The words most dreaded by mariners, if you believe the old books, are ‘fire at sea’. There are, however, moments when a person does think longingly about heating, particularly this side of the equinox.
One of these moments came recently, sitting in my ketch Dahlia off the west coast of Scotland, anchor down. The great Trevor Robertson, having no space for fuel, prepared to spend a winter in Antarctica by taking plenty of candles. These could on special occasions raise the temperature in his steel cutter Iron Bark a whole degree above freezing. At the softer end of the spectrum are various diesel heaters like the Eberspächer and its cheaper and perhaps nastier clones. The candle method is a bit too Spartan for Dahlia, and I do not like the smell of diesel. We therefore pondered a bit.
Some of the better-equipped classic boats I have sailed rejoiced in a genuine coal fire. While this is very proper, in the back of the mind there lurks the thought that a fit of absentmindedness and a decent broach could splatter red-hot embers all over the rare Persian rugs on the cabin sole.
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