Sunset in the Virgins

The Magma Newport gas grill

Jim has always enjoyed grilling, and for many years we had a round Magma gas grill on the stern rail of our Catalina 25 on Lake Monroe in Indiana. While Caloosa Spirit was in charter service, he had to use a Magma charcoal grill—messy and unreliable. So when we were finally out of the charter business and were outfitting Caloosa Spirit for our own cruising, one of our many purchases was a gas grill.

I never quite trusted the round Magma grill with its single attachment mount. In fact, once when we were in the islands, at the worst possible moment the mount loosened, the charcoal grill tipped outboard, and we watched our dinner become fish food. Also, even though the grill cover was attached with a stainless tether, I never liked the banging noise the cover made when it would happen to fall off the grill. So, even though Jim is the primary griller in the family, I convinced him that a rectangular-shaped grill made by Force 10 would be a better choice. When we received the gas grill in one of our shipments—at considerably greater expense than a round Magma could be had for—it was in a box with no padding, and had suffered some dents and misalignment in transit. Jim dutifully straightened it out and put it together as best he could, and he used it—dutifully—ever after.

Jim’s association with that grill could best be described as a love hate relationship. He often commented that it wasn’t as easy to regulate as the Magma, and that the attachment bracket on the stern rail wasn’t as convenient to dismount. Once, when the grill was mounted on the port side of the stern rail and we were entering a narrow marina slip, we bumped the grill on a piling and bent the mounting bracket. After it kissed another piling or two we started dismounting it upon approaching a dock—when we took the time—and it was always a two-person job. When we tired of that hassle and worry, we moved the grill to a portion of the stern rail above the transom. Jim continued to complain about the grill, and with each moan and groan—not to mention the bangs, bumps, and dismounts—came another turn of the screw into my guilt for insisting on that particular grill.

One day several months later Jim was preparing the grill for cooking dinner and was again grumbling about the mount. He expressed concern that the mount had weakened from the contact with pilings and docks, and that it should be replaced—another expense and hassle. No sooner had I cursorily examined the mount and dismissed his concern as needless (attempting to shrug off more guilt), than the mount broke and the grill toppled over the side. Minus our dinner, thankfully. Our astonishment at the sudden bang and clunk was quickly followed by curiosity when we didn’t hear a subsequent splash. We peered over the stern rail to see the grill lying upside down but otherwise intact on our 2-ft. square swim platform. Surely, the best-laid plans of mice and men could never replicate this event—not in a million years. I wasn’t sure if Jim’s mumbled curses sprang from frustration that the grill broke, or from outright anger that it didn’t land in the water and out of his life for good! Dutifully, he retrieved the grill rather than giving it an extra shove overboard.

For a couple of months afterward Caloosa Spirit was tied up in a marina where outside grilling is generally frowned upon. But eventually Jim got the mount re-welded and dutifully returned the grill to the stern rail. He stopped worrying about the mounting bracket, but he still complained that the flame was difficult to regulate. Also, we decided that an optional mount that would move the grill closer inboard would be desirable, since we tended to bump our shoulders on the grill when stepping past the ladder/gate onto the swim platform. We ordered the shorter mount from the local West Marine but after a series of mis-placed orders it never arrived, and we gave up on the idea. Then, in that same West Marine one day I spied a new rectangular grill made by Magma—the Newport model. This grill seemed to have a more secure mounting arrangement, and generally appeared sturdier and more user-friendly than the Force 10. Without much thought I decided that this grill would be Jim’s next birthday gift. But, I mused, his birthday is 8 months away. Did I really want to listen to Jim’s grilling gripes, each one piling on more guilt, for that much longer?

Then one day we made an excursion to another West Marine to get a needed part for a fix-it project. There on display was the same Magma Newport grill at a discounted sale price. Jim wasn’t especially taken with the idea of replacing our present still-functional (if not enjoyable) Force 10 grill, especially at the expense of increasing our budget deficit. But I managed to convince him that not getting the other mount we had tried to order must have been a sign. (Of course, I conveniently overlooked the possible “sign” of not losing the grill overboard several months earlier.) To make this long story slightly shorter, duty be damned, we bought the Newport grill, lugged it home on the bus, mounted it, and used it for dinner. Jim declared that he liked it much better than the other one, and yes, he wanted to keep it. It helped that the new grill fit better than the old one on its section of stern rail. Whew! I was relieved that I wouldn’t have to feel any more guilt every time I asked him to grill for dinner.

As a postscript, let me just add that Jim might have been a tad-bit happier with the Force 10 grill if he had been using it right! As he was dismounting it for the last time he realized that he had overlooked some hidden instructions on the regulator regarding flame adjustment. Upon seeing the error of his ways his own guilt about breaking the budget almost led him to return the new grill. I quickly put an end to such madness by pointing out that, had the Newport grill been available prior to buying the Force 10, there would have been no contest. Gratified that I still have some influence over my husband of some 34 years, we’re both enjoying the bounty that regularly issues forth from the triumphant grill.

Posted Monday November 7, 2005

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  1. Hi, Don’t know if you’ll answer this but I’m sitting in the Rio Dulce in Guatemala trying to decide on a new BBQ. We have an old rotted Magma kettle that we inherited with the boat. I had narrowed it down to the Magma Newport and the Force 10 Stow & Go when I found your entry. If you could give me an update, I would greatly appreciate it. Funny, we also chartered for many years in the BVI and Bahamas. You photo could have been taken from our house in St. Thomas. We certainly like the cruising life much better than the charter life!
    — Kathy Wagner    09/29/2008 12:08 PM    #
  2. So sorry for not responding to this comment sooner. I must admit I haven’t been checking the website as often as I should. We’ve been quite busy over the last couple of months getting Caloosa Spirit back in the water and underway to Marathon. We’re now here, so I should have more time to devote to the site.

    Enough excuses. Truth to tell, I’m not the one who uses the grill on a regular basis. Jim is the grillmeister. But from what I can tell, he’s very happy with the Magma Newport. He’s had to replace the burner and the reflector (?), and the igniter presently needs replacing. The fixes have been relatively simple and inexpensive, and the grill works very well. We have no regrets about replacing the Force 10 with the Magma Newport.

    We too like the cruising life better than the charter business, but it was nice to have someone else do all the fix-its!
    Alice Rutherford    10/24/2008 06:21 AM    #
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