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The other morning we awoke to a near disaster… we were out of propane. Had this happened later in the day it might not have been such an calamity but early in the morning, no propane meant that we couldn’t make coffee. Disaster, right?

The thing is, the new boat is made to use the smaller blue European CampingGas bottles, and we’re not used to them at all. We had 6 of these bottles on the boat and unfamiliar with their weight when empty, we had assumed that at least a couple of them were full. As it turns out, we were wrong… all of the spares were empty!

Rather than run to our neighbors for help, we suffered through most of the morning without any caffeine. Later on, near lunch, we finally dinghied in to shore to get some hot food and some coffee. We also managed to get one of the local guys to pick up our 6 bottles, and with a bit of an extra fee paid, return them to us, all full, later on that same evening.

Don’t we have a backup for such a situation? As a matter of fact, we do. We have a little camping stove that we can use to boil water. Unfortunately, at the time, we didn’t even have one of the small propane bottles that it is designed to run off. That situation has since been rectified too.

Note: A much more versatile backup than the little stove we have would be the Primus OmniLite Camp Stove, shown below. It can burn virtually anything as fuel! That is what I’d really like to have as a backup.


  1. No coffee this morning would have definitely been a disaster for us! Glad you were able to eventually get some.


  2. Mike, as we prepare our boat for heading to the islands, one of the questions I’ve had is what to do about propane for our grill. It currently uses the one pound green cylinders, which are widely available here in the US. But I’ve never seen anyone on any of the blogs I follow mention their availability down in the islands. For that reason, I was intending to plumb our grill to the main propane supply (two 10 pound aluminum tanks in a dedicated locker) before departure. But if the one pound tanks are easily gotten in the Caribbean, then I’ll hold off on running more gas line through the boat. So what has your experience been? Are they commonly found on the islands, or hard to find?

    Robert & Rhonda
    S/V Eagle Too

    • A different Mike here, but …

      Plumb the grill to run off your larger tanks.

      The 1 pounders you are currently using aren’t widely available, they’re way more expensive when they are, and they will just end up taking a bunch of space (plus adding weight) that’s better used for carrying … beer! 😉

      • I don’t disagree that that is a better system, for several reasons. We’ve had no trouble finding the small cans here in the caribbean though. Elsewhere, that may be different.

    • Although perhaps more expensive, the small canisters are available just about everywhere. On One Love we used them exclusively for the grill whereas on ZTC, we used a 10b Aluminum tank. I think the larger tank is the better way to go.

  3. So what is your long-term plan? Keep European or switch to the bigger ones?
    And speaking of utility differences, how are you doing with 220 v 120 volt environment?

    • I have no long term plan with respect to cooking fuel. It will require some research into what is available abroad.

      As for 220V, aside from the fact that I’ve needed to replace a few power tools, it is a non issue. If anything, it is easier for us in the Caribbean.

      • My experience is that most places in the Caribbean and Central America with exception to maybe the French Islands are based on 110 not 220. They do have adapters but 110 is most prevalent. Europe different story as also South Pacific. Also South America where we have been also was based on 110. Can’t say for Chile or Argentina as I have never been there.

        • Since we don’t go to docks very often, it’s hard for me to comment. Grenada is definitely predominantly 220V though, at least at the island’s largest marina.

  4. And yes I totally agree on the update and the Primus stove. It is a camping item someone always carries.

  5. Hey Mike,
    Any worries about losing tanks if you’re using one of the non standard steel i.e the fancy composite tanks?

    Especially if it’s an overnight drop off?

    • I’ve never heard of that happening. We did decide to carry a simple 20b steel tank on the way south though as we thought that we might end up in places that required us to swap our tank with a full one, rather than having ours refilled. I believe that did happen once or twice.

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