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Old 03-02-2011, 04:56   #16
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I have an Origo and havent had any problem finding fuel in the Caribbean. They have chandlers and hardware stores everywhere - I have fueled up on alcohol in the BVI, St. Maarten and St. Lucia. I have heard from others that Martinique is no problem either. I would imagine it isnt a problem in other islands but I havent needed all that much so I have no direct experience.

It seems to me that I have had a lot less hassle fueling my stove than the people I see lugging propane canisters around. But I have to say it doesnt seem to be a big problem for anyone, no matter what kind of fuel they have.
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Old 03-02-2011, 07:03   #17
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In the Bahamas, Eastern and Western Caribbean, (even areas of the Chesapeake), Alcohol can be quite hard to find, and is expensive anywhere you go. The more third world the country, the more likely that they rely on propane. Test have shown that propane is a more efficient cooking fuel.
Studies done by the US Coast Guard concluded that most of the galley disaster injuries or deaths were because of alcohol fueled fires, not propane explosions.

Now, having said that... if I had a 24' boat, that I didn't actually live on, only used the stove on weekend outings, and never left the country with it... THEN a non pressurized alcohol stove is a fine choice. There is nothing terribly wrong with them at all, in that application.

The thing is, that this is CRUISERS FORUM, so one assumes a boat that is over 30', lived on, and/or cruised for long periods of time, and more than likely... travels to other countries with unknown availability of hardly ANYTHING that you would get at a hardware, paint, or home supply store. (Just ONE long taxi ride, to get alcohol, could double your yearly fuel cost!) Propane is sold at regular gas stations...

For CRUISING and/or LIVEABOARD boats in the above category, using propane as a preferred stove fuel, is a nobrainer. Yes it can blow you sky high if you don't know what you're doing. So can the gas tank between my legs when I ride my motorcycle. I know however that unless I do something REALLY stupid, (like the guy I saw fueling up his bike, while smoking a cigar), My bike is not going to spontaneously combust! Getting run down... now that's what I worry about. It has happened several times.

I have installed all types of boat "systems" as a vocation and avocation for over 40 years. When I install a propane system (as I did in our boat), I start with a light weight aluminum cylinder, and put it in a properly (vented out the bottom) compartment. Then I use a pressure gauge in the line after the bottle's valve. I open the valve to pressurize the entire run, then turn off the bottle, (leaving the electronic solenoid on), and over several hours watch for tha gauge to go down. If it does not, NO LEAKS. I also bubble test every connection, and put chafe protection at every place that the reinforced neoprene hose passes through or over a hard spot. When I go get more fuel and reconnect, I ALWAYS bubble test the connection at the bottle. I inspect the entire run once or twice a year, and change out everything except the stove and perhaps the non corroded bottle, at around 10 or 12 years. When I am through cooking, I never just turn off the valve. I flip the solenoid button. The indicator light going out, then a CLICK noise and flame going out, tell me that the bottle is off, and the entire plumbing purged. Then I turn off the burner's valve, followed by the stove's valve. TRIPLE REDUNDANCY!

IF you do all of the above, Propane is possibly even safer than alcohol, in a cruising application, because of how much less often you handle, store in thin wall cans, and transfer fuel.

If you are not using ALL of the precautions that go with the use of propane, perhaps you ARE courting disaster?

In our case, the 5 gallon aluminum bottle last three or four months, and if we run out at an inconvenient time, I thread on one of those little green camper stove bottles, which last over a week. This way I don't need a "y" valve, dual bottle system.

I'm speaking here of serious cruising sized boats, that are regularly used that way...

Propane is not "inherently safe", but if used correctly, (like I described), it falls WAY WAY below the numerous other dangers of cruising. It IS a better / hotter cooking fuel, has less smell, is more convenient, more available, WAY cheaper, and the logical way to go.

If you have a small weekender, cruised fairly locally, and / or, "avoid at all cost" complicated systems and the required vigilance, THEN you have a good argument for alcohol as a stove fuel. It might then be a better way to go... for you.

Mark
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Old 03-02-2011, 07:10   #18
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That reminds me - I really must do that ORIGO "safety" demo I promised last year...........

......if only I can find my Gorilla suit
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Old 03-02-2011, 07:12   #19
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Very well said Mark!

FWIW:
Maggie & I lived aboard & cruised with Propane aboard a C&C 29 (28'6" LOA x 9'03" Beam)
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Old 03-02-2011, 07:13   #20
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I've had both. Current stove is an Origo non-pressurized alcohol. Both have merits.
Do your OWN homework and don't rely on others tales and opinions and you'll be much better off..

As for MAC vs PC there isn't any question whatsoever...
MACs are much much better machines.,, unless you like to troubleshoot lost/corrupt .dll files...,hahahaha...
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Old 03-02-2011, 08:03   #21
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We have an Origo non-pressurized alcohol stove, and coudn't be happier. We have a propane tank mounted on the swim platform that serves the grill only. No propane inside the boat.
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Old 03-02-2011, 08:49   #22
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I forgot to mention another great thing about the Origo. You can put the flame on low, invert a large clay flower pot on it, and it makes a nice radiant heater.
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Old 03-02-2011, 09:59   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by READY2GO View Post
I forgot to mention another great thing about the Origo. You can put the flame on low, invert a large clay flower pot on it, and it makes a nice radiant heater.
No, it doesn't.

Clay Pot Heater?
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Old 03-02-2011, 10:52   #24
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notwithstanding the above post, I am cruising in the eastern caribbean on my 33 foot boat and have had no problems whatever getting alcohol. Here in Rodney Bay it is easier than getting propane, and hasnt been an issue anywhere else I have needed it. And as for "burning colder" that depends on the output of the burner you have, not just the heat content of the fuel. As anyone who has an Origo will tell you, it heats up water pretty much just as fast as a propane stove or at least if there is a difference I cant tell what it is.

Again, people have quasi religious convictions about this. As for me, I like my Origo and it has proven to be a great stove on my extended cruise. But if my boat had come with a propane stove instead I am sure I would have been OK with that too - More safety stuff to worry about but not so much that it would make or break the decision to get the boat. One thing I can say is that it is nice to have the storage space freed up that propane would have taken. My boat came with a dedicated propane locker which is far larger than any amount of alcohol I could conceivably want to carry, so I have a good place to store other flammable liquids and sprays.
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Old 03-02-2011, 12:24   #25
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In general, In the US, the availability of propane, within walking distance of an anchorage, is easily 10X that of alcohol. In most of the Bahamas, or Central America, propane is 100X more available than alcohol.

Other than that, Alcohol's being several times the price, having more smell when burning, taking a bit longer to make your coffiee, and being a little more like camping, are really small issues. Alcohol IS a lot easier and cheaper to install, and (if NON pressurised), requires far less vigilance in using and maintaining the system, NO doubt about that!

THOSE ARE IT'S ONLY TWO ADVANTAGES OVER PROPANE!

A propane system with single tank locker, (like ours), is possibly even MORE compact, when compaired to an alcohol stove with an equivilent 5 + months of fuel.

It is a personal choice... For some, alcohol is the right choice!

Having admited that, 98 or so % of the world's serious cruisers, would choose Propane over alcohol, because for them propane's advantages easily win out, when compaired to alcohol's disadvantages. For them, a carefull installation of their propane system, and the required vigilance, are just the price you have to pay, for the convinience of a stove that you just flip a switch and light, as well as fuel supply that you only fill a few times a year.

Not trying to tell anyone what to do here, just explain to those who are new to this, what the pros and cons of each are, what MOST cruisers do, and why. This is how the thread started...

The best decision is ALWAYS an informed one... M.
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Old 03-02-2011, 13:27   #26
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I prefer reasoned arguments over the "everyone else is doing it" variety. That doesn't mean the popular choice is wrong, but it doesn't mean it's right either. It's sorta like trying to say which car is the best. It all depends on what you value and what you want to do with it.

I value not carrying highly volatile gases or liquids on board -- especially those that are heavier than air and can collect in the bilge. Is it the right choice for everyone? I don't know, and frankly don't care (I'm not selling anything), but it seem like the best one for me.

However, I'm always open to new ideas, so if someone could provide links to the information they've provided, e.g., the Coast Guard study or cruiser survey, please do so and I'll take a look.
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Old 03-02-2011, 13:37   #27
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yet again with the myths

no it doesnt smell
no it doesnt take longer to make coffee
no it isnt 100 x harder to find than propane
no it doesnt take more space (in fact it takes less)

but hey, do whatever - everyone I ever hear say all of these things hasnt ever actually sailed with a non-pressurized alcohol stove but often had a bad experience with the old fashioned pressurized kind. I guess if I were a SERIOUS cruiser I would understand! But being the dilettante I am, I could go either way
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Old 03-02-2011, 14:24   #28
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Had an Alcohol pressure stove replaced it with a Diesel Kerosene force ten range. Couldn't be happier Diesel and Kerosene wideley available here and whereever I've sailed. Can be finicky if not preheated enough. doesn't blow up and you can sure see the flame. have spoken to the stove the odd time that it has been balky and have a propane range in the garage so Kerosene diesel is my first choice Propane second Alcohol distant third. for what it's worth
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Old 03-02-2011, 16:08   #29
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Sorry to disagree Gord,

I have used the flower pot at least 200 times. From my experience, I don't have a problem with it. If I could afford a $1000.00 heater, I might have a different view. Hard to beat a $1.38 heater. I don't use it or any heater while asleep. Theory is silver, experience is gold. We live on our 25 footer, and use it all the time. To each his own.
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Old 03-02-2011, 17:07   #30
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Sheesh. Those pro-propane and anti-alcohol people arc up nearly as bad as the guns or how-many-hulls threads.

I would never keep a bomb on the boat when I can keep something which does the same job and can be stored with the same care as the bottle of Scotch. But if others like living with the risk, and are aware of the choice they are making, then I'm hardly gonna bother with a rant or a scoffing dismissal of their choice.

So fwiw, and as an earlier poster said, off the pushpit for a bbq is the only place for a gas bottle on a boat imo.
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