Eliminating Gas on Board

By Dick Beaumont

Nearly 40 years ago I sat in the cockpit of Courser, an Endurance 35 I had built at Dauntless Boat Yard in Essex, having completed a tentative maiden voyage of just 15 miles from Benfleet Creek to a small marina near Tilbury. All had gone reasonably well and I felt at peace with the world as I sipped my morning coffee and bid good morning to a fellow yachtsman who had just started his engine and jumped onto the pontoon to untie his mooring lines.

Then the early morning stillness was shattered by an enormous explosion below decks on the yacht the guy had just stepped off of.

The explosion blew the deck off the yacht and the mast collapsed into the marina, luckily falling away from Courser. The owner was blown off his feet but was otherwise unhurt.

It transpired that the gas detector in his bilge hadn’t worked and Butane gas had leaked into the bilge until it had built up enough mass to explode when the engine was started.

I had installed a Butane gas cooker on Courser, as in those days there were not many alternatives. I had installed a gas detector in the sealed gas locker and two other gas detectors in different locations in the bilge too, but from that day I have been terrified of the massive risk gas cooking represents on any yacht.

Around 20 years ago, companies started building small reliable marine electric generators, which although for cooking onboard is an expensive solution by comparison to gas, is in my option a ‘no brainer’ when it comes to safety. Just ask any marine insurers for his quote if the yacht doesn’t have gas onboard… it will be a lot lower than one which does.

Eliminating gas cooking is not only beneficial from a safety point of view for a world cruising yacht. Traipsing around foreign ports, towns or villages trying to get your gas bottle changed or re-filled is a real challenge since it’s very unlikely the bottle you have will be compatible with the leasing or exchange regulations of your location. Also, you can bet your bottom dollar, if you do manage to exchange the bottle, it will need a different gas regulator fitting.

Besides anything else, carrying two gas bottles consumes an awful lot of your aft lazarette space.

Gas only had two advantages over standard electric hob systems. One was how controllable the heat is. With the advent of induction hobs that advantage is now lost.

The other is it’s a lot cheaper to install a gas cooker rather than the complete electric cooker set up. 

At Kraken Yachts, our original reticence in going electric for cooking was purely cost. Would a prospective customer recognise that the spec is much higher than other yachts they are comparing a Kraken to?

The extra equipment cost of a Kraken 50 standard spec with 7 kW Onan generator, 660 ampere @24v house battery bank, and huge 8 kW Victron Quattro Charger/ Inverter, plus all the switching, cabling and monitoring adds about $35,000 USD, or 30,000 Euros to our standard yacht spec, but in common with other increased standard specification costs, like the Solent rig and triple fuel tank and fuel polishing system, we do believe it’s the right way to go in producing the ultimate blue water
cruising yacht.

Gas explosion test.
Courtesy of Yachting Monthly. Video available on Yachting Monthly YouTube channel

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