Alcohol.

No honestly its just my meths habit.

Last week before went down to the boat i dropped into toolstation down at Saltash to pick up some of the good purple stuff, the bloke served me a couple of litres and then did a bit of the old “oh-er-ahem….but may i ask what you use it for” so of course i leant over the counter and in a stage whisper just said : “its cheaper than gin mate”.  Poor bloke looked suitably mortified especially as i was in super-scruff boat mode.  Its ok i did confess that i was having him on and duly told him all about my alcohol stove on the boat : to be honest i think he was a bit disappointed not to have served a complete nutter but hey !.

Up until now i have always been a ‘gas’ man on boats : LPG gas in neat blue cylinders that is and none of my boats has exploded annoyingly which is exactly the kind of thing that boat owners are paranoid about. I very nearly did actually see a real total boat blow-out at the yard i once worked at : the skipper of the boat who just happened also to be a Gynaecologist told me all about just after the incident.  Apparently the owner put a ladder up against the boat , climbed aboard and immediately put his keys in the ignition switch in the cockpit and the whole boat boofed spectacularly….deck came right off, blew the rig out and the owner.  The owner landed a few yards from where my skipper picked himself up from somewhat worse for wear ! my boss did his first aid stuff, not that his Gynae skills were of much use but he did at least stop the bloke dying before the ambulance came to scoop and scoot.  John the skipper then gave me a weekly update from the hospital about which bits they were mending that week.

So : gas, always used it on boats and in my outdoor travels until i discovered the joys of cooking over real (wood) fires.  I never did get on with alcohol and the toy-like Trangia stoves that are doled out to D.Ed sufferers every year : not so long ago i had to lead and run an outdoors first aid course for some corporate organisation and they had been issued Trangia alcohol stoves so i just told the whole course to bin them and got them doing it for real over proper fires. Doesn’t work so well on a boat though !…my last wood/charcoal boat stove tried to kill me one night with carbon monoxide poisoning which might have put a damper on things.  In fact that boat had several good tries at offing me so it went quickly back on ebay to find its next victim.

My current boat came with a double burner Origo alcohol stove , i looked at very suspicously and expected it to be totally useless : maybe get a lukewarm coffee out of it some time during the week after lighting it.  I was mightily surprised when it not only boiled a kettle but neatly fried up some bacon butty’s the next morning after one of the coldest nights i have ever spent on a boat.  i couldn’t afford to replace it especially as it would have needed a from new custom gas installation as well as whatever hob i could find so i stuck with the alcohol one : its not as powerful as a good gas hob, it won’t for example do a super fast sizzling hot stir fry but apart from that it has done me well so far. It does produce a lot of condensation though.  The worst i can say for it is that i think it sometimes gives me a meths headache….which is where we started.

011

Oh and by the way : meths in France is alcool brule….i never knew that until i had to source it over there….and its not purple either.

I am surprisingly happy with the Alcohol stove, i have no plans to replace it and fit a gas system instead : mine BTW is officially labelled ‘Electrolux’ although as far as i can see its an ‘Origo’ stove and burners.  The origo burners also appear in some other heaters made for tents and suchlike.  The advantages are definitely that there are no moving parts aside from the simple sliders that adjust the flame, there is no pressurised gas and no potential for gas leaks.  My stove i am using fixed down solid although it does usefully have pan rails, i hardly ever cook with the boat heeled : if the boat is on its ear then i am driving (badly) and not cooking…on longer trips in a breeze i just heave-to on the mizzen for the few minutes it takes to boil a kettle.

Thoroughly recommended.

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