03/08/2012, Los Frailles
What do-do heads would start a 2800 mile crossing by leaving a lovely anchorage for 35 knot winds and steep confused seas? We'd been warned some time ago by our friends Vic and Hanna (now of S/V Funkadelic) that we should stay put if a Norther was predicted in the Sea of Cortez. It probably would have been wise to follow their advice. To be fair, we have plenty of experience with Pandion in 20-30 knot winds and the prediction was for low 20s today. For some reason the narrow, long Sea of Cortez tends to stack waves steep and incredibly close together, making life a whole lot rougher than one would expect. If we'd been heading upwind or in a shorter boat as our friends once were, today's conditions would have been an impossible nightmare. As it was, they provided an exhilarating (if wearing) next step up our learning curve.
Pandion has a waterline of around 60 feet. This helped dampen the close-together waves both directly and by allowing us enough speed to effectively spread their wavelengths out to a manageable (and sometimes almost comfortable) distance. We spent much of the day making 9-10 knots nearly dead downwind, with apparent winds in the mid-upper 20s. On the larger waves Pandion would take of and surf briefly to 14 knots and once we clocked her for a few seconds at 17.6! Not the way we want to spend a 3 week crossing but for the two of us not incapacitated by seasickness it was an exciting ride. The sensible one aboard finally prevailed, though, and we ducked into a little cove with good protection from the North (though 20 knots if wind still keep us tight against our anchor snubber).
Tomorrow will be a day of rest and repair. Not all of our downwind systems are completely dialed in and today's conditions certainly revealed the weaknesses. Casualty list includes a snapped staysail whisker pole, chafed-through jib sheet, cracked batten and chafed mainsail. Fortunately, what we saw today will almost certainly be rougher than anything we will encounter between here and Fiji. Spirits are good and we're all excited for another night or two of motionless sleep before getting back on the roller coaster.
03/07/2012, San Gabriel, La Paz, Mexico
Tomorrow we leave to cross the Pacific Ocean to the Marquesas. We've been way to busy to worry about much of anything, though I think I'm far past worrying. After sailing down the Ca and Baja Coast, I fell like I could handle just about anything. Though, I don't really want to test that...
About a week ago we were anchored off in a little cove called, "Lobos." It was low tide and I was feeling frisky so Sage and I were cartwheeling up and down the beach. It was glorious. But, later than evening, I realized that the amazing necklace that Lorca gave me was no longer on my neck. I was devastated. Lorca gave it to me on Valentine's Day - the second day of our longest passage to date. I had had visions of passing it down to Sage as a remembrance of our journey. We went back to the beach at low tide and we completely scoured the beach and surrounding area. No luck. I was so upset! I cried a bunch and then just made myself try to get over it. I still had the matching earrings after all. I had to let it go.
Fast forward to this morning. Each day at 0800 local time there is a "La Paz Cruisers' Net" on the VHF radio. There is a "lost and found" portion of the neck and I thought, "What the heck...I"ll just tell people I lost it and see what happens. Remarkably, after the net, a boat called, "Deja Vu" called us after. I was in total shock. Petra of Deja Vu likes to find pretty things in the water. They were at Lobos after we were. She found my necklace. I was ridiculously ecstatic. It was a one in a million chance that my magic necklace would come back to me, but come back it did thanks so Petra and her husband. So...a HUGE thank you to them for bringing it back to me.
This is all the time/energy I have for blogging now. I have to stow the boat and I'm medicated on sea sick meds and am pretty daft at the moment.
PS - we saw wild sea horses in the water here! NOT KIDDING!!!
03/07/2012, Espiritu Santos
We're anchored again in a beautiful cove on the SW corner of Isla Espiritu Santos. Lola is wearing her magic starfish necklace (see her blog entry), rising dough for bread and baking lamb potroast. Sage is drawing. Jared is howling at the full moon that is rising above the island. We're 98% stowed and a Northwest wind is starting that by morning should fill to 20+ knots to whisk us down the 100+ miles of sea into the open ocean by tomorrow's moonrise.
We'll be at sea for 2-4 weeks. Wish us tailwinds, flat seas, dry bilges and lots of fish!
Many folks, upon learning of our journey would ask things like, "How will go to the bathroom, how will stay clean, how will you COOK and EAT?"
The first two are obvious, but the third...
Lorca and I love good food. Even when we'd take Kayaks down to Baja - we ate very, very well. Fish curries, fish tacos, steamed clams, etc. Then we moved on to boats...Each of our boats have been very different - two fairly rustic and two fairly luxurious. What has always been constant has been our love of good food. Pandion is very luxurious and I have to say, we've been eating very, very well. I make fresh sourdough bread when we need it. And while I don't have all my kitchen tools that I use at home, we're still eating very well. Lack of resources breeds creativity!
Here are a few of the dishes that I've cooked aboard the last many weeks aboard. (and their recipes)
Quinoa with Corn, Feta and Carmelized Onions
***3 cups cooked Quinoa
I can corn
2 yellow onions cut in half and sliced VERY THIN
2TBSP butter (or any grease of your choice)
A really good Feta (bulgarian) or chevre
Soak quinoa for a few hours rinsing a few times. Cook in an excess of boiling water. When a good texture, drain. While the Quinoa is cooking caramelize the onions in the butter until the are very well caramelized. (dark brown at the edges) When Quinoa is done, drain, add can of corn and mix. Serve into bowls, crumble desired feta on top and then top with super caramelized onions. Really, really good and really simple!
*** on cooking quinoa - An Aussie friend of mine showed me how to cook Quinoa this way and I'll never cook it like rice again. It's so much sweeter and the texture is delightful. No moosh to it at all.
Dried Shitaki Mushrooms
half pound shrimp
one pound ground turkey, pork or beef
half pound sea scallops, optional
handful of dried shrimp, optional
inch or two of fresh ginger - whack with the butt of knife to smash a bit
better than bouillon, beef, chicken or mushroom - heaping tablespoon
char siu, if available
sai fun (bean thread noodles)
frozen green peas
baby corn, optional
tablesppon oyster sauce
1/4 - 1/2 cup soy sauce
tablespoon dark sesame oil
green onion for garnish, if available
cilantro to sprinkle on top if available
bean sprouts to add at end if available
Fill large soup pot with 2-3 quarts water
add first 9 ingredients to pot and bring to a boil stirring to break up turkey into small bits (can add frozen turkey too)
boil for a half hour or more.
while coiling soak sai fun in boiling water until soft but not mushy - it will soften considerably more when added to soup
add frozen peas and bring back to a boil
add baby corn if you, like
just before serving add oyster sauce, soy sauce and sesame oil to taste
add softened noodles to bowls
pour hot soup per top
sprinkle with green onions, cilantro and bean sprout if available.
EAT! Makes three meals for three people. stores well but store noodles separately as they get very mush when left in liquid
if not enough broth left after first serving, the next day, when reheating, add some water, bouillon, and oyster sauce, soy sauce and sesame oil to taste.
Peas will hold up well through re-heating.
Garbonzo beans, veggies and chorizo EASY AND FAST!
1 bag frozen mixed veggies like, peas, corn, carrots and green beans - I like trader joe's organic foursome
spanish chorizo, mexican chorizo or salami, or smoked tofu chopped fine
i can garbonzo beans
chopped whatever meat you have in to quarter inch dice (the meat is for flavor, not protein) and fry up in a skillet (no need to add oil - plenty in meat)
when fried up good, add can of Garbonzos and veggies and a tablespoon or so of water so it doesn't all burn
cover and cook until everything hot again,
When hot, eat.
Red Lentil Dahl with Saffron Rice and Spinach
1 cup red lentils
4 cups water
heaping 1/4 tsp of turmeric
1 Tbsp garam masala
3/4 tsp or more to taste of cumin
2 tbsp ghee, butter or olive oil
1 tsp salt
Aged basamati rice (or regular)
5 cardamom pods lightly crushed
2 tsp anise seeds
hearty pinch of saffron threads
indian nan if you have it (I keep some in the freezer on the boat)
paneer - indian cheese, if you have, can be added to the spinach with butter for extra yum
start rice cooking in rice cooker with saffron, anise and cardamom - when starts to boil stir to mix spices then leave alone
in heavy bottom pot, add lentils, water and turmeric, bring to a boil uncovered and simmer scraping foam from top when it bubbles up, if you wish
while lentils are simmering add oil, butter or ghee to small sauce pan with garam masala and cumin and fry spices until fragrant and bubbling.
When lentils are soft and mushy add oil and spices and salt (to taste) and stir. Adjust seasonings to taste. Set lentils aside and keep warm while you cook the spinach.
Pour as much frozen spinach as you'd like into a pot with some water and heat until warm. For a really decadent meal, add some butter and salt chop it fine with the butter until it's creamy.
Serve equal portions of rice, spinach and dal on a small plate or bowl so they overlap one another. Serve with nan if you have instead of a fork and folks can lap up the meal with their bread.
cheddar, jack or provolone (or any cheese you love)
breakfast sausage (veggie, pork, chicken, whatever you please)
english muffin, baguette, good bread (loaf-bread not very good with this - too soft)
Toast whatever bread have while cooking egg over easy to the shape of the bread you have, if poss.
when toast out of toaster (if you don't have a toaster, fry bread in a little butter in the pan - just butter one side or it's way too greasy) place a slice of cheese on it so the cheese will melt
cook breakfast sausage with the egg so they are done at the same time.
place egg and sausage on toast with cheese and eat!!!
water, milk or coconut milk
coconut butter (optional)
dried mango cut into thin strips
macadamia nuts or pecans
in a small pan, boil water, coconut milk or milk (almost boil milk)
add dried mango and flaked coconut
cook at low simmer until mango is soft.
add oats and cook until tender to eat - add more liquid for desired consistency
pour into a bowl
top with chopped nuts, coconut butter (or regular butter) EAT!
for an extra treat drizzle with date molasses, honey or maple syrup
refried beans, wamed
corn tortillas cut into triangles
good smoky salsa
cheese, cheddar, jack or other mexican cheese
scramble eggs and remove from pan
add corn triangles with a spritz of water to pan,
add salsa to pan and stir with tortillas adding water to keep from sticking and keep everything moist
take a plate and spread refried beans over plate
add hot tortillas, then eggs and then sprinkle grated cheese on top
serve with warm tortillas instead of a fork - fewer dishes to clean! YAY
LAMB POT ROAST WITH POTATOES
1 leg of lam - preseasoned from trader joes - deboned
3 yellow onions
10 yukon gold potatoes
half bottle of red wine
cast iron dutch oven (i have a lodge 3 QT combo cooker - best ever!!)
Brown really well and on high heat all sides of lamb
deglaze the pot with half a bottle of red wine
add water till lamb is almost covered - half inch from top and bring to a boil
Cook in the oven at 300 - 350 for 90 minutes or until meat is fork tender
add potatoes whole and peeled around the lamb and cook until potatoes are tender
lamb should be falling apart if forked. If not remove potatoes and cook until lamb is super tender
add potatoes last 5 minutes to re-heat.
Serve with veggies of choice (brussles sprouts really good!) and good crusty bread and red wine.
Will serve up to 10.
CHICKEN POT PIE
olive oil for pan
4 boneless skinless chicken thighs or 3 breasts
1/2 to 3/4 cup shallots - sliced, chopped, whatever
mediterranean seasoning (gotten from whole foods) or herbs de provence or any herb blend that you like
5 med yukon golds, one inch cubes
***half a bag of frozen mixed veg with carrots peas corn and green beans
2 cups Bechamel sauce (see below)
1 pie crust topping (see below)
put a stick of butter in the freezer, you'll need it later. Freeze your pastry cutter or two forks, too.
sprinkle chicken generously with salt (béchamel sauce will will be not salty - rely on chicken to salt dish.) Add meat seasoning and garlic powder and a little fresh ground pepper on both sides. IN a 10 inch skillet, heat olive oil on high and brown chicken very well on each side until chicken starts sticking to pan. Deglaze pan with water (or a little white wine and water if you have) and bring back to a boil. Add potatoes to pan making sure potatoes are in deglazing liquid (should cover potatoes half way. Cover pan and cook five mins. Add shallots to the top and cook until potatoes are tender. remove from heat and add frozen veggies. Set aside.
prepare pie crust:
1 cup flour plus 2 TBSP
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
one stick butter (european is best. that's been in the freezer for about half an hour)
3 TBSP ice water
combine dry ingredients and use a whisk to combine well. slice butter (handle as little as possible - you want it very cold) into TBSP size pats. Using a pastry cutter (easiest) or two forks, cut butter into flour until pea sized chunks-ish. Throw the whole thing back in the fridge while you make the béchamel sauce.
6 tbsp butter
3 tbsp four
2c milk (2% or whole milk is best but it doesn't really matter since there's so much damn butter in it!)
Heat oven to 400˙ F.
In a sauce pot, melt butter. add flour a TBSP at a time while whisking madly to keep from clumping and burning. After all flour has been added continue to whisk madly until roux starts to brown a little add the milk in a solid stream (don't forget to whisk madly!!! all the while!) until all has been added. Cook a few minutes and don't dare stop whisking. Until is nice and creamy and looks like the inside of a pot pie should look. When you first add the milk - don't be alarmed - it gets all clumpy and weird looking- just keep whisking madly! It will turn into the most lovely béchamel sauce that you can use an a gajillion different ways - (see below)
Pour the fresh, hot béchamel sauce over the chicken mixture and pour it all (or all that will fit, into a 9 or 10 inch pie plate)
Take pre-pie-crust outta the fridge and add, a TBSP at a time the ice water and work dough with fingers just until it holds to gather into a ball. Try not to hold dough too much. You want it to remain cold. Sprinke a little flour on the counter and plop dough ball in the middle of it and press out a round that is an inch or so thick. Roll the dough out until it's big enough to overlap your pie dish an inch or so over the edge. Crunch the edge up so that it seals everything in while making a nice design.
Toss it all in the oven and bake until filling is bubble and crust is just golden on top.
***This recipe is OTT yummy with fresh veg. Chop the carrots and cook them ahead - they're the hardest to cook properly when mixd with everything else. Lightly steam the green beans too. Shave some corn off a few ears, shuck some peas and add those at all at the same time you would add the frozen veg. The fresh peas and corn are really, really good in this recipe.
Serve it piping hot in small bowls so it will hold its shape.
add a little madras curry powder to taste and drizzle over grilled or steamed asparagus
use in savory crepe filling.
good over broccoli since broccoli is so gross and should be illegal
fry up some sausage, pour this sauce into the pan and make some biscuits - Bikkits n Grevveh
really good for casseroles - Sage LOVES tuna casserole so I use this sauce instead of canned soup like most recipes call for.
You can substitute this for any cream sauce to lighten the recipe. (I know... the butter - but not cream at least!)
03/04/2012, San Gabriel, La Paz, Mexico
I found my good haircutting shears and decided to let Lorca cut my hair. The gross, faded Manic Panic Nuclear Red had turned a malignant color and was terribly unattractive. No one else was willing to cut it so I let the huzz cut it. He actually did a pretty good job - but then - my hair always looks just t'other side of crazy anyway so it's not like it was a big deviation from the norm. It's supposed to be an A-line bob. And I guess is kind of is - just a more manly version. But it feels great to not have to deal with a mass of tangled, salty hair all down my shoulders and back. It's an odd experience letting your husband cut your hair.
We're sitting out this North Gale in a lovely anchorage and I've found myself feeling a little wistful because in a few days we'll be in high gear provisioning the boat, readying our crew and looking for the right weather window to leave for our Pacific Ocean Crossing. Pacific. Ocean. Crossing. Am I insane? Oh wiat, I just let my husband cut my hair into a saw-tooth, er, I mean A-line bob. So maybe a little. I again find myself looking forward with excitement about exploring the unknown - a 3,000 mile ocean passage - (albeit with some trepidation because I know how miserable I'll be for the first couple of days) and looking back with sadness because we'll leave Baja: a place we've grown to love so well over the last 20 years. We'll be back. Baja always calls.
I was sitting in the cockpit this morning, very high on my latte, and thinking that we've, just this trip, got about 1,600 miles under our keel. We've done a bit of coastal cruising and lots and lots and lots of SF Bay sailing and some trips to the Delta as well as our trips down here on our Mac 26 sailboat. I wonder if the couple thousands of miles accumulated swinging back and forth at anchor during this gale would contribute to our sailing resume Big puffs of wind up to 33 knots slam into the boat, and Pandion, with her beautiful motion, lazily shies away from Mr. Wind but then, the anchor chain and snubber, like and impatient owner of an unruly dog jerks her back to center causing her to over correct and swing back the other way. We put a lot of scope (length of chain that goes to the anchor) out because we knew the gale was coming and wanted to sleep at night so the arc of her swing is big. Back and forth, back and forth we waltz at anchor. The San Gabriel Gale Waltz.
I'm know Pandion, the old girl, won't let us down and now I'm feeling pretty good that we won't let her down.
We're crossing an ocean. Under sail, with our own bodies and minds determining our direction and fate. Wow. That's a tough one to process.
The general consensus seems to be that the first week is rough because you're trying to get into a rhythm and routine, the second week is bliss and the third week everyone is antsy and ready for land. I don't think it's as simple as that...Particularly when there's a kid to school and a crew to feed and a boat to keep up. I've ready so many damn books about what to expect and now I realize, "Yes, books are good for the knowing what to do "just in case" part" but I don't want to know what to expect in terms of how people experience it. I want to be open to it all. And feel it the way I, as a unique person will feel it. I don't want to lock myself into three distinct weeks of, "discombobulated, recombolulated, and ants in my pants." So, off we go with open minds into the great blue yon!
03/02/2012, San Gabriel, La Paz, Mexico
The fishing here sucks. Too close to an airport I guess. Only caught puffers. Ever tried to unhook an angry inflated puffer from a barbed treble hook without any tools? In an inflatable boat? It's a bitch. No one wins.
Pretty here though..