On a Lighter Note

November 28, 1997

Home port, Peninsula Marina, Redwood City, US
37N29.55' 122W15.98'

Neither Suzy, nor I are early risers. Good thing too, because after last nights Thanksgiving meal at Bill's mom's, we needed some extra time to digest. I felt like lying on a warm rock for a couple of weeks. This is not to say that all we did was sleep ;-). More on that when I have more infrastructure for adult material.

It was a perfect lazy day off. We ate almost all of the leftovers that we brought home from the night before! Of course it was breakfast and lunch... We finally got around to measuring the main traveller track. It seems that the mounting holes are neither the "standard" American size, nor the metric one for the rest of the world. We sent e-mail to Ronstan in Australia asking if their fittings would work on this track; otherwise, it is going to be a lot of work to take off the old track and install the new one. Meanwhile, all of the expensive Harken gear I bought last month are still in boxes.

We got the old boat name lettering off of the port side today. With Suzy and I switching off between peeling the vinyl letters off and operating the hair dryer we managed to get them off without scorching our fingers too much.

We filled a couple of cups with wine and took a sunset walk through Bair Island. It is amazing what you can see, just in your own backyard. A few birds were hunting: They would flap their wings about 50 feet off the ground, just holding station, waiting for whatever it is they were hunting for to come out of hiding. Then they would flare their wings and float straight down so as not to make any noise and drop down on their victim. We don't know if they ever managed to catch dinner, but it was a sight to see. Suzy says that there's a bird in the Marquesas that does something very similar: they fly in backward circles as part of their mating rituals.

Dinner time, and a little excitement. "What would you like for dinner?" Suzy says. "I can't believe I'm hungry again." "Well it has been six hours, it's time. What would you like to eat? We've got that pizza shell, and some vegetables..." "How about I cook dinner tonight? It would be a first. I can handle the pizza"

Recipe for salad bar pizza

Combine all of the ingredients and bake. I hate vegetable prep. I love vegetables, I just hate cleaning, peeling, chopping and dicing them. I figure that rather than skip cooking, I can pay the premium at the salad bar for someone else to do my vegetable prep for me. This works even better for recipes that require four pounds of deveined spinach!

Anyway, that's how it started. I'd never used the oven before, so Suzy was showing me how. The boat uses a liquid propane gas system, exactly the same as your barbecue grill. LPG, unfortunately is heavier than air, so you don't want it flowing around the boat unattended. There are several valves between the LPG bottle mounted in the stern and the oven. You have to open them all to get a flame. This is good. You also have to do the moral equivalent of relighting the pilot light every time too. This is not so good. First you turn on all but the oven valve, then you crawl on your knees and light the pilot with a cigarette lighter and wait for the element to heat up enough to start cooking. It is a good idea to check that the flame is really going otherwise you could have a nasty little surprise.

Everything looks fine. I'm preheating the oven to 450F. Meanwhile, I'm taking almost everything (or so it seemed) out of the refer just to get at the vegetables. How does Suzy do this??? So with all of the fixings out on every available horizontal surface, I turn to ask Suzy, "I hope I get used to this before we try this under way?" when

PHOOOM!

There is a bright yellow flame shooting out from the oven. Before my heart starts beating like crazy, I reach for the gas cutoff switch and shut everything down. We're still in one piece, but there are these little pieces of black creosote looking things floating onto the cabin sole. Suzy starts picking up the little bits and taking them outside before they affix themselves to every clean surface on the boat. I grab a paper towel and pick up the rest. Then I grab a flashlight and look inside the oven for more floating black bits. It looks clear, so far so good. We're trying to figure out why this happened. The oven has been used many times since we bought the boat and this has never happened before, not even a hint. I'm wondering if the surveyor missed something. Well, no time like the present. I carefully open the oven door, sniffing for gas or other noxious odors and right away, just underneath the pilot light I see the cause of the problem: remember that cigarette lighter I used to light the oven? We've learned empirically that plastic butane cigarette lighters will melt, fail and explode at roughly 200F. Ooops.

Both of us are laughing hysterically on the floor from a combination of relief and adrenaline rush. The rest of dinner goes without a hitch but Suzy has made me promise never to make pizza flambé again.

Wishful Thinking? Maybe, you decide.

On a Lighter Note - November 28, 1997 - Ken Mayer