Rabu, 29 April 2009

Fire in the boat!!

Sailing out of the Bahamas.

We can count our time left in days. Very few days. I’ve been almost numb to it. Maybe sleep walking would be an appropriate description. I suppose it is one of those things you would rather just not think about.

We left Guana Cay today. Our goal was Green Turtle Cay, but the sail was nice, and we really don’t have anything to stop us, so we are continuing on to Great Sail Cay… The first Cay we stopped at in the Bahamas, and appropriately it will be the last.

We’re flying along. The wind is perfect, blowing just hard enough to move us along at a good clip. We have been traveling between 4.5 and 6 knots all day. At this moment we are doing 5.2. All the sails up. But the boat is only heeling around 4 degrees making this a very comfortable sail!

Our friends Lee and Trey are in front of us, and I think we are going to catch them soon, but they are only using their jib so it doesn’t really count if we pass them.

The sun was starting to go down, so I lit up some charcoal to grill a steak, and filled up the alcohol wicks to our Origo stove which ran out of fuel a few days ago. I then went outside and set about raising our big mizzen stay sail.

Before I had the sail set up just right LeeAnn asked me if I could come down below, "I'm kind of busy" I told her, "is it important?"

to which she replied "the boat is on fire..."

I dropped what I was doing and went below. The Origo stove was a blazing inferno. I opened up the lid to the stove and saw that one of the wicks had a huge flame that was burning out of control.

I grabbed a pizza pan and placed it over the round wick, thinking it would smother the fire out, which it didn't. But it did reduce the flames enough that I could put out the second wick with a towel and pull it out of the stove to prevent it from lighting up again and adding to the flames.

Then I thought that I might be able to smother the larger flames with a big towel. No luck, the towel instantly caught on fire and now we had two balls of fire burning inside our wooden boat, one of them being in my hand.

I turned and rushed for the hatch to throw the burning towel into the sea accidentally bashing into LeeAnn on the way. For a split second I saw the towel get caught in the belly of our big mizzen staysail I had just raised up, and with great terror I envisioned the whole sail going up in flames.

I quickly reasoned that the fire inside the boat was the bigger priority and I went back inside to figure out how to extinguish it when I noticed LeeAnn sitting on the bed holding a hand to her head. Apparently when I crashed into her the towel smacked her head and singed off a bit of hair, and most of her eyelashes on the right side!

I looked from LeeAnn to the fire burning in my kitchen and thought “Okay, this situation is really starting to get serious. I need to get this fire put out! Maybe water? Or hadn’t I heard somewhere that water will only spread an alcohol fire? Baking soda!” I started searching through our baking supplies: flower, salt, brown sugar, white sugar… Where the f*ck is the baking soda!"

The fire grows, and my thoughts start to blur in my panic, “Where the f**k is the baking soda!?!”

I hear LeeAnn in the background “I think you burnt off my eyelashes!” I chance a glance and see her examining the damage with a small mirror.

I finally find the baking soda and pour it on the fire..."Come on baby! If this doesn’t work we’re on to the fire extinguisher!!”

The flames go down, but not out. I close the hot lid to the stove melting the skin off my fingers, “Yes!” I think, “I can commit crimes and leave no finger prints! I am the invisible man!”

The fire goes out. LeeAnn is still on the bed with the mirror inspecting her eyelashes. She seems okay so I turn my attention to the food we had been cooking to asses the damage: Garlic and herb rice, steamed veggies, everything looks okay. But the steak!! it's still on the grill!

I rushed outside to find it a little over cooked and dry, but still edible. We dish up some sides, and go sit outside to eat. Right on time to watch the sun go down. Just chalk it up to another day in the life of living on a boat!

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