Yes, yes, it has been awhile since our last post. Our friends on Evergreen (Heather and Jon), Panta Rhei (Larry and Karen) and Blue Rodeo (Mark and Anne) are so diligent about keeping their blogs up to date it puts us to great shame. They have wonderful blogs with exciting, interesting and funny adventures (I will provide their blog addresses as soon as we have internet). Even though we have sadly traveled our separate ways now, reading their blogs allows us to keep in touch enjoying their experiences giving us the feeling like we are still with them during their adventures.
With their blogs in mind, I have been thinking about our blog a lot lately. Sometimes, I have felt that our blog was well a bit repetitive. Same stuff different island kind of thing. After mulling things over a bit, I thought perhaps a change in format was in order. Sure we'll still have some of that beautiful island stuff, though now we'll also include some everyday things which the cruising lifestyle brings including boat and various repairs, recipes, "how make do without when that store is NOT just around the corner", and "you know you're a cruiser when ...", etc. I thought it would also be nice to solicit thoughts and comments from anyone and everyone who reads our blog which may not be many (if any) people at this point. Well, perhaps this new format and it's continual updates will bring our family and friends back ... let's hope so.
So, what have we been up to lately. As the title of this blog indicates we are in New Caledonia now, wonderful little French islands located in the South Pacific. We are anchored at Ilot Ua which is part of the "Five Islands". For those cruisers or anyone else who's interested, it's a lovely anchorage with an uninhabited little idyllic island to provide a bit of protection; however, it may be a bit rolly at times for monohulls. There have been occasions when the waves wrap around the island and have rocked us a bit. We'll post our anchor spot on the Venture Farther website which you'll read about further down.
The weather has permitted us to be here a week now (nice calm conditions about 10-15 knots from SE mainly), and I honestly don't believe Rankin ever wants to leave. The beauty and the solitude is something that he enjoys. We have slowed things down now which I am sure some of our cruising friends are wondering how much slower can we go. We've both been enjoying some reading. Rankin is reading a Bernard Cornwell series of books. The first series I believe is called the Saxon series, which he has read five of the books though we believe there are more books in the series though we don't have internet to check it out yet. Now, he has moved onto the Warlord series written by the same author. I have been reading the Game of Thrones series written by George R. R. Martin, and I am currently on book three "A Storm of Swords". We've already watched all the Game of Thrones HBO series to date, so why am I reading the books? Well, I personally find that the books are usually better, but mainly because I can't wait for Season 5 to find out what will happen next. I know it's sad.
Beside reading, I have been doing a lot of cooking lately which has been a bit of a challenge. First, we currently have limited supplies. Since we'll be traveling to New Zealand soon it's time for us to empty the food stored aboard the boat. New Zealand has pretty strict (though fair) rules about food and things they permit into their country. For instance, there's a pretty strict limitation on any fresh fruits and veggies brought into the country. We understand these rules and do our best to respect the rules of each country, so we are emptying out our stores. However, we still need to have enough food for our approximately six day passage South to New Zealand.
Second, my iPad died ... UGH!! Since I usually get seasick during our passage, I prepare meals in advance and freeze them. So, I have been doing a bit of cooking (and unfortunately eating, but that's another story). My cooking skills are very limited, so I rely a lot (very much actually heavily) on recipes which on occasion I tweak to our tastes. I have a wonderful iPad App called Paprika Manager which I use daily and LOVE IT!! I won't bore everyone with the reasons why I find this app FABULOUS, so if you're interested in my thoughts, the cost, etc. just drop me a comment in the comment section below, and I'll get back to you. However, as I mentioned before my iPad recently died (UGH!!). The good news is I have contacted Apple (a long story) and it's under warranty. The bad news is we are about 30 nm from Noumea where I believe (though I don't know for certain) that I can get the iPad repaired or replaced. Since I use my iPad daily and consider it an important piece of boat equipment (though I am not sure Rankin agrees), I was devastated when I couldn't bring it back to life. Many of my recipes (not to mention other stuff) are located on the iPad, so now what. Okay, I have been scrambling a bit searching through the few "hard copy" recipes books I still have left trying to find something tasty to cook with the limited supplies I have aboard. For me, with my limited cooking skills and knowledge, I found this a challenge. Well, I came across this banana bread recipe which was not the best banana bread recipe (since that's on the iPad), but very tasty especially considering that I ran out of butter and bananas (at least fresh/old bananas).
Banana Nut Bread (Cookbook: "Ship to Shore I" by Capt. Jan Robinson)
1/2 c margarine (I used ~1/2 c of vegetable oil since I didn't have butter or margarine)
3/4 c sugar
1 egg (I specifically looked for a recipe which used only 1 egg since I am running low on eggs too)
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 c flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c mashed bananas (I used bananas which I had in the freezer and just let them thaw a bit)
1 c chopped walnuts (out of walnuts so left them out)
Cream sugar and margarine. Add egg and beat thoroughly. Add sifted dry ingredients. Mix well. Stir in mashed bananas, lemon juice and walnuts. Fill one 9 X 5 X 3 loaf pan - ungreased (I did use cooking spray to grease pan). Bake at 350 degrees for about 50 minutes.
This was a pretty tasty banana bread considering the limited resources at our disposal. We usually rate our recipes 1 through 5, 1 being poorest rating and 5 being the best. Rankin rates many things a 4 and I think this was no different; however, I would rate it a 3.5. Good in a pinch, but I would prefer our other recipe which is stuck on the dead iPad. UGH!!
Since we find the water here in New Caledonia quite chilly (can't tell you the temp yet), we have spent more time than usual on the boat. We have done some snorkeling though we first cover ourselves from head to toe in wet suit gear then mentally prepare ourselves before making the chilly plunge. BURRRR!! Thank goodness the days have been beautiful and sunny and the water visibility has been good which makes for perfect snork (short for snorkeling) conditions. During one of our snorks at Ilot Kouare (south of Ilot Ua), we spotted at least half a dozen or more porcupine fishes hiding under what we call "table top" coral. Porcupine fish are very skiddish and hide under overhangs, "table top" coral, etc. and it can be difficult to get a good photo of them. I snapped a picture of one porcupine fish who's was so cute he's now my new Desktop page. I will post a picture as soon as we have internet. I've decided he's cute enough to deserve a name, so feel free to send us your suggestions.
|What shall we name this cute little Porcupinefish?|
The coral was alive and beautiful which makes this snorkel spot worth sharing. Our friend Jon on the sailing vessel Evergreen has created a website called Venture Farther (www.venturefarther.com) which allows people to post snorkeling, diving and anchoring spots all around the world, so the information can be shared. The website is free and all you need to do is register, so it's worth checking out. Besides sharing various spots, there are many other features this site has to offer like the ability to download Google Earth charts to kap files which can be used for navigation. We will post our information to Venture Farther, as soon as we have internet. Definitely, check out this site. As soon as we have internet, I will include a link from our website too.
Our other water adventure has been cleaning the boat bottom. Now that we have a catamaran, there are occasions when we feel like we went from a 45 foot monohull to a 94 foot monohull ... cleaning the boat bottom is one of those times. Even though Gypsea Heart is only 47 feet, she has two hulls which can mean double the work. Our strategy for boat bottom cleaning is I clean the stuff near the surface with a snorkel while Rankin cleans the deeper section (i.e. keels, props, etc.) with a hooka. By the way, a hooka is device which pumps air to a regulator, so you can dive shallow depths without a tank. My description could be better, but I think you can get the gist of it. It took us two days in the cooler water to clean both hulls well, and the bottoms were not too bad just a little "scummy" stuff which came off fairly easy.
This past week was a "spring break" type holiday in New Caledonia, so we have seen several chartered catamaran boats come and go from the anchorage during our stay. One day, an English speaking French Captain from a chartered Lagoon catamaran stopped by along with two children (they didn't speak English). He (I forgot his name shortly after he told me, so I'll call him "Captain") brought us some fish. The Captain said it was a Wahoo or Waloo though it was hard for us to determine which fish he said, because of his accent. He caught it while sailing between Isle de Pins and Ilot Ua. The fish was about 4 feet long and around 50 lbs then he handed us a large chunk of fish which we gladly accepted. We gave him a bottle of wine in return then invited them aboard for a bit. We chatted a bit about sailing the Southern Lagoon, fishing, cooking (because he's the chef aboard too). Then he gave us some leaves from a plant he called "False Tabacco" (I will post a picture soon) which he explained helps prevent ciguterra. He got them from the island and said to boil about four leaves in a cup of water for a 3-5 minutes, remove the leaves, add about a liter of cool water to the boiled leaves mixture and then drink up. For those who aren't familiar with ciguterra, I found a description of it in "The Cruising Chef Cookbook" by Michael Greenwald which states "Ciguterra is a neurological disorder. It is caused by consuming reef fish which in turn have eaten smaller fish which contain toxins. The toxins are concentrated in the flesh of the larger fish. There is no quick test for it, no sign of its presence in the fish, cooking does not destroy it." We had a lovely conversation with him though now I am not as keen about eating the Wahoo or Waloo ... we'll see.
|False Tobacco ... solution to ciguterra???|
The Captain has been our only visitor though we've had a lot of entertainment. We have had about half a dozen mackerel tuna swimming about chasing and catching the tiny fish (not sure what they are) hovering around the boat. We can't see the tiny fish well, so do not know the type of fish. The tiny fish don't have much of a chance, because while the tuna chase them from the bottom there are birds flying around above to catch them. There's a lot of splashing activity around Gypsea Heart. I took some pictures though I haven't look at them yet. If they turn out well, I'll post some.
Well, I believe our adventure ends here today or maybe tomorrow. Our next stop should be Ilot Amedee which is just 12 nautical miles South of Noumea before continuing to Noumea for a quick touch and go for possible iPad repair (YEAH!) and quick provisioning. Our current plan is to hang around the islands near Noumea and wait for a weather window for our sail to New Zealand.
We hope you will enjoy this new format and find the variety a bit interesting. Feel free to post any comments or thoughts we'd love to hear from you. Until next time ...
We enjoy reading about their new adventures ... .
We're back. I wanted to add a few updates now that we have internet. I have included links for our friends websites which I mentioned above. The links are located on the right side of the screen under the heading "Sites to Visit". I've also included a link to the wonderful Venture Farther site which is an excellent site for cruisers, divers and snorkelers. In addition to the links, I've included the pictures of the Porcupinefish (yes, it is all one word) and the False Tobacco plant. Unfortunately, I didn't get a great picture of the birds and tuna hunting the little fish, so sorry!
We enjoyed one more night at Ilot Ua which meant one more beautiful sunset before we traveled to Ilot Amedee.