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:
Updated:
Original:
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

Moored-at-Molinere-Point_©-Michaela-Urban

Cruising: Exploring Grenada

For years, I’d been wanting to visit Grenada. There are many things that fascinated me about this island: its rugged, mountainous interior, its rainforests and waterfalls, and the fact that it’s less traveled than some other Caribbean sailing destinations. My photographer ...read more

Lead

The Link to a Good Shore Support Network

Much has been said and written about preparing your vessel for an offshore passage, but few think about the importance of having good shoreside support set up before heading out to sea. Almost all offshore racing teams have sophisticated onshore support teams providing them with ...read more

191203_JR_AUCKWORLDS_359559_5434

Racing: the Olympic Gold Standard

If there was a moment that gave the US Sailing Team hope to break a major Olympic medal dry spell, it was the first day of the 49er FX worlds in New Zealand last December. Paris Henken and Anna Tobias had a rough 18th in race one, then banged out two bullets and a fifth to lead ...read more

noaa

A Farewell to Paper Charts

It’s goodbye to the paper chart, at least those produced by NOAA. The agency’s Office of Coast Survey is soliciting comments on plans to completely phase out the production of paper charts and associated products within five years. Its tighter focus on ENCs (electronic ...read more

shutterstock_538143214-2048x

A Round Trip Panama Canal Transit

Our driver, Dracula, has a thick slack body, and his head leans heavily to the right. One eye wanders and looks only up and left. The other is covered with an opaque membrane. His ungainly body is covered with a loose, soiled shirt and pants. It is a hot day in March 2007, and ...read more

outremer_LEAD

Patrick Le Quement and Multihull Design

If you Google the name Patrick Le Quément you’ll come up with some 194,000 hits, most attesting to the Frenchman’s long and successful career designing automobiles. Ford’s iconic (in Britain) Sierra? That’s one of his—at first nicknamed “the jellymold” by detractors, it went on ...read more

Bali

Boat Review: Bali 5.4

In the few years since the Bali brand appeared as an offshoot of the Catana line of catamarans, it has grown rapidly. The original models are popular bareboat charter vessels in the Caribbean and the Mediterranean, and the new Bali 5.4, the largest of the line, moves the company ...read more