17 June 2011

Big spenders

Stove Project: Day 5
We begin the day by ringing around to find a gasfitter and after a few tries have an appointment made for lunchtime Wednesday. Then we discuss where to place the gas alarm and solenoid safety switch. The logical place seems to be near the plate rack, to the right of the stove, where the alarm can be set into a panel. Next we decide to unscrew that panel to check that there is room behind it. As it turns out, removal of this panel necessitates removal of the plate rack, the cup rack, the sliding doors on the pantry cupboard. Since we are going to need access to the pantry cupboard anyway as the gas line will come through it, we take everything out including the shelf. We also remove the panel above the stove. All of this uncovers all kinds of grot and sooty surfaces, so there is much cleaning to be done.
About lunchtime we take a break from scrubbing, head down Tedder Street for food and to catch the bus to Bias Boating chandlery. Found a taxi before the bus, so arrive there promptly, buy the gas alarm and find we can get a brand-new-in-box Force 10 stove direct from the agent today if we go and pick it up ourselves.
Walk from the chandlery to Southern Stainless, where we buy two stainless steel gas bottles and another mounting bracket. Book a maxi taxi, load ourselves and the gas bottles into it, and head to Ocean Solutions, the agents for the stove. Collect the stove, heave it into the taxi and head back to the marina. (Very happy taxi driver.) Load our purchases into a trolley and, with great care, shift them aboard Nahani. We then carefully demount the old kero stove, and heave it up the companionway into the cockpit. Very carefully lower the new stove down the companionway and remove it from its box. Clean the stainless steel surrounds of the stove area frantically, then put the new stove in place. We just have time for a calming drink before the mate heads off in a taxi for Coolangatta airport to catch a plane back to Melbourne.

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Stove Project: Days 2-4
The Queen's Birthday long weekend limits our activities on the project to preparation and research. There are two issues to address: where to run the gas line from the gas bottles to the stove, and what size of gas bottle to get.
We begin on the first problem. For the voyage north, we'd stored quite a bit of stuff that normally lives in the dinghy in the guest cabin, because the dinghy had been inverted on the davits, and we didn't have anyone else aboard but captain and mate. So everything comes out of the guest cabin, including the mattress, and is distributed elsewhere: on deck (oars, rudder, Fanno the kayak), upper seaberth (bedding), standing in the front cabin (mattress). We then remove some of the cedar panelling that covers the side of the boat and the underside of the deck. We also take out the panel that surrounds the fridge and includes the doors to the hatches beside and below the fridge. Then we take enough items out of the locker in the lazarette so that we can see where the pipe will go between the back corner of the deck, where it will begin, and the entry point into the guest cabin. We look at a range of options for the line ranging from above deck, under the cockpit coaming, just under the deck, along the chine about midway up the side wall, or underneath the bunk. Option 4, along the chine, seems to be the best option.
We spend time on the internet doing some further research on gas bottles. We find information that suggests that refilling bottles is giving way to the Swap'n'Go regime, and consider using standard galvanised bottles that we can swap, rather than the special stainless bottles designed for marine use. The engineer thinks that he could build a very effective locker using a section of poly pipe, but our internet research indicates that pipe with a diameter big enough for a gas bottle could be hard to get, and can probably only be purchased in 6m lengths - a bit difficult to handle without a car. But we make lists of the pros and cons of standard bottles vs the stainless bottles.
In between ferreting around in the boats innards and staring at computer screens, we go for walks down Tedder Street for food, and feed a large pile of washing through the marina laundry. We also go for walks around the marina, checking out all the older sailing yachts. Modern fibreglass production yachts such as Beneteaus and Jenneaus all have gas, but have lockers built into the boat, as do most power boats. So we need to find older yachts which have had gas added after they were built. We find a number where we can see the actual bottles, or a purpose-built added locker. Bottles are almost always at the back of the boat, often behind the back rails, strapped on with everything from elegant, welded frames that match the stanchions through to bits of rope. The gas connection gear is often open to the elements. Whenever we can we talk to the boat owners to find out what size bottles they use, and how long they last.
We move toward galvanised bottles, but eventually come full circle back to the stainless ones, as locker construction is beginning to look complicated, refilling seems to be what everyone does, and the slimmer stainless bottles will be less obtrusive than the fatter gal bottles, not to mention lighter to carry ashore for refilling. So by Monday evening we are set for a major excursion ashore on Tuesday to buy the stove and bottles.

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11 June 2011

Natives prove friendly

Stove Project: Day 1
Bright sunny morning, no wind, so we move promptly to bring the boat from where we were anchored in Marine Stadium to Southport Yacht Club. But by the time we've put her in the allocated pen, tied her up snugly, joined the Yacht Club and paid all our dues, we are hungry and eat lunch in the club.
We get advice from the friendly bloke in the chandlery about where to find stainless steel gas bottles, and the Yacht Club reception gets us a taxi. We head first to Bias Boating in Biggera Waters, because we have already confirmed that they have a Force 10 stove on the floor that we can look at. The cook has seen these stoves at Boat Shows in Sydney and Melbourne, and has been hankering after one since then, but needs to look more critically now that there is a real prospect of purchase.
The helpful people at Bias Boating lug the stove off the shelf so that we can measure everything, see where the gas connects, even try out the cook's favourite twin roasting dishes (carried there for the purpose) to see if they fit side by side in the oven, which they do. Engineer is happy with the general quality, and the bloke in Bias Boating says it will be no issue to drop the stove off at the Yacht Club Marina if we decide to buy. We have a look at gas alarms while we are there, another expensive item required as part of the project. Bias Boating recommend the same firm as did the Yacht Club chandlery, and as they are not too far up the road, we walk to Southern Stainless who have stainless gas bottles in all sizes, together with elegant stainless holders to clamp on to your rail. Engineer has the bright idea of buying a holder, on the basis of being able to return it if it doesn't fit, so that we can see just where it might be simply fitted to Nahani's rails. We take the bus back to the Yacht Club and the boat, where we are delighted to find that we can fit a holder on the rail just behind the side poles of the "jungle gym" that supports the radar, arials and wind generator. The Danbuoy will have to be relocated on one side, but that isn't a serious problem. So now we have both ends of the project sorted, apart from the actual purchase. Now for the really tricky bit - working out where and how to put a gas line from bottle to stove. We also have to find a spot for the gas alarm, but there are plenty of options.
The prospective hole in our finances is deepening all the time. We thought the stove itself was expensive, but two gas bottles, two holders and a gas alarm will cost nearly as much again. And then there's the cost of the bit in between, and a gas-fitter to do the connecting up. Once again BOAT = Bring Out Another Thousand. But we don't have much choice - can't keep going with an ageing stove that has continence problems.
Everyone was most helpful today, including the bus driver and a fellow passenger who saw us trying to memorise bus stops for future reference. We think we made a good choice in deciding to do the changeover here in the Gold Coast.

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09 June 2011

Stove Project - Introduction

Those of you who have been on Nahani will know that we refer to the kerosene cooker in the galley as Stove, because it has a defnite personality. It is temperamental, can be seriously difficult, and typically chooses to have an Issue when it causes maximum inconvenience. Stove has its own dedicated box of repair parts, and the engineer has spent countless hours coaxing it back into operation. Hundreds of dollars have been spent on new burners in the six plus years we have owned the boat. From time to time, Stove fills the boat with smoke and coats the walls and roof in the galley with a fine film of soot. Stove smells, both in operation and at rest. Lighting it is an art, requiring priming with metho followed by patient watching, of which only the cook and engineer are masters, and even they have the odd failure. Lighting it in a heaving sea is well-nigh impossible. The oven has a thermometer but no thermostat, so cooking anything that requires accurate temperature control is chancy, unless the cook is prepared to sit by the stove doing constant adjustment to the burner to maintain tbe desired temperature.
In Stove's defence, once the burners are alight they are hot and will heat food or boil water faster than any gas stove. And over the years, hundreds of nutritious and delicious meals have been concocted thereon or therein.
Now Stove appears to be terminally ill. What was a three burner stove with oven is now a 1 to 2 burner stove, no oven. No oven because one of the kerosene tanks under the oven has a very small leak, which becomes larger under pressure as the oven gets hot, and then catches fire, burning with a smelly yellow flame which deposits soot all over the inside of the oven. 1 to 2 burners because one of the three burners is permanently decomissioned because of a stripped thread in the burner mounting, and the pricker has packed up on one of the two remaining burners, so when it clogs up, intervention is required by the engineer before it will burn properly again.
We've decided that we've had enough of spending time and money trying to keep Stove alive, and that it is past its use-by date. A replacement will be bought and hopefully fitted while we are in Queensland. The distributors for the new Force 10 stove the cook wants to buy are based in the Gold Coast, so this seems like a good place to do the changeover.

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