Cooking at sea

So yeah, wow, the Canaries! We got here and anchored off the island of Lanzarote on May 10th, got chased out of a marina for rowing, pulled up the hook two days later, went about a kilometer south, plopped the CQR in one place…baaaaad, the ferries were all over us like cops on a Dunk’n! We reset about 100 meters back north and we’ve been here ever since. Well you know us, we’re going around the world in the smallest electric sailboat in history but we’re not in any big hurry to get there…wherever there may be. We started provisioning for the next leg of the adventure as soon as we could get the dink off the bow and almost immediately ran out of cooking gas. We broke out the spare tank, hooked it up, and went to work on our new article for Practical Boat Owner magazine “How to Rebuild a Monitor Windvane Self Steering System While Underway.“ We got the article written and submitted. We then wrote a piece for Spinsheet on having been underway for a year with an electric motor. We scored an interview with the publisher Imray on writing a new Brazilian cruising guide, got the gig. Scored another handful of articles for Spinsheet (the Latitude 38 analog for the east coast of the US) and, all the while, we were cooking on the daily. When we show up in a place, we research the veggie or pesce food people are eating locally. We try to replicate at least one dish on the boat, just to see if we can add something to our cuisine that we can take with us. Just like any island chain, the Canary Islands have different cultures with different foods and beverages with each of the islands within that chain.[…]

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To Azores Day 14

Monday August 7 Day 14 to Horta…a new day a new storm. This one has teeth and seems even angrier than the last ten of them. We took the 3 largest rogue waves of our lives today…they weren’t rogue, we were. We’re experiencing a malfunction in the windward Monitor steering, it keeps popping out of the cam-cleat. It now has to be tied off at the tiller…hmm. Dena’s overnight watch…maybe 9:13 pm: Halfway There Day wasn’t the celebration I’d hoped for. I’d thought about a special snack and a special dinner (it’s all about the food), but we didn’t make any dinner at all. We hit noon under yankee alone, and that pulled out maybe 20%. By 4pm, the waves had grown to match the heavy wind. We sat quietly, listening for trouble and disciplining ourselves to calm. Anxiety can be exhausting. An hour after that, I swapped the hanky-yankee for a napkin of staysail. Lovebot was getting overwhelmed by the way the waves pushed us around, and a particularly nasty one pried open every possible opening to inundate the interior. Yep, we got splashed inside the boat. We took three of those, actually, over several hours. Beluga Greyfinger was on my lap for one of them and I had to hold him tightly in mid-air to keep him from scratching me up. Poor salty kitty! We’re all now salty to the max and hoping for some settled weather after this passes over. Salt attracts moisture, so it’ll feel wet aboard until we can do a general cleaning. Vinegar water for the melamine and Murphy’s for the wood. Laundering the towels we stopped it all up with will have to wait for the Azores. I barely convinced James to go to bed. I’m to wake him in 3 hours and[…]

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To Azores Day 13

Sunday August 6 Day 13 in our neighborhood started with that aforementioned brew…warm and black with a kick of consciousness at the end. The world’s ocean rolls and lulls us along at the pace of 2.4 knots. The speed of the verse today. I just love the colors of everything. A little yellow and red fish quickly inspects a man-o-war then ducks back under the boat for shade. We are a part of this world moving and living within this living and constantly moving system of careless intensity. Over the last 24 hours we traveled 58.4 nautical miles…not so great but hey we live here what else are we going to do? We seem to have come in to some settled weather…the clouds are the white fluffy variety and the winds are directly behind us and constant.I would prefer having more sail out but this is nice, we’ll take it. The hours off watch have become almost the same as the hours on watch. Lovebot drives Cetacea…we glide along within her protection away from another sunset. Dena’s 4-5 pm watch 4:08 pm: I worked on Shriving for three hours and that meant reading what I’d already written so I have a running start at what is left to cover. It felt like a lot so I checked the project stats and remembered suddenly that this is part of what withered my energy for the manuscript last time. I’m maybe a third of the way through the story and I have almost a hundred thousand words. Wow. This time, I’m going to just keep on going and not get stymied by the idea that there are a shit ton of darlings I’m going to have to kill. (Kill your darlings is one of those creepy sayings in the writing world, meaning[…]

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To Azores Day 2

Wednesday, July 26 Dena’s 12:30-1 pm watch: The sun, wow…it somehow sucked the wind off the surface of the north Atlantic flow…then it came back up, then…our world breathes like our Cetacea. When I (James) wash dishes, the wind generator ramps up to serve power to the battery I just took it from to run the water pump. It happens at the spreed of the resistance we have built into the system. I can hear it when it happens…it’s quite a bit slower than the speed of sound because I notice it. …But not by much. We can do better. We’re at 100% on both house banks and 96% on propulsion 24 hours out of a two week romp through Bermuda. We can do better. Dena’s 1-4 afternoon watch 3:04 pm: It’s hard not to make things up out here. Overactive pattern recognition, I mean, not fibs. The unfoamy crest of a small wave could have been a fin, and the birds have it out for me. Without the blare of constant messaging, the mind will make its own. We got back up to the mid-threes for a couple hours and are now back down to the high-twos. I’m not sad. The breeze is cooling and the solar panels are providing shade. Feels good out here after a couple of hours keeping out of the sun below except to check for other vessels and wind changes. We’ve done well with our one-hour watches between 9 am and 9 pm as far as being able to get out of the sun (or rain) and only hold the on-watch alertness for smaller amounts of time. It doesn’t really lend itself to concentrated endeavours though, and we are both writers. We’re trying a new thing to keep the days from feeling quite so[…]

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Come on, Marlec

So, of all the new technologies we’ve gotten to know and the new battery chemistry and the new…well…everything propulsion and steering that isn’t our sailing rig, the only one to cause us enduring frustration has been the 48v Rutland 1200 windcharger (the British way of saying wind generator, it seems). They fairly recently got on board the high voltage train with a 48v version of the 12v wind generator we already own (see last year’s installation). They only about a year ago got some kind of support for the LiFePO4 batteries that are powering modern electric sailboats. And their shit is not working. We paid extra for a standard-phone-plug-to-USB cable and PC app that was supposed to let us change the charge parameters so that they’d work with our lithium phosphate battery pack. Instead, this program let me change some parameters and save the changes…it said the controller had received them…but when I disconnected and reconnected, it had all gone back to the defaults. Why is this a problem? Well, their “return to bulk” setting (also not standard terminology as far as I can tell) is so low that we would have to nearly kill the battery before the controller would take the wind generator off standby. Now we’re dealing with a company that’s about 3000 miles away and not jumping to fix this problem for us. We’re heading their direction but, believe me, carrying this broken system back to them for fixing is not exactly Plan A. Here’s hoping they fix us up in the next couple-few days so that we can keep our new electric motor running in the fashion to which we’d like to become accustomed.

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Electrifying!

We posted local ads on dregslist and facefuck for our diesel engine and left Key West on a sheet of glass covered in salad. Not a breath, a sigh, nor even a whisper of wind on our ocean all the live long day. …And any day you have to listen to a diesel infernal-combustion engine on a sailboat is a long fucking day! We anchored on the southwest side of Lois Key for a change of view and because it would allow us to sail off the anchor the next day, which we did. Not only did we weigh anchor under sail, though, we made good time for the first 15 miles to Boot Key. The last 5 took hours as the wind died down, but never quite out, and we enjoyed the quiet and easy motion through the water. We made an average speed of 3.29 knots, which is amazing to think about since we were doing less than 2 knots by the time we were approaching the anchoring area west of Boot Key. The conditions were gentle enough that we rolled into a good position, James dropped the anchor, and I (Dena) pushed the mainsail to the side so the boat would back down while he let out the chain. We set that anchor with the current as much as with the light wind, but it was a trustworthy bury. We made it back to Boot Key just in time to discover we had a serious offer on that diesel we hadn’t used. The more we talked to the guy who is interested in the engine, the more we discovered how truly serious he was. And that’s when all the other serious offers started to pour in. Next thing you know we secured an unexpected but absolutely welcome[…]

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Splashed!!!

To a job well done! We both woke with a strong dedication to finish the job-at-hand: the rebuild of S/V S.N. Tursiops. We were so close to splashing that sucker. The gunwale-guard is a soft poly-fiber textile with a light-weight foam fender running through it. It attaches at ninety degree angles completely around the boat and takes whole lot of tiny epoxy bedded screws with finish washers to secure it to the gunwale. It’s a big job but well worth the effort. We also installed four small fenders for a little extra buoyancy and topsides protection. We flipped for it and guess who won? Dena might have won the toss but she was cool about it and let me take a spin around the big boat just to confirm what I (James) already knew. Tursiops rows like a dream! We then put the motor on her and went into town for provisions. The trip took less time than we were used to spending in the old dinghy, and we were dryer on arrival than we had been on any wind-vs-current trip since we’ve been here. It’s a really good sign, even though we plan to row as much as is feasible. Rowing is better for health and happiness, and it lets us get into shallower, more interesting waters. It’s a good thing we installed the extra fenders…the dock was packed when we got back a couple hours later. We made about five knots over the ground going back to Cetacea, with very little current pushing us and the wind alongside. Back at Cetacea, we left the fenders out just in case we got the wild wind-vs-current boat-clash in the middle of the night but there was no need. Tursiops silently tracked behind all night long. Now we can’t wait to[…]

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