31 January 2014

3-1/2 Random Frugal Cooking Tips

We’re all about maximizing the cruising kitty so here are three and a half very random frugal cooking tips I’ve been trying out.

1.  Salad Dressing

I had a bottle of Dijon mustard which was almost used up – you would have to squeeze it really hard to get anything to come out. In my old life back working in corporate la-la land, you know the one with regular pay cheques, I would have thrown it out (sorry, recycled it) and bought a new one. This time, I made salad dressing in it. I always put mustard in the salad dressing we make, so I thought why not make it inside the mustard bottle. So I just added olive oil, balsamic vinegar, minced garlic and Italian herbs and shook it all up. Presto – salad dressing and it already comes in a handy container to squeeze it out of. Saves a few pennies and washing up another dish. Lazy and frugal, what’s not to love.

2.  Pasta

All credit to Scott for this one. Normally, I chuck some pasta into a pot and boil it for 10-12 minutes until it is done. That means the propane is one for the entire 10-12 minutes. Scott suggested just bringing it up to a boil for a minute or two, putting the lid on the pot, turning off the heat and letting it sit for 20-25 minutes. May take longer, but you save on the propane and you don’t heat up the cabin. And it works just as well. And it minimizes the risk of the boat blowing up from some sort of propane explosion which is one of the things I have nightmares about. Clever boy that Skipper Scott.

2.5  More Pasta 

This is the ½ tip as it is a variation of the one above. I feel slightly stupid that I never thought of this one before, but I recently found those one pot pasta recipes that are running around on the internet like a herd of crazy giraffes. Instead of boiling pasta separately and making sauce separately – which both require extra propane – why not do it all at the same time. Bonus if you combine it with Scott’s anti-propane pasta cooking method. We’ve all put dried pasta or noodles in soup and cooked it up in the broth, why not cook pasta in its own sauce. Here are a couple of recipes to try out – Martha Stewart’s original recipe here and One Pot Wonder Lo Mein here
3.  Bread 

I used to make my own bread back in the day when we had an oven but now it will be more of a necessity as we don’t have a fridge on our boat and won’t always be near the local Countdown. So, I’ll be making a lot of our bread on the boat. The good news is that it is cheaper! It costs around NZ$3.50 for a loaf of our favorite bread (Vogel’s) when it is on sale. Making our own will be far cheaper. The trick is that we don’t have an oven on our boat, so I’m all about bread-like things you can make in the skillet. I've been trying out Irish soda farl, scones, the Pioneer Woman's fry bread, Judy Knape's frying pan bread, and this Sri Lankan vegetable roti. I'm also planning on trying out this recipe for stove top bread and pizza that Sailing Chance recommended. Who knew you could save so much dough by making your own dough (sorry, I just had to).
Always looking for new ideas to save money and run an efficient and frugal galley – any suggestions?

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29 January 2014

Going For A Walk: The Coromandel Wharf {Or No Words, Just Picture This Time}

I really liked Scott's pictures of the Coromandel Wharf and thought they deserved a separate post without any of my usual silly ramblings and comments. So here you go...photos with no interruptions.


24 January 2014

Cruising In Great Barrier Island {Or The French Lady Takes A Pee}

View from Oneura Bay out to Kaikoura Island
One of the things people always say about cruising is that the weather is the boss of you. It decides what you can do and where you can go. And sometimes, it decides that you can’t go anywhere. And when that happens, and you live on a 26’ sailboat with no internet access or television, you need to find ways to pass the time. Finding new ways to amuse yourself becomes especially important when you are holed up in a bay for three days due to near-gale and gale force conditions and the sound of the wind is really grating on your nerves. This recently happened to us up in Great Barrier Island, but fortunately we found some great diversions including:

1.  Planning Your Meals

Spend at least one hour every morning and one hour every afternoon discussing the meal plan for the next few days. It is amazing how fascinating it can be to talk about what canned goods you have on the boat, how many bags of pasta are left and how you can magically turn them into a delicious meal. I’m pretty sure Scott and I would have never spent so much time talking about food before, but when you can’t leave your boat, planning what you are going to eat becomes just the most fascinating thing ever. Or maybe this is just a sign that we’re getting old? Next thing you know, we’ll be talking about our ailments and the medications we’re on for hours each day too.

2.  Talking About The Wind

This was one of my favorite pastimes. It seems like we spent hours saying things like, “Wow, it’s windy out.”, “Sure is getting gusty – must be at least 40 knots now.”, “Seems like it is dying down now.”, “Nope, looks like it has starting gusting again.” and “Damn you wind, damn you!”

And because the wind howled all through the night, we would also be heard saying things like, “Are you sleeping? I can’t sleep with all that noise and the rocking and swinging of the boat. How about you, can you sleep?”, “Do you think we’re going to drag anchor?” and “We might as well get up and have some coffee as I can’t sleep.”

3.  Watching The Other Boats

But if you’re trapped on your boat for days on end, we found the best way to pass the time is to watch the other boats. In the bay we were anchored in, there were two other sailboats – an American one and a French one. There were a couple of gin palaces anchored up further in the bay but they were too far away to keep an eye on, so we focused our attention on the sailboats. Scott loved nothing more than to stare out the window at the other boats, look at how they were swinging on their anchors and speculate as to the reasons why we were all swinging differently.

Sometimes it pays to be a curtain twitcher, because at one point Scott noticed a bottomless lady on the French boat peeing off the back of her boat. It was an incredibly acrobatic move as she held on to the back of their boat. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to pull it off. No idea what prompted her to do it – maybe their holding tank was full, maybe their toilet was broken or maybe they were so bored out of their minds they started daring each other to do crazy things. Something along the lines of, “I dare you to go pee off the back of the boat acrobatically and see if anyone notices.” Regardless of the reason why she did it, we were just grateful she did as it gave us something to talk about instead of meal planning and the wind for a few hours.

If you want the detail, here is the scoop on our outing to Great Barrier Island. It is less about our cruising adventures in Great Barrier and more about how not to cruise because we were pretty much stuck in the same place for days.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

We spent many hours looking at this view of Oneura Bay.
We left Gulf Harbour Marina at 8:45 am and headed up to Great Barrier Island for what we thought would be a week or so of fun and high adventure. We had been up there last summer and were really keen to return and explore more of the island. The trip up there was fairly uneventful, although unfortunately the wind died out and we ended up having to motor in the afternoon which is always a drag (it’s noisy and burns diesel). We decided to anchor up in Oneura Bay for the night, dropping the hook around 6:30 pm, and planned to head into Port Fitzroy in the morning. Oneura Bay is a lovely, sheltered bay just before the narrow Man O War Passage that cuts between Kaikoura Island and Great Barrier Island and leads you into Port Fitzroy. Oneura Bay is suitable for gale force winds and protected from everything but northerly winds. Which was fortunate for us as it was a very windy night. And a noisy night with the wind rattling through the rigging. And a night full of endless swinging back and forth on the anchor. And a pretty sleepless night. 
Thursday, 16 January 2014

We woke up to a beautiful morning – sunny and a bit breezy. Scott woke me up with a cup of coffee in hand and exclaimed, “Isn’t it great to be back in Great Barrier!” If he has some sort of psychic powers, what he would have said was, “Isn’t it great to be back in Oneura Bay! I’m so glad it is a pretty bay because we’ll be here for a while!” The winds picked up again (gusting 35-40 knots) and it was clear we weren’t going anywhere.

We had picked a good spot to anchor in the bay the previous night, but unfortunately, one of its attributes is that it has poor VHF reception. It can be a bit maddening to only be able to hear every other word of the weather forecast and try to piece together the situation, how strong the winds were going to be and what direction they’re coming from. We decided to pick up and move further into the bay to try to get better reception. After endless circles around and around the bay, we gave up on trying to hear the forecast and relocated further into the bay for a more protected spot for the night. And to our surprise, we found we could get VHF reception deep in the bay where you wouldn’t have expected it. The lovely lady on the VHF confirmed our fears, Oneura Bay was to be our home for a while.

So we settled in for the day - we chatted about what we would eat, Scott looked out the window and I cursed the wind. And eventually we tried to get some sleep. Instead, we got sleep deprivation. At one point, I kept hearing noises that sounded like the dinghy was sliding back and forth. Worried that it was going to come loose, I went out and checked it. It was all tied up securely so I went down below thinking all was okay. It wasn’t until a couple of days later that we discovered that the seat had come off of the dinghy and slid off in the wind into the water never to be seen again. Just one more thing not to love about our dinghy. {Sigh}

Friday, 17 January 2014

Friday was a lot like Thursday. We chatted about what we would eat, Scott looked out the window and I cursed the wind. And the highlight of the day - the French lady taking a pee.

Saturday 18 January 2014

The general store and post office at Port Fitzroy.
I can’t really say we woke up on Saturday, as no one got any sleep. Again. (Damn you wind, damn you.) Fortunately, they were forecasting 25 knots in the morning, dropping to 20 knots in the afternoon so we decided to get our skates on and move into Port Fitzroy. We dropped the hook in Kaiarara Bay, had some lunch, talked about how sleep deprived we were and eventually mustered up enough energy to dinghy over to Bush’s Beach where we picked up the trail into Port Fitzroy. It was a beautiful walk through the Department of Conservation land and then along the main road to Port Fitzroy. There were some stunning views along the way, which I would have possibly enjoyed more if I wasn’t so tired. We had some beers and chippies (or crisps or potato chips, whatever you want to call them is fine with me) at the general store and then made our way back.

You know how people in small towns always stop and offer you a lift? We usually say no because we enjoy our walks. But of course, the one time I desperately wanted a lift, as I was so tired, not a car was to be seen. So I struggled along the road and an hour and a half later we made it back to the dinghy. After a quick dip in the bay (and I mean quick, as it was absolutely freezing), we used our solar shower for the first time. It was lovely and warm. Possibly the best Christmas present ever. After dinner, it was a very early night. Sleep at last.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Views like this made leaving Great Barrier in the dark worthwhile.
While we slept peacefully, we didn’t get a lie-in. The alarm went off at 4:00 am, and we were underway by 4:45 am headed back to Auckland. And why you ask, when you finally got to see some of Great Barrier Island, would you leave? The weather, that’s why. Cyclone June decided to head down towards New Zealand and turn herself into a deep sub-tropical low which means wind, wind, wind and rain. We had had enough of wind so instead of waiting out this latest storm up in Great Barrier, we decided to wait her out in the comforts of a marina in Auckland. 13 hours and 64 nautical miles later, we were nicely tied up at Westhaven Marina. And as it turns out, it was certainly the right call to head into the marina as the winds are forecast to get up to 65 knots. Lesson learned – when they say a deep low is coming, they mean business. Go ahead wind, blow all you want, we’re safe in here.


Total nautical miles = 106
Top speed = 6.4 knots
Average speed = 4.5 knots
Approx number hours motoring = 10
 Number of times the French lady peed = 1 

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22 January 2014

Cruising In Kawau Island {Or It’s A Small, Small World}

I’ve always found that even though there are a gazillion people living on planet Earth, in many ways it is very a small, small world. Back when I was in university, I ran into a professor of mine in a dress shop in an alley in Dakar, Senegal. Wow, was I ever surprised – the last place I expected to see him. Fortunately, I got a good grade in his course so he was happy to see me.

That experience was my first clue that you never know who you are going to run into wherever you happen to find yourself in the world. The “small world” phenomena happened to us again when we were cruising up in Kawau Island and saw a boat just like ours anchoring just next to us in Bon Accord Harbour. Of course, we’re always interested when we see another Raven 26 so we had a good look and realized that the name seemed awfully familiar. It turned out we knew the boat and its owners from when we met them last year in Gulf Harbour! They don’t live in Auckland so they’re not people we would normally see when we lived there, and even though New Zealand is a small place, the chances of running into them on the water were pretty slim, let alone having them anchor just next to us.

They either recognized us, or thought they should pretend they did when they saw us waving to them, and came over for a visit and some drinks. And then they had us over to their boat the next morning for coffee. Such a lovely couple and it was so nice to have a visit with them. They’re in their 70s and they’re still out there cruising and enjoying their Raven 26. A real inspiration to me to see people who have loved cruising for years and years and still love it to this day. I’ve always read that one of the best things about cruising is the people you meet and this particular couple really confirmed it for me.

If you want to know more about our trip out to Kawau Island (the home of Lin & Larry Pardey), here is what happened…

Friday, 10 January 2014

Sunrise in Auckland
We took off from Auckland at 10:30 am and motored up the Waitemata Harbour. Scott looked enviously at the boats out fishing and decided to try his luck at 11:00 am near the naval base. Such excitement when he caught the first snapper of the season! Such disappointment when it turned out to be too small! Fishing was abandoned at 11:45 am and we continued on to Mahurangi eventually dropping the hook in Otarawao Bay at 6:45 pm.

Water conservation has been top of mind for me (I have bad dreams about running out of water), so that night I decided to try my hand at washing the dishes with salt water and then rinsing them off briefly with fresh water. My new dishwashing technique seemed to work out okay and our coffee didn’t taste salty the next morning which is the true test for me.

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Sunrise in Mahurangi
We left Mahurangi at 11:00 am with plans to circumnavigate Kawau Island before anchoring for the night. Unfortunately, the wind had other plans for us. She was very uncooperative and didn’t seem to want to help us get anywhere. We puttered around for ages in very little wind. Scott decided to try his luck fishing again, but 15 minutes later the wind picked back up and we put the sails back up and the rod away. Unfortunately, we weren’t getting anywhere fast, so decided to head into Bon Accord Harbour and anchor up around 3:30 pm in a primo spot next to the Kawau Yacht Club. I was really happy about our early anchoring as the place really started to fill up in the evening and there is nothing worse than trying to find a spot in a crowded anchorage at the end of a long day when you’re tired and hungry. It is far more entertaining to sit in your cockpit with a drink and a full belly and watch everyone else.

Kawau Yacht Club
The Kawau Yacht Club is a great place to sit outside and watch all the boats come in so we dinghied on over for a couple of beers and some hot chips. As usual, we kept an eye out for the Pardeys, but no luck again this time. After that, it was “small world” time when Reflections anchored up next to us and we had drinks with them on our boat later that night.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Sweet little spot where we had our picnic lunch on the grounds of Mansion House.
The next morning, we went over to Reflections for a coffee and a nosey around their boat. A much, much nicer boat then ours, that’s for sure. They’ve put a lot of time into her and it shows. We were really interested in their set-up down below which is quite different than ours. While we have our galley running along one side of our boat, they have their cooker near the companionway with their sink on the opposite side. This allows them to have two full settees in the saloon, rather than the just the one that we have. Much more spacious and clever set-up to my mind as they can both sleep on a settee each with their feet tucked under the sink and cooker respectively. On our boat, poor Scott has to sleep on the settee as he is too tall for the v-berth. It just goes to show you how important it is to put some real thought into the set-up of a boat. We had a great visit and a really tasty coffee and mince pie.

Public wharf at Schoolhouse Bay
We had planned to go out for a hike in the morning, but there was a cold front and showers that came in so we held off until the afternoon when things got a bit better. While much of Kawau Island is private land, the Department of Conservation has a large reserve off of Mansion Bay which has some really nice walks. We tied up our dinghy at the public wharf in neighboring Schoolhouse Bay and picked up the trail to Mansion Bay where we had a nice picnic lunch. [Tip - if you decide to do the same one day, don’t tie up at the public wharf. There is limited space for dinghies and the wharf has to be kept clear as that is where the helicopter would land in an emergency. The tides also make it a real nightmare. The smarter thing to do is to go all the way to Mansion Bay and pull your dinghy up on the beach. We did the dumber thing, but we’re smarter now.]

The path to the Kawau Yacht Club from the dinghy wharf. Beware of the pirates as you walk by!
After our walk, I had a craving for meat, which is in limited supply on our boat as we don’t have refrigeration, so we headed back to Kawau Yacht Club in the evening and split a bacon cheeseburger. Yummo!

Monday, 13 January 2014

Beach near the dinghy dock and Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron facilities.
I decided to put my cooking skills to the test and made griddle scones on the cooker for breakfast. Not having an oven or ready access to reasonably priced bread out on the islands, means we’ve been relying quite a bit on store bought tortillas (which last forever) and what I can whip up in a skillet. While the scones you would buy in a bakery are a million times better, mine were edible and when you’re hungry, that’s really what matters.

The wind was kicking up and where we were anchored was getting rolly and uncomfortable so we decided to move over to Mansion House Bay. A much more protected anchorage for the conditions and we settled in nicely after a short stroll on the Mansion House grounds. The winds continued to kick up in the evening with the neighboring boat reporting that it was gusting up to 35 knots out on the water. Scott, being the good skipper that he is, kept a close eye on the anchor and made sure we had enough rode out to suit the conditions. Unfortunately, another boat (which anchored after us) touched our hull for a brief moment sometime in the night. That meant that Scott got very little sleep after that. He pulled in some rode and kept an eye on how our boat and the other were swinging all through the night. We’re sure neither of us dragged during the night but rather that the incident was due to our differing ground tackle and the way we were each swinging. Scott popped by the other boat in the morning, let them know what happened (they hadn’t noticed during the night) and everyone was happy there wasn’t any damage.

Monday, 14 January 2014

Mansion House
The weather was forecast to get worse later in the day and we needed to stock up on supplies and refill our grease gun for the engine so we headed over to Gulf Harbour. It was the worst sail ever - for me that is, Scott has had much, much, much worse. We were beating right into over 30 knots of wind. The boat kept slamming up and down and up and down and up and down making for a very uncomfortable ride for the crew down in the cabin. We’re not sure how much the skipper enjoyed things up top either. Scott thought about heading back to Kawau Island, but we persevered and made it into Gulf Harbour Marina at 12:30 pm. Poor Scott – he was pretty tuckered out by this point with the anchor drama the night before and the tough sailing in the morning.

While we were getting things organized on the boat, a guy stopped by and asked if he could have a look at our boat. He had recently bought a Raven 26 and was curious as to how ours was set up. We had a good chat with him and he told us about his adventures sailing to the Pacific Islands from New Zealand and how he spent several years exploring them. After that, we had a mosey over to check out his boat. It is quite different from the standard Raven 26 as it has a wooden coach roof, different windows and beautiful wood interior and teak decks. Concerto is an absolutely beautiful boat and he keeps it in pristine condition. So that was two Raven 26 boats that we got to check out on our trip – both look much nicer than ours!

We had hoped to catch up with one of my bloggy pals while we were in Gulf Harbour, but we ran out of time chasing down engine grease and other supplies and by the time evening rolled around, I think we were both exhausted and had an early night.


Total nautical miles = 62
Top speed = 6.1
Average speed = 3.75
Approx number hours motoring = 3 hours 15 mins
Number of other Raven 26 boats we visited = 2 

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