12/16/2011, Vuda Point Marina
Today was just another day of small tasks that needed to be done aboard the boat. Yesterday, the marina lost water after a construction company broke the main line coming in from the main road. It was restored after several hours but with no water available, many services suffered. Heck, the cafe couldn't even wash their dishes. We checked our tanks this morning and found that we had about 3 inches left. It was time to fill them up. Not full, but to maybe 3/4 full. There is no need to have them full at this time as when we go out to other islands to explore, we want to be a bit lighter than normal so we move better and faster. Fully loaded, our tanks add almost 2200 pounds to our waterline. Now filling our tanks takes a good bit of time as every drop that goes in our tanks is filtered. It goes through a thick paper filter and then through a charcoal filter. We've been told that the water here at the marina is perfectly safe but why take the chance that something might get in our tanks and contaminate the water. We have ALWAYS filtered every drop that hits our tanks--unless we are making it with our water maker and even it goes through filters. We have friends that brought water aboard in the Marquesas that was supposed to be safe and a few days later, their water was turning green as life began to grow in their tanks. They had to empty their tanks and scrub them out to get rid of all of it. We won't take that chance. After well over an hour, the tanks were 3/4 full and that is just fine with us.
Off for lunch at the marina restaurant. We normally eat at the small cafe here but decided we needed to have a different menu for a change. The chicken curry(mine of course) was weak and the salad Tracy had was a failure after it came with anchovies after asking for them to be left off and very little dressing. I guess it either back to the cafe of start eating on board. We're quite removed from town where the inexpensive restaurants are so they are out of the question though we are heading for town tomorrow.
After lunch, we headed back to Zephyr for our afternoon jobs. Tracy was going to defrost the freezer. It had built up a good bit of ice and was in need of a cleaning. It also allows Tracy to see what we have buried deep down at the bottom. It's a tough job as the frig and freezer are almost 3.5 feet deep and she has to stand on a bag of kitty litter just so she can get close to the bottom to get everything out and get the bottom cleaned and dried. With a hair dryer and a metal scraper in hand, in she went. Close to an hour later, all was done and now we wait for the freezer to get cold enough to refreeze what we had in it. Luckily, we own an insulated bag that most of the frozen food can be kept in while the defrosting goes on.
I meanwhile, started in making an eye splice in new braided rope I brought back from the US. Our halyard(raises the sail) for the forestaysail had been chafed quite badly during the trip across from Mexico plus it was too small a diameter line(3/8) for the winch that Tracy uses to raise the sail. I brought back 97 feet of 1/2 inch line that will work out fine. I've seen people put eye splices in braided line before and have even done it once or twice(mediocre success). This time, I watched a video with Brion Toss(the rigger we used in Port Townsend) on how to do it. I'd watch a bit and the go back and watch it again--over and over all the while working with the line following his instructions. After a good hour, I got it done. I even remembered to put in the shackle that attaches to the sail before finishing the splice. It took a while but as you can see from the picture at the top, it looks just fine. Previously, the 3/8 inch line had a steel thimble in it at the eye so the shackle could have fallen out. Now, it's not going anywhere.
Once those jobs were done, I headed for the showers. It has been a long hot(88 degrees) and humid(70%) day and I needed to get cooled down.
As I said, tomorrow, we're off for Lautoka again.
12/14/2011, Vuda Point Marina
For those of you afloat as well as on land, let me tell you an easy way to do ribs. I bought a rack of what were supposed to be baby backs but instead I got spare ribs when they were delivered a few days ago. I guess a brake down in communications between myself and the person behind the counter. Out here in Fiji, it's not that uncommon. Any way, with spare ribs being more stringy than baby backs, I looked into a better way to cook them where they would come out tender with the stringiness broken down.
I googled for a way to cook them in a pressure cooker as we just happen to have one on board. A useful piece of equipment when you are on a boat. With the lid on, even if the boat heels unexpectedly and the pot falls off the stove(it can happen), nothing leaves the pot. Not surprisingly, there are many recipes available on the web. I chose the simplest. Brown the meat a bit(in the same pot) and then pour off the grease. Add your sauce plus a bit of water to make the steam needed as the sauce is too thick to do so. Close up the lid and cook for 15 minutes once it hits pressure. Once done, let the pressure bleed off and undo the lid. Take the ribs(being careful as the meat is now fall off the bone tender) and put on a rack under the broiler in your oven. Add a bit more sauce to the top of the ribs and let it sit under the broiler and let it caramelize for a bit(about 5 minutes). Voila, you are done. Get set to enjoy a great rack of ribs.
If you are looking for great sauce, let me suggest the following recipe I use from "Top Secret Restaurant Recipe #2. It was taken from Chili's Restaurant.
1 1/2 cup water
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup tomato paste
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
2/3 cup dark brown sugar(packed)
1 teaspoon liquid hickory smoke
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon paprika
Combine all the ingredients for the sauce in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. When it comes to a boil, reduce heat and simmer the sauce, stirring often(it burns), for 45 to 60 minutes or until the sauce is thick(sticks to a wooden spoon).
Now here is where the recipes change. They suggest pouring the sauce over the ribs and wrap each rack in aluminum foil and arrange the packets on a baking sheet with the seam facing up. Bake for 2 to 2 1/2 hours (at 275 degrees)or until the meat on the ribs has pulled back from the ends of the bones by 1/2 inch. Now preheat your barbecue grill(or broiler). Grill them on the barbecue grill(or broiler) for 4 to 8 minutes on a side or until the surface of the ribs is beginning to char. Brush the ribs with sauce a few minutes before you take them off the grill. Serve with extra sauce on the side and lots of extra napkins.
I've done it both ways(pressure cooker & foil packets) and it comes out great every time. I used to use my barbecue grill and cook them for hours to get them tender but this way is not only faster but the meat is far more tender and yummy.
Give it a try. I know you won't be disappointed. I'd add a picture but they didn't last long enough to get one.
One final note. If you have any sauce left, for a great appetizer, pour it over cream cheese and serve with crackers. People will love it, take my word for it.
12/11/2011, Vuda Point Marina
Today was moving day. The space we had been in was just not right for Zephyr. Even with winds in the mid 20 knot range, we were moving from side to side "gently" bashing Purrfection and hitting the fenders on the Nivini boat to our right. I'd hate to think what would have happened to all of us if a 150 knot wind came through. A space opened up about a week ago(#33) a bit farther down the marina circle. Today we set our sites on moving there. I first walked over to see Moe, one of the marina supervisors. His response was "NO". Apparently they have a 60 foot boat coming in next week and he is slotted to go in that slip. I tried in the office and again, the answer was nope. I then talked to George, the supervisor of all the boats in the marina and he got in his dingy and slowly went around the marina(just about full) looking for a space for us to squeeze into. If we moved the "Bio-Security" boat over,that would make a space just about the size we needed for Zephyr. Lines were grabbed and the "Bio-Security" boat was moved. We got Zephyr underway and backed all the way across the marina cove. In we went with about a foot on either side. At least we had a foot if someone pushed us away from the "Bio-Security boat. He was still a bit slack in his space.
I tossed the stern lines to Terry off Teka Nova and Ib off Aeolus while Tracy tossed the bow lines to George in his dinghy. George attached our lines to other bigger lines that go out toward the center of the circular marina while the stern lines were made fast. We were in our new home at least for now. Once we were set in our space, I walked over to the office to let them know where we were in the marina. I asked about the 60 footer that was going into slip 33 and they told me that he was only staying for a week. I had them slot us into the space once he vacates it after Christmas. It's not that it's a better space, it's just that there is more space between us and the boats that will be on either side of us. So for now, we are in a better space than where we were.
Yesterday, the marina sponsored a concert by Graham Wardrop, a guitarist from New Zealand here at the marina. Music started early in the afternoon and continued till late in the evening. The main concert started about 1500 and was delightful. He played different versions of Beatles songs as well as Bob Dylan songs plus some of his own. Six of us gathered(Aeolus, Teka Nova and ourselves) so we all made a nice afternoon of drinking and listening to music. I nice way to spend an afternoon. By 1900, it was pouring again. It's the first real rain we have had in close to a week so we were overdue.
Now that we are in our new space, we will spend the afternoon watching our drift as the afternoon breeze comes through the marina. We don't want to come up close and personal with our neighbors.
12/11/2011, VudaPoint Marina, Fiji
Here's a picture of Zephyrs stern as well as others on either side of our boat. All you can see is lines, lines, and more lines. Every boat has at least two and with us, four lines attached to the stern. Ours are not only line--1/2 inch as well as 3/4 inch but we added chain to get us over the concrete deck that surrounds the marina. With out the chain, it would chew through the line quickly. I added metal thimbles to each of the 3/4 inch lines to make sure there was no abrasion. Can't be too careful.
You can see our lines with the chains as well as the rubber snubbers I added that act like big shock absorbers taking up the sudden jerks that happen when the wind blows Zephyr around the marina. Every boat does it a bit differently. Some use chair and some not. Some tie cross wise(port side to the starboard ring on shore and vice versa) and some tie straight back. We use four for security. Two out each side. One lead farther out for a wider restraint and one closer(has the chain) for a more backward pull should the need arise for it. We're not going anywhere. At least we hope not. I guess we will see at the next blow.
12/09/2011, Vuda Point Marina
Yesterday was baking day. Tracy took off for the galley while I headed on deck for a different project. Instead of the Pecan/Cranberry bagels I'd made a few weeks ago(YUM!), Tracy was going to make English Muffins. She hasn't made them in a long time. Out came the cook book and in she went.
While she was busy below, I headed to the bow of the boat to put up the tarp we bought a few days ago. The Sun beats down here most of the day and even with an air conditioner, it can get warm inside. This time, we were going to use our spinnaker pole to hold it up away from the deck so at least there would be some air flow across the deck. As I was about to attach one end to the mast, it started to slip from my hand(the darn thing is 21 feet long) and was headed for the water. I tried to grab it and lost my footing and started falling along with the pole. I reached out for anything to grab and quickly came to realize there was nothing to garb hold of. I was headed for the deck. With nothing to grab, I just relaxed and let it happen, with "this is going to hurt" going through my mind. It's like in the movies where every action shot is in slow motion. I hit the deck with a resounding thud. Sitting there on the deck with the back of my neck slammed against the life lines and my arm having been scraped against a line on the way down, boy did my butt hurt! "That's going to leave a mark" going through my mind. Tracy came running up on deck to see what I'd dropped. Just me! The errant spinnaker pole had jammed itself between the rigging and stay on board(yea). I picked myself up(quite slowly) and started in on the project again(much slower this time). I tied one end of the pole to the bow and fitted the other end to the mast. At least the pole was attached. I grabbed the tarp(14 X 16 feet) and ran it with the 16 going from the bow backward. Tracy came up on deck to assist with placing the lines down each side as the muffins were doing their rising thing below. I swapped out bungie cords for line once all the preliminary attachments had been made. We are now about 90% covered. Tracy finish her English Muffins shortly after 1200 and we took off for the local cafe for lunch.
As we walked over to the cafe, along came the Fiji Meats delivery truck with the order I'd place the day before. We got 4 chicken breasts, four steaks(hopefully aged meat this time), a rack of ribs(I'd ordered Baby Backs but got Spare ribs instead) and a freshly roasted chicken. Fiji Meats cooks all kinds of meat on Thursday night and Friday morning so you can order just about anything and have it delivered fully cooked. Costs a bit more but at least you don't heat up the inside of your boat. I had everything shrink wrapped(except the cook chicken) and frozen so it would go into our freezer already frozen(sort of). Here's the breakdown: .85 kilo of steak= $22.37fijian ($12.10US)
.616 kilo of ribs= $13.91fijian ($7.53US)
.97 kilo of chicken= $17.95fijian ($9.71US)
1 roasted chicken= $14.20fijian ($7.68US)
vacuum bags= $3.00fijian ($1.62US)
total for all of it= $71.43fijian ($38.64US) Delivery was free.
All in all, considering most of the meat has to be shipped in, the prices aren't that bad. I'll let you know how they taste. I'm have barbecue sauce simmering on the stove as I'm typing this so Ribs are for dinner tonight.
After lunch we retuned to Zephyr and I headed into the galley to make a couple loaves of bread. As I've said in earlier posts, Fiji has many wonderful things to offer, but good bread is not one of them(that we have found). This time, while I used the same recipe I've used over the last months, I brought in a machine from civilization(now that we are in a marina with plenty of power to spare)A Cuisinart!!!! When we came back to Zephyr last year, we brought our full size machine with us. We'd had a smaller version but wanted the power of the full size. Once the dough was made, I plunked it into the Cuisinart and let it do the kneading. Around and around it went with me adding a bit of flour every now and then. Once it had done the kneading for me, I let it rise(into the engine room again) and then into the pans and back in the engine room. Into the ovens and out 40 minutes later. We were set to have our Fiji Meats chicken and freshly baked bread for dinner!
We sliced the bread and smeared on fresh butter. It wasn't quite the same as the last batch. Two things had changed. 1--I'd used a different flour this time and 2--I'd let the Cuisinart do the kneading. Not sure which made the difference but while it was still quite tasty(much better than the local loaves) it was just a bit different in it's flavor. So out with the old flour(not much left anyway)and next time, I'll go back to kneading by hand(the old fashioned way).
When we came into the marina last Tuesday, Mo assisted us in tying up to the lines from the center post in the marina. He used different lines than what George had used when we first tied up in late October. Yesterday, the winds blew through the marina just a bit harder than they had before and we were moving all over our space. We'd move to the right and bump fenders with the boat on that side and then shift to the left and tap Purrfection(catamaran). We reposition our fenders and tightened up lines at the bow and still we kept moving all over our space. I can't imagine what would have happened if a blow of even 50 knots had come through. I spoke with George(oversees the marina) and he came out this morning and took one of my new lines and ran it out to the same line we had used when we first came in. I'll be adding another line at our stern in a few minutes to see if that helps keep us away from our neighbors.
So, now the sauce is all made and the ribs defrosted and the post is all typed and it's on to another project. Hope you all enjoyed the pictures I posted.
12/08/2011, Vuda Point Marina
I've added a new gallery of some of our underwater dive photos from Plantation Pinnacle. You'll see a "photo gallery" listing on the right side near the top of the blog. Hit it and then slide down past the thumbnail pictures in the "Main Gallery" and you will see Plantation Pinnacle listing. Click on any of the pictures and it will bring it up to a full size picture. Enjoy.
More to come.