Friday, September 26, 2014

Liebster!?! Laughing. Landed. Lobbed.

galleywenchtales cruiser activities
Paul of s/v Kelly Nicole pens a wickedly funny,
Liebster-worthy blog, Latitude 43.
What do you do when the funniest sailing blogger says, "Tag, You're it!"  Run?

Naw... you warn your readers (ummm, yeah... my own Mom doesn't even know when I post unless I tell her).... You'd better grab a pair of Depends or drain your bodily fluids before reading Latitude 43 (, because you'll laugh so hard you'll pee in your pants.  Thanks to Paul's landing the Liebster Award, more surfers will find the world a funnier place.
paul s/v kelly nicole
Paul -- this is all your fault!

The intent of the Liebster award is to encourage more readership of pathetically unfollowed blogs (like mine).  How?  Each Liebster Awardee then 

  • proudly displays a Liebster award logo, then 
  • pays it forward in their post with
  • links to their 5 (some say 11) bloggers of choice, and 
  • a set of 9 11 questions for them to answer in their post. 
It's the internet version of a chain letter, though you can at least safely read it without getting tagged.  Those of you selected in this Liebster Award (Always GoBrightwater, Evening EbbHeronRuffianhowever, are now officially tagged!  You too now possess the dubious honor of paying it forward.

The questions that follow came from Paul....
    Wayne's Dad Phil, with us
    on a sunny day in Everett.
    When did you first catch the sailing/cruising bug?
    It's all our parent's fault, right?  Not my folks; They're homebodies who are practically allergic to water.  They think I'm nuts.  However, Wayne's Dad introduced him to cruising years prior, in Mexico.  Fast forward ~25 years.  A couple sunshine state kids, we were feeling woefully sun-starved when we spun the compass the wrong way and moved North, from Portland OR to Everett WA.  We were figuring a foot in the door with Boeing there would provide a pathway to Boeing's sunnier Charleston facility.  Wrong.  Instead, we moved right smack in the middle of what is euphemistically called a "convergence zone".  Translation?  The crappiest, wettest, grayest, iciest weather in the area.  The year we left there were a total of 14 out of 365 days the temperature reached 70 degrees or higher and the sun shone.  Of course, the weather improved dramatically as soon as we left.  There was a converse relationship between Wayne's pay (good) and his job satisfaction (or lack thereof).  Wayne suggested cruising as an affordable escape, presented me with a copy of Beth Leonard's "Voyager's Handbook."  The plan went from "Let's leave in 5 years... to 3 years ... to 2 years ... to 'Let's find a boat we can leave on now.'"  We did.   
  2. Describe your worst repair or maintenance job on the boat besides the head. Everyone already knows that’s a shitty job.
    Hmmm.  Good question, Paul.  Captain orders me to walk the plank, errr, get off the boat when he does repairs.  Let's just say he's not one to whistle while he works and we have some inkling of the inspiration for the phrase "swear like a sailor."  He's promised to make a rare "appearance" on this Galley Wench Tales blog and spill the beans on his worst boat maintenance or repair job.  Watch for an update, or the comments section.
  3. If you could turn back time just 3 years what would your cruising life be like today? If I could turn back time just 5 minutes I would have asked a different question because now I have that stupid Cher song in my head.
    Paul, first off, listen to Zappa -- he will kill any earworm -- even Cher.  Seriously. Promise.
    My biggest regret is not tapping into the Seattle women's sailing community earlier and assertively developing my sailing skills in a more female-friendly learning environment before we set sail.  Let's just say it would've improved our sailing harmony our first year out considerably.  After that?  Invest earlier in Lonely Planet guidebooks for our planned destinations.  We started doing that last year and it paid off.  Cruising guidebooks are designed more for water and places more popular with the herds than quirky, inexpensive finds off the beaten track.  Combing TripAdvisor comments on activities is also often helpful.  Led us to some great otherwise hard-to-find spots on Eleuthera.
  4. Music soothes the soul. Do you listen to music onboard? What type of music and on what media? If it’s 70’s disco please decline the award and I’ll remove you from my feed. Just kidding. Feel free to add a mirror ball to the salon and dance all night long. I don’t judge. Much.
    Did I mention Zappa?  Does being tortured by being in earshot of bad karaoke count?  Seriously, our DVD player died, something we're rectifying by replacing it with one with jacks to plug in iPods this year.  On watches, I'm partial to podcasts, but that's probably because we just didn't plan our iTunes music transfer from DVDs well.  The umpteenth time of a favorite song on a long passage begins to become a hit from hell otherwise.
  5. Was there ever a time on the water when you thought "Oh shit!" and all the fun was over for that day?
    Just one?  Our top 3
    1) Seeing our mizzen mast turnbuckle part while underway
    2) Encountering our first squall leaving Great Inagua, and not knowing how to handle it, and shredding our sails in the process.  It took us over 400 miles before we were able to fix them.
    3) Then there was that day, that grounded us for 6 weeks....
    All of those happened our first year (plus a few more).  Last year we fared much better.  Dumb luck or skill / more shipshape boat?  We sure hope it's the latter!
  6. Wine, beer, booze or tea? Doesn't matter to me. I get high on life. 
    Uhhh.  What's the question?  Sundowners, sipping something, anything, together in the cockpit, watching the sun set over the water's tough to beat regardless of the libation.
  7. Has there ever been a destination you couldn't wait to arrive at only to be disappointed when you got there?
    None.  Thanks to an under-developed imagination, I generally have no expectations... leaving me with none to dash.  Well, the Florida Keys as a lot of folks rave about them.  Maybe we weren't sure where to go.
  8. What part of cruising do you dislike the most besides no flushing toilets or bloggers asking stupid questions?
    Showers that unless I finish with a head still full of shampoo, are interrupted 3 times by my husband who considers using more than 2 1/2 gallons total for all our water daily including drinking, dishwashing and showers to be excessive.  Thus my spoof: "All I want for Christmas is a long hot shower."  Even though I'm Jewish, Wayne ponied up the princely sum of $4 for me to indulge in a Christmas shower in St. Martin at a rare marina stop where our rigging was getting redone.  Just for peace, I bought a saltwater shampoo, which began with buckethead shampoos (which came with the side benefit of nasal enemas) and advanced to dinghy dunks.  Sorry, Mom.  I  do miss you when I'm cruising, but I don't stink on a daily basis because of it, so you didn't get the #1 "miss."
  9. Describe the best time you ever had on a boat unless it was illegal, then just email me.  Hmmm suffice to say it was among consenting adults, and I've been scolded for TMI.  Despite my supposed restraint, Google Adwords still banned me for "too much adult content."  So, just picture a diplomatic Disney fade.... Ok, one story with some specifics.  We'd chartered a boat out of the San Juans, and on a surprisingly warm day minding each other's business in the middle of nowhere, we discovered minke whales are voyeurs, or at least very curious about intriguing boat noises.  In that moment of coitus interruptus, we had a hard time deciding between finishing what we started or taking whale photos.  Thanks to the minke's ferociously bad breath from rotted plankton, we ended up doing neither.  Our own forever memorable romantic comedy, with the emphasis on the comedy.
galleywenchtales  cruiser activities

Passing the baton (in alph order, check out these bloggers)

galleywenchtales  cruiser activities
And your questions are....
  1. What do you tell those fascinated horrified folks who naively ask, "What cruising's like?"
  2. Describe your most magical cruising moment. 
  3. What keeps you awake at night?
  4. What do you absolutely positively know you're doing (or not doing) that's totally and completely stupid, but....
  5. What movie(s) or book(s) should every cruiser pirate watch or read?
  6. What's your best tip(s) for kissing and making up?
  7. Do you have tan lines?
  8. If you could be king (or queen) for the day, what would you use your power to change? (Which may overlap the answer to question #9)
  9. Who should never, ever consider cruising?
  10. What's surprised you most?
  11. What's next?

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Landlubber Laments

Guadeloupe's River Sallee
sunrise, my favorite
cruising sunrise so far.
In just two months, we'll begin moving back aboard our boat.  By December 1st, we will cease our land-lubbing life for a long, long time as we await that first good weather day to begin our trek into the South Pacific.

Undeniably, life in the mere 150 or so square feet aboard is challenging. Nonetheless, here's my 

Top 10 list of what I miss most from living aboard

  1. Sunrise.  Yes, the sun also rises off the boat, but the 360 degree sunrise from our boat is breathtaking.   Somewhere off an unseen horizon, from our ground-level apartment, sunrise is just another day.
  2. Privacy.  No adjoining walls with neighbors who smoke. No repair folks popping in at inopportune times to fix clogged sinks, address the mushrooms growing from water leaks (seriously!), leaky toilets and showers, deliver mail, etc.
  3. Quiet.  No yapping dogs.  No 2 am music so loud it vibrates the entire building. No neighbor's conversations penetrating the thin walls of our apartments.  Instead the sound of the sea, the wind, the birds. And, this year, no clanking halyards inside our main mast.
  4. Unstructured Time.  What will we do when Wayne's no longer working 6 days a week?  We can hardly wait!

    cruising life
    Wayne snaps a selfie while the autopilot
    steers us through the Bahamas Banks.

  5. Cheap transportation.
    Jacksonville, FL is geographically the largest city in the US and the mass transit system traversing it is woefully inadequate.  Living in a decent area, working and just getting things done is difficult to do carless here.  While cruising, walking and busses are far less convenient than owning a car, but between insurance, gas, maintenance and repairs and more, we averaged at least $300/month in car expenses.  
  6. Cockroach-free environment. On land. we're in easy flight / crawl range of a steady supply of these unwelcome armor-plated invaders.  While Florida living markedly improved my skill at ruthlessly meat-malleting these critters into their afterlife in a most un-zen-like fashion, they're much less of an issue when we're at anchor.  What few strays make it aboard, the Harris tablets take care of.  When that doesn't work, boat bombs are very effective.
  7. V-berth mattress.   Even if though I curse our boat bed's pie-shaped foot, where Wayne I battle for dominance -- errr -- cuddle and share, the 18" at its foot, our boat's "bedder than ever" mattress is much more comfortable than our apartment's.
  8. Getting rocked to sleep.  It's nice.  Maybe we're never truly intended to outgrow it.
    current cut eleuthera cruising life
    Handsome rooster strutting at
    Current Cut BAHAMAS.
  9. Adventure:  Manatees.  Dolphins.  Sharks.  Whales.  Storms.  Strange new lands and customs (and goats and roosters).  We never know what we'll encounter.  Oddly, we like that. 
  10. Sunset.  Again, that 360 degree sunset view is stunning, and, it's a when both take time out to appreciate the end of another amazing day together.

What will I most miss from our landlubbing?

  1. Talking to friends and family.  It's a lot harder to reach out and touch the ones you love when it's an expensive international call or none at all.  Skype and similar programs require robust internet, even for voice only.  And it's hard to give and get hugs when you're separated by thousands of miles.  Virtual hugs are not the same.
  2. High speed, unlimited internet.
  3. Irresponsibly long, hot showers.  That doesn't happen when the daily goal for all water use is 2 1/2 gallons for everything for the two of us ... drinking water, cooking dishwashing, and of course, personal hygiene.
    cruising life live aboard boat maintenance and repair
    Wayne, carefully positioned in our v-berth
    as he inspects our boat's anchor locker.
  4. Personal space.  Our apartment's just a one bedroom, but it's a lot bigger than 150 square feet! As our friend, Allen owner of Incommunicado, another Pearson 365 sailboat, quips, "There's two rooms on a Pearson -- inside and outside."  Stepping outside does not require a dinghy.  There are bigger boats, but our Pearson fits our budget, and we trust its seaworthiness better than many boats with nicer living areas and room for "an caves."  Any cruiser who claims they get along 100% of the time with their partner while cruising is either delusional or lying.
  5. Headroom in our bedroom.  It was nice not thunking anything getting into out of or simply moving around in bed.  Infer from that what you will.
  6. Fresh produce.  Riverplace Arts Market, with a wonderful, affordable selection of farm-fresh produce was just a 15-minute walk away, every Saturday.  Not to mention the ready availability of anything and everything else in the land of plenty -- including anything for our boat at my West Marine employee discount price.
  7. SunRay Theater (and culture and art in general).  Date night at the movies!  Just a few blocks from home.  
Fellow cruisers, what's on your love / hate list of living aboard?  Cruiser wanna-bes or those of you who would never consider cruising, what would be on your list?

Location Location
cruising life
Our Pearson 365 sailboat on the hard
at Green Cove Springs, awaiting
a bottom job, the water and us.
Temporarily land bound in Jacksonville, FL, USA.  Journey’s on the hard in Green Cove Springs (N29.58.9 W81.38.8) until hurricane season ends in November.  Then we'll provision, do some boat maintenance, repairs and upgrades and set sail for the South Pacific, through the Panama Canal.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Rum Cay Benne Cake

rum cay bahamas cruising destination
Benne cake, a sesame cookie steeped in African tradition.
This benne cake from Rum Cay's locals market was
festooned with peanuts. too, 
Rum Cay, Bahamas comes across as a forgotten child, left behind to fend for itself.  Except for a few Ex-Pat homes, nearly every place we saw looked as faded and threadbare as an abandoned movie set.... A storm-battered, free marina.  A few shanty-bars.  A restaurant (Ocean View, where the proprietor feasted upon land crabs with crunchy enthusiasm; passing up them up for a home-cooked meal wasn't an easy choice).    A take-away or two.  Homes.  A school.

This is not an island whose "culture" is Disneyfied for cruise ship passengers.  Fact is, not many folks stop by.  Rum Cay developers once had some ambitious plans for the place; now not much more than the signs remain. 

When we caught the sparse local market shortly before its 4 pm close, their benne cakes caught my eye -- a Bahamanian treat read about, but not as yet tried.  Rum Cay seemed like the perfect place to give this local fare a try; it unapologetically reeked authentic local food.  Besides, it was a mere $1.25 or thereabouts.  

West African in origin, this sesame seed based cookie tasted like a buttery Bit-O-Honey, but with the soft, yielding texture so common among comfort foods.  

Figuring benne cakes would make good passage-food nibblies, I found a recipe (click here for the benne cake recipe). Other than sesame seeds, the ingredients were typical cupboard stock. 

Since we keep a gluten-free kitchen (aka gluten-free galley), I substituted the flour for Bob's Red Mill gluten-free flour and the butter for coconut oil.  Despite the inclusion of xanathan gum in Bob's GF flour the neat little cookies all ran.  They were shaped more like soft brittle than cookies.  They tasted good, though, worthy of further experimenting, most likely with the flour substitute recipe from America's Test Kitchen's "How Can It Be iGluten Free" cookbook.

Sesame seeds are believed to bring good luck.  Betting when it comes to making a worthy gluten-free benne cake, they will.  Now that my cast is off, the time is ripe to continue expanding our gluten-free recipe repetoire, to know what hard-to-find ingredients to load up on for provisioning before we leave for the South Pacific.

Location Location
This is a recent retrospective of our mid-April 2014 time in Rum Cay, BAHAMAS (N23.38 W74.50).  Dilapidated or not, we were welcomed like family by Marcos and his friends at Rum Cay, one of the highlights of our time in the BAHAMAS.  Click here and here and here to read about our time with Marco and at Rum Cay.  We look forward to making more new friends with locals when we head into the South Pacific, setting sail in December.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Ragged Islands’ Kitchy “Cruiser Clubhouse”

cruising life, cruisers, cruising destination
Hog Cay party potluck by the crews of Holdfast, Discovery,
Amante, Andante, and Krazy Lady.
Allan Cay Pensacola’s tatty beach side shack, is waggishly dubbed the “Allan’s Cay Hilton” by some witty cruiser armed with a wet paintbrush.  Comparatively, Ragged Island Hog Cay’s set-up is the Ritz Carlton.

Dangerously shallow and remote, with storms clocking every possible direction over several days, Hog Cay is well beyond where most intrepid Bahamas cruisers cruise.  For those scrappier types who venture there, that’s part of the draw; -- its pristine beauty (though the Atlantic side was marred, like most beaches throughout the BAHAMAS, with multitudes of swept in with the tide from distant shores).

cruising life, cruisers, cruising destination, food
It's not a potluck without the food!
From Hog Cay, a trip into Duncan town -- population 70 -- the only “town” in the far-flung 110 mile island chain known as The Raggeds, is a choppy 45-minute ride each way with our dinghy’s puny 4-horsepower outboard motor.

Our first trip in provided ample entertainment for the locals when we mistook the shallow water stick for the entryway to the navigable dredged ditch through the mangroves into town.  We half paddled our way through the shallows bumping along through an extra low, low tide, discovering the way we should’ve taken after we arrived.

cruising life, cruisers, cruising destination
Newlyweds Ken & Louisa are all smiles.
Maxine, proprietor of the one minuscule grocery/drugstore in town (when she’s not too busy fishing), astutely built Hog Cay’s simple yet welcoming plen air enclave. This oddly homey outdoor rumpus room’s comprised simply… a makeshift driftwood framework with an open net ceiling adorned with clever cruiser “Calling cards,” scattered tables, benches, battered and makeshift chairs, a fire pit, a serving area, and a few solar lights. 

It’s the perfect magnet for cruisers ready for sundowners and other delightful social get-togethers on the beach. It’s clear from drums and junakanoo garb under the adjacent, small thatched roof stand, the locals enjoy this little getaway, too.  As cruisers, we may want to get away from it all, but necessarily each other, at least as long as we’re kindred enough spirits and not too big a crowd.  In fact, we were interlopers, still graciously included by small groups of “buddy boaters” (cruisers traveling together on separate boats).

cruising life, cruisers, cruising destination
The boys, busy solving the world's problems,
whilst Kathy responds skeptically
Beautiful, balmy Bahamanian days brought us together or Mah jong and cribbage (click here to to read about the instigator), potlucks, and hiking, a champagne toast to the newlyweds, tips on where to find conch (Raggeds are remote enough they are far less conched-out – at least for now) and enjoyable conversations about life in general, sharing a sunset at the end of a full and happy sun-drenched day….

Thank you Maxine, for creating a congenial play space where we connect in meaningful ways not only with nature, but also with each other, as heartfelt human beings.

cruising life, cruisers, cruising destination
Sampling of cruiser "calling cards" at Hog Cay.

Location Location
Recent retrospective from our time in Hog Cay, Ragged Islands, BAHAMAS (N22.14.920 W75.45.106), March 31 – April 5 2014.  Meanwhile, we’re temporarily land-bound in Jacksonville, FL, where our boat is on the hard at Green Cove Springs until November. We’re in the throes of planning our next big cruising adventure, to the South Pacific; lots of checklists! The countdown’s begun!