Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Zen and the art of kerosene cookers...

Well we made it. Not a journey or a storm but 6 days of living on crisps(chips) and wine as we struggled to make sense of the cookers refusal to work.
Looks like crisps again!
 We stripped burners, replaced parts, changed fuel, cleaned out the fuel tank, reamed out burners and blew through pipes. One day it worked and then the following day wouldn't. In despair I refused to even look at it and that evening it worked but then failed yet again. We wrote to the manufacturer's, Taylor's, Annie Hill and anyone else we knew used them. All but Taylor's replied with various suggestions. On the day the cooker worked Bee cooked a meal and a loaf of bread and that evening we headed off from our friends Steve and Marilyn for Cape Breton with a promising forecast which, like the cooker, failed that evening and 18 hours and 50 miles later we slipped into Halifax to see what we could do. As we'd arrived in daylight we used the remainder of the day to re-do everything we had done before and the care with which we reassembled the thing meant we were bound to be successful. ...and were this a Hollywood movie we would have been. But it ain't and we weren't and we were left wondering how much further we would be able to go on this trip. Bizarrely we found the pump handle mysteriously rising by itself and, as Annie had said about a valve located in the tank somewhere, the following morning I turned to Nigel Calder's BoatOwners Manual and read through the section on kero cookers. Well the combination of Bee spotting the pump handle, Annie's prompt and Calder's writing had me looking at the valve on the pump, replacing it and the cooker came to life. And then died again. But a couple of sharp wraps with a blunt instrument soon cleared the carbon and a flame roared into life! Bee who had gone ashore by kayak returned to find the bread she had kneaded yesterday baking on the cooker. Such a feeling of relief but whilst we may well continue with the cooker, despite my harsh words, were still going down the back up road of a stand alone kero cooker.

That afternoon we left Halifax for a fast sail to St Peter's Canal. The forecast was good but...ah why do we do it? Why do we lay such store on what someone tells us the weather is going to be when our own experience tells us that somehow between the words leaving the forecasters mouth and reaching the listeners ears it all goes pear-shaped? True we left with a good wind but as the evening arrived the wind died.

The forecasted 15-20 knot winds struggled to get above 5 knots, it was slow but the first night out we managed to keep the self-steerer to keep us moving. The second day proved a slow one too and the second night the wind almost disappeared completely. The current had been against us the whole way, frequently above 1 knot, so we were covering perhaps 9 miles in 4 hours... That night we lit the cooker to get some heat into the boat after I had screwed up setting the clock for my watch and slept for 90 minutes leaving Bee to steer in the cold. She needed a hot water bottle and a strong coffee to get  her warm again. Oddly enough she didn't take to my rum laced coffee.

By daylight we had a little more wind and slowly we crept along the southern coastline of Nova Scotia, round Canso and up toward Cape Breton. As we cleared the last headland the wind shifted to the north and we had a 6 mile beat to finish. The beat was probably the most enjoyable part of the trip, bright sunshine, sparkling water and interesting water to get through. A converted fishing boat passed us heading in toward the canal and we met them when we eventually made it in. But not before we were both forced to strip off our thermal union suits and multi-layered tops to t-shirts and shorts as the temperature rose dramatically. Boy was it warm! The little beach that sits outside the canal had families bathing and everyone seemed cheerful....seems the previous 37 days had been rainy or foggy and cold.

Through the canal and we tied up at the far end, opposite Jack and Glenda's house and responded happily to their shout of "come over for a cold beer"
Toots loves this stop-over with it's nearby long grass and reed beds and few cars to bother her. When we returned several  hours later from our visit she was, unusually, no where to be seen and didn't respond to shouts and whistles for sometime but strolled out from wherever she'd been to peer expectantly at her food bowl.
We'd spent a little of our time up at Steve and Marilyn's helping out in the garden. That is Bee helped out and I'd write up the blog.
Me and Steve gardening....

After 30 years of living aboard their boat they've bought this little place and are coming to terms with novelty of land based living. They can't get used to having a freezer or getting dirty and being able to take a shower. But the bit they really love is not having to walk down a jetty burdened  with groceries, arms aching and then having to load it all into the dinghy and get out to the boat and then get it out of the dinghy and onto the boat. Frequently in the rain. I sometimes find myself in a house stood at the kitchen sink, my right foot tapping up and down. Not in response to some silent tune playing through my head but because the Pavlovian reaction to wanting water to come out of the tap is to pump it with a foot pump.

And this is just because we saw it and thought ?
Yup that's a scooter on the back of that boat..

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