Although our season has been delayed and will now start in June, this has meant that we’ve had extra time to carry out maintenance and – yet more breaking news – replace dear old Deirdre (the ship’s stove) who has come to the end of her devoted and increasingly temperamental life. Our new stove – a Dickenson – will greatly improve mealtime efficiency for crew and groups onboard.

The first stove was a diesel-powered Rayburn donated by a farmer from Kent, but this turned out to be unsuitable for a sailing vessel.  It was soon called the ‘Mighty Wurlitzer’ because its knobs needed continuous attention to cope with the voltage and air supply variations when changing from engine to sail!

Thanks to sponsorship by the Adnams Charity in the early 1990s, we were able to change this for a more suitable brand-new marine stove from a Canadian manufacturer, which solved the problem.   This is the stove that later acquired the name ‘Deirdre’, probably because she needed a certain amount of care and attention, but having said that she has served up well over 50,000 hot meals over the last 30 years.  Now she is worn out!

The hotplate is burnt through, the firebox needs replacing and the controls needed to be altered to comply with new requirements.  She was also not large enough for the number of people we usually have on board whose ever more varied specialist dietary requirements now mean we need more hotplate and a larger oven. We reluctantly decided, therefore, that Deirdre must be replaced with a new larger model.  However, with a total cost in excess of £5,000, this was daunting.

First to the rescue was local Councillor Keith Patience who secured £1,000 from Suffolk County Council’s Councillor Allowances and Locality Budget.  Then Kuranda, the UK Agents for Dickenson, the Canadian manufacturers, offered a new stove at a very generous discount, and Crowd Funding and our appeals did the rest. The new kid on the block will keep our 2021 passengers warm and cosy and provide delicious hot meals into the bargain! We’ll keep you posted once we have a new name….