17 June 2013
14 June 2013
We’ve been spending time almost every day underwater. Our snorkel kit lives on deck or in the cockpit when we are anchored so we can be ready to join an several boat snorkel expedition, or just to jump off the boat to snorkel nearby coral heads, at any time. Underwater photography has been a fun challenge and we are working with a good underwater camera (Lumix TS4) but not professional kit. I’m finally learning to put the sun at my back underwater, realizing that in any kind of chop my body is moving too much for video, and getting close enough to fish without startling them to take a decent shot.
12 June 2013
If there is one thing we have come to love through cruising, it is containers. Any type of bag, or box, or fabric cube that makes it easy to find things, to move our stuff around when we inevitably need to reach whatever is stored underneath, and to keep things from dropping into the deep dark reaches of the bottom of some of our lockers and lazarettes.
Even better than just a container is a watertight container. Not just to prevent water, but even inside the boat in dry areas to prevent salty humid air from ruining everything from food to electronics and to prevent fabrics from taking on a “boat smell”.
Now imagine that you have a container, that is watertight, and it can be used to store things in a previously unusable space in your boat – a cruiser’s dream, right?
While we were in N America we picked up a stash of Snaptainers and brackets (white or black) at Fisheries Supply in Seattle. You can see the entire collection (and pick up your own set) online here. After more than 5 years of living aboard and 3 years of cruising, we had some pretty specific ideas about where we might be able to use these bad boys and we have just installed the first batch: 3 at the navigation table and 1 in the “coffee cubby”.
It is the little things that can drive you crazy in cruising and so it is the little improvements in life, particularly for things you use on a daily or near daily basis, that we find make a big difference in our fun factor. Less suck means more energy for fun.
With the 4 installed containers, our USB sticks, phone cards, boat stamp, long distance wifi router, boat cards, etc are dry and contained in small organized containers at the navigation table. Every morning when we make our coffee we can lift the manual espresso machine out of its cubby (clearance above) and slide the ground espresso snaptainer out of its bracket. Everything fits perfectly, nothing has to be stored in a pile.
Next stop will be installing the same system in the lids of our lazarettes!
10 June 2013
One of the downsides of the Tuamotus is the lack of actual sand in many atolls. That’s it. That is the only ugly secret we’ve been hiding ;) There are many brilliant white beaches which, for the most part, on closer inspection are bleached out bits of coral rubble and shells. Pretty to look at, nice to walk on, but not volley ball court material. So when we do find the occasional sand beach we take full advantage.
Regardless of the state of the shore, whether sand or coral rubble, when we are near uninhabited motus we spend multiple nights per week watching the sunset from shore and then cooking our dinner in a fire while sipping something tasty.
We have been lucky this season to be having our bonfire time with friends. We’re learning a lot about how to cook in tinfoil packets. Long baking foods are no longer frequently cooked aboard SV Estrellita because of the heat they create in the cabin and so we were happy to discover how easy roasted garlic was in a campfire and have rediscovered bonfire cooked “baked” potatoes.
The freedom we as cruisers have in this area of the world is amazing. So often we are in uninhabited areas of atolls (or we are if we want to be) and the motu becomes an extension of our home. We set up a play room on the beach, in this case to enjoy with friends. From others’ reports and from reading blogs I know that this kind of remoteness, in an area of such beauty, is something to cherish while it exists and while we are here.
08 June 2013
How clear is the water? When someone says “the water is so clear” what do they mean? To me, to my pampered-by-French-Polynesia eyes, clear water on a windless day means that you can’t tell where the water and air meet until something creates a ripple. It means that I feel slight irrational anxiety when I jump in the water because it looks like I’m jumping 15 feet down to the seabed rather than 3 feet to the waterline. It looks like this:
As I write this, we are anchored in the Tuamotus in 10 feet of water, over a bed of beautiful white sand. When the winds are light and the sun is out (or the moon is full) the water reflects off the white sand creating a swimming pool/tropical aquarium like atmosphere.
We can see fish, sharks, our anchor and chain, and also the beautiful patterns our anchor chain has made in the sand as the wind shifts our boat. All visible from the deck.
After dodging coral heads and reefs, anchoring among coral heads and buoying our anchor chain in attempts to avoid getting snagged, it is a relief to drop the anchor in pure sand with no coral heads in our swinging room.
After some squall ridden days it was also a relief to have absolutely no wind and clear blue skies to play in.
It probably takes some experience snorkeling or diving, and taking underwater photos to appreciate the clarity of this photo of Carol. To be 20 or so feet from someone and take this picture tells experienced eyes how clear the water was. Clear, warm and inviting.
05 June 2013
If you are the type of cruiser that might spend 4 weeks in an uninhabited atoll, then an additional 2 weeks in an inhabited atoll but anchored 35 miles away from the village, you…well, you would be us, and you would be out of fresh food.
Even with a bag of groceries kindly carried to us from the village by SV Cariba, we have entered the dried goods stage of our provisioning. At this point we start desperately craving green things, and things that have a satisfying fresh *crunch*.
This is why we sprout. We have traditionally sprouted salad sprouts in jars but we found that our sprouting seeds did not do so well shut up in the tropical heat in a boat on the hard for 3 months and so we have branched out into lentil sprouts. Lentils are easily available and made a medium thick delicious sprout.
We put an inch or two of lentils in a jar with mesh at the lid and soak them in water overnight. Then we drain the water and go into a routing of rinsing and draining the sprouts twice a day, morning and night. For the rinse we put a small amount of water in the now mostly dry sprouts, swish it around, and then let put the jars upside down in the sink until they have drained thoroughly.
The lentils can be eaten as soon as they the first bit of tail starts sprouting out (as pictured) or you can wait up to a week for long tails. They taste different at different stages, so experiment.