Cooking, Lighting and Heating

I have been trying to figure out a cooking and lighting solution for Bolero. Searching the web reassures me that this is a common conundrum among small boat sailors. This post is a summary of my starting point. A way to keep my thought on in one place.
Needs & Wants
  • A simple, portable and safe solution for cooking and lighting.
  • The ability to easily store everything in a bag or a locker.
  • A stable setup that can handle wakes and walking around the boat during meal time. One that I can comfortably leave untended for a bit.
  • The ability to create reasonable meals during an over night trip.
  • Some form of heating to take the chill off down below.
  • I want to try to standardize on one type of fuel. I don't want to have propane and alcohol or kerosene on board.
Not Really Needed or Wanted
  • I don't have any need or desire to cook while underway. All of the cooking will happen while at anchor.
I have been considering a couple of scenarios.
  • Propane for cooking and heating and propane or LED lamps for lighting.

  • Kerosene or lamp fuel for cooking, heating and lighting.

Let's start with propane. And when I talk about propane, I mean those little 16.4 oz Coleman Propane Fuel bottles. These have really become a standard for small camping and boating cooking and heating. The are a myriad of option for cooking, heating and lighting. So I will only show those that are interesting me currently.

For stove there are two off the shelf items and one modified stove that I like. These are all based on the old Sea Swing single burner type of stove that have been around for years.
Kuuma/Force 10 Seacook Stove

When conditions are really rough and nothing would be more comforting than hot food or beverages, this is the stove to have. Keep it stored out of the way until you need it, then mount it on its low profile bulkhead mount, conveniently located, using the quick-disconnect fitting.

Ball-bearing gimbal swings easily

Unique single-action pot holder accommodates any size pot up to 8'' D

A true regulator, not just a needle valve

Has a positive OFF position and precise flame adjustment

Standard 16.4 oz. propane canister

Canister provides over 3 1/2 hours of cooking on the high setting

Partially used canisters can be disconnected, then used again later

Makes a great back-up or auxiliary stove

An adapter for foreign propane canisters is available Spare Seacook Wall Bracket available

Forespar Mini-Galley Stove

The Mini-Galley 2000 allows cooking under adverse weather conditions in the cockpit or below.

The burner can be turned off and on instantly with no preheating or priming necessary.

A disposable propane cartridge gives up to 8 hours of hot, clean heat.

A simple valve permits any flame intensity.

Designed to accept U.S. Department of Transportation approved self-sealing propane bottles only.

This modern, attractive unit includes a low profile mounting bracket which allows the entire stove to be easily detached and stowed when not in use.

It features an all stainless steel gimbaled "basket" with springs that secure the cooking pot.

Modified Classic Sterno Aluminum Sea Swing Stove

The biggest beef that I have read about the two stove above is the small diameter of their cooking surface. The original Sea Swing stove could handle larger pans, pots or a pressure cooker . I don't know if this is a real big deal for me or not. I like the idea of a pressure cooker and with a pressure cooker nice fry pan I could cook many of the meals I have at home.

So this type of conversion or finding one of the original kerosene Sea Swings is appealing.

For heaters propane just rocks. I find it hard to go much further than Coleman's.
Coleman BlackCat Catalytic Heater with InstaStart

Provides comfortable warmth whether indoors or in a tent

Electronic ignition for quick and easy matchless lighting

3,000 BTU output operates up to 7 hours from one 16.4 oz. propane cylinder (not included)

Compact legs integrate into collar for easy storage

Portable easy-to-grip handle makes heater easy to carry
There is a lot that I like about propane. It is clean, quick and it is the fuel of today. The canisters are readily available (and even refillable if I want to go that route) and can be found at a reasonable cost for the amount that I will be using. Propane appliances, especially from the camping world, are available and there are lots of choices including a portable hot water heater. So what's not to like? Well I am just not to fond of the the little cylinders. I don't like having that much disposable packaging for so limited an amount of product. Also most of the storage on Bolero will be in the cabin and even though these are small cylinders, I can envision carrying two or three at a time so I still need to be mindful of propane leaks. I don't know if this a problem or not with these little canisters. But storage is something to think about.


What I really mean when I say kerosene is the more highly refined, lamp oil. I don't expect to be cooking, heating and lighting on a regular basis so I am not so worried about the high cost of this product. It will be worth it for elimination of the soot and odor.

For a stove the old Sea Swing with an Optimus burner would be my first choice. These seem quite well like my many who have them and I haven't found them that easy to find. I have heard that these were available in both kerosene and alcohol.

For lights I quite like the Weems and Plath yacht lamps. There are often review as not have enough light to read by but many people seem quite happy with them. The decision on lighting will have to wait until I know what kind of room is available in Bolero's cabin.

Summary of Fuel Properties

Here is a summary of the heat content of the fuels that I am considering.

Properties of Cooking Fuels
Fuel BTUs/gal
Propane 91,600
Alcohol 80,000
Kerosene 134,000