Cooking on a Boat   June 14, 2016

Be forewarned avid sailors, this blog is not about the rigors, adventures, or technical aspects of cruising. In my humble opinion, I think it’s a worthy topic because it is a necessity of cruising unless you’re a bare bones kind of sailor. This is also for my non-sailing friends who ask, “What do you eat on the water?” and “How do you cook?”
I mostly cook what I do at home except for baking cakes (although my fellow sailor friend is baking cake mixes and I did bring a mix). We are actually eating healthier because amazingly we are eating out less than at home, and I purposely have bought less junk food and more fresh fruits and vegetables.
First of all we do not have a microwave, and I do not miss it at all. I cook on a three burner with oven propane stove. We only have two electrical appliances-small coffee maker and a vacuum food sealer that I use when we have shore power. I toast in a non stick fry pan with a little butter. At sea I brew coffee in a French press. My can opener is a Pampered Chef manual that I also use at home. It’s truly amazing how few gadgets one needs to cook a delicious meal.
Weather plays a role in my meal planning. On cold days I bake bread, cook casseroles, and roast meats. On hot days I avoid the oven if at all possible. I have discovered two “how on earth have I survived without” items-a pressure cooker and a heat diffuser. The pressure cooker allows me to cook food faster which equals less propane and more importantly less heat! The diffuser is placed over the burner and diffuses the heat enabling simmering which is hard to do on the propane burners.
I had read on sail blogs and groups about cooking with a pressure cooker and how I should have a diffuser. My pressure cooker dates back to the days of S & H green stamps! I only use it at home to cook black eyed peas and hotdog chili. Thanks to Google and a pressure cooking cookbook, I can now bake potatoes, cook rice, and have plans to cook a roast. The baked potatoes were fluffy with tender skins and only took 20 minutes to cook. I may continue to cook them this way at home.
I kept meaning to search the Internet for a diffuser before we left but forgot with the myriad of other details needing to be done. As luck would have it, I stumbled upon one in a hardware store in Oriental, NC while James was shopping for bolts for one of his boat projects. It was only five bucks!

Pressure Cooker and Diffuser

Time to Sail into Retirement

After 37 1/2 years at Eastman, I will join Sandra in retirement on Jan. 1st, 2016 and we will set sail.  We plan on leaving early May 2016 from Charleston, SC and sail north towards Long Island Sound.  I have no idea how long it will take, but no problem, we are retired!

trip 2105
Here are our initial plans for next year:

-Participated in Southern Collegiate Offshore Regatta on Ragtime (see post)
-Participate in Charleston Race Week in April, three 23-mile races offshore in 3 days
-Leave Charleston early May 2016
-Sail to New Bern, NC to join our friends Rob and Minta Fannon who recently purchased a Catalina 42 sailboat
-Sail around the Outer Banks and Chesapeake Bay for an undetermined amount of time
-Possibly sail up the Potomac to Washington DC area
-Go up the Chesapeake Delaware Canal/Delaware River/Cape May
-Out along New Jersey Coast to New York Harbor and spend a few weeks in NY City
-Up the Hudson River
-Down the Hudson/New York City then to Long Island Sound

Back in Charleston

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

We are back in Charleston Harbor Marina cleaning Ragtime.  After docking at 4:45 am on Monday morning, we managed to sleep for about 4 hours before having to get up to get Matt to the airport.  Needless to say after eating lunch with Rob and Minta, we were worthless.  James took a nap that extended into bedtime.  I took a mini nap and then had several long phone calls with my “besties.”  🙂

Today was the backbone cleaning day.  James washed everything on top, cleaned out the locker, and made multiple phone calls to the marina office regarding our slip.  While we were gone, a different boat was put in our adjoining slip.  We were unsure if we could both fit into the slip, but with help from the marina, we managed to put Ragtime back into E34. We had docked on the A Dock extension on Monday morning because of the tidal current.  I cleaned out the refrigerator, pantry, began packing, plus did laundry.

While packing the multitude of clean clothes that we never even wore, I fully realized I had over packed!  The winter clothes that were sent home with Rob and Minta had all been worn, so I did ok in that department.   I thought we would need more summer clothes because we would sweat more, but it turns out that I was able to wash at least once a week.  Like a dog and a fire hydrant, I never passed up a laundry.  Note to self for future trips:  a week’s worth of clothing is enough.  When I am on the water, I don’t worry about wearing shirts and shorts multiple times.  Just give me plenty of undies!!!  As I was folding HOT clothes from the dryer, I reminded myself that commercial dryers do not seem to have a low setting no matter what the button says.  For future trips, I will rethink bringing tops that say to dry on low.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

We are leaving today.  After hitting it hard for two days, we have cleaned and put Ragtime to “sleep” for a few months.  We plan to have her hauled out for a bottom job this summer.  There are also numerous small repair projects that we left in the hands of our capable boat management guy, Mallory.  We will not be back until the end of August when we will be back for a wedding.  We both have mixed emotions as we leave Charleston.  It has been a great 11 weeks, but there are portions of our lives that we definitely miss back in Kingsport on dry land.

While we were gone, they made significant progress on the new restaurant at the marina.  Fish House is slated to open the end of the month which is tomorrow.  I don’t think they will make their deadline but maybe next week.  There is also a marina store adjoined to the restaurant.  We will look forward to checking them both out in August.

Fish House Restaurant

Fish House Restaurant

Marina Store

Marina Store

Florida Keys

Monday, May 6, 2013

Today is my birthday.  I cannot think of a better way to spend it than on the water except if my friends and family could be with me to share this day.  I had said last week that I would like to be in Marathon, FL for my birthday, and it’s going to happen.  James is planning to take me out to eat tonight, and I will be able to get a hot shower with unlimited water!  I’ve not had one of those in going on two weeks.  YAY!!!  Isn’t it amazing how when you do without, the little things become big things.  Living simple is one of the aspects I like about sailing/cruising. Not that I don’t like flush toilets, unlimited hot water, a large refrigerator where everything stays the temperature it’s supposed to be, and Internet access whenever I want it.  Doing without makes me appreciate more what I have, and I enjoy the idea of leaving a small footprint on our planet.

Crandon Park Marina

Crandon Park Marina

Saturday morning we left Crandon Marina after topping off our fuel tanks (they have the cheapest diesel in the Miami area), and sailed south to No Name Harbor, again.  The last time we were there it was quiet with only a handful of sailboats and one or two motorboats.  Not this time.  It was crowded and noisy with motorboats of all sizes and kinds along with a few more sailboats than before.  The motorboats came and went all day along with their very loud music.  The majority of the boats had multiple girls in their requisite bikinis.  James and I had decided that it was pre-Cinco de Mayo celebrating, but a fellow cruiser said it was just a typical Saturday.  There was a cool breeze which made it nice to sit in the cockpit and people/boat watch.  James also wanted to watch as other boaters anchored near us.  When they got too close, he would give his very concerned look causing more than one to change their anchoring spot.  One large cruiser became our central entertainment.  First he came in and made multiple attempts to dock at the seawall at the pump out station with his bikini clad girlfriend who didn’t have any idea what to do with the boat hook.  Finally they managed to tie up with some help.  They pumped out and then proceeded to anchor behind us.  Later in the day they decided to move and had great trouble anchoring to the extent of banging their anchor into the sailboat behind us.  The girlfriend was helpless as they guy would run up to the bow and then back to the helm.  Actually he wasn’t running which was part of the problem.  We had decided he had too much drink.  When he tried to anchor beside us, James suggested he move further up where there was more room.

No Name Harbor at sunrise

No Name Harbor at sunrise

The next morning we arose around daybreak to begin our sail down the keys with our ultimate destination –Key West.  With little difficulty we followed the “breadcrumbs” we had lain with our GPS several days ago along the Cape Florida Channel to Hawks Channel.  Once in Hawks Channel we raised the sails and sailed at a good clip of 7 knots all the way to Rodriguez Key.  It was a gorgeous sailing day…perfect temperature and wind.  Our first anchorage slipped at Rodriguez necessitating raising the anchor and trying again.  Thankfully the second time we got a good hold because the wind howled at about 15 knots all night.  James had set his usual anchor alarm and got up several times during the night to check on our holding.  We should have slept in the aft cabin in retrospect because we rolled and flopped around in the V berth like we were on a night sail.  I must say I’ve had better sleeps.

Again we arose around daybreak and were under way by 7:00 am.  It was an overcast windy day with temperatures in the high 60’s for most of the morning.  We dressed in long sleeves for the first time in a month.  I had been concerned that it might be too hot in the keys; this was totally unexpected!

Cool Sailing Day

Cool Sailing Day

Last week James had asked what I wanted for my birthday.  I had replied to be in Marathon.  My birthday wish was coming true as we motored into Marathon Marina in Boot Key about 5:00 pm.  After the usual settling into the dock and showers, we walked to 7 Mile Grill for my birthday dinner.  We had hamburgers…not fancy but appropriate.  My mother always cooked us our favorite meal for our birthdays.  Mine was always hamburgers!  We brought their famous Key Lime pie back to the boat for later.  James surprised me with a candle that he had weaseled out of the waitress.  He proceeded to light it and sing “Happy Birthday” to me.

Marathon Marina

Marathon Marina

We slept in on Tuesday morning and took it easy that morning.  Marathon Marina has the best Wi-Fi yet from any marina so we took advantage.   In the afternoon we walked to West Marine (sailors find it difficult to bypass) and then took a $5 taxi ride to Publix.  While I was putting away our groceries, another sailboat came into the slip near us.  Several of the men on the dock began helping them dock as they were having difficulty.  The Island Packet’s new owners of less than a week are Paul and Paulette, Canadians who are working in the Netherlands at the moment.  They had hired Captain Blaine, a licensed yacht captain, to assist them in sailing their new boat to West Palm Beach where it is to be shipped to Barcelona, Spain.  Captain Blaine is a character who invited to go to Pirates Karaoke at the bar and grill down the street.  It was a fun time listening to some rather good singers and others who were really bad but had a fun deprecating humorous attitude. Capt. Blaine being one of the good singers goaded us as a group into singing.  After numerous rounds of drinks, we agreed to sing “Love Shack”.  It was quite comical.  I was glad it wasn’t being recorded!

"Table 52"

“Table 52”

On the way to Marathon we came by Tennessee Reef which was a surprise.  Of course I had to Google it to find out more information.  In the late 20’s and early 30’s several non-manned lighthouses were built to mark the reefs along the Florida coast.  Tennessee Reef Light was constructed in 1933. It is the only one to still have its Fresnel lens and lights.

TN Reef Light...James' artistic photography

TN Reef Light…James’ artistic photography

TN Reef on chart

TN Reef on chart

TN Reef Light

TN Reef Light

Waiting for Weather

Thursday, May 2, 2013 We are now at Crandon Park Marina in Miami, Fl.  Our plan was to leave for the keys yesterday from No Name Harbor which is on the southerly tip of Key Biscayne, but the weather did not cooperate.  The forecast for Wednesday was lower winds which we had been waiting for, but a low front begat storms.  Monday morning appeared to be ok for traveling, but as the day progressed the weather deteriorated.  After weathering torrential rains, we are glad we have waited.  The next good weather window looks to be Saturday or Sunday.  If we had to wait out the storms, we decided we would like to have electricity, plenty of water, and a laundry.  Crandon Park has these amenities, but unfortunately the showers are cold.  I mean literally, there is no hot water.  With unlimited water and electricity at the dock, we can shower on the boat.  Not quite the same as a hot shower on land but will have to do, and the price is right.

Our bus stop under the coconut trees

Our bus stop under the coconut trees

Today we decided we would take a city tour of Miami.  After studying the bus transit map, we walked to the entrance of the marina, crossed the road to the bus top to wait for the bus that is supposed to come every 20 minutes.  As we were crossing the road, a patrolman told us that that bus stop had been eliminated and that we would have to walk across the bridge to the next stop.  It looked to be about ½ mile so off we went.  At the next stop, there was a sign stating that that bus stop was also not on the route any longer.  Ok, we then walked another ¼ of a mile to the next stop.  By the way, all this time not a single bus has passed on either side of the road.  About 30 minutes later a bus finally rolls up that took us downtown.

Metromover

Metromover

Once downtown we caught the Metromover which is kind of cool.  First of all it is free and is a small train that moves on tires on a track without a driver.  It is computer controlled.  It reminded me of the trains that the Dauntless rode in the book Divergent.   We didn’t get on the right loop at first, so we got off and caught another one.  After getting off, we then walked about several blocks to Bayfront Park where we bought tickets for the Red Bus City Tour.  It had only taken us about 2 hours to get there!  Not a very efficient use of our time this morning.  Oh, well we certainly have time to spend at the moment.  The tour had two parts, downtown and the beach.  First we did the downtown and then came back and caught the bus for the beach tour.  The buses are double-decker so of course we sat on top for the first tour, but by the time the second one started threatening rain clouds had formed so we chose a seat inside.  As soon as the bus took off, the rains came in sheets!!! The bus leaked like a sieve.  Water dripped through the light fixtures, ran down the steps from above, and coursed down the floor.   The guide passed out plastic ponchos.  It was all very comical.  We could hardly see out the windows for the condensation and the hard rain.  Many of the streets in South Beach were flooded.  It was a much different South Beach than we had seen last week.

The Miami Tower also called the "cake layered building"    Lights up at night with changing colors for the holiday, etc.

The Miami Tower also called the “cake layered building” Lights up at night with changing colors for the holiday, etc.

Playing dominoes in Little Havana

Playing dominoes in Little Havana

South Beach restaurants

South Beach restaurants

Flooding in South Beach

Flooding in South Beach

We decided to splurge on a taxi to come back.  I am in my jammies, and James is taking his pre-bedtime nap.  Tomorrow is another day.

Coconut Grove/Sunday, April 28, 2013

We have now been to two marinas that have pump out at each slip that you do yourself.  I was impressed when I heard that at the first marina in Fort Lauderdale.  How convenient…no need to go to the pump out dock.  Now I am remembering that do it yourself is not always all that great.  At the first marina, they had misplaced the hose, so we had to wait until the next day.  When we tried to get the hose then, the office was closed early.  After a phone call, they promised we could do it at the pump out station the next morning before we left.  We ended up needing to leave earlier than they were open so we skipped emptying our holding tanks.  With two heads on our boat, we can function ok if one tank gets full.  Now we are three days later at Dinner Key Marina where once again they flout dock side pump outs.  The marina has 582 slips and only two hoses…one 25 feet long and one 15 feet.  We finally managed to secure a hose today.  One tank was overflowing, and I had the lovely pleasure of opening the valve and holding the hose while James had to be on the dock and press the button.  We pumped both holding tanks and then when we put the hose in the water to clean out, the pumping station quit necessitating a phone call to the marina office.  I’ve concluded that I would rather have them pump me out at a station…certainly more reliable.

This afternoon we walked into Coconut Grove.  I left James at the Coconut Grove Yacht Club “strange talking” with some sailors about sailing through the Keys.  After a bit of window shopping, I actually bought a dress that was on sale (the only kind of shopping I really like) that I think I might wear to a wedding later this summer.  James then met up with me, and we shared a meal and dessert at The Cheesecake Factory.   We skipped supper since we both were so full-even with sharing.  James walked the docks this evening while I colored my gray roots.  When he returned we ate popcorn and watched a movie on our computer.  Every day is not exciting.

Dinner Key Marina used to be the site of the PanAm Sea base.  I am copying James’ post on Facebook about this PanAm.

We spent the last few nights in Coconut Grove in Key Biscayne which is about 7 miles southwest of Miami.  The marina is Dinner Key, and it is huge. At one time is was the base of the PanAm clipper fleet. They needed sea planes because they serviced Cuba and South America which had no runways.  The old terminal is now used as part of Miami City Hall and one of the hangers is used for various city functions and in the filming of the TV show “Burn Notice”.

Miami City Hall

Miami City Hall

Dinner Key Marina

Dinner Key Marina

old PanAm base

old PanAm base

Ragtime at the marina

Ragtime at the marina

Dinner Key Marina and Refrigerator/Battery Problems

April 26, 2013

Yesterday afternoon we decided to go see a movie while we were on “land” for groceries.  After a quick scan of the movies at the 18 screen Regal Cinema, we decided to see “Oblivion” with Tom Cruise.  Even though I hadn’t heard of it, none of the rest sounded interesting, and Tom Cruise is always nice to look at!  It was an action packed sci-fi flick that was entertaining, and James was happy with his popcorn.

After the movie, we ate pizza at Pizza Rustica which was recommended by the Murdoch’s.  The pizza restaurant is located in the Lincoln Pedestrian Mall which was a fun place to eat.  The tables are outside so we could people watch while we ate and drank our wine served in little plastic cups.

Our last stop before returning to Ragtime was to buy the rest of the groceries we needed.  I had to do a spin through Whole Market just to look, although I did buy two loaves of their breads-Banana Chocolate Chip and Cranberry Orange Walnut.  Walking two blocks, we finished our serious shopping at Publix.  By the time we got to the dinghy, it was dark.  I was glad I remembered flashlights.  It was a peaceful ride home in the moonlight.

The weather has been wonderful the last few days…little or no humidity, low 80’s and nice breeze.  We have slept under the sheets with no fans-just the wind scoops bringing in the nightly breeze.

Anchored in Sunset Lake at sunset

Anchored in Sunset Lake at sunset

Today we left our pleasant anchorage at Sunset Lake and motored to Key Biscayne.  As I was cooking breakfast, I noticed that our refrigerator/freezer was not working.  We have a cold plate in our refrigerator box that freezes to keep everything cold.  If I put things next to the cold plate, it will freeze.  I noticed that the ice cubes were melting and the chicken that had been frozen was thawing.  And I had just restocked food last night!!!  James found someone on the Internet who works on boat refrigeration who would meet us at Dinner Key Marina.  The two guys showed up about an hour ago.  Amazing that we could find someone on a Friday at the last minute!  Fortunately there didn’t seem to be anything wrong with the fridge, but we still have issues with our battery bank and charger.  The guys were really nice and knowledgeable and only charged us $75. That’s cheaper than getting Kingsport Heat and Air to make a house call.  James learned more about how it works plus they checked out the Freon which was not low.

Here is a picture of my refrigerator.  It is about 16 inches by 24 inches by 28 inches.  I have two wire shelves that helps provides two levels along with plastic baskets to organize (one for produce, one for dairy, and one for small miscellaneous items).  Using a box refrigerator can really try your patience.  I alone am in charge of it, so I know where everything is.  Our motto on the boat is “A place for everything, and everything in its place.”  The motto goes double for the fridge.  Invariably I will need one item that is in the very bottom, so everything has to come out at least on that side.  The tricky part is a spot to put things while you are digging out of the bottom.  As you can see there is little countertop space.  The majority of my counter space is the top hinged opening sections of the fridge which means when you want in the fridge, everything has to be moved to one side.  I’ve also included a picture of our ice trays.  I have two trays, and they make big cubes.  I “harvest” the ice and store in a Ziploc bag in the bottom of the fridge next to the cold plate.  It works really well.  We’ve only bought ice a couple of times.

my galley (kitchen)

my galley (kitchen)

ice trays and harvested ice

ice trays and harvested ice

ice tray

ice tray

inside fridge

inside fridge

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Today James began troubleshooting our batteries and charger.  They were not operating correctly.  After a lengthy morning of checking things out and reading on the Internet, he decided we needed a new charger.  He walked the 1 ½ miles (one way) to West Marine and back while I did wash and housekeeping.  I liked my end of the chores better.  Now it seems to be working, so tomorrow we will pump out, take on water, fuel, do some “strange talking” with boaters from the neighboring yacht club about sailing to the keys, and then sail over to No Name Harbor to wait on the weather window.

It’s amazing how much “house” cleaning and clean clothes can make a boat feel good!  I’ve never appreciated clean clothes before like I do now.  I relish their smell!!!  I cooked bbq chicken, black-eyed peas, fried potatoes, and pasta salad for supper.  Our tummies are full; chores are done; broken stuff is fixed (for now)…we’re going to watch a movie.  Life is good!