We lived aboard and cruised with a 2 burner/oven kerosene Shipmate stove for more than 3 years. The stove was used daily and for almost every meal as we seldom ate out. Once we figured out the foibles of kerosene, it worked a charm, required no maintenance
, and produced some truly outstanding meals
under my wife's creative talent. I like kerosene and am installing it on our new, to us, boat. That's not to say that there aren't some compromises to be made, however.
Pro's of kerosene
1. It's available everywhere. There were some out island locations where propane was not available to cruisers. We personally knew of more than one boat that had to cut short their stay and sail more than 300 miles to refill their propane tanks
. You also have to schlep those heavy propane tanks
to a refill place which probably isn't within easy walking distance of your boat. Availability of propane is probably not an issue in the Carribean, etc. but if you are wandering to remote
areas, it could be.
2. Kerosene is relatively safe. No worry about explosive gases lurking in the bilge
to pop the top off your boat. You can store extra kerosene in Gerry Jugs almost anywhere without fear. No expensive, prone to failure, solenoid valves or hassles with shutting valves at the tank with every use.
3. Kerosene burns hot, hotter than propane and WAY hotter than alcohol. Fuel
goes a long way. A 5 gallon gerry jug and the stove tank will get you through many many months of daily use.
4. Kerosene is cheap
to install. No expensive plumbing
, valves, tanks, or lockers to worry about.
Con's of kerosene:
1. It's not instant on. Kerosene burners need to be pre-heated with alchohol to burn properly. It's not a big deal and only takes a minute or two but some people have no patience. For us, it became second nature. One thing that made it easy was an alcohol dispenser that Primus used to make. It stored and metered out the proper amount of alcohol which greatly simplified the priming process. I'll probably use a medical
squeeze bottle with spout for the new boat.
2. Kerosene puts out a fine carbon soot. Not something that you notice on a daily basis. After a year, the overhead above the stove began looking dingy and needed a scrub. A spray with 409 and a few minutes wiping had everything sparkling. May not be so easy with a vinyl overhead.
3. Burners weren't adjustable. Found out quickly that running burners at anything but full blast caused them to gum up and become throw aways. We bought flame diffusers at a kitchen store which solved
the heat issue. Throw one or two of these on the burner when we needed to slow simmer something and worked a charm. Oven
was a perfect temperature for baking so it wasn't a problem.
Kerosene isn't the perfect fuel for a boat but it's close enough for us. I'd stick with it as it can be very expensive to install propane from scratch. Stay away from LNG stoves. You can't get fuel in many civilized areas like Hawaii
and heard it's even a problem in may popular cruising areas. Alcohol is a non starter. The smell is obnoxious and doesn't produce enough heat to cook a lobster.