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Fire in the Galley!

In Uncategorized on May 27, 2019 by netmanianick

27th May 2019

On Sunday morning we pulled pins heading for Star Lock at Stone where we wanted to top up the water tank. Although it was drizzling, it was quite warm and there was little wind, so the trip up was very pleasant.

We pulled onto the visitor moorings below the lock, and Anne set off for Morrisons while I gathered the rubbish and took it to the bins. We were moored a couple of boats away from nb Oleanna, owned by Mick and Pip, and whose blog I have followed for many years, indeed from the time they had their previous boat, Lillianne. It was good to meet them and have the opportunity to thank them for the entertainment they have delivered via their blog.

With the shopping done, we pulled up to the water point. This had a notice draped on it, but this was illegible, the ink having run into a blue blur in the rain. It turned out that it meant that the water point was out of service, so we coiled the hose back up, and reversed back to the winding hole where we turned around to return to the moorings at Burston. The day brighter considerably on this leg.

We managed to get in almost exactly at the same spot we had departed from this morning. Being Sunday, Anne decided that she would prepare a full roast lamb dinner in the new oven. As this would take about two and a half hours, I decided to take a nap.

As I was drifting off to sleep I thought I could smell burning, but I put it down to the smell of a new cooker. Moments later I heard an anguished shout from Anne, so I rushed down the boat to see what was wrong.

The Galley was filling with thick black smoke, that was coming from the grill. It turned out that Anne had accidentally lit the grill instead of the oven, as the knobs on the new cooker are the other way round from the old one. The grill pan had a detachable handle and this was well alight. She had the presence of mind to turn the grill off as she shouted for me. I grabbed a fire extinguisher and a quick burst from it soon had the fire out. We had to evacuate, as the fumes from the fire and the powder from the extinguisher made it very hard to see or breathe.

As we sat outside in the fresh air, the shock began to set in, and we couldn’t help thinking about all the possible endings that this story could have had.

However, we had been very lucky and spent some time talking about the lessons learned:

1. Always light the oven or grill with the door open, and confirm that it is properly lit.

2. Know how to raise the alarm properly. I wasn’t properly asleep, so I heard and understood Anne’s shout. But if I had been actually asleep then things might have been different!

3. Know your escape routes! The obvious way out might be blocked. On City of Durham there are two ways out of the front of the boat – we don’t have the traditional doors onto the front deck. Instead there is a side hatch on one side, and on the other the window slides out to create an escape route. It seems obvious now, but in the last five years we have never talked about how we would get out of the boat in an emergency.

4. Know where your fire extinguishers are! Again this sounds obvious, but in practice I did something odd: I very quickly made the decision to use a fire extinguisher, but then took about five steps to the rear of the boat to get the one by the door. It is opposite where I usually sit, and therefore clearly in my mind. However I was actually standing right next to another one in the galley, which had never registered on my consciousness.

5. Powder from the extinguisher goes everywhere – and I mean everywhere! An initial clean up took a couple of hours, but by the next morning a further layer had settled from the air and covered everything again. But never let this fact put you off from using one if you need it!

As I said, we have been very lucky, the only lasting damage was the grill pan handle which will need to be replaced.

Dinner was of course delayed somewhat, but with the galley cleaned and the correct knob used on the oven, it was very tasty!

We awoke on Monday morning to the sound of heavy rain on the roof. Neither of us had slept too well, so we waited for the rain to stop before setting off back to the marina. We left Burston in bright, warm sunshine, but by the time we left Sandon Lock the heavens opened and we both became soaked to the skin. By Weston Lock it had eased to a steady drizzle, and once we were through the lock the sun came out. We decided to stop at Ingestre for a rest and change of clothes. There were another couple of showers while we were stopped, and we set off for the final leg with the sun peeking through once more. There were still some very dark clouds over to the west, and the wind was picking up, so we expected another soaking before we arrived back. However our luck was in, and the wind dropped and the sun shone making our reverse back onto the pontoon a piece of cake (for a change!)

Well, that was an eventful Bank Holiday weekend. We will spend the evenings this week doing a deep clean on board, and then aim to be away again on Friday night, for a hopefully calmer trip!

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