XXIIVV

On wood as a fuel for a small boat.

Unlike oil, coal, or gas, wood is a renewable resource. Wood gives off the same amount of carbon whether it is burned up or decays naturally and is considered Carbon Neutral if a new tree is planted where one has fallen. Over the course of a tree's life it absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and then releases carbon dioxide that was previously accumulated back into the environment when it either decomposes naturally or is burned.

I suppose that alcohol and gas stoves now vastly outnumber those using wood, coal, and kerosene and this is understandable; though the understanding comes from psychology and market-economics more than reasoning. Please do not misunderstand me. Alcohol and gas stoves are now very good, most of the poorly designed and constructed ones having eliminated themselves. But both do tie you to the marine supplier and the alcohol "required for marine use" is a fantastic rip-off; indeed it is a fantastic scandal.

All stoves have drawbacks and it is a matter of choosing which you care to live with. We'll readily admit to a bias. But it seems to us that the main reason why coal/wood is today the least common cooking fuel on board boats is that people somehow associate these stoves with primitiveness, hard times ("the bad old days"), poverty and, therefore, being dirty. This is nonsense.

Seasoned hardwood pieces, hard coal or charcoal can be prepackaged into starter, medium, and full-heat bags before placing them aboard and a fiberglassed bunker is easy to keep clean and tidy. In any case, the heat of a coal/wood stove is incomparable, not only for general heating but all cooking, especially baking. To be sure, such stoves are most practical North of Massachusetts Bay on the East Coast and San Francisco Bay on the West Coast. From these areas northward, however there is no better ship's companion."

George Putz, The Mariner's Catalogue