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  #1  
Old 07-25-2006
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Cooking on the boat.... without blowing ourselves up.

Hi all,

I was wondering if anyone had some advice about how to do some very limited cooking and heating on a boat without using the stove. My family has been slowly learning the ins-and-outs of our "new" (used) Pearson sailboat, but one thing we have not gotten into yet much is the propane stove. With our still limited knowledge, we've been wary of using propane..., but we'd like to get our feet wet (probably a bad choice of words) with with some nights on the boat... albiet at our mooring.

Such experience, however, family members assure me, must include coffee. A hot meal would be great as well, although that sounds like we'd have to figure out the stove and assure ourselves we won't be blowing the the thing up.

IN SHORT: Is there coffee making equipment that doesn't require highly flamable heavier-than-air gases? And, if nothing there, would there be enough propane in something like this to actually blow ourselves up?

Thanks for your interest!

Oh, and P.S., hello. As this is my first post here.

/http://www.aengblom.com
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Old 07-25-2006
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In spite of all the dangers you may have read and heard about, the propane installations on boats, if up to current safety standards, should be safe and secure. I don't know what my wife and I would do without our propane hot water heater, stove & oven and since we are well educated in their proper usage, we take full advantage of these luxuries.

Our method of preparing coffee is with a coffee press, called a French press by some. Our current pot is made by Bodum and has served us well on our boats for almost 20 years, only requiring one carafe replacement.

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Old 07-25-2006
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Well, since you mentioned it, what exactly would you call "current safety standards." Remember, it's a used boat.
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Old 07-25-2006
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I'm not up on the exact ABYS required safety standards and will leave that to the professional marine surveyors here to answer. I do know that some minimums include: (but not limited to), a dedicated propane locker with bottom vent located OUTSIDE cabin areas, a CO detector, propane sniffer/alarm and proper air ventilation for all devises.

Appliances should have the ABYS approval label. Our hw heater, for instance, has a built-in stainless steel fume extractor which exhausts gases directly to the exterior. The stove/oven however, has an operable hatch directly overhead and a safety shut-off solenoid that detects when the flame may go out. Our Espar central heating system though is fueled by our on-board diesel tanks.

I would suspect propane to be the most common fuel for live-aboard and cruising sailors. That must be the best testimony for LPG fuel in boats.
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Old 07-25-2006
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Lightbulb Don't fret, dear!

Hi Mister!

I have the same problem as you - a very old natural gas system. So far haven't had the time/resources to redo it for propane and check for leaks; it hasn't been used in over 3 years.

The solution however, was quite easy. For now we can cook meals for up to about 4 people in a crock pot, just by planning ahead. Most meals take 4-8 hours, but are quite easy and tasty. There are also lots of great recipes online.

As we tired of the mushy meat produced in the crock pot we also "borrowed" a hot plate and we are now very happy. With just our one burner, a microwave and the crock pot we have been able to cook pretty much everything we want. We also keep lots of easy to eat snacks on hand.

Let me know if you have any more specific questions and best of luck with creative cooking!
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Old 07-25-2006
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Also, the appliances should have an automatic gas shutoff if the flame goes out... however, it is not a solenoid that does that generally, but a thermocouple IIRC. The solenoid is generally used for opening the gas line from inside the boat, just prior to cooking, and is usually connected to the gas fume detector, and allows the detector to shut down the gas supply if it detects a buildup of LPG.

Propane is perfectly safe, if handled correctly, and with respect. All of the fuels used on sailboats have their own safety issues. Charcoal is dangerous to store in a humid environment. Alcohol fires can spread on top of water and are nearly invisible. Diesel stoves can cause serious carbon monoxide problems if not properly maintained. LPG and gasoline can collect as explosive fumes... and so on.

If you're a bit leery of using the boat's LPG system, it might be worth getting the system inspected by a surveyor or a LPG person of some sort. Also, get the system pressure tested while you're at it. If in doubt, replace the hoses/pipes.
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Old 07-25-2006
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Thanks for clarifying that sailingdog.

PB . . . I think aengblom is referring to cooking & making coffee while away from dock. A crock pot and electric percolator will only suffice if he has a generator, or invertor with large battery banks.
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Old 07-25-2006
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The press is a good suggestion, but you still have to heat the water correct?
We love coffee in the morning aboard, my other favorite is a fried egg & cheese sandwich while under way.
Nothing like a hot breakfast after sailing 12+ hours in two hour watches.

Like sailing dog said; inspect it thoroughly. Isn't there the old stand by of soap and water test, just to start with. I know its not a real throrough test, but its a start.
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Old 07-25-2006
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As an example, here's what I'm doing on my boat. First, making the propane locker sealed when closed (wasn't when I bought the boat), replacing the regulator inside the locker and the solenoid. Also adding airtight fittings out of the locker. (The locker drain should go over board, and remember, propane is heavier than air, so will collect at the bottom of the locker). Replacing all hoses (most were attached with hose clamps, not proper fittings). And finally, a new stove, as the previous one had no thermocouples on the burners, and a pilot light for the oven.

Pressure test regularly, as well as checking the fittings, and if it's done right in the first place, it should be trouble free.

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One other thing you could do, is get a single burner butane stove (West Marine has them for $65). Butane is lighter than air, and should work well to heat water and cook with.
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