Filling a Fire Extinguisher with Cayenne Pepper? - Sail Magazine

Filling a Fire Extinguisher with Cayenne Pepper?

As a solo, 78-year-old great-grandmother preparing to singlehand my Challenger 32, Dharma, to the South Pacific, Asia and beyond, I knew I needed to think about some kind of protection onboard.
Author:
Publish date:
pepper-Fire-extiguisher

As a solo, 78-year-old great-grandmother preparing to singlehand my Challenger 32, Dharma, to the South Pacific, Asia and beyond, I knew I needed to think about some kind of protection onboard. Though I trusted the majority of my adventure would be safe, I had to be prepared for sailing in some pretty isolated areas, where “unauthorized boarding” was all too possible. The question was: what to bring?

The idea of having a gun onboard crossed my mind, but I knew it would cause too much trouble when clearing in and out of foreign ports. I also knew that pirates, if there were any, would probably be better armed than me anyway, and I certainly didn’t want to risk shooting the wrong people in the dark of night, so guns were out of the question.

I’d heard of other cruisers putting tacks on deck, sharp side up, which sounded like a clever idea, except for the fact that I enjoy walking on deck barefoot and didn’t want the idea to backfire. I thought about getting a big dog, both for protection and companionship, but again didn’t want to deal with the complications of clearing said dog in and out of foreign countries.

Finally, a light bulb went off. A medium-sized fire extinguisher could be my answer, but not just any fire extinguisher: one loaded with super hot cayenne pepper! Imagine some unsuspecting soul trying to sneak aboard, only to be met by a blast of cayenne pepper to the face! I think that would stop just about anyone.

The man at the fire extinguisher store was rather dubious about my idea. But the more I explained my situation, the more he warmed to it. For the pepper itself, I tried restaurant supply stores first, but ended up purchasing it online from San Francisco Herb Company (sfherb.com), which sells various strengths of cayenne pepper, all the way up to #90, which I’m pretty sure would be nuclear in strength. I was surprised by how affordable it was (1 pound for around $4.50). I had the fire extinguisher man fill me up and then, to prevent inadvertently using the extinguisher on a real fire, I covered the whole thing in black electrical tape.

So far, I haven’t had a reason to use my protection, and I’m grateful for that. But if the time comes, I’m going to have to remember to never discharge it upwind.

Photo courtesy of Susan Meckley

Related

Seascape24

Boat Review: Seascape 24

Since its inception in 2008, Slovenian builder Seascape, founded by a pair of Mini Transat sailors, has focused solely on creating boats that are both simple and loads of fun to sail. With their 18-footer and then a 27-footer they succeeded in putting out a pair of trailerable ...read more

01-Trash-Tiki_in-partnership-with-Subtch-Sports_starting

The Adventurers Aboard Trash-Tiki

If you were in Gotland, a popular island vacation destination off the coast of Sweden, on the morning of July 3, your holiday might have been interrupted by a startling sight: a tiny island of trash approaching shore with people aboard. It was, in fact, a sailboat made from ...read more

atlantic-cup-trailer

2018 Atlantic Cup Video Mini-Series

Atlantic Cup 2018: TrailerThis past spring, SAIL magazine was on-hand to document the 2018 Atlantic Cup, a two-week-long Class 40 regatta spanning the U.S. East Coast and one of the toughest events in all of North America. The preview above will give you a taste of the four-video ...read more

hardangerfjord

Cruising: Holland to Norway

In 2015, we cruised to Norway’s Lofoten Islands on our Nordic 40, Juanona, which we’d sailed transatlantic from Maine to England. Our 2016 plan was to cruise through the Netherlands to the Kiel Canal, sail into the Baltic as far as Stockholm, then cruise the western coast of ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell.Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.comThe Watch-keeper’s Nightmare The commercial watchkeeper’s most awkward decisions come with a vessel converging from abaft the starboard beam showing a red light. If he’s more than 2 points, or around 22 ...read more

cosair760R

Boat Review: Corsair 760R

We’d only been out on Miami’s Biscayne Bay aboard the Corsair 760R a few minutes when Corsair Marine marketing manager Shane Grover and I began bemoaning the fact neither of us had a GPS with us to determine our boatspeed. Moments later, though, we both came to the same ...read more

ChildrenOfCorn

Ethanol in Fuel

One of the first stories I ever edited for publication in a boat magazine, way back in 1986, was about the dangers and general inconvenience imposed on recreational boaters by the blending of alcohol with gasoline. As I recall I arranged to illustrate it with a sensational gothic ...read more

nomad

Digital Yacht: Portable Nomad

AIS FOR NOMADsWant AIS, but not the hassle and expense of installing a transponder and its associated paraphernalia? The fully portable Nomad from Digital Yacht could be the answer. It combines Class B AIS and GPS functionality with the ability to connect via WiFi or AIS to up to ...read more