April 30, 2009

Gas by the bucketful

NO DOUBT ABOUT IT, the best stuff to cook on is gas. It has problems, though. Liquid petroleum gas is heavier than air and it’s explosive.

I remember smelling gas when I woke up one morning on a 72-foot ketch in Ramsgate, England. It was during the dog days of summer, dead calm. We fixed the gas leak and tip-toed around softly so as to cause no sparks, and waited for a breeze to ventilate the bilges.

We had a 12-volt bilge blower, but neither Gary, the skipper, nor I, the mate, wanted to risk switching it on.

“They’re supposed to be spark-free,” said Gary, “but …”

“Yeah, it only takes one spark,” I said.

Eventually, after considering everything, we decided to bail the gas out. Soon the residents of Ramsgate were treated to a strange spectacle. The crew of Thelma II would appear on deck one after another and solemnly pour seemingly empty buckets into the harbor. In true British fashion, the locals were too polite to enquire about this lunatic ritual.

After 45 minutes we figured it was good enough. We all went ashore except for Gary, who bravely flipped the switch for the blower. We saw his hand move. There was no explosion. He grinned widely.

“All r-i-g-h-t!” We cheered and yelled from the dockside.

The locals shook their heads and pretended to be watching seagulls.

Today’s Thought
I adore life but I don’t fear death. I just prefer to die as late as possible.
—(the late) Georges Simenon, International Herald Tribune

“Waiter, there’s a fly in my soup.”
“Sorry, sir, the chef used to be a tailor.”

No comments: