Gas Panic

Saturday 19 July 2020

Gas Panic

We run out of gas! It ran out last night actually. There is this terrible panic when you turn the cooker knob, press the piezo-electric lighter button and – nothing happens. You suddenly think

” Everything’s stopped working on the boat!”

“We’re doomed!”

“We’re going to sink!”


“Oh, no. It’s just the gas that’s ran out”.

It gets me every time (although this is the first time it has happened on Silverdale. It has happened a couple of times on MIRRLESS in the past).

I went to the stern (Ooooh, fancy terminology) and lifted the gas locker lid to reveal two pristine orange 13 Kg cannisters tanks – one connected, one in reserve. I unchained the now empty tank (it’s chained in place for safety purposes) and looked for the gas spanner. The gas spanner is a specifically-sized spanner that allows you to undo the regulator and connect it to a new tank.

“What gas spanner?”

Gas Spanner in the Works

There wasn’t one! It’s usually tied around the neck of one of the cannisters. So, no problem. I can use my adjustable pliers; one of three pairs in ascending size, except they don’t adjust enough! They adjusted about two millimetres too short. We went off to Daventry (after a detour via Northampton for a cup of drive by tea – we were gasping) to purchase a gas spanner or adjustable spanner – extra large.

Back aboard Silverdale I once again lifted the gas locker lid, tried to undo the regulator but no! Too small! Was this collar some none imperial or metric size? It must have been Babylonian! Another tool for the toolbox.

Luckily Louie, a neighbour from a nearby boat kindly lent me his gas spanner (the correct tool for the job) and it became a doddle! I removed the empty cannister, manoeuvred the new cannister into place, connected it up to the regulator (with the regulation, borrowed gas spanner), double-checked it, then went into the kitchen to turn on the gas and make a cup of tea – nothing!

I double checked the connection, it was fine. Then, lifted the cannister and then lifted the old, empty cannister, they both weighed the same – they were both empty!


Firestarter 101

It was Sunday and the Marina Chandlery doesn’t open on a Sunday – no gas. So, this was a perfect opportunity to try out the Ghillie Kettle. The Ghillie kettle is a thing of beauty and we had purchased it for just such an occasion. It’s basically a ‘rocket’ stove. It runs on anything that will burn and heats water in no time

I placed the kettle safely on the metal pontoon, above water and away from the boat. after several failed attempts with matches (the slight breeze, channelled down between the two narrowboats was enough to keep putting them out), I managed to light it. I used my Swedish Firestarter (it wasn’t Twisted).

A Nice Cup of Tea

The kettle burst into life, my water started boiling and smoke started billowing. Pretty soon I was worried I would be smoking out the whole marina! If I had a been a fisheater, I could have smoked haddock! All went well however and we had a nice cup of tea. There’s something about drinking tea outside that takes it to a whole other level.

In fact we had another soon after but this one was from the Marina Café. I didn’t want to risk more smoke and someone calling the the fire brigade for a “narrowboat on fire!”.

The cup of tea at the café turned out to be fortuitous as we met Stuart there – Stuart works in the Chandlery. We explained about our gas panic and he kindly offered to open the Chandlery and let us purchase some gas AND a gas spanner, as he had access to the keys. I promptly drove cannister in the the car around (even an empty cannister would have been a struggle to walk and/or roll around from the boat) to the Chandlery. The gas was connected (via the gleaming silver gas spanner), the cooker was lit and all was well with the world.

Gas panic over.

We finished the day listening to vinyl: Pink Floyd, The Stones, New Order and XTC but

Here’s Oasis and ‘Gas Panic’

rp – peace and narrowboats

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