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

albintoilet

Gear: Albin Pump Marine Toilet

Head Start Is there room for a new marine toilet? Albin Pump Marine thinks so, having just introduced its line of Swedish-built heads—ranging from compact to full-size models—to the American market. The toilets feature vitreous porcelain bowls and either wooden or thermoplastic ...read more

07n_45R2699

Multihull Sailor: Classic Cats

If you’re looking for a decent sub-40ft cruising cat, you have few choices when it comes to new-boat offerings. It is a well-known fact that the multihull market has taken off in a way very few could have predicted. Despite Hurricane Irma’s recent destruction of a large part of ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell. Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.com Thanks a bunch  This scene is very calm and seamanlike. No frantic rope throwing or shouting. As he passes the line to the gent on the dock, the crew on the boat says, quietly and clearly, “Would you ...read more

mcarthy-and-mouse

Experience: McCarthy and the Mouse

Sitting at the helm in a light breeze, my arms crusted with a fine rime of salt, my skin so dry I’d lost my fingerprints, I heard a clatter and a curse from below. There were only three of us a thousand miles from shore and only one on watch at a time. Usually, the off watch lay ...read more

2018-giftGuide

2018 Holiday Gift Guide

Brass Yacht Lamp Does someone on your gift list spend the whole winter missing the warm days on the water? Let them bring a little bit of nautical atmosphere home with this new lamp from Weems & Plath. The glass enclosure means the flame cannot be blown out even by ...read more

image001

Opinion: On Not Giving Up Sailing

E.B. White was 64 when he wrote his now-famous essay “The Sea and the Wind That Blows,” which begins as a romantic paean to sailing and then drifts, as if spun around by a pessimistic eddy of thought, into a reflection on selling his boat. Does an aging sailor quit while he’s ...read more

1812-JeanneaueNewsVideo

Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 410

Designed by Marc Lombard, the Sun Odyssey 410 shares much in common with her older siblings including of course, the walk-around deck. Other features that set the 410 apart from other models being introduced this year include the 410’s “negative bow” shape allowing for a longer ...read more