacked. In the end I stuffed it up in the fo’c’sle with the dinghy, the bike and the sails – not the easiest thing to do with the boat jumping off waves at five knots – a few scratches on the varnish, I’m afraid to say…

Of course, this would be the time to get a new one – it’s the same Flavel Vanessa that I had on Largo which means it probably came with the boat 45 years ago. The only trouble with that idea is that a new one (with flame failure devices on all the burners and a lot less rust) costs £500 and I can think of plenty of kit I would love to spend £500 on (AnchorRescue…Code Zero…) A new cooker, I’m afraid, is just plain boring.

Instead I will get a couple of stainless steel plates made up and drilled to order. That should give it a new lease of life – that and some decent bolts.