Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Is Convenient, Better?

Is the simple life, the more rewarding life?
The other day, I did three loads of laundry. Three loads.
No big deal, right?  I mean - how long does it take to do three loads of laundry?  Two hours?

Wrong.  It took me from 8am until 1pm.  That is approximately five hours of laundering (I *did* wash towels, sheets and comforters, mind you).

Oh - and I did it by hand.

No, this is not another post about how to do laundry on a boat - I already wrote about that.  Nope, this is a post about efficiency and how it has changed the world, for better or worse.

While I was elbow deep in soap and ammonia getting one heck of an arm workout, I thought to myself how living on boat takes you back in time.  A time where everything moves a little bit slower, where everything takes a little bit longer.  Simple tasks can take two, three, four, sometimes even five times longer than they do on land.  We can spend a whole day doing chores that take most of you an hour or two.  Like laundry.

I've touched on this subject before, but on this particular day, I got to thinking more about land-life convenience, the effects it has on us and the time we save because of it.  We have cars that take us from a to b.  Mechanics to fix those cars when they break.  Gas stations on every block to fill up the tanks of those cars.  When the power goes out, we can trust that ComEd will turn it back on.  When the toilet backs up a plumber can be over within 24 hours.  We can do a dinner party's worth of dishes with the push of a button.  Customer service hotlines are now 24/7.  Children carry cell phones and are glued to electronic devices.  We can fast-forward commercials.  We can warm up frozen food in two minutes.  There is a store (big box or otherwise) for just about any and everything you need within driving distance.  Water is always available when we open our taps.  Garbage gets collected once a week.  Streets get plowed and mail gets delivered, rain or shine. Food can be delivered for us, right to our door within thirty minutes or less.   Nowadays with the internet, if we don't want to leave our homes, we really don't have to.  For anything.

And, of course, we can do three loads of laundry without ever getting our hands wet.

The list, obviously, goes on.

With all this extra time on our hands, it's no wonder we have evolved into a society where the average person watches television for four hours and thirty-five minutes a day.  Where, by 2030, about half of the adult population of the United States will be obese, not including 1 out of every 3 children.  Should we be surprised that cases of children being diagnosed with ADD & ADHD have increased by nine million over the last ten years and the average child spends 5.5 hours every day on media-driven sedentary activities?  Is it shocking that, despite being one of the richest countries on the planet, we rank #16 out of 80 in terms of  happiness?  Doesn't this seem odd in a world where things are so...easy?

It seems to me that despite having all this free time thanks to "modern convenience" and "efficiency" - we're not using it very wisely and it doesn't, in fact, make our lives better.  Despite having more time on our hands than ever (historically speaking) - we enjoy the world much less, and we're worse off because of it.

Now I don't want to get lynched for being the pot that called the kettle 'black' - because I am just as guilty as the next guy when it comes to reveling in modern-day conveniences when I can.  When we lived on land I drove all over the place, I ordered take-out, I microwaved dinners, I shopped online (and still do) and I most certainly did not do laundry by hand (though none of my apartments had a dishwasher).  Not to mention I am on the computer, utilizing the magical world wide web on a daily basis.  Sometimes more than I should.  It's how I get my daily bread.  I work online.  In addition, we obviously enjoy many conveniences aboard Rasmus; chart plotter, AIS, autopilot, EPIRB, watermaker, fans, oven, SSB and more - and it is true these technologies enrich our experience and make life more comfortable.  But there must be a balance, because too much of a good thing is not good, right?

I'm not pointing fingers - and I don't have any answers.  I mean, I have the luxury to have five hours of time in which to do laundry by hand.  I have the luxury to live on a boat where I walk at least a few miles a day just doing normal chores, where I get to breathe fresh air and bask in sunshine on a daily basis, where I eat locally grown fresh produce and where my lifestyle keeps me fit and healthy, naturally.  I am a lucky girl, and I know it.

And you want to know what else?  I have never felt more of a sense of accomplishment doing laundry than I did when I completed all those loads and saw them lined up, clean and pretty, drying in the sun and flapping in the breeze.  It felt so good to hang that last towel.  I guess working a little harder makes the end result that much sweeter.

My friend, Tim Shambrook, who commented on a question I posed on our Facebook page said it best:

"The bigger the effort, the bigger the reward."

It's that simple.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Top 10 Tuesdays: 10 Easy Ways to Conserve Water


Water conservation is not something cruisers take lightly...  

Many of us have a very limited supply of water (our tank holds 60 gallons) and wasting water (yes, even if you have a watermaker) is frowned upon out here.  Gone are the days of the thirty minute shower (though, truth be told, I never understood what people were doing in there that long anyway...) and baths (oh, how I did love a bath!) are a thing of the past.  We don't begrudge it though - in fact, being more aware of the resources we use is bringing us closer to nature.  Did you know that there is a world-wide water crisis?  That over 1 billion people do not have access to safe drinking water and even more have no access to proper sanitation?  It's mind boggling what those of us in the "first world" take for granted.
"There is a water crisis today. But the crisis is not about having too little water to satisfy our needs. It is a crisis of managing water so badly that billions of people - and the environment - suffer badly." World Water Vision Report
In other words, we "haves" are very wasteful.

This is no bueno.
Top 10 Ways To Conserve Water On A Boat:
  1. Use foot or hand pump when possible - every sink in our boat is equipped with a manual hand pump.  Hand/foot pumps use significantly less water than pressurized pumps (foot pumps are ideal and preferred, as you are "hands free").  BONUS TIP:  Outfitting your boat with at least one manual pump that brings in seawater is ideal - especially in the galley - as you can use it to wash the dishes (this is a 'future' Rasmus project), brining me to #2...
  2. Use salt water to do dishes - we do all our dishes in salt water (no, none of our pots have rusted).  We plug up the sink, fill a bucket from the sea and fill the sink with saltwater.  Non-ultra Joy dish soap works great in salt water and we save ourselves gallons of fresh water over time. BONUS TIP:  On the rare occasions you wash with fresh water and use regular dish soap, like Dawn, mix the soap in a small dispenser with 1/2 soap, 1/2 water - that way it takes much less water to wash and rinse!
  3. Use a spray bottle to rinse dishes - a tiny bit of water actually goes a very long way and after washing in salt water, have a spray bottle of fresh water available to rinse.  A few squirts and voila - dishes are salt-free and clean!
  4. Bathe in salt water, rinse in fresh - don't knock it till you try it!  There is nothing like a bath in the ocean!  Jump in the water - scrub and suds up with soap and shampoo - jump back in the water - get out of the water - rinse with fresh.  I promise you, after you are all dry it feels no different or less clean than a "real" shower and again, you have saved a ton of fresh water.  We have an aft deck shower to rinse, but if you don't - consider getting  a Sun Shower, they work great and again, use very little water.
  5. Collect rain water and/or wash the boat in a squall - while we haven't developed a great rain catchment solution on Rasmus, we do leave our buckets on deck to collect rain water.  This water is great for plants, for rinsing dishes, and for filling your tanks when you are far enough offshore to be free from pollutants.  Washing your boat during a squall is great as well.  Put on your bikini, get the deck brush and some soap and get to work! I do it all the time!
  6. Outfit all faucets with a hands free instant off device - While we don't have this product, we have seen it before and almost bought it but didn't because we weren't sure it would work.  After seeing how pleased our friends on s/v Sarabande are with theirs, we plan to get some ASAP.  Can save you a tremendous amount of water over time!
  7. Save cooking water to do dishes after - when you boil a pot of pasta, don't throw out that water!! Save it for later to wash dishes with!
  8. Use a whistling tea kettle - this way, you'll know right away when the water is boiling and you won't waste water by way of evaporation.  BONUS TIP: In addition - cook with less water.  More often than not the directions tell us we need more water than we do!
  9. Use a half-gallon garden sprayer for on-deck rinsing - you can get these from any hardware store and they are great at making a little water go a long way.  Great for an anchor wash down (or, if you have a salt water rinse up on deck - even better!), or a quick deck rinse and more.  Doing a light rinse with freshwater will do a salty boat good!
  10. Flush toilets with salt water - flushing toilets with fresh water, especially on a boat, is incredibly wasteful.  Salt water works just as well and there are many very easy ways to avoid the calcification that occurs when urine and salt water meet, such as doing weekly flushes with vinegar.  What comes from the sea shall return to the sea anyway, right?
So there you have it!  While most of these apply to living on a boat, I challenge you landlubbers to be a little more thoughtful about your water consumption as well!  In fact, here are 100 Tips, just for you!

Anyone else have any great water conservation tips that I missed?

Love,
Brittany & Scott

    Monday, August 29, 2011

    The Thinking Man's Guide...


    Scott found this free cruising book online and I thought I'd share it with you...

    There are are plethora of cruising guides out there and tons of cruising resources, especially online.  However, depending on the internet for cruising information once you are offshore is not something I would recommend.   What you can do, however, is hop online before you go, and download free guides to have on your computer for while you are underway (or, if you prefer hard copies - print them out and bind them at Kinkos).

    Frank Virgintino has written a myriad of free online cruising guides for places all over the Caribbean which I strongly encourage you to check out.  For a lot of our journey Scott and I turned to Bruce Van Sant's "A Gentlemen's Guide to Passages South".  While there is great information in this book and I would still recommend it to cruisers heading South; it is incredibly hard to understand, is poorly written, and Mr. Van Sant's ego tends to get the best of him from time to time.  More than once we would sit in the cockpit with friends and turn to a page in his book only to play the "What the heck did he mean by that?" game over a pitcher of sangria (trust me, if you read this book you will know exactly what I mean).

    This book is different (though it's title does indicate a tongue in cheek nod/nudge to Bruce Van Sant's).   First of all, it's free.  Second of all, it reads clearly and easily.  It's not so much a Caribbean cruising guide as much as a cruising resource and, for those of you who are prepping for a similar journey, you would be wise to read it.  He covers boat selection, crew dynamics, weather tactics, making landfall, routes to the Caribbean and more.  You can download the book for free here.

    Enjoy!

    Love,
    Brittany & Scott

    Sunday, August 28, 2011

    Second Show Sunday


    Because Sunday is the day of rest for so many (and stats are famously low on Sundays) I am going to post some blogs from long ago.  I realize some of you might have already read them - but most of you probably haven't.  So grab a cup of coffee, kick back, and enjoy this blast from the past...because sometimes, things are better the second time around...

    This is an oldie, but goodie - it was funny to re-read because I wrote it at a time when we felt so green, so unsure of ourselves.  A nice reminder that we all need to start somewhere.

    FRIDAY, OCTOBER 29, 2010

    We Are Not Alone!

    Hop on over to Hop-O-Nose!
    Misery loves company, right?  Isn't that what they say?

    I think that is a little on the negative side...but there is a lot of truth to it.  We are social creatures...we need each other: to laugh, to cry, to celebrate, to mourn...that is why we as humans have congregated into vast societies across the globe.

    You know what I have learned though?  When it all boils down to it, we are all the same.  We all have the same needs, the same desires - we all laugh, we all cry.  We all long for love and acceptance.  Everything becomes so much more simple and clear when you understand that.

    So here we are, in this little nook along the Hudson River called "Hop-o-Nose".  It's a gem.  Tucked just off the river in Catskill, NY - it's one of those places you imagine Jimmy Buffet writing a song about.  It's a simple little marina - full of characters and full of charm.  Oh yeah, and there is a bar not 100 feet from where I type, so perhaps I'm biased.

    Our "local" bar.  Lots of fun in this place.
    Anyway...

    Last night we ran into another cruising couple, Jill and Bud, off the boat S/V Earendil.  We met them on the dock as we were en-route to the showers (BONUS!!!) and got to talking.  I think we ended up chatting with them for 30 minutes before we left.  Having been the only cruisers we have met thus far, we had a lot to talk about - and a LOT in common.  Turns out, we're not the only ones on the water who have only the slightest clue what we are doing!  Who knew?!

    We invited them to have dinner and drinks with us (at said bar) and they joined.  Throughout dinner we just laughed to and fro as we went back and forth with our tales of tribulation and woe.

    People - we are not alone!

    It was such a relief to meet another couple of cruisers who are in the same boat as we are (metaphorically speaking).  Misery loves company.  And when misery has company, it's not really misery anymore at all.  It's just...normal.

    Scott wondering if we are the only ones.  Nope, we're not!
    In addition to Bud and Judy, we also met back up with our friendStefan (the German guy who helped us out in Buffalo) and his lovely fiance Galinda.  We had only met him for a short afternoon over a two weeks ago, and I had never met Galinda - but when we "reunited" it was like a meeting of old friends.  Hugs and hearty handshakes all around....Stefan asked about our engine and then he said,

    "Oh, you have not heard OUR stories"....

    Music to my ears.

    He went on about engine issues, turning around in the locks and all sorts of little hiccups they've had along the way.  Then, Galinda and I sat in Rasmus drinking hot tea and just laughing at how nice it is to meet others who are sharing very similar experiences.  It was like we had known each other for years.  Bonds are made that fast.  It's fantastic.

    NEWSFLASH:  We are not idiots!  We are not doomed!  We are just like everyone else!

    Seriously, this was an epiphany.

    Sure, some people have more knowledge than others, some people have more experience, some boats are newer, some are older, some are bigger, some smaller - but everything evens out in the end.  It's the nature of this beast we call 'cruising'.

    Maybe that's why misery loves company - not to share in the gloom of it all, but to feel "normal" and realize, "You know what, it's not that bad".

    Love,

    Brittany (& Scott)

    Saturday, August 27, 2011

    Market Day

    What better way to cool off than to buy a chilled-down coconut, stick a straw in it and drink?
    I love, love, LOVE local fresh markets.  I've written about this fact before - so when my friend, Alicia, suggested we hit up the market together, I jumped at the chance.  The timing was perfect - we were in dire need of a market run - our fresh food stores were dismal and meals were suffering...

    The market here in Grenada is nothing short of wonderful.  They have everything from local jewelry to spices in the raw, from exotic fruits to standard vegetables and everything in between (except arugula, which I am dying to make a salad with).  We went to the market on a "slow" day (the big day is Saturday) - which is a blessing in disguise - because we were able to peruse and meander through the winding alleys at our own pace, without the frenetic elbow-to-elbow crowds of the Saturday mayhem. What was best though was that we were free stop and chat with some of the friendly shopkeepers (have I mentioned how wonderful the Grenadian people are?!).  Alicia even got a natural remedy from one mama on how to help bring down the fever sweet baby James's suffered the night before.  These mamas are a wealth of knowledge, I tell you.

    About an hour and a half later our bags were overflowing with the kind of fresh produce that makes a mouth water: ripe starfruit, juicy mangos, fragrant passion fruit (my personal fave), giant cucumbers, organic tomatoes, leafy lettuce, buttery avocados, cooking plantains and more.  We'll be eating well...at least for the next few days, that is.





    Love, 

    Brittany & Scott


    Friday, August 26, 2011

    Coming Full Circle


    Here's a nice story for you...

    Way back when, in the very beginning of this "journey" when Scott and I were looking at boats - we came across a Pearson Countess.  Being eager beavers at that stage and thinking we had found "the one" (even before we looked at her, whoops!) - we scoured the Internet, high and low, for every piece of information we could find about that boat.

    During my research, I came upon a funny, well-written blog of a young couple in New York, who, not unlike Scott and myself, were preparing an open-ended journey aboard their Pearson Countess.  A secret love affair began.  Secret, because I was simply a passive reader of their missives;  love affair because they made me laugh.   As time passed on, we ended up walking away from the Countess (too much of a "project" boat) and were eventually led to the Rasmus (for more on our search and what we were looking for, click here).  Because we were about a year and half behind them, I kept quietly checking in on them from time to time as they sailed off into the sunset, from NYC to the Caribbean.

    That was until present day (2+ years later) when I did my monthly check-in with their blog and saw they were moving again.  And they weren't just going anywhere - they were en-route to Grenada.  Serendipity!

    It was time for me to come out of the woodwork.  After loosely following along with their journey for so long I knew a few things; a) these people were cool b) we shared a sense of humor and c) we had a lot of lifestyle similarities.  I knew we'd get along.

    I wrote them that I had been stalking them for some time, that we were also a young couple, currently in Grenada, that we should meet...blah, blah, blah and they excitedly wrote back with a demand to get together once they got here.  Thus began the beginning of a friendship, one who's seeds were planted over two years ago via the interweb during a random Google search for the words "Pearson Countess".  Pretty neat.

    Meeting them has been like a breath of fresh air - finding young cruisers was easy in the near-coastal Bahamas, but has proven more and more difficult as we travel further and further South.  While one of the things we love about this lifestyle is the fact that age is a non-issue and we get to enjoy the company and perspectives of people young and old, it is really nice to find some young cruising friends who share a very similar set of circumstances and world view with us.  Turns out misery is not the only emotional state that enjoys company. Who knew?

    You must check out their blog - you will love it.  Self-proclaimed "hippies who shower", they have a ton of great, organic resources on their blog from how to make your own dog food to making your own castille soap.  Plus, they will make you laugh, and who the heck doesn't love to laugh?


    "Serendipity is the faculty of finding things we did not know we were looking for."  - Glauco Ortolano


    Love,
    Brittany & Scott

    Thursday, August 25, 2011

    I've Got a Caribbean Soul


    The other night as Scott and I were dinghying over to our friend's boat for dinner during a particularly beautiful sunset, I thought: God I love my life...


    The sun was balancing like a glowing orb right on the horizon and was about as big and orange as I've ever seen it.  The sky around it swirled like fresh watercolors from orange to purple and pink and faded upward into that magnificent midnight blue that precedes dark.  It was one of those rare occasions that I didn't have my camera with me and cursed myself for missing out on the shot.  But then I just settled back and instead of fiddling with camera settings and viewing the magic through my LCD screen, I just,watched as the sun seemed to gently melt into the water.

    It was beautiful.  And it was one of those moments where I knew with complete certainty, "I am exactly where I should be".

    Love,
    Brittany & Scott

    Wednesday, August 24, 2011

    Oil Down

    When we got the opportunity to experience a traditional "oil down" on a remote black sand beach this past weekend, we lept at the chance...

    When in Rome, do as the Romans do - right? Experiencing local food is not only a great way to learn about a culture, but it is incredibly cost effective as well. What do you think is cheaper down here: a veggie burrito or a heaping plate of 'oil down'? The heaping plate will win, every time. But I am getting ahead of myself...

    What the heck is "Oil Down" anyway?

    Oil Down is the national dish of Grenada and has absolutely nothing to do with a lavender infused massage (thought that does sound nice).  It's what people in the South might refer to as "comfort" food and is a hearty combination of vegetables, dumplings, fish, pork (sometimes snouts and tails), beef, callaloo, spices and coconut milk all cooked together in a big pot over an open flame.  The namesake comes from the fact that the coconut milk - as it simmers - releases a fragrant oil that rises to the top and, once it reaches the bottom of the pot (get it?  oil down), it is ready to serve.

    The meal is nothing short of a feast - a tour de flavor if you will - and your belly will sing you praise (especially if you did a pretty rugged hour long hike to get to the oil down!).  Oh - and another bonus?  It's all cooked in one pot.  We love one pot meals over here!

    Want to make your own oil down and get a little taste of the Caribbean?  I have copied a recipe below.  And remember - feel free to add or omit ingredients (we'll skip the meat when we make it) - the beauty of the oil down is that just about anything tastes good in it.  Sweet potatoes, squash, carrots, and more.  Get creative.  But remember - a true oil down must have in it callaloo (substitutions:  swiss chard, spinach or collard greens), coconut milk and saffron (substitution: turmeric).  There are about a million different variations of oil down and it seems everyone has their own special version, but I found this one to be most comprable to what we had...
    Morris, our chef, working his magic

    Ingredients

    • 2 Onions, chopped
    • 4 Spring onions, chopped
    • sprig Thyme, leaves picked
    • 4 cm Ginger, grated
    • 3 cloves Garlic, crushed
    • 8 Chicken thighs, skin on (optional)
    • 1 small seasoning Pepper, or mild green chili, finely chopped
    • 2 tsp ground Saffron/Turmeric, or 1 tsp fresh turmeric, finely grated
    • vegetable oil, for frying
    • 225 g callaloo leaves
    • 450g salt beef, pre-boiled until tender to remove excess salt, cut into 3cm slices (optional)
    • 225g Pumpkins, or butternut squash, peeled and diced into 1cm cubes
    • 1 small fresh breadfruit, peeled, core removed and cut into 4cm cubes (or substitute 2 large potatoes, cubed)
    • 500ml coconut milk
    • 1/2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
    • 2 Spring onions, chopped

    Preparation

    1. Combine the onions, spring onions, thyme, ginger and half the garlic to make a marinade. Mix with the chicken and leave overnight in the fridge, if possible, or for a couple of hours.
    2. Add the remaining garlic to the chicken along with the seasoning pepper and turmeric. Stir well.
    3. Heat a splash of oil in a large pan. Add the marinated chicken pieces and fry for a few minutes to brown.
    4. Meanwhile, remove the stems from the callaloo and pare off the outer layer. Roughly chop the prepared stems and shred the leaves.
    5. Add the callaloo and the salted beef to the pan and stir well. Add the pumpkin and breadfruit and stir again. Leave to cook for a couple of minutes.
    6. Pour in 400ml of the coconut milk and season with black pepper. Cover with a lid, bring to the boil then reduce heat and simmer for 20–30 minutes without stirring. Top up the pan with the remaining coconut milk during cooking, as needed.
    7. Scatter with spring onions before serving.
    Note:  Our version also had lovely Caribbean-style dumplings in it - I would highly recommend adding these, especially if you make the vegetarian version!


    Bon Appetite!
    Love,
    Brittany & Scott

    P.S.  If you would like to see our entire photo album of this incredible day, check out this link.

    Tuesday, August 23, 2011

    Top 10 Tuesdays: Top 10 Galley Gadgets


    Our 'galley' is our kitchen and measures (approximately) 5 feet by 2 feet.  That is not a lot of space to get your groove on when cooking nor is it enough space for typical kitchen fare such as Cuisinarts, toasters, microwaves and other goodies most of you use on a daily basis.  In fact, we have none of the above.  Living on a boat has forced us to alter our lifestyle - something we see as a gift, really - and get a little more creative when it comes to the kitchen. So with no further ado...

    Here are our Top Ten Galley Gadgets:*

    1. Non-skid pads/pot holders/dishes - when underway, a boat is not stable.  Things slide all over the place if left to their own devices and cleaning up after the mess is not fun.  To help curb the launching of dishes, we use a lot of "non-skid" on surfaces when we are moving.  Cloth potholders don't quite have the 'stick' that these do.  It is also helpful to have non-skid on the bottom of your dish ware.  If you don't want to buy the expensive stuff from a marine store, here's  how to DIY: 
      • You'll need caulk and wax paper.  Put a bead of caulk around the bottom edge of the plate/bowl/mug (where it touches the surface of the table) and while the caulk is still wet, press lightly onto wax paper (to flatten the caulk so the dish sits level) - allow to dry, remove the wax paper and voila!  Non-skid dishes for less!
    2. Zip-lock bags -  if we had a dime for every ziplock bag we had, I swear we'd be millionaires.  I think we have more ziplock bags in various shapes and sizes than we can shake a stick at.  We use them for everything - from storing leftovers, to preventing crackers from getting stale, to keeping things dry.  Not a day goes by when we don't use these so stock up stateside!
    3. Pressure cooker - I have not mastered this thing yet, but I have used it a fair amount and it helps tremendously in cutting down the cooking time for beans, potatoes, vegetables and more (and uses a lot less gas and water!).  Apparently people are scared to use these because the older versions were a little temperamental and had the potential to explode in people's faces?  Ours has never exploded and we all know how useful I am in the kitchen.
    4. Can opener - Seen as how we don't have refrigeration, we eat a lot of canned goods.  Get a really good can opener.  And have another as a spare.  In fact, keep that spare in a ziplock bag to prevent rusting!
    5. Nesting mixing bowls - I have a set of three very similar to these and use them all the time.  They have a rubber bottom so they don't slide when I leave them unattended for a moment and a great grip-able handle as well as a pour guide, which is nice.
    6. Storage containers - I've mentioned before that we raided the Container Store and spent a small fortune at that place before we left.  One of our (many) purchases was a food storage system.  We chose these pop up containers and bought an arsenal of them for pastas, crackers, cereals, flour, sugar...etc.  They're sturdy and air-tight and work like a charm at keeping humidity out.  However, any type of secure, airtight container will do.  If you do chose the brand we selected, just remember not to pick them up by the lid!  Spill city!  ALSO, speaking of containers,  you will definitely want a beverage container as well to drink in...we have this one and it works great for iced tea, crystal light and, of course, tropical rum drinks!
    7. Heat diffuser - we have this one on board and though we don't use it for it's intended purpose, we do use it on a daily basis over an open flame for toasting all sorts of goodies from bread to bagels to muffins (works MUCH better and faster than a 'camping toaster' which we just recently got rid of).
    8. Thermos - while we don't use this much when we are at anchor, our thermos is very helpful when we are passage making.  Water stays hot for 12+ hours and it's great for making instant soup, coffee or tea during a bouncy night shift.  If you have the space for one that dispenses with a pump or a handle, I think this is preferable.
    9. Collapsible Measuring Cups/Strainer - in fact, collapsible anything is ideal on a boat.  We have this brand of measuring cups and also have a collapsible spaghetti strainer and funnel.  They're great, easy to use and clean, and take up significantly less space than their 'solid' counterparts.
    10. Nesting cookware - this is the granddaddy of them all.  We got this set from Galleyware as a wedding gift and could not be happier with it.  All the components fit into one nice little package and because the handles are removable, can fit in a small, compact space. 
    So there you have it - some simple tips and tricks to help make your galley more efficient and organized!  In addition, as a "bonus tip" we have almost no glass aboard our boat; our dishes, plates, cups, mugs and bowls are all made of melamine which we would highly recommend.  No glass = no breakage!

    Love,
    Brittany & Scott

    * I was not compensated in any way for suggesting these products, the opinions are my own.

    Monday, August 22, 2011

    Laundry Day!


    Living without a washer/dryer isn't always easy, especially here in the tropics where you literally sweat completely through your clothes on a daily (if not hourly) basis.  Laundry is one of those chores I have always loved to do - there's something that feels so good about having all your clothes clean and fresh-smelling.  Unfortunately, do-it-yourself laundry facilities are few and far between down in these parts and typically, if you want your laundry done you must take it to a service (usually a one-woman show) where they charge you anywhere from $12-$20 dollars a load....unless, of course, you do it by yourself.

    I've done the bucket method on several occasions, each time with little success.  I've either used too much detergent, didn't rinse well or failed to scrub enough and these forays almost always ended with a trip to the laundry lady anyway.  After a particularly expensive load that included towels and sheets, I decided things had to change.  And that, my friends, is when I discovered laundering with ammonia...

    "Ammonia?!" you ask.  Yes.  Ammonia.  Stinky, smelly, ammonia.
    Ammonia is a mystery to some...and a trusted laundry aid to others. It smells horrible, but leaves your laundry smelling fresh and clean. It seems like it should eat through fabric, but is gentle enough for delicates and can even be used on silk if diluted properly, and is safe for colored clothes.

    (Read more: How to Use Ammonia in the Laundry | eHow.com)
    Here's what I do:
    1.  Fill one (or two, depending on size of load) bucket(s) with a mixture of 2/3 water, 1/3 (non-sudsy) ammonia.
    2.  Put laundry into the bucket(s)
    3.  Agitate the laundry with mini-toilet plunger (used ONLY for laundry)
    4.  Let clothes sit in the solution for 30 minutes
    5.  Add a tiny bit of regular detergent and use plunger to agitate again for 15 minutes or so
    6.  Empty bucket - fill with fresh water and rinse (beauty of ammonia is that it rinses easily with less water)
    7.  Repeat rinse cycle if necessary
    8.  Ring out clothes very well (this, in turn, is a surprisingly good arm workout!)
    9.  Hang to dry in the hot, tropical sun
    10.  1 hour later you are good to go!
    My laundering fixings; two buckets, ammonia, a mini plunger and a hand scrubber.

    I am thrilled with the results of the ammonia.  Not only is it super cheap, but it rinses easily and left our clothes super clean and smelling great (not like ammonia at all).

    What are your fool proof laundry tricks?

    Sunday, August 21, 2011

    Second Show Sunday


    Because Sunday is the day of rest for so many (and stats are famously low on Sundays) I am going to post some blogs from long ago.  I realize some of you might have already read them - but most of you probably haven't.  So grab a cup of coffee, kick back, and enjoy this blast from the past...because sometimes, things are better the second time around...

    MONDAY, APRIL 11, 2011


    Why Are We Doing This?


    This past weekend found us at a beautiful beach side wedding here in Provodenciales, TCI.  Scott and I didn't know many people besides the beautiful bride and her family, so we spent a lot of time mingling with their great friends and, inevitably, answering a few questions about our trip.  Apparently our reputations preceded us, what with us sailing to the wedding and all...

    One guest asked simply, "Why are you doing this?"

    I am sure we've been asked this question a million times, but I was stumped at that moment.  How could I possibly convey to a non-sailor the lure of taking off on your own boat, letting the wind guide you to a new destination, and becoming almost completely self sufficient?  How could I adequately describe the absolute feeling of freedom that follows when you remove yourself from the social strata and extricate yourself from the status quo?  How could I explain the extreme challenges that we face every day - challenges that carry so much more weight and so much more risk than those of our land lives - and how when we get through these we have an even greater appreciation for life, for a simple day, for each other?  How does one describe the magnitude of the Earth's beauty when seen from the deck of your own sailboat; the dolphins, the flying fish, the squalls, the waves, the clouds, the stars, the sun rising and setting?  How could I illustrate the beauty of living such an extreme life - full of storms and calms, highs and lows, fear and elation - and the magic of finding those rare days in the middle?  How could I fully detail how lovely it is to live more with less, to live so simply and yet reap so much?  How do I adequately express what it feels like to live in harmony with nature, to live a life where adventure lurks around every corner?

    How do I illuminate those things in a light which everyone can see?  

    I was tongue tied.

    The truth is, there are a million reasons we are doing this - and each and every day we are learning more.  I don't know if anyone who isn't living this lifestyle can actually grasp it (much like people who don't have children cannot grasp parenthood) - but I do know this:  It is the way we want to live.  It feels right.  We are the masters of our own destiny.  The world is our oyster.  The possibilities are endless and, out here, there seems to be nothing standing in our way and nobody to tell us no.  We find joy in the simple things and we are learning not to sweat the small stuff.  We are discovering that this world is truly a beautiful place full of beautiful people.  We are learning the incalculable value of following dreams.  If I could give a one word answer to describe why we are doing what we are doing, it would be: freedom.

    One of my favorite movies of all time is "Dances with Wolves" (if you have never seen it, rent it now).  That movie had a tremendous impact on me and I believe what Scott and I are doing (in spirit) is not unlike what John Dunbar did when he moved out west to live on the American Frontier among the Sioux Indians.  When asked why he was doing what he was, he replied simply:  "Because it's there".

    So, perhaps we don't need a profound answer to explain why we are doing what we are?  Perhaps it cannot adequately be described? Perhaps it needn't be anything more than the simple fact that we are doing this because we can.

    Love,
    Brittany & Scott

    Saturday, August 20, 2011

    Sproutin'


    "To see things in the seed, that is genius."
    - Lao Tzu

    Before we left on this journey, one of my very best friends, Lina, gave me a sprouting kit (yes, I realize that was about a year ago - these things take time!).  Knowing that we didn't have a refrigerator or a way to keep greens and veggies fresh for extended periods of time, she figured sprouting my very own produce would be the next best thing.  Sprouts, in fact, are considered a superfood.   Packed with tons of vitamins and all the essential amino acids (among a litany of other things) - these little babies pack a punch and are a great addition to any diet.  Aside from the health benefits, the fixings to begin sprouting are dirt cheap, they require very little attention and are rumored to be easy to grow.  Seen as how I a) am not a cook and b) lack the illustrious green thumb we'll see how "easy" these are.  But I am determined and have my first batch soaking right now.


    Interested in sproutin' with me?  Here's a link on how to sprout your own goodies if you feel so inclined.  Supplies needed:  A mason jar (or as many jars as you want to fill), sprouting seeds (like mung, lentil or alfalfa), cheese cloth and water.  It's that simple.

    Now let's get germinating!  Stay tuned...

    Love,
    Brittany & Scott

    Friday, August 19, 2011

    Under the Sea

    "Darling it's better down where it's wetter take it from me."
    - Sebastian the Crab in The Little Mermaid


    I got an underwater housing unit for my new Canon G12 Camera.  Despite the fact that it is (obviously) very "heavy duty" and proven to keep the water out - I was super nervous when I splashed this baby for the first time.  Bringing your brand new, very nice camera into salt water of all things feels about as wrong as flinging yourself off a cliff with nothing but a band of elastic between you and the bottom...but I did it - and I am proud to say she survived with nary a droplet of water on her.

    Visibility, unfortunately, was not so good due to river runoff from South America (yeah, crazy right?) but we had a great time and saw some beautiful sea life nonetheless!  It never ceases to amaze me that there is this exotic, beautiful, strange and incredible world that exists right under the surface and all you need is a mask and some fins to experience it...what a gift.


    Love,
    Brittany & Scott

    Thursday, August 18, 2011

    Sticky Fingers Scones!


    You don't get over hating to cook, any more than you get over having big feet.
    - A woman after my own heart, Peg Bracken
    A lot of you wonder what we eat day to day (especially since we have no refrigeration).  I have been pretty transparent about the fact that I really don't like to cook and my "repertoire" of recipes is actually quite laughable.  In fact, there *might* have been times when I convinced Scott that popcorn is a great dinner (high in fiber!) or that eating a can of green beans with some balsamic vinegar and oil is "filling".  The poor boy is so brainwashed by my "cooking" that he gets really excited when I change things up and sprinkle coconut on his daily half bagel with peanut butter for breakfast.  I know.  This has got to change.

    However - I have managed to find a few items to kick up our menu a notch.  Sticky Fingers Scones are one such item.  Before you get too excited and start calling me Julia Child*, you should know this mix is of the "just add water" variety (my favorite kind!) and super easy.  Add 3/4 cups of water, cook for 15 minutes and voila!  Fresh scones that taste heavenly accompanied with some butter and a cup of tea. I make these in muffin tins for simplicity's sake and they are a favorite aboard Rasmus and make the boat smell delicious to boot!

    Mmmmhhhhmmmmm...can you smell them?
    They're not gourmet, but they are easy and good.  And I like easy and good!

    * I just learned that Julia started cooking at 32...perhaps there is hope for me yet?

    Wednesday, August 17, 2011

    All Who Wander are Not Lost


    As most of you know by now, I love and regularly devour classic sailing books and stories.  Our bookshelf is filled with the names and literary prowess of Tristan Jones, Bernard Moitessier, Joshua Slocum, Robin Knox-Johnson, Mark Twain and many, many more. I am now pleased to add Sterling Hayden to that esteemed list.

    Disillusioned by his life and forever lulled and pulled by the sea, Sterling Hayden left a successful Hollywood career and fame and fortune to sail the south seas on an old tall ship. A forever rebel and seeker,  his story is compelling, relatable, at times philosophical, at others heartbreaking and totally captivating.  I don't think he ever found the peace he was looking for in his life, but he did manage to achieve his dream of captaining his own tall ship and escaping a life and society he viewed as wretched.

    Here's a teaser for you.  I find this man, his insights, and thoughts to be right on and incredibly profound.  Enjoy.

    Little has been said or written about the ways a man may blast himself free.  Why?  I don't know, unless the answer lies in our diseased values...'I've always wanted to sail to the South Seas, but I can't afford it'.  What these men can't afford is not to go.  They are enmeshed in the cancerous discipline of "security".  And in the worship of security we fling our lives beneath the wheels of routine - and before we know it, our lives are gone.

    What does a man need - really need?  A few pounds of food each day, heat and shelter, six feet to lie down in - and some form of working activity that will yield a sense of accomplishment.  That's all - in the material sense. And we know it....The years thunder by.  The dreams of youth grow dim where they lie caked in dust on the shelves of patience.  Before we know it, the tomb is sealed.

    Where then, lies the answer?  In choice.  Which shall it be, bankruptcy of purse or bankruptcy of life?
     
    I could not agree more.


    Love,
    Brittany & Scott



    Tuesday, August 16, 2011

    Spicey!

    “Our minds are like our stomachs; they are whetted by the change of their food, and variety supplies both with fresh appetites.”          
    - John Quinton
     
    Don't know what spices to buy?  How about a spice necklace?  They smell wonderful!
    One of the very best things about living and traveling abroad are the local markets.  I think open-air markets are one of the quickest ways to transport yourself to another culture.  Whether it be a Farmer's Market in Wisconsin, a Bazaar in Egypt, a Flea Market in Turkey or a Produce Market in Africa - it is a guaranteed cheap and easy way to spend an exciting afternoon while taking in the sites, sounds and smells of a place.  I seek out a local market wherever I go.


    Here in Grenada, the most famous market is the Spice Market (I mean, this place is not called "Spice Island" for nothing).  As soon as you walk in the battle for your attention begins; "Hey sexy!! Come look here!" "Girly - delicious spices for you!" "Beautiful woman, it takes nothing to look - please come!" - these folks have (obviously) learned that flattery can get you far!  Your senses are attacked as you wind in and out of the aisles: vendors hawk their colorful goods in your face, your ears ring with the elevated buzz of buying and selling, and the smells - oh the smells - nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla, curry and more fill the air - it's impossible not to feel a little hunger pang.

    Nutmeg (Grenada's most famous spice) - in the raw - laced by the Mace spice
    Now if only I knew what to do with all these spices...hmmmm...

    Love,
    Brittany & Scott
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