Galley Tips and Recipes Feed


Recently a song by Sting keeps popping into my consciousness. “I’m an alien, I’m a legal alien. I’m an alien in New York.” It took me a while to figure out why.

We opted not to keep many kitchen appliances when we cut the dock lines. I don’t need a microwave, But I sometimes miss the toaster. During my trip to Maine I made breakfast for my cousins, and had to get lessons on how to use their state-of-the-art toaster. I don’t really ever want to move off the boat, but if we do, I’m springing for one of these babies.

On La Luna, we toast on a Camp-a-Toaster, which sits on one of the burners of our propane stove. I employ handy wooden tongs so that I don’t burn my fingers. EW bravely lets his digits flit close to the flame and hot metal. Of course, we have to keep careful watch while we toast. Different breads can tolerate higher flame, others will begin to char fairly quickly, and .. we have to turn the toast. Which brings me back to Sting.



Can you remember the first verse of “Englishman in New York”? Allow me to remind you:  

I don't drink coffee I take tea my dear
I like my toast done on one side
And you can hear it in my accent when I talk
I'm an Englishman in New York.

Do please note that my tea water is ready. I take tea, my de-ah.

Further research reveals that, while toast lovers on both sides of the Atlantic had to manually turn their toast over flame or when using the early electric models, many in Great Britain learned to enjoy their toast “half-done” or “done on one side” and still prefer it to this day. In fact, my cousins’ toaster was made in England and has a setting for I or II – they can toast their bread on one side if they so choose.

Aboard the boat, we can toast our bread on only one side, but I like a little crunch on both sides. I also like Sting’s  song – especially the lyrics in the later verses. Here are the lyrics, and here’s a link to Sting’s music video. Enjoy!

"Englishman In New York"

I don't drink coffee I take tea my dear
I like my toast done on one side
And you can hear it in my accent when I talk
I'm an Englishman in New York

See me walking down Fifth Avenue
A walking cane here at my side
I take it everywhere I walk
I'm an Englishman in New York

I'm an alien I'm a legal alien
I'm an Englishman in New York
I'm an alien I'm a legal alien
I'm an Englishman in New York

If, "Manners maketh man" as someone said
Then he's the hero of the day
It takes a man to suffer ignorance and smile
Be yourself no matter what they say

I'm an alien I'm a legal alien
I'm an Englishman in New York
I'm an alien I'm a legal alien
I'm an Englishman in New York

Modesty, propriety can lead to notoriety
You could end up as the only one
Gentleness, sobriety are rare in this society
At night a candle's brighter than the sun

Takes more than combat gear to make a man
Takes more than a license for a gun
Confront your enemies, avoid them when you can
A gentleman will walk but never run

If, "Manners maketh man" as someone said
Then he's the hero of the day
It takes a man to suffer ignorance and smile
Be yourself no matter what they say

I'm an alien I'm a legal alien
I'm an Englishman in New York
I'm an alien I'm a legal alien
I'm an Englishman in New York


NOTE:  After EW proofed this for me he asked, “What make you think of the Sting song?” “I don’t know,” I said. “I guess I just heard it recently and noticed the ‘toasted on one side’ line and it popped up when I was making breakfast.” Long pause. “Get it. Popped up?”  EW groaned.

I Yam What I Yam. Unless I'm a Sweet Potato

Here’s the ugly truth about staying in St. Thomas over the winter: for some reason they don’t import many of the wonderful fruits and vegetables available on the other, more fertile Caribbean islands. Instead, the grocery stores are full of carrots from Canada and apples from .. wherever one gets apples in March. There are a couple of stores who have better local produce, but you have to work for it.

When it comes to the sweet potato, we are definitely in the Caribbean. In Grenada, when in doubt, I learned to ask the market vendor, “Are those your  sweet potatoes or my  sweet potatoes?” We cruisers were the only tourists in Grenada during hurricane season, so the market vendors have gotten used to our strange ways, and simply smile and reply, “Yes, these are your sweet potatoes. Ours are over here.” In Maine, sweet potatoes have orange skins and orange flesh. In the Caribbean, sweet potatoes have kind of orange skin and white flesh and a lot more natural sugar. They also have a shorter shelf life, at least on a boat.

This was particularly distressing since EW twice brought home Caribbean sweet potatoes when I asked for North American sweet potatoes or yams. He swears on his guitar that the ladies in Red Hook assured him that the sweet potatoes were orange under their skin. I knew as soon as I opened the bag that he’d been had.




At the left are USA Yams – what my mom and dad always called sweet potatoes.

At right, Caribbean sweet potatoes. The skin may have some orange in it, but the flesh does not.





We recently shopped at a different grocery store – one we hadn’t discovered until now. They have a pretty good produce section with items imported from other islands, and South and North America. That store has the Caribbean sweet potatoes, labeled as Sweet Potatoes and sitting in a bin amongst ginger, dasheen, and other local staples. At the other end of the produce section, I found a bin appropriately labeled, “USA Yams”. Now that’s clear.

So of course, we should try the local sweet potato. I’ve been told that some prefer to steam it and others bake it. This seems to be a family thing, an either/or, sort of like making biscuits in Maine with either Bakewell Cream or baking powder. One does not do both. Well, I’ll probably try it both ways. Wonder if I can get EW to actually purchase Caribbean sweet potatoes on purpose?

Say “Goodbye” to Popcorn for Dinner (Mostly)

A few weeks ago, I was delighted to have a chance to talk on the phone with Lynnelle in Dallas and Rhoda in Santa Fe at the same time.  It allowed them to share a laugh at my expense, but I still say they were laughing at an uncharacteristic solution I developed to the problem of meal planning. I told them, “I just created an Excel spreadsheet for meal planning and I think it’s going to help a lot.” Instead of a “Good for you!” or at least an interested “Hmmmm”, I heard silence followed by two of my dear friends laughing at me. With her charming Dallas accent Lynnelle hooted, “Did she say spreadsheet?!”  “Yes!” said Rhoda, “Yes! She did! She said Excel spreadsheet!” and they laughed again.

OK, I admit that this act is not how I normally attack meal planning and provisioning – and that’s the problem! Before we left Maine, I took the wonderful SSCA (Seven Seas Cruising Association) provisioning course by Barbara Theisen. Then I declined to take the time to plan meals before provisioning. I still am not up to planning menus for 30 days. That’s just not going to happen. And when anchored in a harbor among cruisers, I have to be very flexible, as parties happen and frequently involve lots of appetizers and tapas that take us all through the dinner hour. Consequently, I stopped planning meals, and then would have no idea what to serve EW for dinner. He likes popcorn. Still.

While we were in St. Thomas, I reflected on my lack as a provisioner and chef. EW has never complained. Not once. But I know that we had popcorn for dinner many times in Grenada and that really isn’t acceptable to me. I also purchased way too many produce items that were subsequently tossed out after going bad. I needed to get better at this, and decided to tackle the problem while we were in St. Thomas. This is a real issue for many cruisers; after all, we can no longer stop by Beale Street Barbeque in South Portland and grab two bowls of their chili du jour to go – with Cole slaw on the side. Mmmmm. None of us are near our favorite take out option from home, and no one has yet delivered pizza while we are on the hook. Popcorn became the option when I didn’t feel like cooking.

Cookbooks aft 4-19-2012 3-53-20 PMSo, if popcorn is the result, what is really the problem? I like to cook (sometimes) and have tons of recipes and cookbooks on board. The challenge is to find a meal I wanted to make for which I had stuff on board. On hot Grenada afternoons,  I would languidly peruse recipe after recipe and think, “No, I don’t have that,” or “This needs to marinate 2hours.” And I would make popcorn.

Cookbooks forward 4-19-2012 2-56-02 PM

OK. So, lack of planning is the problem. What was the solution? That Excel spreadsheet. (Laugh if you will, but it’s working for us.) I spent an afternoon going thru my recipes, from cookbooks, cruising cookbooks, my files, and those shared by other cruisers through email. I pulled out twelve recipes that could be considered Quick Meals, and noted what ingredients they needed from my on-board stores and what ingredients were “special’ items, such as fresh veggies, protein, and perhaps a special cheese. On La Luna parmesan cheese is a staple, feta cheese would be a special item. Most of the Twelve Quick Meals only require a salad or some veggies. A few need special fresh veggies, such as broccoli, and chicken. My definition of “Quick” in the Twelve Quick Meals is that I can prepare it in the time it would take for EW to pick up a pizza – about 20-30 minutes.

Twelve Quick Meals 4-19-2012 3-54-18 PM



My plan is simple, with only two goals:

1. Every day, I will have on board all the ingredients for 3 of the 12 meals.

2. Each recipe must always make at least four servings.

That way, I can participate in a pot luck or have food for unexpected guests – or have left-overs for another meal. By only having three meals, I’m not purchasing too many veggies for the week and there is less waste. We don’t eat out a lot, and try to do so at lunch more than dinner. On days when we eat out at lunch, no dinner meal is required – except a salad, fruit, appetizer or, (OK) popcorn.  I also keep on hand a few items that allow me to make any of my staple five or six appetizers to share at impromptu sundowner parties.

I’ve been using this system for a month or more, and it works. I also added another spreadsheet with 10 not-so-quick meals, such as home made pizza, chicken satay, and fish tacos, and I try to keep stuff on board for two or three of those, as well. When the mood strikes and I’m feeling more creative, I’ll look through my recipes and cookbooks for something else. So far, we aren’t bored with the list and we are eating a lot less popcorn.

As for organizing the recipes, I simply noted on the spreadsheet where I could find each recipe – which page of what cookbook, or which file in the computer, or which of my two three-ring recipe notebooks. (Told you I have a lot of recipes.) I hope to change out the top Quick Twelve Meals every so often as I find other recipes that fit the requirements. in the meantime. We are eating well.

FLASHBACK: EW has never complained about my cooking or popping, although there are meals he would prefer not to eat a second time. Usually we both agree on those. Let me tell you about the first meal I made for him.

We’d been dating for a few weeks and I was already smitten, so I invited him to my tiny apartment for dinner and decided to make Fettuccini Alfredo. I’d never made Fettuccini Alfredo before, but I had a recipe (of course) and figured it would be hard to mess up. Right.

We had wine, I made garlic bread, and salad. The instructions were clear. Once the pasta is done and you pour the cheese on, you must only heat it for a very short while – just until the cheese melts. But the bread wasn’t quite done and I figured I’d better keep the pasta and cheese mixture hot, so it stayed on the burner some minutes after being perfectly done.

Have you ever eaten natural peanut butter – the kind that you have to mix because the oil is separated from the peanut gunk? And have you ever not quite mixed all of the oil in so you have really sticky peanut gunk that refuses to spread? Well, that is roughly the consistency of the Fettuccini Alfredo that I served EW that night. I couldn’t eat it. He kept at it, chewing each mouthful. When I protested that it was inedible, he said, “Hm ----- um ---- n ----“ holding his index finger up for time as he worked on masticating and swallowing the cemented noodle mixture. When he had finally cleared his mouth, he said, “No, it’s fine. It’ wouldn’t taste bad at all if you didn’t have to keep it in your mouth for so long.”

That’s when I knew I wanted to marry this man.

We Lost Our Sense of Humor. (Don't Worry. We Got it Back.)

When you lose your sense of humor, where does it go? Since laughter bubbles up out of a person, perhaps a lost sense of humor sinks into the bilge and waits to be invited back into the main living areas. We both lost our sense of humor last week, and in retrospect, it was pretty funny.

At the time, I said, “You can be sure that I won’t write about this!”  Evidently, I lied.


Honeymoon Beach

We were good-humored at Monday Movie Night on Honeymoon Beach. We had gone in early with Carl and Carrie so that we could enjoy the French fries from Joe’s. Not sure why it’s called Joe’s as Britt seems to run the place, but in any case, word was out about the fries and there were too many orders ahead of us before the movie started. No worries. We trooped across the sand, chatting with new and old friends, set up our chairs in front of the screen, and bought our hot dogs and sodas. The movie was Captain Ron, a sailor’s classic. It’s a funny movie, even though it gets most sailing, boat repair, and Caribbean geography horribly wrong. It was even funnier because two couples in our group know all the good lines and have the comic timing to speak them in that split second before the actor, causing us to laugh even more.

The next day, I gradually felt a bit icky.  By afternoon I had a mild intestinal “issue”. EW was perky, perky, perky.  Around five I said, “I’m not feeling great and don’t feel like eating at all. Do you mind taking care of your own dinner?”  “No problem, My Sweet,” EW said. “What’s wrong?” So I told him I had an intestinal thing and cramps. Said I didn’t feel like eating and didn’t really want to even cook anything. I went back to my book.

A while later, EW said, “I feel like French fries!” I assumed that he would take the dinghy into the island and get some from Britt. But no.  “That’s fine,” I said.

“I’ll make them!” He said. “Wouldn’t you like me to make you French fries?”

Um. No. Actually, I could think of few things that were less appealing than a pile of greasy starch.

“No thanks,” I said with a bit of an ‘are you kidding me?’ tone.

EW proceeded to haul the hot dogs out of the freezer and hum and bustle in the galley. “Do we have any butter open?”


“Which oil should I use to make the fries?”  I couldn’t  have cared less and requested that he leave me out of it. He was hurt. Really. After all, he had offered to make me homemade French Fries. He was happy. He had cleaned the bottom of the boat and needed a high carb meal. He was making that meal. Wasn’t he wonderful? What was my problem?

I was crampy and somewhat sick to my stomach. I had an intestinal bug. But at that moment in time, EW was my problem. He hummed. He bustled. He carefully cut and peeled the fries and placed them in a bowl of cold water. When I saw that, I paused. “You really know how to make French fries.”

“Yeah,” he said, in a tone that meant ‘Of course, why wouldn’t I?”

Well. “We’ve been married for 26 years. In that time can you remember ever making French fries for me?” I asked, with a tone.

“Nope, guess I can’t”, he said.

Now I love French fries. We had even had a discussion once about not making them on the boat due to the large amount of hot oil in a moving galley. He had never made them for me in all of our married life and there he was, happy, happy, happy, about making French fries when I didn’t feel up to eating them. What part of this reality didn’t he understand? What was left of my sense of humor scurried into the bilge under the forward cabin, as far away from us as possible.  I took my book and moved to the cockpit so I didn’t have to smell the sizzling oil and the fries in the making.

He popped up into the cockpit and stated as Britt does, “Fries take 10 minutes. Extra crispy fries take 12,” smiling cheerfully. I didn’t give a … well you know. There was nothing left to give. I glared at him. He was hurt by my defection.  I went back to my book with a sigh that meant, ‘leave me alone.’

Mr. Happy couldn’t let it go. Once his meal was prepared, he once again popped up into my supposed fry free safe seating zone, waving his plate of loaded hot dogs and sizzling hot crispy fries. “Doesn’t that look good?”

“Get away from me!” I had lost it. He was stunned, stunned I tell you, by my rejection.

What part of “I don’t feel like eating, cooking, or looking at food” did he not get?

And frankly, I was ticked off that he had actually made fries on the boat when I was ill and couldn’t eat them. I was more than ticked off. I was not in a loving mood.

That morning, when EW had single-handedly cleaned the waterline while I had gone ashore to do laundry, he had scraped up his right hand on the barnacles. He had cleaned his wounds and applied anti-bacteria cream and adhesive bandages. Normally, I would have been sympathetic.

After his repast, the galley looked – well -- messy. I am normally the dishwasher and don’t (normally) mind at all. But I had decided early in that evening’s war that there was no way I was going to assist in cleaning up that mess. Ever.

Here’s how that conversation went:

EW asked, “What should I do with the fry oil?”

I charmingly replied, “I don’t give a damn.” He was not pleased.

A while later, he said, “I don’t think I can do the dishes with my hand like this.”

And I smiled and said, “Then they’ll sit there until your hand heals. I’m not doing them.”

These were not my finest hours.

He was stunned.

I remained uncaring. “Did you get all cut up like that with your gloves on?”

“No. I forgot the gloves and just kept going anyway.”

“I have no sympathy for you. I’m going to bed.”

Oh, I can be nasty.

EW cleaned the galley and washed the dishes. I went to bed and slept very well, thank you.

The next day,  I imagined all of this as it would be played by one of those British comedies. He would be waving a hot platter of crisps under her nose. She would turn green and run for the loo. The audience would laugh uproariously.

It was kind of funny.

Our sense of humor peeked up through the floorboards and gradually came back to live with us, but we haven’t yet actually laughed together over this episode yet. Maybe someday.

He owes me a batch of fries. I’ve found the fry oil in a bottle in the fridge. I’ll wash the dishes.


NOTE: Yes, EW has read and approved this message. He even laughed. I love EW. He also took me to lunch at XO in Redhook once I felt better. I had a marvelous CBA – Chicken, Brie, and Apple sandwich. 

NOTE 2: The photo of honeymoon beach was taken from the website, If you don't have a sailboat, this is a marvelous property to visit when in the islands. You can find out more about Honeymoon Beach at this website for beach lovers

 NOTE 3: If you like my sense of humor and haven't checked out my book -- Harts at Sea Sailing to Windward -- you can find it on Amazon for Kindle for just $2.99. Tell your friends. Heck, tell your enemies. Thank you.

Harts At Sea Sailing to Windward

15 Easy Steps to Defrost a Boat Freezer in Paradise


Does anyone get excited about defrosting the freezer? I never did and was delighted with our frost free freezer/fridge combo in the Home By the Sea. (Confession, when we bought the house we called it Love Nest by the Sea. Really.) When we moved aboard La Luna, I remembered the “old” days of defrosting a freezer and believed that the chore had to be as difficult as possible and take as long as possible, so I made that happen. Here’s the process: 

1. Remove all food items from the freezer and take them to a friend’s house or to the boatyard freezerFull Freezer 3-16-2010 8-52-10 AM for safe storage. After all, the job is going to take hours. Here’s my friend Lynnelle’s freezer, used once when she was out of town. I had to remove two bottles of vodka to make room for my stuff.

2. Remove all of the food from the fridge, throw out the old, exclaim over the number of jars that are half full of substance, and store all of it in two coolers, with ice because it’s going to take hours to defrost the freezer and you don’t want anything to spoil.

3. Turn the system off. That’s done with the flick of a button. Easiest part of the job.

4. Place a bowl of warm water in the freezer.

5. Wait for frost to melt and do something useful while waiting such as clean out the fridge side.

6. Get tired of the frost not melting and pour warm water over the frost, creating ice, which will melt eventually.

7. Bail out the bottom of the freezer so that it doesn’t overflow as the ice melts and pour more warm water over the ice to help it melt.

8. Pry large chunks of ice off the front of the holding plate – carefully. Suggested tool is a plastic scraper. I used a table knife but don’t tell anyone.

9. Mop up water from galley sole (floor to you landlubbers) as the falling ice has caused the water in the bottom of the freezer to splash out.

10-12, 13-15, and 16-18 Repeat steps 7, 8 and 9 for two to three or more hours. Ice will have formed on the back of the holding plate where no scraper or table knife can reach it. It’s also difficult or nearly impossible to pour warm water on that area. Try anyway.

18. Once the back of the holding plate is finally free of frost and ice, bail out the bottom of the freezer for the final time, clean the freezer and spray Pam or wipe a small layer of oil on the holding plate – this helps you pry off the ice next time.

19. Turn on the system.

20. Return the cold goods to the fridge side.

21. Hours or a day later, go get your frozen stuff and place it in the now cold and clean freezer. (Make sure you put Lynnelle’s vodka back in her freezer.)

Yeah, that was fun. Of course, when I did this, we lived on the dock with easier access to a freezer. (I have really good friends) and a couple of coolers. Now, I’m traveling where I don’t know anyone on shore,Freezer insulated bags 5-16-2011 12-30-51 PM and we only have one smallish soft-sided cooler and two of those large, cheap, hot/cold bags you get at the grocery store. The old system wasn’t going to cut it at sea, yet I didn’t know of another way. I hate defrosting the freezer, therefore it must be difficult, therefore I hate it. It’s a vicious cycle. It didn’t help that a marine refrigeration expert told me that I should probably defrost every four to six weeks. Like that was going to happen.

Well, yeah, it was. We’ve been experimenting with how to better insulate our system (there’s a postFreezer Full Ice 5-16-2011 8-45-24 AM coming about that) but even with improvements, we find that the freezer gets mighty frosty in this warm climate. When the frost is thick, the system isn’t efficient and eventually, both sides get warmer. Warm is not a good quality for a freezer or refrigerator. I was discussing this in the Bahamas with some of our cruising buddies and found out that aboard two of the boats, the guys handle the defrosting. They entered into the task with fewer negative expectations than I had, and with some knowledge that I had missed somewhere. I’d heard of folks using a hair dryer to warm and melt the ice and I’d tried it on the dock but found it frustrating and cumbersome as I could not leave the hairdryer running and walk away.

These boaters use a fan, a normal household fan normally used to cool our persons on a hot day. Last summer, one of our neighbors in Harpswell had told me that she used a fan to defrost the small chest freezer on her powerboat. I didn’t yet understand how it could work and never pursued it, but now I needed to know, so I went online for a little research: why does ice melt faster with a fan? I still don’t know.  I found out that ice melts quicker in room temperature water than in air – though one article mentioned that if you hung an ice cube in the air in front of a fan it would melt faster. (Who thinks of this stuff?)  Other articles discussed the steps for defrosting home and marine freezers pretty much as I described above, though they make it sound easier. (They lie, I speak the truth.) None of them used a fan. My mom had to defrost the freezer when I was growing up and she didn’t use a fan, either.

Today, I used a fan. Since we purchased “Jenny” our beloved Honda generator, I can run AC stuff whenFreezer Fan at Work 5-16-2011 8-56-19 AM EW charges the boat. This morning, I requested that he get Jenny up and running because I had plans for her – big plans. I have learned that I can leave the food in the fridge side (we’ve pared way back on the numbers of stuff in jars this year) and clean the fridge on another day. The computer fan that circulates cold air from the freezer to fridge still sends cold/cool air to the fridge side as I defrost, so though the temperature gets a bit warmer than I normally would like, it isn’t dangerous and will cool down when the system is restarted.

Here is today’s process.

1. Remove all food items from the freezer and pack in the blue soft-sided bag, along with any ice and some of the cold packs used for picnics. Enclose filled blue bag into large hot/cold bag for added insulation.

2. Turn the system off.

3. Place the household fan (thanking Neptune that I brought it along for the trip – and remembered where it’s stored) over the freezer, blowing down onto the ice, and walk away.

4. Work on the computer or clean something.

5. Check the progress in an hour and exclaim over how much ice has melted. Bail out the bottom of the freezer, removing large chunks of ice as well.

6. Reposition the fan and go back to something else.

7 & 8, 9 &10. Repeat steps 5 and 6 one or two more times, positioning the fan where it will do the most good. When pointing it down the back of the holding plate, it easily melts the ice that has been so hard to reach. 

11. Wipe up the water spilled on the sole. (It’s going to happen. Deal.)

12. Once the holding plate is free of frost and ice, bail out the bottom of the freezer for the final time, clean the freezer, and spray Pam or wipe a small layer of oil on the holding plate – this helps the melted ice fall off in chunks the next time.

13. Turn on the system.

14. Return the still frozen items to the freezer.

Not only does this method have fewer actual steps, those steps require less of my time as the fan is doing the work I used to attempt with the butter knife, and – this is big and --- the whole process took less than 4 hours from start to finish. Since this is no longer a job I dread, I’ll do it more often and bet I can “get ‘er done” in 3 hours or less, with only about an hour or so of active time. Under these conditions, I can easily defrost every four to six weeks.

You proof-readers will realize that the new way only has 14 steps. Here’s step 15:

15. Make a gin and tonic with the bag of partially thawed ice cubes. Waste not, want not.






Mr. Romance is Not a Hunter-Gatherer

I love EW. Truly and with all my heart. He will attempt to fix nearly anything on board and is successful most of the time. But I have never seen him land a fish.

Stew's fish and the larger one
He landed one when he crossed the Atlantic with Chuck and Diane. Here's the photo. It gave me hope. I believed with all my heart that EW would follow the thousands of other cruisers who have gone before and provide for us from the sea’s bounty. I was ready. I purchased rice for sticky rice and sushi and limes for seveche. I collected seafood recipes and made sure I had stocked up on the normal necessary ingredients. I read articles and books by other sailors – about how they never used the canned meats they’d packed because they caught so much seafood. I believed.



Prior to leaving Maine, EW got gear. He wanted a chest harness so he could fight the big ones, but I suggested P3100144 we should start a bit smaller. He got a “yo-yo” rig, gloves, lures, a gaff, and filled one of my spray bottles with cheap booze for a humane kill. (Evidently one squirts rotgut into the fish’s gills and they die immediately. No muss, no fuss, no fish flopping all over deck and cockpit. He put his gear into a large tote and called it his “Fish Fear Me Bag”. Really.

He started fishing when we left Maine on October 18th. Nothing.

From October to March, not one fish took his line. We would buddy boat with other sailors in the Bahamas and hear about the fish they caught. We’d listen in on radio conversations and hear, “Fish on! Can’t talk now!”  We’d meet cruisers who had traveled the same track we had on the same day and caught a nice mahi-mahi or sea bass.

Furthermore, we went conching with cruisers who had easily harvested conch in thigh high water throughout the Berry Islands. Nothing. On another memorable day in the Exumas we went in search of conch and lobster with Dave and Aimee from Crow’s Nest. EW (and I) can’t dive very deep. I’m not that good a swimmer and EW can’t clear his ears – so I’m not complaining that EW didn’t get a conch in 12 feet of water. That’s above and beyond, in my opinion and Amiee and Dave did share their catch. EW helped them clean it and I cooked dinner. When the three of them took dinghies in to shore for the cleaning of the conch, I stayed on La Luna. Aimee used her noodle and goggles to swim ashore – and caught 3 conch in 3 feet of water. EW blithely motored over their bed and didn’t harvest anything. Apparently live seafood doesn’t speak to him.

Cleaning conch is icky and hard and it turns out we aren’t in love with it so I voluntarily withdrew all requests for conch. On Valentine’s Day in Georgetown, I bought lobster tails from the hair salon (I love that!) and made a wonderful dinner using a recipe from  An Embarrassment of Mangoes by Ann Vanderhoof. Perfect.  Ann and her husband, Steve,  traveled from Eastern Canada to Grenada. He fished all the way – even learned how to toss a shrimp net. After two years they returned to Canada with all canned protein on board and untouched.  He speared fish, he lassoed lobster, he found conch, and on the way home he caught fish. Lots of fish. (While in the islands they bought fish, listening for the conch horn to let folks know when a fresh catch was in. I’m not in the right islands for that.)

Ann didn’t talk a lot about fishing off the boat until near the end of the book in a chapter entitled “Beautiful Babe Spit”. (That is not a typo.) They were returning north and competing in a fishing contest with a buddy boat. Ann and Steve were well back on the fishing points scale, when they stopped in at Culebra to meet up again with Cleo. …”a courtly man with the look of a longtime sailor. Lithe, attentive, with laughing eyes --- a real ladies’ man, my mother would have said –- white haired and well-read.” Over dinner Cleo described how he had taken a Grenadian girl fishing and had “explained the secret of successful fishing to her. If a pretty lady spits on the lure before it goes into the water, she will almost certainly catch a fish.”

That tickled me and you will have to read the book to see the results, but let’s just say that Ann’s wise and romantic husband assured his wife she was beautiful and asked her to spit on the lure for the remainder of the trip. It worked very well.

I read this to EW early in our voyage. He chuckled. He caught no fish. He talked with people about lures; he let out more line; he let out less line; he fished at different depths and speeds. He fished from Maine to the Turks and Caicos and never caught a fish and never --- not once --- asked his wife to spit on the lure. Mo will read this before we tell him the story, and right now he is thinking, “Way to go, Dad. Mr. Romance strikes, again.” Or something like that. EW is not always quick on the romance uptake. So, a couple of months into the trip, I mention the “Beautiful Babe Spit” and he looked appropriately chagrined – but still, never once asked me to anoint his lure.

Until last week. We were on our way to the Dominican Republic and I had suggested with a bit of attitude that it was “too damn bad that he didn’t have a beautiful wife” to anoint his lure. Finally – five months after leaving P3100145 Maine he got it. Now, it must be said that then he had a momentary relapse. He took his “Fish Fear Me Bag” to the aft deck and started getting things ready, saying he’d call me when it was time. A few minutes later I saw him paying out the line. “You ready?” I asked sweetly. “Oh, yes!  Just getting the lure wet!” He said as he rapidly reeled it back in. After I stopped laughing, I went aft, created a mouthful of saliva and spit on the lure and hook. He called me his beautiful bride and we both went back to the cockpit.

The photo at left is EW stating that he was just getting the line wet. Right. He was laughing so hard he couldn’t form the words.


About two hours later, I looked aft and said, “I think you have a fish!” He did. A beautiful mahi-mahi, probably about three pounds. He reeled it in and I got the camera and the gaff. Then we made a fatal error for which I share the responsibility.  As he lifted the fish out of the water, he said, “Get a photo!” not “Get the Gaff!” I complied and we lost the fish – and didn’t get the photo.

We’ve only had a very short opportunity since, sailing close to shore on the way to Luperon, but you can bet he remembered to call me beautiful and ask me to spit.

I believe.

Food Storage on a Sailboat

We’ve lived aboard for nearly nine years, and food storage was an early priority. On the day we toured the boat, i let EW know that if he wanted to eat I was appropriating most of the port settee area for food storage. P1260039 Since that time, I’ve been refining my storage system and accumulating more space for food items. EW insists on eating every day.

I’d planned food storage, purchased shallow tubs to help keep items from spilling, cleaned and painted the compartment and thought we had it right. The long settee (couch and spare single bed) along the port side had quite accessible storage underneath. Galley items take up two thirds of the space, and I graciously allowed EW to use the other third for heavy tools. (See, I can be flexible.) In order to get to the space, we would  lift or bend the cushion, hold up the plywood cover with one hand, or have a helper hold it as we found and removed our items.  Or we removed all three cushions and the plywood to allow for hands-free access.


P1260041 It never occurred to me that there was a better way until we got the insurance survey back. That survey requires us to screw or fasten all lids and floorboards that could fly if LaLuna goes the wrong way up in a big storm. We don’t expect to be in that situation, but EW worked in Fort Lauderdale to comply with the insurance company. He knew screwing down that settee cover wasn’t going to work as I need to get into it at least once a day. The solution was to attach a hinge to the back of the board and slide bolts to the front to lock the board in place.

The photo at left shows the area – and gives you a preview of the the ultimate solution.


As he was planning the project, I had a brainstorm. (Sometimes that’s a good thing, sometimes it causes heavy sighs and much eye-rolling.) This time it was a good thing – it meant more work for EW but he was cheerful about it.

I asked him to hinge the galley cover so that it would open over each storage compartment, not along the whole length of the settee. Then I asked him to hinge it 5 inches out from the back of the settee, to allow the seat cushion to stay up in back. It was brilliant, I tell you. Brilliant!

P1260042 Since we are at sea, with few power tools, EW used his very special Japanese hand saw and patiently cut the board into four sections:

  1. The section over his tools, which we needed to have open fully.
  2. One piece along “my” two-thirds, 5 inches wide.
  3. The two lids over the galley section.

At right, Tools and Galley One are open and all cushions are removed.

How I wish we’d thought of this 8 years ago! This complies with our safety requirements, preventing cans and tools from flying  around the boat in the event of a knock down. Since I don’t anticipate a knock-down, I am more thrilled with the ease of access I now have under the settee.




The photo at left shows one easily opened cupboard with all cushions still on the settee. That works for quick access. When I am storing or digging for supplies, I can take the two back cushions off and the lids and settee seat stay up.


As EW says, “We eat tonight!”


While EW and I (particularly EW) love bacon and enjoy hearty breakfasts, we have a big supply of oatmeal and steel cut oats for our everyday breakfasts. A lot of cruising articles and cookbooks offer tips for making smoothies, a breakfast treat that never really appealed to us before.

Then we had a true Bahama cruising day on the hook. It began with some boat work first thing in the morning as EW had to go up to the top of the mast. We use the Top Climber, a boating device that uses some of the same techniques as rock climbers use in order to haul ourselves up. (And yes, I have gone up the mast -- but not all the way to the top. It is actually good exercise and we've talked about getting it out once in a while for practice. But I digress.)

The temperature was in the mid to upper 70's, there was no wind and it was the perfect time for him to climb so we waited on breakfast. After hauling himself up and down 55 feet above the deck he deserved a good breakfast but neither of us wanted something heavy.

I decided to make a smoothie. We had pineapple juice, fresh coconut juice, canned coconut milk, ripe bananas, and fresh coconut (harvested and prepared by EW), and ice.

I also have a Cuisinart that works on our inverter. I was good to go. 

But the food processor didn't work. I'd had problems with it back in Maine, but thought they had been magically resolved, so I didn't purchase the boater smoothie maker thing (Magic Bullet) every cruiser swears by. I could have picked one up at Staples in September .. but nooooo.

So I mashed the banana with a fork, grated the coconut, and put everything into a jar with ice and shook it up. A lot. I then let it sit for a few minutes to allow some of the ice to melt, then shook it up again and served it up in two glasses.

It was delicious. And filling.

We call them lumpies. 


16 Things I've Learned During Our First Month of Cruising


In no particular order:

1. Don't wear socks in the bunk while sleeping off watch. If you need to get up to assist on a boat heeled over, those socks will cause you to skate down to the leeward side of the boat bouncing off the mast and dinette, creating numerous bruises. Just sleep barefoot or in boat shoes and socks.

2. The easy way to make egg salad sandwiches. I learned this after I dropped the egg carton, cracking 6 eggs.  Simply make fully cooked "lake eggs" (that's dropped eggs or poached eggs to most of you). No need to peel hard cooked eggs. Just drain them well, let them cool a bit and mash 'em up. I cannot believe it took me umpty-ump years to think of this. Tastes just the same. EW never knew these eggs weren't hard boiled until I told him. This is a great galley tip.  You are very welcome.

3. Get a kitchen timer.  Someone else will have the watch and phone while you are making bread. EW said the bread was "pre-toasted". It did work for toast, but was a bit crunchy for sandwiches. I cut the last of it up into cracker-sized squares and toasted them in garlic and olive oil. That was excellent with home-made tappenade. But get a kitchen timer, anyway.

4. I have little will power against teeny tiny Tootsie Rolls.  I have twice purchased a bag a few days prior to departure and have eaten more than half of each bag before lifting the anchor. Purchasing more is not an option. 

5. Yes! You do lose weight under way on a boat. Both EW and I have lost over 10 pounds. We are not always eating wisely (see #4 above), but we are practicing portion control and it takes a lot of small, constant movement (involuntary isometric exercise) to keep upright on a boat at sea. 

6. Night watches are 98% boring. I may have to get a Kindle or Nook.  When we're going down the coast and have cell reception I Tweet and post short blogs. Sometimes we do puzzles or read with a flashlight. That, of course messes up our night vision. Night watches are supposed to be boring. the alternative usually means there's something wrong, such as running out of fuel or being in a gale. (Been there, done that.)

7. I suck at menu planning. Also at keeping a record of our meals. We may starve in the Bahamas. EW better catch some fish -- so far he hasn't tried. We also aren't eating 5 - 9 fruits and veggie servings a day. Thank goodness Dr. W. at Great Island suggested that we bring along a bunch of V-8. He said that does count for vegetable servings.

8.So far sea sickness isn't a big issue. My mal de mer occurs only during the first 24 hours of a passage or in storms around Cape May and I just get queasy. It is worse when I'm working below -- cooking, cleaning, navigating, brushing my teeth.  A quick trip to shore or a protected harbor for a few hours takes me back to hour zero. This may be one of the reasons I've lost weight.

9.Our fairly new VHF radio receiver can recieve from a long distance. It's disconcerting to be sailing down the North Carolina coast and hear the Coast Guard in Rhode Island on Channel 16. This is one of the things that makes it seem like we are in a small world - or perhaps we just haven't traveled as far as we think we have. 

10. We need boat cards ASAP. I've designed them. Have to print them. Am having a software glitch - actually I've it's definitely a user glitch that I need to resolve.

11. The majority of marinas we've visited do not understand the power of the web. So far they keep listing their street address and offering Google maps. None have displayed thier GPS coordinates. Many marinas don't have active websites. Many of those who have websites don't put a phone number or which radio channel they monitor on their home page. In a world of smart phones and wireless connections this is just dumb -- and annoying.

12. What we are doing is nothing compared to the folks who have gone before. I am in awe of the folks who set sail and followed their dreams 20, 30, 40 and 50 years ago. We've read many of their books. They did not have the technology we have; they had many fewer resources and boats with many fewer conveniences. They plotted their course with the stars and never expected to be rescued by any Coast Guard. I am not their equal and never will be, and I salute them and thank them for the courage they had to pursue their dreams. The things they learned and the industry it produce have allowed us to achieve the opportunity to pursue our dreams.

12. If I had to go all the way south in the ICW (Intra Costal Waterway) I'd go stark raving mad.  We can hear the radio traffic when we're running near the coastline. "Easy Pass" "Port to Port, Captain" and other phrases are heard over and over again. We went six miles up the ICW in the Norfolk area. No rest while underway and no auto pilot.

On the other hand ...

13. My feeling about the ICW may be sour grapes.  As we were motoring south toward Cape Hatteras. listening to the radio traffic was like listening to a party to which one was not invited. I hate missing anything. (Those who know me will realize that this is not a revelation.)

14. The longest 10 minutes on a three hour watch are the last 10 before I wake up EW. The second longest are the 10 it takes him to get ready to relieve me. In good weather and on open ocean, three hour watches work very well for us. We have formal watch for 18 hours a day:

3 - 6 PM Barb

6 - 9 PM EW

9 - Midnight Barb

12 - 3 AM EW

3 - 6 AM Barb

6 - 9 AM EW

During those watches, the person off watch sleeps (or tries to), no boat projects and little cooking are done.  Between 9 AM and 3 PM one of us is on watch and the other is napping, cooking, cleaning or doing a boat project. We can read and do other things while on watch.  During storms, (or during the only storm we've had, we keep 24 hour watches. When we are entering an unfamiliar harbor, we are both awake and alert. This watch system allows us to get 6 - 8 hours of sleep each day. 

15. You have to fear Cape Fear. And probably a lot of other capes. I intend to find out why. In the meantime, I'm going to give each Cape we encounter a lot of respect.

16.  Nothing is perfect. But this lifestyle is 99.9% perfect for me. That works.


A Cruiser's Fishing Horror Story

On Saturday we hosted "old" and new friends on the boat. One couple, D & J, we've known for a number of years. Like us, they are year-round live aboards in Maine and dream of taking off someday to go cruising. We met M & J just a month ago. In 2008, they returned from 10 years of cruising and living abroad.  

May I digress for a moment and relate my favorite moment of Saturday's conversation? M said that there are no snakes on New Zealand and no poisonous beasties of any kind. We are definitely going to New Zealand. 

Now then, back to our original topic: fishing on board.

So we discussed fishing gear and landing fish.  D mentioned that we "wannabes" had all read about using hard liquor to quickly and bloodlessly kill fish once you've landed them. M said that French Rhum from the Caribbean is excellent for that as it isn't excellent to drink. (Good to know.)

Her husband J, world cruiser, looked at us intently and said with great feeling and a visible shudder, "I have a fishing horror story."

Like children around a campfire, we begged to hear it, imagining a first person account such as those we had read about -- folks who landed a large, live fish into a small cockpit .. imagine the horror!

So he told his tale: "I was fishing on a friend's boat and he landed a good sized mahi-mahi - and as soon as he got it into the cockpit, he poured Jack Daniels into its gills!

We all leaned forward, waiting for what came next ..... and realized that was it. 

Evidently true cruisers care which liquor is used to kill dinner. I've added "rot-gut rum" to the provisioning list. 

Mahi or Dorado