22 June 2010

Improved Out Of Existence

One of my goals on the Blue Moon is to get really good at this sailing/cruising business. I've sailed practically my whole life, first with my Uncle Marty (who's sailing the Newport-Bermuda race, right this minute), then with my father, and finally on my own boats, but sailing over 700 miles in a small boat has given me a whole new outlook.

Oddly enough, practically every improvement I've made in how I'm doing things has involved eliminating things. I call this process improving things out of existence.

At first, this was a no brainer, since I took waaaaaay to much stuff to begin with. But I'm still finding things I don't need.

One of my latest 'discoveries' involves food. I'm a bit of a foodie on land, so I naturally envisioned cooking up marvelous meals on my tiny, one-burner gimbaled stove. I was so convinced of my cooking prowess that my initial stock of food was mainly basic ingredients -- the basic elements like red beans, beef stock, and brown rice -- that I would combine to create a variety of interesting and tasty dishes.

This was a really naive idea. Two reasons:

First, after sailing for 10 hours, finding an anchorage, dropping the anchor, and tidying the boat, I glance at the ship's clock (a Big Ben wind up alarm clock) and, yup, it's 8pm again.

At that point, I'm usually so bushed that all I really want is a drink and a bit of a rest.

After dozing off for a bit, I discover that it's already dark. My appetite is coming back, but I'm really, really not in the mood to start cooking.

Moreover, as the sun goes down, the temperature drops with it. Maybe my all purpose tarp is sending a light breeze down the companionway. It feels great, but it's still warm. The last thing I want to do is light the stove for an hour and drive the heat back up. If it takes 5 minutes of cooking, fine. Otherwise, the heat payment is too high.

My new Coleman Extreme cooler has been working great so recently I've had a lot more fresh, cold food and drink.

In particular, ice tea tastes really good to me. I make 3 qts of sun tea every day simply by putting a few P&G Tips tea bags into a plastic pitcher, filling the pitcher with water, and leaving it on deck for an hour. I add some lemon juice, then decant the tea into 3 one liter bottles. I put one of these bottles in the cooler, and by lunch I've got some ice cold tea. Fantastic.

Life is too short to drink lousy tea. This is my favorite bag tea.
photo jalmberg

But I diverge. The cooler lets me stock things like cold cuts, cheeses, salami, yogurt, eggs, cottage cheese, salad greens, carrots, etc. With the addition of some good bread, Triscuits, nuts, etc., I can assemble a meal in a few minutes without lighting the stove.

I still get the occasional craving for something hot and substantial, like the pasta with meat sauce that I whipped up last week, but this is the exception, not the rule. Once or twice a week, I find, is more than enough.

So, rather than stocking a large variety of canned and dried goods, which takes up a large amount of space on the boat, I've trended towards buying smaller quanties of fresh foods -- just enough to last me a week or so. I think I'm eating better, and being able to toss another storage box overboard (so to speak) frees up another large block of space.

It's hard to express how important that space is on a small boat. I'm not claustrophobic (obviously!) but every bit of freed space makes a big difference in the usability of the boat.

Well, I got to Jacksonville on Sunday, called Atlantic Coastal Marine to come and pick up my beautiful Yamaha engine to do the 20 hour service on it. I'm a bit beyond 20 hours, but I changed the oil myself when I was in St. Augustine, so that's okay.

I then made the Blue Moon ship shape, made sure she was tied up properly in the marina, and headed off to Jacksonville airport. I'd missed Father's Day and the Yankee game I'd been hoping to see, but I certainly wasn't going to miss the big event of the year: the Wooden Boat Show in Mystic.

I'd been hoping to show Cabin Boy at the "I built it myself" section of the show, but had to leave him behind, tied down to the dock. That's okay. He's still enjoying his big adventure.

But I am hoping to see Pat Atkin and lots of other people at the show. I plan on being there on Sunday (the only day that Helena can make it), so if you happen to see me there, please stop me and say 'hi'!

I might be wearing a floppy hat, too!
photo jalmberg

Can't wait!

Next Episode: Wooden Boat Show - Bronze Casting

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  1. John:

    Look forward to meeting you on Sunday! I'm right near WOODENBOAT's booth.

    William and John would definitely approve of the simple life!


  2. If you like PG Tips you might also like Tetleys 'British Blend' tea bags which are more widely available in big supermarket chains in the regions you will be going through. Tetley's is cheaper too but that is not the point as it is about the flavor and availability.
    Nyack, NY

  3. Oh my goodness! I should have known when I caught that you were out of Huntington, and now the mention of the beautiful Pat Atkin. Small world I guess. At this point I can't remember what I have posted about the pictured boat that accompanies my comments on your blog. But suffice it to say that it is an Atkin design that was built by R. K. Wilmes. She took us from Kingston NY to Cumana Venezuela and back over a two year period in the late 90's. A wonderful seagoing boat which we took to see Mr. Wilmes, and John and Pat Atkin on a shakedown cruise in Long Island Sound.
    You bring back great memories John - thanks, ralph

  4. Ralph: cool! I know Pat from building Cabin Boy, and Vintage ( this winter). Obviously, I'm a huge Atkin fan, and the Blue Moon's winter home is a few hundred yards from William's shop by the creek in Huntington Harbour.

    What design was your boat?


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