Even though it’s happening more and more often, it doesn’t fail to astonish me whenever I get an email from a blog reader in a faraway land—I’m still getting used to the idea that EVERYONE who cares to do a casual Google search with the words “Gaff” or “Ganymede” or “Cruising Family” will stumble across our blog, regardless of what country they live in. It astonishes me even more when a gentle complaint sent over the ether gets a response: it was a surprise recently when a semi-irate missive to the Newport Maritime Center got them to fix the showers so they would be both hot AND wet at the same time. So imagine when a gentle complaint via Blog got a quick and gracious response from a country far from here! It was hardly to be believed.
I’m speaking of an email I received from Quirinus Bogaarts, who works for the Den Haan lampmakers of Rotterdam, and who had stumbled across our recent blog posting (no doubt using the casual searchword “Ganymede”) in which I discussed the lighting misadventures we’d had with his firm’s lamps. He was eager to confirm what we’d learned by hard trial: that most of the problems we’d had were due to bad kerosene, but he was able to explain the why of it in interesting detail. I imagine that by now they’ve tried burning everything short of coal tar in their lamps, as Mr. Bogaarts had a very good handle on why bad kerosene would drip out of the lamps, why it burns with a peculiar “rabbit ears” flame, why it consumes wicks at a frightful pace, why it fosters the untimely shattering of chimneys.
I also learned from his email that the paraffin sold here in the ‘States specifically for lamps is not the best stuff to use—he prefers purified kerosene, which does not evaporate so quickly, nor does it leave a waxy residue behind like paraffin does. As I mentioned in the blog post that precipitated his communication, we had begun to have an inkling of all these things, and were happily using the lamps again full-time with good success, but it was great to have his email full of tricks and tips and encouragement. It was like having our own personal lamp guru answering our concerns specifically without having to go through the monumental bother of posting on an online forum and getting six thousand contradictory responses, which is what usually happens when I seek answers online.
Perhaps the secret is to not be seeking nor expecting answers at all. I certainly wasn’t when we made that first blog posting, and now thanks to my lamp genie I understand and appreciate my lamps all the more. I wonder what else I should blog about with an end to better understanding it? The outboard motor? The propane stove? The LED headlamps we love to hate? I guess the possibilities are endless.