I didn’t get any pictures because I was crying. Tears streamed down my face, making it impossible to see anything. I sat on the bench, holding Skye, trying to clear my eyes, while Geoff moved around the galley, trying to put out the fire.
I’d just refilled our alcohol stove, something I’ve done every other week for the last three years. You pour the denatured alcohol into the canisters then carefully wipe up anything that might have splashed out. The I put the canister back into it’s slot, shut the top of the stove, and used the long lighter to light the stove, ready to cook lunch.
I put coconut oil in the pan and proceeded to chop the onions. It was a bit smokey, but I assumed something was burning off the bottom of the pan, reached up and opened the window above the stove to vent the smoke. Mistake. My eyes were now watering, far worse than due to a mere onion. And there was a lot of smoke.
“Geoff, something is wrong,” I was starting to cry now. I hadn’t yet processed what was wrong, but I did reach over to turn the stove off and found the lever too hot to touch.
“I’ve got it, take Skye,” he said, handing me a 1.5-year-old who was mid-I’m-starving-feed-me-now meltdown. He grabbed a kitchen towel and got the top of the stove off. When I’d closed the lid, some of the alcohol had spilled and the inside of the stove was on fire – barely visible alcohol flames. Water and the towel wouldn’t put them out, so Geoff grabbed one of my trays and slammed it over the stove, cutting off most of the oxygen. The fire went out quickly. And slowly, the smoke and my eyes cleared.
“Where’s the fire extinguisher?” He asked. I pointed to the fire extinguisher, mounted undisturbed right next to the galley and within easy reach. “Good to know.” We sat there for a moment, letting the last of the smoke clear out.
“Well that could’ve been bad.” Agreement. We clean up and go out to eat lunch.
At dinner, I’m nervous lighting the stove, but it lights up fine and cooks exactly like it should. It’s not that I’m not aware of the dangers of living on a boat and more than people are aware of the dangers of driving or flying. I just don’t dwell on them all the time. I try instead to be proactive in planning for safety (available fire extinguishers, swimming lessons for Skye) and anticipating possible situations. Because when something does happen, it’s never what you expected.
The marina manager knocked on our boat the other afternoon and Geoff poked his head up to talk to her.
“I saw on the webcam that your daughter fell in the water.” She said. Geoff stuck his head back down and looked at me, confused. I nod.
“She was looking at the birds in the sky and not watching where she was going,” I confirm. By the time I got the two steps back to her, she was floating on her back, holding onto the dock, and looking annoyed.
We’ve been working on dock safety. Paying attention to where you’re going, laying on your belly to look at something in the water. My concern, thanks to the swimming lessons, is not her falling in the water, but what else is in the water with her – big, heavy boats. Mostly I carry her up and down the dock, but as an independent toddler, she wants to do it herself. Walk by herself, carry her own towel or bucket. And when it’s calm, I let her. I’ve taken the time to make sure she knows how to float and swim and I have to trust her to walk two steps ahead and do it herself sometimes.
Accidents will happen. My goal is to be prepared enough that the impact is minimal, nothing more than a bit of excitement and a story to tell.