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

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell.Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.comA clean run Dropping a coil on deck so that its running part is on top will always help it to spool out cleanly. Flaking it in a figure of eight can be even better. This allows the line to fall naturally ...read more

Outremer45

Boat Review: Outremer 45

It’s funny the way things that work right almost inevitably tend to look right as well. Case in point: the Outremer 45, a catamaran that can’t help but turn heads with its large rig, nicely sculpted cabintrunk and narrow, purposeful bows. Better yet, under sail the boat more than ...read more

Sunset-Tyrrel-Bay

Charter: Glorious Grenada

In the wake of the hurricanes that devastated the Virgin Islands last year many charterers ended up going farther south to Grenada and the Grenadines where they found the sailing excellent and the vibe just fine“God must have been a sailor when he created the Caribbean,” a friend ...read more

WaterLinesNov

Waterlines: Tangled Up in Pots

I learned to sail on the Maine coast as a boy, and one of the things my elders taught me was to respect fishing gear. If you got caught up with a lobster pot, you did everything you could to get clear without cutting the pot warp. It represented a family’s livelihood and thus was ...read more

7353

Harken’s Reflex 3 top-down Furler

Furl PowerAre you afraid of flying—spinnakers, that is? Harken’s new Reflex 3 top-down furler will tame A-sails on monohulls from 44-58ft and multis from 39-55ft, and Code 0’s on 39-54ft monos and 36-50ft multis. All you do is heave on the furling line and the sail will roll up ...read more