Gas Gas Gas Gas

Written by Pieter Jan on May 11, 2020 — 3 min read

At: Grand Anse Bay, Grenada

The picture below perfectly captures why I despair about the future of the human species. You’re looking at cooking gas bottle regulators — the things that expand the gas safely so your boat doesn’t explode.

4 different cooking gas regulators. We actually have two more, not pictured.
4 different cooking gas regulators. We actually have two more, not pictured.

Almost every country in the world has their own type of gas valve. Why is this a problem? Apart from seriously triggering my aversion for inefficiency, all gas merchants give you a full bottle when you return an empty one. If the empty one has the wrong valve, they won’t accept it and you’ll have to buy the gas and the bottle — which is usually ridiculously expensive.

I have another beef with gas bottles: in some countries they’re ultra cheap, in other countries they’re positively extortionate. You never know what you’re going to get. For the rest of the story, keep in mind that the amount of gas we buy should cost €5 per bottle.

The story of the gas bottles

We got a Greek gas bottle when we bought the boat. The previous owner didn’t really know how much gas was left, but looking back it must have been almost full.

The Greek bottle ran out in Sardinia. Strangely enough, Sardinia and Greece use the same gas valves, so we naively thought that all the countries in the world use the same valves on their bottles. Oh how wrong we were. We spent €20 on a slightly smaller replacement bottle.

In Spain, I tried to buy an extra bottle in several places. They just flat-out refused to sell me one.

In Morroco, we bought a second gas bottle, because we didn’t want to run out of cooking gas in the middle of the ocean. It looked as if it had the same valve as the Sardinian one. Bottle + gas: €10.

The Italian bottle was finished in Las Palmas. When I tried to fit the Greek regulator on the Moroccan bottle, I discovered its valve’s diameter was 1mm larger. We bought a new Spanish bottle and regulator for €70.

In Cape Verde, we hoped to find that they would use Africa-style bottles. Nope. Portuguese bottles here. We left the full Moroccan bottle ashore for a lucky finder and bought a Portuguese bottle and regulator for €52.

We ran out of the Spanish gas in Tobago. I didn’t want to deal with the heavy Tobagan bottles, so I neglected the issue.

We ran out of gas on Mother’s Day in Grenada. Luckily, we still had an small emergency Campingaz canister. The day after, I found a car maintenance station that also sold gas bottles. When I arrived with my two empty bottles — the Spanish and the Portuguese ones — the guy started making a fuss:

“These have a wrong type of valve!”

“I know, sir. I don’t want to exchange them, I just want to buy new ones.”

“But these have THE WRONG TYPE OF VALVE!”

“I know, sir. I don’t want to exchange them, I just want to buy new ones.”

“We’re not taking these bottles!”

“I’ll just throw them in the trash then.”

“You’re throwing these away?”

“Yes.”

“Oh, you can leave them here. How many new ones you want?”

I walked out with two full bottles and a regulator for €30. Probably the best deal yet.

 

 

PS: There are over 50 valve types for cooking gas in the world.