Sad day for the cruising community.

When you become a cruiser you become part of a family.  We sure are a dysfunctional one but a family none the less.  We create this tight bond by morning nets, cocktail hours, hours of mexican train and the same desire to travel what mother earth have given us.  Today, as I opened up my yahoo news, reports of the deaths of 4 American sailors hit me like a ton of bricks flying at me at full force.  It is a part of the world that has all of us cruisers on edge.  We try and make the best decisions based on what is best for us.  Some of us can afford to ship our boats past this mess, some of us feel safer joining a rally and group together, some avoid the area all together and then there are some that just take the risk.  Paul and I didn’t have to make that decision since our trip was cut short but we have friends that have to.  We are happy to know that those we love are shipping their boat and have decided to take the best route to the med …by plane.  The cost is a heafty sum but I guess a good question would be what is your life worth?  I could get into details and comments that I have heard over the cruisers nets but the bottom line is they are forever gone.  Everyone keeps bringing up the bibles they stored on board and making it sound like they were asking for it.  Well, I have met dentist that does the same and stock pile tons of tooth brushes, so should be label him in some ill mannered way and make it look ugly?  I kept clothes and books on board and donated it to children and families who only had scraps….so, what does that make me?  COME ON!  They were sharing what all of us cruisers know; what it is really like out there.  The beauty this world has to offer.  A world, which I have come to discover since returning back to land, that most haven’t a clue about.  Today an unfortunate turn of events landed them in evil and greed’s hands.  My hopes and prayers are with those who are currently out there and that they pass the area safely. 

To Jean and Scott Adam, Phyllis Macay and Bob Riggle,

 May god be with you as you continue on  your journey to a place none of us have travelled.

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Bikes or No Bikes? I’ll answer for my family.

A recent question was posted on the pacific puddle jump group.  I wanted to post the picture I specified in my answer for  S/V Imagine:

Hi
Looking to get recommendations from family boats in particular, whether it’s worth keeping the bikes we have on board for the Pacific portion of our trip. We have a nifty configuration where we have passenger seats on the back of regular bicycles for the kids to ride on. So 4 rides for the price of 2 bikes.
Not worried about potential rust issues, but just wondering how useful and necessary the bikes will be when visiting the islands, especially considering we’ll probably have to shuttle them on the dingy at most locations.
Looking forward to hearing a few comments.
Shelley
S/V Imagine

We had two, beautiful, full size fold up bikes with the extra attachment seats for our kids for the first part of our trip(kids age 9 months and 2 years when we began).  The Bahamas were fine, the Caribbean was nuts and we never used them.  By the time we reached Trinidad, the kids were bigger and became heavy on the bikes so we opted to sell them.  We found that we could get anywhere by foot or by cheap taxi’s from there on.  We didn’t miss them in the South Pacific or had any moments in which we wished we kept them until we reached New Zealand.   The extra space we created from removing the bikes was perfect for all the goodies I collected along the way :).  I had to laugh with your comment about having to shuttle them to shore since that was the biggest issue we faced.  We have a picture of all four of us with the bikes on the dingy and the smiles are fake….  A lot would depend on how old your children are.  Along the way, I didn’t see many family boats with bikes.  Maybe just a few with one for the husband to run out and get parts.  The choice is yours, but mine would be to opt out.  My husband would be floored if he read this because I was the one who fought to keep the bikes for a year longer than he wanted to. 
 
Michele
 
 
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Chewy peanut butter oatmeal bars

It’s that time of year again.  The promises to get in better shape, and eat right are heard all over the news.  Advertisements for Weight watchers, Jenny Craig and every diet pill imaginable are running incessant.  All the healthy food items and exercise equipment are move up to the front of the store in flashy displays.  Being they busy mom I am, I am constantly running around and never have time for a healthy snack.  I have also found that buying health bars to stash in my purse were starting to add up quick.  After talking to a personal trainer a few weeks ago she mentioned she made her own bars.  She quickly rambled out what was in them and I just as quickly put down the notes on an old scrap paper in my purse.  A few days later I found the tattered piece of paper and smoothed it out on my counter.  I experimented with a few of the ingredients until I found what I liked.  As I tweaked the recipe, I kept thinking how wonderful it would have been to have these to munch on during night watches.   I love that they are quick to make and no bake.  Anything to save on the propane was always a plus.

Chewy peanut butter oatmeal bars

1 1/2 cups Oatmeal                                       

1 cup non fat dried milk

2 Tbs. ground or whole  flax seeds

2 scoops protein powder (Chocolate or Vanilla)

1/2 cup peanut butter

1/2 cup water

2 tea. Vanilla

Optional additions:

dried fruit

dark chocolate chips

nuts

Combine all dry ingredients then mix in wet (peanut butter, water and vanilla). Mix until all combined and then press into a cookie sheet or baking pan lined with wax paper or in a ziplock bag.  Press until flat and reached desired thickness about 1/2 inch (1cm)  refrigerate overnight.  Cut into squares and pack up in lunch boxes or for snacks.  These little bad boys are packed with Protein and Fiber!!!!  

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Tips to help save $$$ in your cruising kitty!

Some things are just impossible to believe — a report from the Chief Engineer

by Judy Rouse on Saturday, January 1, 2011 at 11:12pm

When you read this, you are going to say:  yeah, sure!  But, I have to tell you the story anyway. 

There is a private Texas Company that makes an anti-corrosion product for use in aviation and marine environments.  The product is CorrosionX.  The following are my stories about my personal experience with this product.  I am absolutely positive you are not going to believe me and/or you may think that I own the company.  The following is entirely the truth —  and I wish I owned the company!

I first bought a bottle of CorrosionX from Budget Marine in Trinidad.  I was looking for a product that would inhibit rust/oxidation.  I had a few spots that I wanted to treat in my engine room.  I bought it, sprayed it on the spots and it worked…OK, oil would have probably done the same thing…this stuff felt and looked like oil, so I assumed that I bought some snake oil.  I continued to use the pump-spray bottle in the engine room for treating rust for 2 years.

Then an unrelated thing happened.  Our PC computer at the Navigation Station began to go to a “Blue Screen of Death.”  At first, once a week; then daily.  We couldn’t live with this happening, so I began to look for a new computer.  I wrote a cruising friend who was a retired IT guy for a recommendation on a new computer.  I told him briefly about my current problem.  He wrote back with several new computer recommendations and also said, “Whenever I buy a new PC or laptop for the boat, I completely take it apart.  Using a small brush, I coat the circuit board and all of the terminals, such as hard drive connectors, etc. with CorrosionX. “   He said that the life-expectancy doubles when he does this.  I thought, wow, I have some CorrosionX, I have a bad computer…what have I got to lose?   That was 2 years ago and the computer is now over 6 years old and still working perfectly.  A $12 pump bottle of stuff saved me $1,200!  This was the beginning of my story on CorrosionX.

Since my computer fix, I have repaired many electric and electronic items saving thousands of dollars.  I have recommended CorrosionX to others and they have experienced the same miracles.  Here are a few of the more notable examples:

Our gas stove electronic igniter quit…I coated the terminals and it has worked fine since.

Our stern light flickered ON & OFF and burned up bulbs…I coated the terminals and it has worked fine since.

Our son’s low voltage halogen recessed ceiling lights were working poorly and burning out bulbs.  We think they got wet before they were installed.  We disassembled the fixtures and coated the terminals…all 35 fixtures have worked perfectly since.

Our other son’s swimming pool heater stopped working…the pool company wanted a minimum of $850 and as much as $3,000 to repair.  I opened the inspection cover and coated each wire terminal connection…it has worked perfectly since.

An engineer friend was skeptical so I gave her a small amount.  Her husband’s portable DVD player had stopped working.  She disassembled the player, coated the switch contacts and it has worked perfectly since.

Our fresh water pressure pump began to act abnormally, cutting on/off at the wrong times.  I disassembled the pressure switch, coated everything with CorrosionX and it has worked perfectly since.

Today, my wife’s $5 calculator which is over 30 years old stopped working.  She said that I MUST fix it…I said it was only a few dollars to replace…she said that I MUST fix it.  I disassembled the calculator and coated the key contacts with CorrosionX…It is working again, perfectly!

In our consumptive world where we replace rather than repair, I am certain that these few examples would have cost at least $7,000 to replace the faulty items.  My total cost was $12.  And I still have plenty left for future projects.

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I have “PTCD”

Sorry it has taken me so long to write.   I have to say… I have been under the weather.  I’ll call it PTCD (Post Traumatic Cruisers Depression).  It has been less than a year since we sold ‘Free Spirit’ and cut our trip short.  In the end, it was not by choice.  If you would have asked me a year earlier I would have been happy to head home and call it quits.  We would have if the boat sold.  See, we just sailed an incredible amount of miles in one season and all the night-time anchor alarms, squalls, storms and everything else that comes with sailing was wearing on me.  As luck would have it, the boat didn’t sell that summer in New Zealand and as our visa expired we were back out on a 9 day passage to Fiji.  Pushing my homesickness aside, we set sail.  That year we discovered that….LESS is MORE!  We went fewer miles and enjoyed so much more.  So much more that my homesickness set sail on its own course in the opposite direction I was heading.   I came to savor every mile, every hike, and every moment with my family.  We built relationships with villages and really got to know them instead of a quick wave and moving on and then saying, “Yes, we’ve been there.”  The question should be, ” have you spent time there?”  

We have been pushing our cruising memories aside and trying to cope with the return to “civilization” and it isn’t going very well.  Every time we pull out our pictures or a memory our hearts sink.  I keep telling Paul that we should be celebrating what we did but I need to practice what I preach.  We didn’t go all the way.  In our hearts we were not done yet.  We didn’t want to go back to the world where Paul only saw the kids on the weekends and one hour during the week.  We want to continue to learn about what is out there.  I want to figure out a way to bring it to everyone and get them started on what they might feel is impossible.  I am finding ways by quick posts on my facebook page ‘sailing moms’ and the numerous emails I get from those of you thinking about heading out, the ones who are out there and need help and the curious.  Some replies are hard because I want to be the ones out there with the questions.  How do you adjust from 5 years of adventure and come back a regular lifestyle?  Feels like cruising down a highway full speed ahead with no cars on the road and then, BANG, you are stuck in traffic for hours and days and weeks and years.  The personality I have is to try to gather a beautiful bouquet of flowers with what I have around me but this time I am really having a hard time searching for those flowers.    I have a few beautiful flowers, the center piece to my bouquet,  but it’s missing something.  I feel like I am tilting my head looking at it and trying to figure out how to make it all work.   It’s proving to be a challenge but I am up for a challenge.

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Tips for babies

Here is a question that came into Facebook and wanted to post the answers….

We’re going to have our first baby in a few months and then continue cruising with him/her at 5-6 months’ age. I am curious about any and all advice about having infants onboard. Particularly interested in views about having strollers onboard – leaning towards not, but not fully decided. How best to setup a baby cab…in in a v-berth that is currently our garage. Oh and diapers. Thank you in advance!

Answer #1

Congratulations–great news! Strollers: yecch! We had our daughter Kali aboard Shanachie from 4 months old to about 2 yrs old. Only needed a baby-carrier backpack–excellent for traveling, safer dinghy rides, etc. I’d highly recommend a por…table/fold-up “playpen” (whatever they’re called nowadays)–very handy ashore, and while traveling. Those were the only pieces of baby gear we ever needed, except for a safety harness I made when she started walking at 8.5 months old, and, a clip-on folding high chair that worked on the boat and in restaurants ashore. We used disposable diapers then (late 80s) b/c no hot water, and, very little water capacity anyway. I felt somewhat guilty, but, figured it wouldn’t last too long… 🙂

Answer #2
We had a stroller when we left thinking we would need it but never found a place that we could use it. Cloth diapers are really getting a great rap these days. I typically let our kids go bare on deck and easily hose it down and would onl…y use disposable diapers when they were inside and off the boat. As for the sleeping situation, I used a baby gate that I could secure tightly. Another option I saw was a mom who used a netting that was secured under the bed and then was attached by clips on each side of the opening. She was able to unclip one side to get the baby out. Then, I met a French couple who strung a hammock in their room. So many options! But, the best thing I had on the boat was a compact baby seat/high chair. It was very nice to be able to put the kids somewhere safe while I was needed on deck.
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Heart attack on a plate. Oh, Canada!

A sailing mom travels on land.

Have you ever eaten a heart attack on a plate?  This summer, while in Canada visiting our parents,  my sister and her kids decided to embark with me on a journey of testing several heart attacks.  There are a few dishes in Canada that would quickly get put on that list but the one that struck out and I think is #1 on the list is “Poutine”. Poutine, a dish of french fries mixed with fresh cheese curds and topped with hot gravy, ranks high among Canada’s best-loved foods.   Please, a show of hand on those of you who have sampled this?   It is likely to think that it sounds, well, disgusting.  One of our “virgin” taste testers used that exact word along with the gagging motion.  Poutine was invented in 1957 in a small town in Quebec . In recent years, it has rapidly widened its range.  We put a few variations to the test.  The Classic that I described above, second was Poutine avec Hamburger and the ultimate winner on our list was Poutine with duck confit (confit de canard).   
These days, Poutine is on practically every menu in Canada including some well known US food chains such as Burger king.  Every time I drive by a “Cantine” in Canada it is the main dish on each table.  So I guess the Canadians are not afraid of the nutritional value!?  Below is the nutritional value of a small poutine which is about the amount of a small fry. 

 

 

 

Nutrition Facts

Burger King – Poutine

Servings: 1 poutine1 container (332 poutines ea.)

Bottom of Form

Calories 750 Sodium 2720 mg
Total Fat 42 g Potassium 0 mg
Saturated 19 g Total Carbs 74 g
Polyunsaturated 0 g Dietary Fiber 6 g
Monounsaturated 0 g Sugars 3 g
Trans 11 g Protein 19 g
Cholesterol 75 mg    

 

If you are interested in trying a classic dish from Canada…I have attached a recipe for the Poutine avec confit de canard.  If you are going to go for it…go for the best one! 

4 side-dish servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 large Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped thyme
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup good-quality seasoned demi-glace (a rich sauce base; may substitute chicken gravy) Poutine sauce sold at most  Canadian grocery stores can be used. 
  • 1/4 cup of swiss cheese chopped in bite size squares
  • 4 ounces warm duck confit, pulled apart (optional)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Lightly grease a shallow roasting pan or rimmed baking sheet.

Scrub the potatoes well and cut into 1/4-inch-thick batons. Toss them in a bowl with the thyme and oil; season with salt and pepper to taste. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring the potatoes once or twice to keep them from sticking, until they are crisp and nicely browned.

While the potatoes are roasting, bring the demi-glace to a boil over medium-high heat in a small saucepan, stirring constantly. Adjust seasonings to taste. Reduce the heat to low and keep warm.

Place the cheese, to taste, and the duck confit, if using, in a large bowl. Add the roasted potatoes and toss to combine. Divide among individual plates and drizzle with the warm demi-glace. Serve warm.

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Dark Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I remember eves dropping on the VHF while in Vanuatu and the topic was all about cookies.  Yeah, I admit it…I eves drop sometimes.  But, it was funny to hear these two ladies in a serious conversation about cookies they found in the local store.   There are certain things you must have on a boat and good cookies is one of them.   I learned that hard way.  At one time in our trip I found myself in a cookie predicament.  We ran out!  The cookies in town, or what this island would consider a town, had only stale vanilla creams.  “EEWWWAAA!”, said Seanna as we walked through the isle.  She turned around and said  “Mom, we could make them.  I have a recipe in my Mouse Cookies and More book on the boat”.  So we abandoned our cookie expedition and went home to make our own.  We didn’t have chocolate chips so we decided to use Seanna’s favorite Dark Chocolate bar and chop them into chunks.  This went over so well that we continued to make these dark chocolate chunk cookies.  Of course, while we make them, we always read the book which makes us crave that hot, fresh, cookie with milk even more. 

Seanna’s Dark Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Makes about 12 cookies

1 cup of flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

pinch of salt

1/2 softened butter (this is a must)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

1 egg

2 regular sized dark chocolate bars chopped

Pre heat oven to 350.  In a bowl, whip together the butter, vanilla, sugar and brown sugar until smooth.  Add the egg and continue to mix till light and fluffy.  Gradually add flour to the mixture until incorporated.  Stir in Chocolate chips. 

I use a small bowl of water next to me to keep my hands from sticking to the mixture while I make the balls.  Place balls on a cookie sheet, spacing them well apart to give them room while baking.  I flatten the balls down before placing them in the oven.  Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or till you see they are just golden brown around the edge and top.  Enjoy!

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Off the beaten path… Orinoco Delta, Venezuela

Orinoco Delta Adventure

We have just spent the two most magical weeks in the Orinoco Delta located in Venezuela.  I know, you are scratching your head because we were supposed to be in Tobago.   We met a few friends at the dock in Trinidad that were headed to the Orinoco Delta and after going back to the boat to find out what and where this place was, we were ready to go.  We set sail early Wednesday morning with two other boats; Stewart and Sheila on Imagine and Paul and Maureen on Calypso.  It was a short 50 mile run to the mouth of the river and made it there before 4pm.  I will try to keep this short but if anyone wants me to send them the daily emails I sent to my family, that were much more detailed, let me know.  The Orinoco delta was listed on the 1000 natural wonders of the world and is posted on the National Geographic site and for good reason.  Although this is Venezuela, the inhabitants in this area are Warao (Wad-OW) Indians which have their own language.  They live in open huts (survivor style) with only hammocks for each family member stung up.  What I realized later, when I visited a friend I made in one of the villages, is that this is all they have plus a small Tupperware of some sort to hold papers and special items.  They are rich with family and nature but lack bare necessities.  As we cruised by these sparse villages scattered through out the many creeks, tons of these little canoes which they dug out by hand from a big log would come out filled with kids and parents to bring gifts.  These gifts were ranging from handmade necklaces, baskets, bowls, and hand carved wooden boats.  In exchange we would give them what they needed; such as clothing, ointments, toys, food, and bags.  The parents loved us since they really needed children’s clothing and, I have to say, I am loaded with beautiful baskets all over my boat.  The Warao Indians are the nicest people I ever meet!  “Danny” from the Wanamacana village gave us a personal tour of his “Casa” and villagers.  He was the only person we met that spoke fluent Spanish (I did my best).  Most of the Warao Indians don’t know how to read or write but some are educated in the Spanish language (the men) so they can take a boat to a near by, up river, factory and work.  We met a lady in the village who made hammocks and could resist buying one.  It took her 30 days to make ours.  I could go on and on but I haven’t even started on the wild life…  Every day the wildlife changed.  We started our trip surrounded by Scarlet Ibis.  They are birds that resemble the flamingo but much smaller.  They are Scarlet red and just burst with radiant color against the greenery.  It is quite a jaw dropper when you see them.  Just beautiful!  During the entire trip we did daily 6am tours down small tributaries to explore.  During the first couple days we saw screecher monkeys, fresh water dolphins, parrots and one mystery water creature.  Howler monkeys were constantly growling in the forest but couldn’t see them.  As we went deeper into the jungle the wild life changed again.  Toucans, parrots and birds everywhere!  At one time I was sitting in the front of the boat a Toucan flew just a few feet in front of my face to cross the river.  The tributaries were like getting on a ride at Disney.  As soon as you would enter it was a different world.  At times we would cross areas that were filled with buttercup colored butterflies that were also crossing the river like a mass exodus.  The last tour of our trip we finally encountered a family of howlers in a tree that was only branches.  Giving us a full view of these magnificent creatures and watched them for over an hour.  To top that off we watch the family of Toucans.  There were at least 50 of them flying over head and hopping along the branches. 

Needless to stay, we didn’t jump into the water much since they have piranhas and crocodiles so we can’t wait to find a beach but the kids loved it.  They loved the monkeys and macaws the best.  Merric was so excited to find a Toucan.  Seanna was a celebrity here.  All the Indians and animals loved her and wanted to touch or talk to her.  She took it all in stride until this one big bird started to chase her and a monkey kept pulling on her dress.  I got it all on video!!! 

You should look this place up online (Google it!)  Orinoco Delta, VZ.  They will have a more details on what I missed. 

I am glad we made the detour from Tobago and headed south.  This trip will live fondly in my memory bank for the rest of my life. 

Michele

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Hummus with a kick

Hummus

This recipe is one that I used the most while cruising.  Anyone who has come to visit has sampled this since it was something I always had on hand.  One of my friends who is in Vanuatu just emailed me and asked how I made my hummus.  Why not share it with everyone else?

 1 can of chickpeas (reserve liquid)

1/2 lemon juiced

1 small garlic clove

2 Tbs Tahini butter ( if you have it, if not, just continue)

1 Tbs olive oil

1 tea of Cumin

dash of hot pepper flakes (optional)

salt and pepper to taste

In a blender or food processor first chop up garlic then add chickpeas.  Add enough liquid to get the balls rolling….  Add tahini butter, lemon juice, olive oil and seasonings.  Blend till it reaches your desired texture.  The end results will depend on you.  I like my hummus smooth so I would add enough liquid to blend it creamy and smooth but still thick enough to dip a carrot stick and come up with a nice amount sticking to it.  This could take about a minute or two extra depending on your machine.  Serve with fresh pita, crackers, veggies or whatever you have on board.  Enjoy!

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