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This blog documents the adventures of the sailing vessel Gypsea Heart and her crew Rankin & Sandy. Thank you for visiting our blog and we encourage y'all to poke around and explore. We have many features which will enable you to keep track of us and in touch like subscribing below. We hope you enjoy your visit and follow our adventures.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Noumea, New Caledonia – Cooking, Exploring & Checking Out!

Personal Note to Family and Friends:  We know that each person/family has their own personal struggles and celebrations, but please know that we are there with you in both.  For privacy reasons, we won’t address everyone here, but for those who have already made some of their personal triumphs and challenges public here’s a few messages we’d like to share.  Tracy McMorrow:  You are one incredible woman.  Congratulations on being CANCER FREE!!  What a great victory.  I loved your t-shirt “Yeah, these are fake, my real ones tried to kill me”.  Sam:  You are an awesome person.  Congratulations on the new job.  They couldn’t have hired a better person.  Good luck.  Amanda:  Happy Birthday!  I love you bunches and always. From Your Favorite Aunt :-)
Now, for anyone who would like to continue reading.  On Wednesday, November 5th, we arrived Port Moselle Marina with the intent of checking out of the country on Friday, November 7th then sail to Ile de Pins about 60 nm South, so we could leave the country.   Well, of course, that’s not what happened!  The weather changed (as it often does) which delayed us and the Customs, Immigration and Port Captain was closed for holiday from Saturday thru Tuesday which we are still in Noumea.  No problem what’s not to like fresh baguettes daily, good internet, water and electricity, freedom to walk into town … priceless.

Actually, at first we were a bit disappointed with the weather change, but we quickly rebounded.  Since most of our boat chores were done, it gave us some free time to visit the New Caledonia Aquarium along with Astarte (Michael and Barbara).  It is a really nice aquarium and very easy to get to by bus.  We jumped on the No. 10 bus which we caught by the Cin City (cinema) for only 2.10 francs/pp and it dropped us off just a short walk from the Aquarium.  We thoroughly enjoyed the Aquarium spending hours EEWWing and AAWWing over the many fish and took lots of pictures.  I will try to name the fish, but please forgive me for any mistakes also there are some fish I just don't know the names.  I want to thank Michael & Barbara from Astarte for sharing some of their pictures with us and permitting me to use them on our blog.  Thank you so very much!  Also, on any pictures within our blog you should be able to double click on them to get a larger view of the photo.

Barbara & I exploring the deep!

Zebra Shark (Juvenile)
Clams - Never seen clams opened up so much!

Can you find the flounder?
Peppered Moray

Zebra Shark (Adult)
Blacktip Reef Shark
Star Puffer
Diagonal-Banded Sweetlips

Rock fish - Photo by Astarte
Lionfish - photo by Astarte
I want this aquarium at home!! - photo by Astarte

Seahorse - Photo by Astarte
Humphead Wrasse - Photo by Astarte

Besides just goofing around, I helped Pete a bit more with a different computer issue.  I also did some testing on Venture Farther for our friend Jon on Evergreen.  We exchanged some music with Astarte and also some New Zealand charts which we downloaded for free, and we can use with our free navigational software OpenCPN.    If any one needs these charts, just drop us an email message or send us a comment.  We’ll be happy to send you the information.  Since we had wonderful internet, I also found a way to work around my dead iPad issue at least when it comes to recipes.  I downloaded the Android version of Paprika Manager onto Rankin's Kindle Fire.  He wasn't thrilled about sharing his Kindle (afraid I was going to "fill it up"), but we worked it out (meaning I begged him).  Since all my recipes were backed up not only on my laptop but also to the "cloud" then I could download all my recipes onto the Paprika Manager running on the Kindle Fire.  YEAH!!!

Another thing, I had an opportunity to research "False Tobacco" or faux tabac which I mentioned in our earlier blog under the "Five Islands" section.  Basically, a frenchman told us you could use False Tobacco to prevent ciguatera.  To my amazement, here's what I read which I thought was very interesting:  "Traditionally in New Caledonia, herb teas of various plants are used for treatment. Some preparation of the traditional medicine seem to have some efficiency. Preliminary results of studies conducted by the IRD (ex Orstom) research center have confirmed the activity of some species such as the "faux tabac" (argusia argentea) and "faux poivrier" (schinus terebenthifolius). L' IRD has established a list of some 100 plants from New Caledonia and Vanuatu known to treat ciguatera but many have yet to be scientifically tested."  WOW!  The frenchman was onto something.  Well, I will admit we did not drink the faux tabac concoction though it's something to keep in mind for the future.  We did enjoy a wonderful Wahoo dinner with Astarte and Harley (Kailani).  Harley offered to cook the fish and we kindly accepted especially since we have never cooked a wahoo before.  We have never had the pleasure of catching one.   Harley cooked up a wonderful and tasty blackened wahoo.  Per Harley's suggestion, I made a nice pineapple salsa (good idea too) and some okay rice.  While Barbara brought a delicious desert ... chocolate and butterscotch pudding topped with chocolate chips.  MMMM!!  NOTE:  No one had any symptoms of ciguatera after eating this fish. Thank goodness.

Well, there’s a lot to prepare for a passage, so we did work a bit.  Since I get seasick, I prepare all of our meals in advance and freeze them.   What I usually do is cook double batches of meals then freeze half for the passage.  For example, I cooked an extra large batch of chili then froze half for the trip to New Zealand.   Rankin made a special request for cornbread with this batch of chili, because Harley (from sailing vessel Kailani) mentioned that he makes cornbread with his chili.  Harley does all the cooking aboard Kailani, so I sometimes exchange recipes with him.  Well, there are no cornbread mixes in the stores, so I found a pretty good recipe at www.allrecipes.com (see the recipe below).  I figured anything with the word Grandmother’s in the title can’t be all bad plus it got five star rating with over 3,800 reviews.  Well, the only problem is that I didn’t have any buttermilk, so I made my own.  Making buttermilk for recipes wasn’t so hard at all (even for me).  Just place a tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice (I used lemon juice) in a liquid measuring cup.  Add enough milk to bring the liquid up to the one-cup line.  Let stand for five minutes.  Then, use as much as your recipe requires.  The buttermilk recipe is found online from www.frugalliving.about.com . Voila!!  Easy-Peasy!

Grandmother’s Buttermilk Cornbread (makes about 9 servings)
1/2 cup butter
2/3 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease an 8 inch square pan.
  2. Melt butter in large skillet. Remove from heat and stir in sugar. Quickly add eggs and beat until well blended. Combine buttermilk with baking soda and stir into mixture in pan. Stir in cornmeal, flour, and salt until well blended and few lumps remain. Pour batter into the prepared pan.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
So I whipped up this cornbread recipe and the only thing I changed was adding about 1/2-1 cup of corn (Rankin’s request).  It was delicious and Rankin really enjoyed it too.  For this passage, I cooked meatloaf with mashed potatoes, asian chicken (I will prepare the rice underway), chili with cornbread, spaghetti.  I made some homemade English muffins but they are about gone now, so I’ll make another batch for the trip plus some homemade cinnamon rolls.  I will also prepare some PB&J sandwiches in advance and pop them in the frig.  For one more evening meal, I will cook chicken enchiladas using an enchilada sauce I just got from Harley on Kailani.  It calls for using the Vitamix can't wait to try it out.  Anyway, the idea is to keep cooking as simple as possible while on passage just in case there are adverse conditions.  Our motto is “prepare for the worst and hope for the best” which has worked pretty well so far. 

We had to raise Rankin up the mast (using the electric winch, of course) to replace our main halyard block.  He had no problem replacing the block though it didn’t look very comfortable way up there.  Sorry there are no pictures this time.  We stowed our dive compressor which is kind of heavy and fits into a tight spot, so is a little tricky but we have a system so it was no problem.  Though it’s always sad to see the dive compressor stowed, because it means no diving for a while.  Oh well, there’s next year or New Zealand maybe.  Okay. We are very close to being ready now.

All meals prepared and weather looks promising it’s time to check out.  Rankin left this morning at 7 a.m. with Michael on Astarte and they walked over to Immigration, Customs and Port Captain (in that order) and checked out.  They caught a ride back from a friendly cruiser, but Rankin took a detour to the duty free shops to stock up on a few essentials (i.e. liquor and stuff).  While Rankin was busy with the officials, I took out trash (ICK!), paid marina fees, did a quick bakery run (wouldn’t want to run out of baguettes) and internet stuff.  We finally left the marina around 11 a.m. and no we’re not done yet.  It’s time to get duty free fuel, so off to fuel up.  Almost 400 liters later, we are now ready to leave Noumea. 

We are currently sailing along at 6 knots heading for some place which depends on the wind.  Yes, can you believe I am actually updating this blog underway right now.  Isn't wifi great!   So, come back and find out where we ended up!   

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