Thursday, May 31, 2012

Fish And A Coconut

I felt inspired to try creating a dish given a few ingredients we might have on our boat plus what we could theoretically "scavenge" and a coconut.

I started with the coconut.  I placed the coconut water into a pan (conserving fresh water), heated over medium heat and added some of the fresh coconut and Italian seasoning, and used that to cook some mahi fillets .  I then removed the fish and added a little Media Crema and a little too much cayenne pepper (oops) and made a simple pan sauce for the fish.

In addition I tried the rice in a thermos thing again, and this time it worked very well.  I found the trick is to start like you are cooking the rice normally (use the specified amount of water, and add the rice to the water then bring it to a boil.  Once it boils, into the thermos it goes until it is needed.

The Mahi in a Spicy Coconut Cream Sauce over Rice, other than being just a bit too spicy, was pretty simple to prepare.  It used items I assume will be part of our standard provisions or could be "hunted or gathered" and was pretty good.  Maybe next time I'll skip the cayenne and add a little mango...mmmm....

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Some Days Mother Nature Just Doesn't Cooperate

This past weekend we had another sailing lesson.  The forecast was for 5~10 knot winds in the morning and then building to 35 knots in the afternoon.  So, when we got out to the reservoir....yep, nothing.  Not even a light breeze.  It's kinda funny...I have a hobby where the weather often doesn't cooperate...starting to sense a trend here (beyond the fact that weathermen are really bad at guessing the weather).

Oh well, we practiced anchoring, docking, and went through reefing again even though  we definitely didn't need it.  My wife and I are definitely getting more comfortable on the boat and how everything works (the instructor even commented that we should make a good sailing team) all we need is moderate wind for the last couple lessons so we can cross the last items off the checklist.

At the end of the lesson, after we got back to the dock and were securing the boat, suddenly the wind arrived.  It was as if someone flipped a switch turning on a giant fan.  It went from no wind to 35 knots instantly.  The only time the jib caught wind was when we were folding it on the dock...and it almost went for a swim.  I guess that is one more thing we learned...a sail is hard to fold in strong winds.  Well, seems the weathermen got one small part right.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Other ASA 103 Classroom Session

Ah, the irony...after practicing man overboard drills on the water a few days ago, we finally covered it in the class.  On the water we did the figure 8 and quick stop methods.  In the class, they also showed us one that the school owner came up with.  The goals of the procedure are to limit the amount of difficult tasks (such as jibing) involved getting back to the victim and give the crew a little time to get their act together.

The other main topic for this class was navigation.  We received sample navigation charts of the Rhode Island Sound area for learning purposes.  Since another hobby of mine involves navigation and maps, determining coordinates and calculating headings are tasks I already know pretty well.

The instructor was back to skipping around on the presentation slides.  Someone needs to show these folks that Powerpoint will allow you to change the order.  Not as bad as the first class, but the skipping around is definitely a distraction to learning when you spend more time thumbing through the slides than actually absorbing information.

Overall, while the classroom sessions haven't been great, I do think they add enough to the classes to make them worthwhile.  It is easier to learn some things in a classroom than while sitting on a boat.  Now we just have 3 more on-the-water lessons and we'll be done with this course.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Finally Some Wind

This past weekend we had our first on-the-water classes for the ASA 103 course.  Instead of our usual location, we booked it at the other reservoir in town.
Our first surprise was finding that our favorite instructor of the past lessons was going to be our instructor for this class as well.  Since he normally teaches at the other reservoir, we didn't expect to find him at this one.  The second surprise was that the other two students didn't show so we ended up having a "private" lesson.  This would allow my wife and I to handle the boat ourselves with only guidance from the instructor.  The third surprise, we actually had some wind.  We had decent wind for our first lesson, but the wind on the other two were almost non-existent.  There were a few lulls, but overall it was good while not being too much for us to handle.

We started the lesson with a brief orientation to the reservoir.  While in the marina we did a 360 degree turn to demonstrate how tight the boat can turn...and it can pretty much pivot around the keel...that was unexpected.  We then left the marina, found some open water and raised the sails.  This was the last time the engine would be on until we returned to the marina.

We practiced sailing various points of sail, and tuning the sails for best performance.  Finally figured out what the main sheet traveler is for as I practiced sailing close hauled.  There was apparently some regatta as I also spent a fair amount of time dodging boats that were coming out to race.

We then found a bit less crowded part of the reservoir and did several man overboard practice maneuvers.  Nope, no one got wet...well except the fender that we were using as the man overboard.

Then coming back to the marina we performed a heave-to so we could bring the sails down with just "two" of us on board.  That is a handy maneuver when you don't have enough people that one can stay at the helm all the time.

Having the boat to ourselves for this lesson, I think we learned a lot.  Looking forward to the next lesson.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

How About Cooking

There is no doubt that many things will be different in our cruising life than it is now.  One is certainly cooking.
Pork with Brandy Apple Cream Sauce
Right now we really don't do a lot of cooking.  For a while my wife and I had different dietary needs and cooking two "meals for one" at each meal wasn't feasible.  While that isn't the case anymore, getting in a habit of cooking dinner just hasn't really happened.  So, I guess the bright side is we are fairly clean slates on the subject.

The first obvious issue is space.  A boat galley isn't anywhere near the size of our home's kitchen.  We will definitely need to be careful about what we keep and what we get rid of or we'll never get it all to fit.  Things that stack (or nest) will certainly help.

Another issue is motion.  Since we don't live in California, our kitchen doesn't really tend to move much.  A floating kitchen will definitely be different.  While stoves seem to generally be gimballed to stay level, everything else moves.  Not sure how this will impact things other than I know we want to avoid breakables (glass) and will need ways to secure stuff.

Provisioning will be another new task for us.  At home, we can just zip over to the store and pick up anything we are missing.  A little more hassle if you are at anchor near a town and impossible if you are otherwise traveling.  And with limited storage on a boat, we really need to figure out menus that use a lot of the same things so we have space for it all.

Energy is another big issue on a boat.  At home, stoves and appliances have unlimited supplies of gas and electricity.  On a boat, you have only the energy in the batteries and maybe an alternate fuel for a stove/oven (propane, alcohol, kerosene, etc.).  Definitely no American size refrigerators. Conservation is the key.  One very clever conservation idea is cooking using a Thermos.

We are starting to try to deal with meals more like we would on a boat.  One cool resource is The Boat Galley that has lots of tips and tricks (added to the research page).  For dinner last night we had fish tacos:
Other than the thermos rice, everything turned out well and was quite yummy.  5 minutes or so of pan frying the fish and boiling water for the beans and rice was all the energy used to cook.  Not counting the fish, salsa was the only refrigerated item (although leftover fresh caught fish would be refrigerated).  Even though I'll need to try the rice experiment again, overall I consider it a success.

And yes, the food pictured at the top of this post was a creation of mine...just because we don't cook much doesn't mean we can't. ;-)

Friday, May 18, 2012

Lessons Continue - Basic Coastal Cruising (ASA 103)

After a little debate at home (related to the discussion from this post) we decided to continue with the Coastal Cruising course here in Colorado.  Yesterday was our first classroom session for the new course (this course consists of 2 classroom sessions and 4 on the water).

One of our concerns with the school we're using was that the "theory" class from the previous course wasn't very good.  The class had a slide presentation, but the instructor tended to bounce around a lot and we didn't feel it presented information in an effective manner.  I'm happy to report that the class last night seemed to flow much better and we felt we got much more out of it.  The instructor (same one as the first classes) seemed more comfortable...we wonder if having the owner at the first class was a distraction for him.

We received our textbook and immediately started covering theory.  What to do as the wind picks up (reefing and mechanisms involved), the finer controls used to shape sails and other secondary controls, how the forces on the various sails impact the handling of the boat, dealing with hypothermia, dealing with fire, etc.  Of course...maybe this all made more sense since we were introduced to many of these topics during our previous on the water lessons...who knows.
(image from NauticEd)
Also glad to report that the textbook for this course seems far better than the pamphlet we received for the ASA 101 course.  Seems it may be a much better study guide for the first test.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Interesting New Resource

While pondering the question of "what would be a good boat for our plans" (and searching the web...looking at pictures and specs and floor plans), I ran across the following site:

Atom Voyages

Two circumnavigations and 20 years sailing.  Pretty impressive, especially in a 28 foot mono-hull sailboat.

In an earlier post I mentioned that I hadn't found many people that kept up this lifestyle for a very long term, and while I don't know how much of the time he was living aboard the boat during the 20 years, it had to be a fair amount and does bode well for the longer term.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Picking a Direction

When we started looking at this sailing idea, I identified several courses that I felt we would need to take at a minimum:
  • Basic Keelboat (ASA 101)
  • Basic Coastal Cruising (ASA 103)
  • Intermediate Coastal Cruising/Bareboat Chartering (ASA 104)
And, if we decide to go catamaran:
  • Cruising Catamaran (ASA 114)
We've completed the first class (except for the test...which we need to schedule) and the question is where to go next.  The school we used for the first course does offer the coastal cruising options...but does it make sense to learn this in Colorado when we plan to sail on the ocean. (if you think otherwise, you may want to consult a basic US map. :-) )

Now, there are some pretty cool classes that teach all these courses over a week or so while you live aboard the boat.  The problem is that we don't have the ability to get away for this sort of class until the fall...and I just can't wait that long.

What I'd like to do is take the basic cruising course locally and then rent a boat and do some sailing locally on our own to practice the basic skills.  Then, in the fall, do a live-aboard option for the last course and maybe take the boat out just the two of us after completion of the course.  Unfortunately I'm not finding much that works that way.

Maybe we can charter a sailboat and find an instructor that will go with us to create the class I want ourselves.  Happen to know a sailing instructor with some free time in the fall?

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Third Sailing Lesson

Far  from  our last lesson, this was the last one for the ASA 101 (basic keelboat) standard.  The wind had been howling for the past 24 hours and was even blowing our car around on the drive to the reservoir.  So...of course...when we get on the water, barely a breeze.

We covered how to tweak sails to deal with varying wind conditions.  Adjusting the outhaul adjusts sail shape, loosening it to help with the light winds.  Although we definitely didn't need to, we also went through the process of reefing the main sail to demonstrate what to do when the winds are strong.

We also went over a technique called heaving-to, which is used when you want to take a break.  With it, you can essentially "park" a sailboat so it will stay reasonably in position without having to remain at the helm.

One last chance to practice docking and it was done.  Now, all that is left is to memorize all the terms and information here, and take the test.