02/19/2012, Bundaberg Port Marina, AU
Early this morning, we boarded the free shuttle bus that goes to the Farmer's Market each Sunday. This time we were joined by Cheryl and John of S/V Sea Mist, as well as Angie, whose boat name I can't remember. She and her husband live up in Cairns and they just arrived here in Bundaberg.
After getting our weekly fresh produce and returning to Leu Cat, I tuned in the Michigan/Ohio State basketball game on our computer and enjoyed listening to our Alma Mater beating those nasty boys from Ohio. The Big 10 Conference is now extremely tight with Michigan State a half game ahead of both Ohio State and Michigan. Michigan has now played both of those teams twice and split each series. Michigan State and Ohio State have played each other only once so far and MSU beat OSU, even though OSU is ranked 6th in the nation. In the last game of the season OSU plays MSU and if OSU wins, there may be a three way tie between these three teams for the conference championship. It kills me to say this but..."Go OSU". This is about the only time I will ro for those nasty boys down south!!!!
After the game was over and I had enjoyed a celebration Cuban and a Manhattan while rocking in the hammock, Mary Margaret and I got together to plan our explorations of this continent. We have decided to buy a rail pass that will take us up and down the eastern coast of Australia, so we can visit Brisbane, Sydney (including the Blue Mountains), Melbourne and Tasmania. We will also be flying from Melbourne to Perth and back. We will be leaving Bundaberg on or around February 27th and return on or around April 3rd. Thus, we hope to have 5 weeks of touring Australia by land. This will give us a week or so when we return to rest up and then start our cruising season in mid-April.
Now I just need to make all of the reservations and start digging the beaches here looking for buried treasure. I need to find a way to pay for all of this!!!!
02/18/2012, Bundaberg Port Marina, AU
You know that things are just not going well when you get consistently killed (that is peeled, chopped, diced, and then spit out) in cards. My so called "loving" wife has been dominating me lately when we play our favorite card game. It is a made up version of Head and Foot, which is a form of canasta. Our friends Lorie and Ken of S/V Trim taught is this version, which some other cruiser friends (Ron and Roz Worrall of S/V Worrall Wind) made up in Fiji last year. They call it "Fiji Rummy - Cannibals and Coups" because it is such a more vicious version of the tamer game. Why they call it rummy instead of canasta is beyond me but it really does not matter.
Anyway, memories of me killing Mary Margaret in one game where I scored 6,400 points in one hand (3,500 points is about the average per hand) have almost completely vanished. Instead, I am faced with one loss after another. It is now getting to the point where after playing the second hand (you play three hands to determine the winner), Mary Margaret is now asking me that since I am so far behind, do I really want to play the last hand. Humph, the nerve! OK, so I now have a history of conceding defeat after two hands but it is my prerogative to throw in the towel when I am so far behind. Do I come across as being a poor sport and a little bit bitter? Naw, I am just telling it the way it is...
Since each hand takes so long to play, I have patience for only playing two hands at a sitting. We usually sit and play cards two or three times a day and usually can get two complete games in a day. We mix playing cards between boat projects, reading and listening to music. It usually makes the day pass by quickly and enjoyably. However, when all one does is losing and then lose again, one starts to pout!
I am now starting to dream of playing this dumb game. Maybe I need an attitude adjustment; after all, it is just a game...
02/17/2012, Bundaberg Port Marina, AU
By now I am sure that you are totally bored reading about the slow progress we are making on our boat project list. Thus, today, I will not even mention it, except for saying that today was another good day. You will just have to sit there, in ignorant bliss, not knowing which projects progressed so well.... Ha, ha, ha!
Instead, I will share with you what epicurean delights we have been enjoying while back on Leu Cat. As I have written before, we find that the fresh fruits and vegetables that are in the supermarkets in Australia are somewhat lacking, compared to what one is used to in the US. While the selections here are good, the quality is just not Grade A. It might have to do with how the produce is handled between farm and store. We have been to a number of different supermarkets here in Bundaberg (in the heart of a large agricultural area) and in Brisbane (one of the large major metropolitan areas in Australia) and we are still in search of a supermarket with good produce. We have been told by Aussies that the food is first shipped from a farming area to a major metropolitan area for distribution and then shipped to the various supermarkets. Thus, for produce to end up in a supermarket in Bundaberg, the produce grown here is shipped to Brisbane and then reshipped back to Bundaberg. This means that the produce is stored or carried for many days before it ends up in the supermarket here!
However, when we went to the Farmer's Market last Sunday, Mary Margaret was very pleased with the quality of produce she saw and bought. If she is happy, I am happy because it translates directly to a happy tummy around dinner time. From now on, we will be going to the Sunday Farmer's Market to get our weekly share of produce.
Regarding meats, we have found some packaged chicken breasts that are excellent, the beef is hit or miss, and the pork, while tasty, is usually presented with a roll of fat and the skin still attached. The fat layer and skin probably adds to the rich taste and moisture of the pork when you roast it but given that we have a propane oven, we tend not to roast things since it takes so much propane and heats up the salon too much. Instead, Mary Margaret will buy pork tenderloin and slice it into either one inch or ½ inch thick portions. The thicker portion is for grilling on the BBQ with a special glaze she makes while the thinner portions are pan cooked over the range. Thus, she has to struggle to remove the thick, tough skin and the deep fat layer that surrounds the pork tenderloin she buys.
What she has been trying to do since we have returned to Leu Cat is turn our focus from meat to vegetables. I gained too much weight when we returned to the US and Mary Margaret is helping me get back into fighting shape by cooking up delicious and healthy dinners. For example, a few nights ago she cooked up a vegetable medley of carrots, celery, onions, eggplant, green peppers, garlic, tomatoes, fresh parsley and zucchini. This she sautéed in olive oil and soy sauce with the herbs and spices she added, it was to die for. It is a variation of a dish she learned from our daughter Heather. I can hardly wait to have it again. Last night she took the fresh basil she had bought at the Farmer's Market and made a double batch of pesto sauce. We had my favorite pasta for dinner last night fused with pesto. She added some pork tenderloin as a side and I was in hog heaven (excused the pun).
The other day Mary Margaret also made a triple batch of gazpacho which only lasted a few days. It was wonderful and very healthy. Plus, being serviced chilled, it cooled us off during the hot spell we had a few days ago.
While not very dietetic, she also made a Key Lime pie the other day for my Valentine's Day treat. I had not had Key Lime pie in years and it was marvelous!! Thus, as you can see, we have been adapting to what we can find here in Australia and in turn, have been eating well. I have lost about 6 pounds in the two weeks that we have returned, so I am hopeful that soon I will be back to the svelte Dave Leu that I once was....
02/16/2012, Bundaberg Port Marina, AU
Each day we try to work on a boat project item or 2. Our goal is to have everything ship shape so we can take off the end of February and spend the month of March exploring Australia. It may not sound much to you but working 4 hours or so on Leu Cat in 90 degrees with the sun beating down on you can be quite draining. By the end of each day I am exhausted and sore. Maybe it is just getting older every day but I really look forward to bed....
Today, Mary Margaret worked on replacing and remounting a new world map that we keep up on the wall in the corridor in the guest's hull. Each year we mark the passage we took so we can show our guests when they come where we have traveled. The original map was getting a bit ratty so it was time to replace it.
Outside, I helped a worker repair the portion of the mast tract that had broken on our passage from New Caledonia and we repaired and installed the secondary anchor bow roller. It had bent some when our windlass died in French Polynesia and we had to raise our anchor rode by hand. The bow roller frame bent during a storm when we had to put out 300 feet of chain to prevent dragging.
Mary Margaret and I also rigged up a line at the end of the boom, tied it to the mainsail that was sitting in the dinghy and we raised the sail up and placed it on top of the flying bridge deck. It is one heavy sail!! Once I reinstall the batten cars, it will be ready to be affixed to the mast and then raised. I am anxious to get this behind us as fixing our mainsail and mast track has been our number one priority. I still need to replace a couple of the battens but I have been running down leads on that too.
Techno-Tip Of The Week: Hose Clamps
It is extremely important to periodically inspect and replace when needed the hose clamps you have on your boat. These little puppies prevent the various liquids (i.e., fresh water, salt water, and diesel) that run through your hoses from leaking. Nothing is worse than a fluid leak on your boat. This is especially true if it is diesel that is leaking or it is sea water from a thru-hull!!
When we returned to Leu Cat after spending three months in the US, I decided it was time to again inspect the hose clamps. As it ended up, I was glad that I did because a clamp to the sea water cooling system on our generator had broken and was sitting on the generator housing. Age and tension had worn the clamp out and it had broken while we were gone!!
I recommend that you inspect your hose clamps at least one a year. You will be surprised at the number that vibrate lose some and need tightening a little bit.
Here is an "after" picture. While not of the same hole in the sail as the previous picture, the holes were basically all the same. You can see how nice and neat this repair is and it will actually out last a repair that is stitched since the stitching will rot over time while this repair is like the Ever Ready bunny, it just keeps going and going and going...