30 June 2010

Becoming Foodies

Alright, it's been awhile since I've posted.  We're home and getting back into the swing of things.  Mostly this means applying for jobs and avoiding the boat.  Neither of us were ready to take the boat out last weekend - she is a good boat and we love her, but we needed a break.  So we went out on Dwayne's boat, where we lazed it up as passengers.  For the Fourth, however, Southern Cross will be representing sailboats everywhere amidst all the powerboats that gather in Tull Bay.  Of course, they all anchor in about three foot of water so we'll also be representing dinghies everywhere just so we can join the party...

I've been more or less addicted to Food Network since I have access to a TV again.  As such, I've also been making some meals that are actually gourmet (as opposed to the chili mentioned here).  To start, I took advantage of the oven and made some baguettes.  Apparently the reason baguettes are so different from bread is that they are baked at a much higher temperature, and they are baked with a pan of water present.  Mine didn't taste nearly as good as I remember actual French baguettes tasting, but I think those bakers tend to have a little more experience than I do.

 A couple days later, I worked on some fresh salsa (my own recipe).  This is something we made pretty frequently on the boat, but we never had limes or cilantro to put in it.  Also this one has green onions because their flavor is a little milder and I'm not a big fan of onions.  Between Kyle and me, a bowl of this lasts around ten minutes.  The base, of course, is tomato and green pepper.  I also added a shot of hot sauce, fresh garlic, some lemon pepper, and some chile powder.

While I was making salsa, Kyle got in on the action by making a recipe I'd watched Bobby Flay make on TV.  He had to modify it a little; he used regular milk instead of coconut milk and we didn't have any swordfish so we substituted baked white fish.  Therefore we had white fish with a coconut, lime and green chile sauce.  This recipe is really unique - it combines some very distinct flavors.  Surprisingly, the cilantro was very mellow and the ginger wasn't a prevalent flavor either.  It was a fairly sweet sauce but after dinner we decided it went well with chips too.  In fact, it melded well with the salsa.

And then today I tried a salad I'd been wanting for some time - Corn and Black Bean Salad with Basil Lime Vinaigrette.  I didn't have any basil on hand so the recipe was lacking that, and I substituted green peppers for red.   The vinaigrette was very limey but once it was on the salad it wasn't overpowering.  I really enjoy the addition of mango to the salad, but wish the corn was a little louder in this salad - I used fresh grilled corn on the cob.  Either way it's a delicious salad.  I really like mixing fruit and vegetables to give dishes an extra zing, and limes are definitely one of my favorite additions to a meal.

So maybe by the end of summer we'll both be gourmands.  That is going to make boat food quite a bit more expensive, however.  We'll see.  Actually everything that we made here was pretty cheap, it's the dishes that use expensive meat that I've been avoiding :)

If anyone tries these recipes, let me know what you think!

23 June 2010

Docked at home... well, almost.

Okay, so technically we're still about three feet from our home dock (a small shoal has built in our absence), but we were able to step onto land without more than a small hop. We were planned to arrive Monday evening, but being so close to air conditioning, refrigeration, and a real bed spurred us to convert three days of travel into two.
Sunday was a HUGE day which saw us traveling 87 miles over 14 hours (compared to our normal 40-50 miles). It started before six, with a gorgeous sunrise.

Not long after that, some fog rolled in.

We managed to thread our way between and around several ominous looking clouds near the end, only enduring a few minutes of light rain.
The wind however, we could not escape. All the way across the sound, we motored through light or non-existant winds, trying to get the jib to fill out enough not to luff. Once we entered the Northwest River though, that all changed. Between those storms, the winds started gusting, which made for some fast exciting sailing! Just before entering the canal south of Coinjock, I went up on the foredeck to shorten sail and managed to get my sunglasses knocked off (somehow, my ONLY pair of sunglasses managed to stay on the deck) and a nice welt from a whipping jib sheet across the abdomen. Oh, how we envy those with roller furling sometimes.

The sun was just starting to set upon entering the canals, where we met Dwayne and Janet on Fourplay 2, and were treated to what can only be described as the longest boat horn welcome I've ever heard. Seriously Dwayne, I thought it had shorted out!

We weren't destined for conciousness much long after arrival home. The next day however was full of those things we've been missing. We slept in until 7ish. Darcy made Manicotti for lunch. In the OVEN. We ate ice cream. We drank a cold beer with dinner. It was amazing, to say the least.
Anyway, we're here for now. We've spent the last few days job hunting and throwing new parts at the truck.

21 June 2010


Oriental is now one of our favorite places to go, since we know so many people (not to mention the people there are the cream of the crop anyway).  We were really hoping to make it for a Music Night at M&Ms restaurant, but we docked on Thursday night and left Saturday morning.  Fortunately there was an opening at the town dock so we had two free nights of stepping off the boat onto land.

So Dick and Jackie, the same ones that bought us dinner in Wrightsville Beach, returned to Oriental the same day we did.  We were really hoping to return the favor by treating them to a homemade boat dinner, since we were able to find a place at the town dock.  Not only is our dinghy built for two people, but Jackie broke a bone in her foot and we didn't want her to end up in the water.  However, it was not to be.

At the very least, Jackie did get a chance to come see our boat (we love to show her off :) ), and she had to decline dinner because she was making dinner for another couple that night.  Of course, soon she had at least asked us to come over after dinner, and by the time she left, we were invited to dinner itself.  So there our good intentions backfired and we actually imposed on them again.  Friday night consisted of cold drinks, delicious steak, and friends both new and old.  Actually, the couple that were the original dinner guests were a lot of fun, plus they were extremely generous.

So, Dick and Jackie, thanks for the wonderful evening :)

18 June 2010


We are yet again at the courtesy dock in Oriental, NC. Or ONC, as we've often heard it referred to. They've even got those little white oval stickers with "ONC" in the center plastered everywhere. Cars, telephone poles, store windows, small dogs, you name it. We spent enough time here on our way south it almost feels like home. Right now, we're sucking up the air conditioning at The Bean. Hot does not begin to describe the last few days/weeks. Daily highs in the 90's, humidity near 150% and it has been unrelenting even as we head North! I personally find it mildly amusing that we've put up with our carry-on air conditioning cluttering our deck and obstructing our vision this whole time, and have yet to use it once. Then again, that would require shore power, which requires a dock, which we haven't done since... well, the last time we were here in Oriental. In any case, we've managed to survive with a fan and judicious use of curtains and awnings. Yeah, it's hot in the cabin, as you can see from the thermometer.

BUT... we've been meeting a few of our old ONC friends as we head north! We met up with Jim, Beth, and Cameron of Wild Haggis in Bull Creek. They shared with us a delicious meal of chicken, wild rice, and green beans. Oh, and COLD drinks. People just don't understand how amazing that is to us right now. Anyway, we had a lovely evening with them in one of our favorite anchorages, then headed North the next morning.

Next up was Calabash Creek, just south of the North/South Carolina Border. We watched some absolutely amazing thunderstorms pass by (and overhead) just after dark. Unfortunately, this translates to no sleep for us, with that big metal stick running down the center of the boat and all. Oh, and I found all the leaks in the boat. ALL of them. Somehow, the rain and wind combined just perfectly to exploit leaks we've never had in heavy seas and rain before. As you can see below, the V-Berth was unusable that night.

Then a long day of traveling, and we were in Wrightsville Beach. We had not planned on spending more than a night here, but some more ONC friends Dick and Jackie) just happened to be headed to Wilmington the next day, so we arranged to have dinner with them. The delay was more than worth it. We spent all day at the beach, then had a wonderful dinner that evening. It was excellent to catch up with everyone over these last few days.

The next few days were uneventful. Just a lot of cut channel and motoring. We're taking today to relax and effect some small sail repairs while we have the convenience of a dock, then we're headed North again.  And, what you've all been waiting for - last night's sunset.  Or, the clouds above the sunset:

12 June 2010

Rachel Saves the Day

So, after a trek of two miles in hundred degree heat, Kyle and I arrived at the post office.  Apparently they moved FIVE years ago - get with the program, Google!  We also stopped at Walmart, needing a few things that we couldn't pick up at the usual downtown shoppes.  And then, laden with goods, we started the trek back, watching the bank thermometer try to decide whether it was "blazing hot" or "hellish."  After about of mile of that nonsense, some angel of mercy stopped and asked how far we had to walk.  As an extra stroke of luck, he was going literally right next door to where our dinghy was parked.  And once we got home, we surveyed the damages.  Baked goodness....mmmmmmm.  I can see that my breakfast for the next week is going to consist of Mt. Dew and puppy chow (apparently no one knows what puppy chow is - Chex cereal covered in chocolate/peanut butter then coated with powdered sugar).

Kyle stole a picture of me enjoying my first luscious bites of cookie in a long time...

Then later, we made friends with a man named Robert at the day dock.  He was in a 23' 1951 Herreshoff sailboat, and he said he had been living aboard a boat for 30 - thirty! - years.  That is almost ten years before I was even born.  He was very exuberant; we really enjoyed talking to him.  He was about to board a Greyhound to NJ for a month of work.  His plan was to anchor out and then swim in to shore in the morning.  Obviously we couldn't let him do that, so we offered him a lift.  He reciprocated by inviting us to an awesome dinner of brown rice, fresh scallops and stir-fried vegetables.  It was seriously the best meal we've had in a while, Epic Nachos notwithstanding.  But of course, we hadn't gone grocery shopping in a while so we didn't really have anything to bring, except we'd just gotten some awesome baked goods and Robert had not had access to an oven in some time either, so we brought the loaf of cinnamon bread that Rachel sent, and it was a perfect end to a delicious meal.

So now we're parked at the day dock in Georgetown; I hopped ashore for a hot minute to write about what a great time we had last night.  And also, I thought this was hilarious:  apparently one of Georgetown's finest gave notice to all the derelict dinghies in the wee hours of the morning.  I have withheld his name merely because I don't like posting things like that without permission from the man in question.  Cheers!

11 June 2010

Of Ice Cream and Post Offices

Let me just preface this all by saying that we're back in Georgetown, SC, which is a lovely town mostly because the dinghy dock is like ten foot from our boat (which is far better than the half mile we had to row in Fernandina Beach).

Anyway, so in our last town (Beaufort, SC), Kyle and I made a two mile trek to Dairy Queen.  Let me express now that ice cream is one of my favorite foods EVER.  I grew up with a family in the ice cream business; it was a staple of any family get-together.  But I have not had ice cream in a very long time, because there is simply no way to sustain it on the boat and I refuse to pay $4 for a tiny little cone in the touristy sections of most towns.  Not that DQ is so gourmet, but it was still ice cream.  Anyway, so after debating whether to get a small or medium blizzard, I opted for the small.  I could not eat it.  It was literally too cold for me.  Halfway through, I had to get up, go outside into the blazing heat, and warm myself up before I could go back to the A/C and eat more.  This was no ice cream headache.  My body has just adjusted to warmer temps - since we never have ANYTHING cold, ever.  I mean, we don't even get cold drinks to cool us during the middle of the day when we're out in the sun driving the boat: no fridge, ice doesn't last very long.  Even the ice water I got was almost too cold to drink.  It was a weird sensation.

And now that I'm in Georgetown, the lovely Rachel has made known to me that a package is waiting for me at the post office.  It seems so simple, doesn't it?  Well it's not.  It's a fiasco.  First, it was sent to the wrong town (we talked about so many towns and dates; apparently it wasn't clear at the end of the conversation where we would be, and when).  So we were in Beaufort and had a package waiting for us in Georgetown.  It's only three days away, no big deal.  But when we got to Georgetown, we went to the address of the PO and found a children's development center.  I walked up and down the street, wondering where I'd gone wrong.  Nope, Google definitely has that listed as the post office address.  So I stopped in a shop and chatted with the proprietor.  Apparently that PO shut down and there's a new one:  "Do you know where Walmart is?"  Is it within walking distance?  The response I got was a very assured 'no.'  So today when I got some internets, I looked up the address of the new one on the USPS website.  It does seem to be near a Walmart, but it did look like a pretty long walk in nearly hundred degree heat.  However, it would have been about $20 round trip in taxi rides (they have a $10 minimum).  But the Coffee Break Cafe owner - who, incidentally, remembered my name even though it's been a good six weeks since we've been here - says it's only about two miles.  That's very walkable.  I probably should have figured that out when I asked an old and slightly decrepit woman whether or not I could walk to the post office.  So I just heard from Rachel, who called the PO, that my package is in fact there (even though it was sent to the wrong address).  I am so excited.  You see what she sent us last time?  Oh man...

The only sad news is that Kyle and I have eaten the last of our waxed cheese.  It had aged deliciously, so we saved the last block for what is known as EPIC NACHOS (also found here), an amazing collection of chips, beans, salsa, canned venison, green peppers, and cheese.  It's quite a treat.

Alright, so that's it for now.  We might not post too often coming up because we don't plan on stopping very much anymore, unless we meet up with our south-bound friends on Wild Haggis.

05 June 2010

A Beginner's Guide to the ICW

Kyle and Darcy compiled this so that others can learn from OUR mistakes and assumptions, without having to go through the trouble of making our rookie mistakes.  

Things You Need:
  • A boat. It seems obvious, doesn't it? But one of the most important things about this boat is the draft, because there will be times when a six foot draft isn't going anywhere if the tide is low. We're nearly five foot and we've made it through some tight situations where I wouldn't want to take a boat that draws six foot.
Ignoring the chart, we went where
there was deep water.  It looks
like we went over the island though.

  • Charts, and a grain of salt. They will often tell you where you can go and where you can't go, but they aren't the final authority on the matter.  We tried to anchor in the "fourteen foot" depths of the Daytona Beach area and never saw more than 8 foot (and then ran aground looking for these mythical deep waters). Especially in the past week or so, the charts haven't even really been guides, they've just been way off. At other times, however, low tide matches exactly what the chart says.  We've seen charts that have anchorages highlighted - that is very helpful if you don't want to spend money on marinas.
  • Waterway Guides! Muy importante. And definitely more than one! Something to tell you the name of the bridge and when it opens, what kind of holding/shelter you can find in which anchorage, and something to tell you when the markers have been moved or reversed. Even if they're a little dated, the info will probably still be useful. We really enjoy Skipper Bob, who tells us things like where the dinghy dock is, how much it costs, whether there are grocery stores nearby, etc. Since we never go to marinas (poor college students, remember?), this is pretty vital for us to know.
What We've Learned:
  • Your depth sounder is your new best friend. At some places, the chart will show a channel magically deep to the shores, but it is not. Kyle has learned how to "feel" for the channel via depth sounder. Darcy is not so good at that yet...
  • It is much cheaper to buy TowBoatUS or SeaTow insurance and not need it than to not get it and need it. I am talking about $1000 savings here. As this page shows, you'll be paying $250 per hour plus $20 per foot to be towed or ungrounded. Or, you just pay $150 at the beginning of your trip and stop worrying. Also I am discovering other perks likes $0.10 off per gallon of diesel.
  • In addition, you do not have to be a member of these services to call and ask for advice. We met some liveaboards in Georgetown who advised us that there was no way we could make it past Jekyll Island at low tide. Of course, we arrived at Jekyll Island at low tide. However, a quick radio chat with TowBoatUS let us know that the shallowest depths were six foot in the middle of the channel - things did get a little tight, but we made it through without issue.
  • Look over your route the night before. This is a lot like homework, but you're going to have to suck it up and just do it. If you fail to look over tomorrow's route and arrive at a bascule bridge at 7:05, only to discover that it doesn't open again until 9am because of morning commuters, you're going to be sorry.  If you look over your route the night before, you can decide whether to get going early or sleep in.
  • Avoid this marker at low tide!
  • Here's another reason to look over the route - tides. The NC ICW tides are mostly wind-driven, and really don't matter too much. When you start getting south, if you have a larger draft you are probably going to need the tidal schedule for the area you'll be passing through, and note that high tide on the coast could be an hour or three earlier than high tide on the ICW. Even if you have a shallow draft, this is still really good info to know. A good site to check for this is Saltwatertides. Another possibility is to know the tidal schedule at a major inlet or such body of water, and use your guidebook to calculate the offsets.
  • Speaking of tides, they apparently cause some pretty swift currents that reverse four times a day. We've had days against both current and wind where we were making only 2-3 knots. This is also something you want to pay close attention to when setting your anchor - when the current reverses, you need to be sure you're not going to drag, which might mean setting two anchors on occasion.

Helpful Hints to Know:
  • Seaclear II: A free, downloadable chartplotter for use on your laptop. We use it daily. Of course, our position is verified visually and recorded on paper charts frequently, but it's still a very nice tool to have. Downsides are the fact you can't see most laptop screens in the daylight, and of course electronic aids are always a possible place for failure. But did I mention it's free?
  • Giant wake!  And did he slow down?  No.
  • Weekends: when you're on permanent vacation, the weekends start to be a bane. Weekends are when all the little powerboats start buzzing around like mosquitoes. You think you're in a nice, peaceful anchorage making a pot of soup and suddenly the galley turns sideways because these powerboats will show you no mercy with their wakes. Ever. EVER!
  • Dolphins - they prowl around the boat, surfacing just underfoot trying to scare you and make you fall in so that they can maul you.  Sometimes you can see them coming, sometimes they come out of nowhere!  Occasionally manatees do the same.  I hear they're herbivores, but that doesn't mean they won't take a big chomp out of our dinghy.
Lastly, if anyone else has any more advice, put it in the comments.  It would be great to see what other people learned too!