Cooking with Gas

Position: Alongside Blankenberge
Weather: Sunny, warm


We had a couple of wins today. First priority was getting some shopping in, that done the next was getting some more gas to cook it with. Having slept on the information obtained yesterday I had resigned myself to the exorbitant expense of the camping gas and with a large empty back pack over my shoulder I headed off to the chandlery. Here I was served by a different fellow from yesterday and on making myself understood he suggested I walk to the nearby caravan park, that they might be able to top up my existing bottles. Sceptical but willing to try anything to lessen this ridiculous cost for a few kilos of gas, off I set. It was s bit of a hike and I almost gave up as my directions were rather vague and I thought I could end up wandering aimlessly for an indefinite period. Beset with the problem of whether to turn back and seek better guidance or to go on just around the next corner I chose the latter and was rewarded with a view of a large caravan park. But . no sign of a shop selling gas. I enquired of a resident with a big propane bottle clearly in sight at the back of his caravan. He spoke no English so no success in this line of enquiry, he pointed to a shop only 30 feet away, it was a fish and chip shop. The girl behind the counter spoke minimal English also and looked blankly at my questioning. I bought an ice cream and sat out the front meditating upon what to do next. Ice cream eaten and stick licked clean, I proceeded into the labyrinth of caravans. It was a very tidy park, nearly all of the caravans were permanent, each with their own fenced area and small neatly manicured lawns, many of the occupants enjoying a Sunday barbecue in their little patios just outside their front and only door. I reckon I could easily live in such a place, probably all I could afford the way have chosen to live my life. I suspect there is a stronger sense of community in such a village then in the isolating sprawling suburbs which the more well to do live in. I asked another resident who fortunately spoke good English, he pointed to a red tiled roof standing proud of the low slung caravans, directing me to the technical centre. Well the roof turned out to be the shower and laundry block. As I turned the corner I a saw a man mounting a small tractor and driving off. The doorway from which he had taken his departure was large blue opaque and shut. I stood around for a while hoping he would return, after 20 minutes I found the courage to knock upon the door, then opened it, it was unlocked, and poked my head inside for a quick look around. It was a technical centre alright or rather I would call it a large work shop. No sign of any gas bottles but surely the occupant of this space would have the answer. I waited for a further 20 minutes but still no sign of the technocrat that lived within. I wandered over to the nearby café, thinking to kill some time with a cup of coffee and perhaps find someone to make further enquiries of. As I approached the café just beyond it I saw another building which had a sign above it indicating it was a reception of some description. I entered and spoke with a young man behind the desk. He spoke fluent English and knew exactly what I wanted. In fact he could sell me either a 10.5 kilo or 60 kilo bottle of gas. 60 kilos would have taken up most of my cabin so I asked how much for the smaller bottle. All up including regulator - 43 Euros. Perfect, over twice the gas for less than half the price of the chandlery's camping gas. Now the next problem, getting the gas back to the boat. No problem, the young man found someone to drive me back in a small van. And he gave me a card so I could retrieve the 10 Euro deposit on the tank from Shell anywhere in Europe. Alleluia!

Back on board I soon had the bottle fitted and made a couple of teak chocks to ensure the bottle would remain firm and secure at sea. Now I can relax for a while, 10 kilos should easily last me a couple of months. Now I have three different bottles on board, I wonder what my next bottle will look like when this one runs out. I am tempted to head back to Ireland to get my deposit back on their bottle.

With that major success for the day I spent the rest of the afternoon dismantling the salt water pump again, to try a different adhesive on the diaphragm, this one will need about 48 hours to cure so again I will cross my fingers and hope for the best. Persistance.

Tomorrow we sail, for where I do not yet know so I had best do a little planning before it gets much later.

All is well, and we're cooking with gas.

Bob Cat:

A good quiet sleepy day. Skipper Bob seemed in an unusually good mood this afternoon, but it didn't translate into any improvement for me, still same old hardtack. He did throw me a small morsel of bacon at dinner time, but what meagre pickings, just enough to tease me and have me dreaming deliriously tonight, which is now, so time to dream on ... Zzzzzzz.