Little thing, big trouble

20 December 2005

Latitude: 25° 52′ N
Longitude: 24° 13′ W
Miles from La Gomera: see
Miles to Antigua: 2102
Miles in last 24 hours: -4

Christmas dinner, which was never going to be very exciting anyway, is now going to be not very exciting and… cold. For today my camping stove died.

The stove developed complications during a routine maintenance operation, due to a displaced pump cup, a missing page in the instruction manual, and a bad call on a 50/50 decision.

The result is that to get it working again I need to pull the plunger out from the pump… but the plunger is held immovably in place by a vacuum.


When things started to go awry I called on my guru for all matters concerning outdoor gear – my sister. She was able to put me onto a colleague who gave me the UK supplier’s number. They very kindly offered to replace the pump if I could post it to them, but clearly this wasn’t much help in the circumstances.

I strained at the pump until my eyes popped, but to no avail. I’ll keep trying it on a daily basis, like a bullworker workout, in the hope that temperature fluctuations or drying out of the pump cup lubricant might release the vacuum’s stranglehold. But I don’t hold out much hope.

It was tough to know what spares to bring with me. Daft woman, you might be thinking, for under?100 she could have taken a spare stove with her. But then where does it stop? Spare watermaker, spare bilge pump, spare rudder, spare battery? Before you know it you’ve doubled your weight and your cost. Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

So. Not ideal.

But not a huge problem either. Muesli, snack bars, sprouted seeds and biltong don’t need cooking. Dehydrated food will be edible if left to soak for several hours, and as I reach the lower latitudes might even get quite warm if I leave it in a billycan on deck. I do have 3 or 4 of those self-heating meals stashed away somewhere if I get desperate for hot food.

At least this little drama distracted me from the fact that I’ve had to spend another day on the sea anchor, and it now looks set to stay that way for a while longer…

Wind: 20 kts from the south – still
Weather: wind and sun
Sea state: moderate to rough
Hours rowing: 0
Thought for the day: endure what can’t be mended

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