Archive of ‘Lunch’ category

Poseidon’s Poisson Cru au Lait Coco

IMG 4794 300x225 Poseidons Poisson Cru au Lait CocoEveryone has a tattoo in the Marquesas.  On their faces, hands, limbs, and I am sure all over their body.  They are beautiful, unique

“Without tattoos you were worth less than a pig,” a Swiss anthropologist doing research in Hiva Oa told me.

Tattoos mark life events and define who you are, what you can do, and what you have been through.   When girls became old enough to help their mothers in the kitchen, for instance, they got a tattoo on a finger of their right hand.  Without that tattoo the girl isn’t allowed to handle food.

A tattoo on the face usually marks momentous events, protection from an accident, the death of a family member, the birth of a child, or the like.  Even in the West people may get a tattoo to commemorate a major life event.

DSCN1515 300x225 Poseidons Poisson Cru au Lait CocoToday, the tattoo culture is not as strict as it once was.  People don’t need tattoos to handle food.  Not every girl gets a tattoo marking her first period.  Not everyone we saw had a tattoo, but the culture remains and tattoos are respected and honored.

Every island has its own specific tattoos, even islands only a mile apart has its own distinct tattoos.  Thus, if you know what you are looking for, you can identify exactly where a person is from.

I know several cruisers who have gotten tattooed in the Marquesas to celebrate their long crossing.  As beautiful as Polynesian tattoos are, I decided not to get one.  Especially after talking with my fellow crew members.


DSCN1510 300x225 Poseidons Poisson Cru au Lait CocoIn Japan, Toshi San told me,  tattoos are the mark of someone in the Yakuza, the Japanese Mob.  Even if you are a foreigner, having a tattoo can get you banned from entering certain establishments.  In most onsens, the popular hot springs of Japan, you are not allowed to enter if you have a tattoo.  Even a little star on the ankle will get you kicked out of an onsen.  It is incredible how what gives a person status in one country will strip you of respect in another.





IMG 4741 300x225 Poseidons Poisson Cru au Lait CocoFood however, is something that brings people and cultures together.  Different cultures have their takes on food, but seeing different approaches and sampling new things is half the fun of travel.

I adore fish.  Some people are squeamish about raw fish, but I can’t get enough of sashimi, which is what most people think of when they think of raw fish, but Japan is far from the only culture with a raw fish dish integral to their cuisine.  There is ceviche in South America, carpaccio in Italy, or the Scandinavian gravlax, just to name a few.




French Polynesia’s version is called Poisson Cru au Lait Coco, literally translated raw fish with coconut milk.  This delicious dish is pretty close to ceviche with coconut milk.  There are variations of this dish throughout the South Pacific.  This recipe is loosely based on one Sandra, our contact in the Marquesas, gave me.

Poseidon’s Poisson Cru au Lait Coco

DSCN1547 300x225 Poseidons Poisson Cru au Lait CocoIngredients:

Juice from 10 limes (about 1 ½ cups juice)

2 lbs. fresh fish (tuna is best but mahi mahi will do)

1 onion, thinly sliced

1 cucumber, julienned

1 t salt

½ t pepper

1 T Maggi Seasoning

1 c coconut milk

Cabbage leaves


Directions:DSCN1551 300x225 Poseidons Poisson Cru au Lait Coco

Cut fish into bite-sized cubes about ½”—1”

Pour lime juice over the fish, the juice should just cover the fish

Cover and refrigerate 1 hour

Mix in onions and season with salt, pepper, and Maggi

Refrigerate 24 hours giving the citric acid time to cook the fish

10 minutes before serving stir in cucumber and mix in coconut milk

Serve in cabbage leaves

DSCN9026 Poseidons Poisson Cru au Lait Coco

Blue Water Bonito Sashimi

Sally and bonito 300x225 Blue Water Bonito SashimiYou’re crewing on a Japanese-owned boat?  You much catch a ton of fish!

Well, not so much.  Not a one in the Bahamas.  We did catch a ton of barracuda in Cuba, but we’d thrown all of them back.  It may have been open water but we had absolutely no desire to mess with ciguatera,  the fish-borne illness  that’s featured in various places on the spectrum from  wish-you-were-dead to actually deadly.  We had caught a king fish and a few little things in harbors, but fish seemed to be keeping clear of Umineko.




Toshi cleaning bonito 300x224 Blue Water Bonito Sashimi

Toshi San cleaning bonito

But our luck seemed to be changing on our long passage.  We caught our first big(ish) fish.  And a tasty one too, a bonito, and perfect for a Japanese boat.  Japanese cooking uses bonito, or katsuo, flakes and stock in a whole lot of their dishes.  I just had never tasted a fresh one.

When Toshi San, our resident fish expert, deftly cleaned our catch I found out the 10 pound catch had red meat.  I’m not sure why I’d been expecting it to have white, but the dark red meat looked good.  For this catch we had a real Japanese feast, curtsey of  Toshi San, or as I like to call him, my sakane sensai (fish sensai).




xbonito meat 300x224 Blue Water Bonito SashimiHe showed me how to trim all of the edges off of the fillets, leaving only the “beautiful” meat, for sashimi and chirashi sushi.  We waste all of the scraps?  I asked him, horrified.   Not at all, he replied, putting them in a small pan.

He chopped up some fresh ginger and arranged it over the fish.  Then he poured a little mirin, a little soy sauce, a few spoonfuls of sugar, and enough water to cover the fish.

“I’ve been cooking fish since I was a child,”  he told me.  I never measure anything.  I don’t have to!”



xbonito 300x224 Blue Water Bonito SashimiThe dish was delicious but as I’m still not up to judging how much of what goes in I won’t put the recipe up.  I’ll just have to experiment a bit more.

For the “beautiful dishes,” we made easy sushi rice, cooking the rice, folding in a sushi powder packet, and then training a fan on it:  The modern take on hand-fanned sushi.

Then we thickly sliced the most beautiful fish rolls, each piece about 1” thick.  He explained to me that dark meat was generally sliced more thickly in Japan.




xeasy sushi rice 300x224 Blue Water Bonito SashimiHe sliced the meat and arranged the pieces one after the other in elegant lines on a plate.  Each one fit together perfectly.  Next he chopped 3 cloves  of garlic and spread it over the bonito.  Finally he sprinkled finely chopped spring onions over the top, wrapped it in plastic film, and refrigerated it until dinner time.

I was in charge of arranging the toppings for the chirashi sushi.  With the three dishes we had a glorious bonito feast that day.




Blue Water Bonito Sashimi

sashimi bonito 300x224 Blue Water Bonito Sashimi

Blue Water Bonito Sushi


  • Bonito
  • 3 cloves chopped garlic
  • Spring onion






  • xchirishi sushi 300x224 Blue Water Bonito Sashimi

    Bonito Chirashi Sushi

    Slice bonito in 1” slices and arrange on plate

  • Cover with chopped garlic
  • Sprinkle with spring onion
  • Cover with plastic wrap and allow to marinate for 4 hours
  • Serve with wasabi, pickled ginger, and rice, or as a starter for a meal

South of the Equator Somen

putting makeup on 300x224 South of the Equator SomenThe sailing world is fraught with myths, legends, and tradition.  That it is bad luck have a woman on a boat may have fallen by the wayside (for some at least), but others remain.  In name at least.  Some, like the equator crossing tradition can be a fun way to break up a long passage.

To cross the equator you need the sea god’s permission. There are different takes on it.  Some legends state that newbies, the people who haven’t crossed before,  must perform a ritual.  Others say that the oldest member on board must make the sacrifice, but luckily (for me) Sato San decided that the newbies had to come up with the skit.



xequator crossing wsally 300x225 South of the Equator SomenRather than doing an actual skit we agreed that we would do a picture skit.  Each scene would be a still shot and the pictures would say everything.  No memorizing lines, no action.  Just implied action.  Apparently this kind of thing was extremely popular in Japan.

Toshi San and I thought about it for a few days.  Cross dressing and nudity were common in these ceremonies.  I vetoed removing any of my clothes, or wearing a coconut bra or Brazilian string bikini the guys had been suggesting.  Cross dressing on the other hand… now that was a definite possibility.  And who better than to dress up as a woman than Sato San, the biggest advocate of me wearing less clothes.




killing mermaid 2 300x225 South of the Equator SomenHere’s how our story went:

The winds had died because we needed to ask the sea god’s permission to cross the equator.  The sea god needed a sacrifice.

One sailor catches a beautiful mermaid (as played by Sato San) and decides to give her to the sea god to marry.

One sailor prepares the mermaid for the marriage but gets jealous that the mermaid is marrying a god so calls in  her friend in Pacific Al Quanaika (the word means “where it is” in Japanese, but Toshi San wanted it as a play on Al Qaeda) who stabs the mermaid


xmermaid sato san 300x225 South of the Equator SomenThe sea god appears saying he doesn’t want his beautiful mermaid hurt or need a sacrifice so he brings her back to life with rum. (this is also a joke as alcohol can be used to kill fish)

The sea god brings the wind and everyone happily sings a song.

It must have worked.  Not half an hour later a pod of 7 small whales, possibly pilot whales breached alongside of us.  I was delighted watching the creatures surfaces so close to the hull.  Sato San, on the other hand just wanted them gone.  They weren’t big, only 2-3 times the size of a dolphin, with curious rounded heads and dark bodies.

When Toshi San made the joke about whale steaks I knew the gentle giants must not have seen the Japanese flag.


xcrossing equator 300x225 South of the Equator SomenOne of our favorite meals is somen.  It’s quick, easy, and delicious on a hot day, which we get quite a few of in equatorial waters.  Somen isn’t for rough seas, but it’s a great thing to eat on calm waters, at anchor, or in a marina.  Healthy, delicious, and above all easy it’s a fun cool meal for crew to eat together on the deck with a breeze blowing over you.





South of the Equator Somen


  • DSCN0977 300x224 South of the Equator Somen1 500 gram package of somen noodles
  • Tomato, thinly sliced
  • Spring onions, finely chopped
  • ½ carrot, julienned
  • 1 can fish (sardines or Japanese canned fish)
  • ½ cucumber, julienned
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • ¼ c katsuo dipping sauce
  • Wasabi


  • Boil water
  • Put somen in and cook for 2 minutes
  • Drain and run cold water over noodles until cool (it stops the noodles cooking and cools them)
  • Fry eggs in small, oiled pan (ideally square) over medium heat about 2 minutes on one side and flip.
  • Slice egg into very thin slices
  • Arrange egg and veggies on a plate with fish in the middle
  • Set on table with wasabi and katsuo
  • Each person has a little bowl and each person makes their own lunch:
  • Pour katsuo dipping sauce into bowl
  • Stir in wasabi to taste
  • Sprinkle in spring onions
  • Add noodles, veggies and fish
  • Refill bowl and eat until full!

Captain’s Call Rice Cakes

DSCN1158 300x224 Captains Call Rice Cakes

Okay, this was in Panama… we sailed past the Galapagos in the dead of night but hey, islands.

The Galapagos.  Ever since reading the Kurt Vonnegut book I had wanted to sail there.  Almost every cruiser heading through the Panama Canal to the Marquesas stops off at the Galapagos.  It’s the logical stopping-point to break up the prodiigeous 4,000 nautical mile passage.  Sure, it’s a lot closer to Panama, about 845 nautical miles away.  But still, it’s a nice break  to help you remember what land feels like.

Toshi San and I both really wanted to go.  Mori San wouldn’t have minded either (provided there was a post office there, Mori San’s one requirement for visiting even the remotest of locations).  Unfortunately Sato San was dead set against it.  It was costly, there was a lot of paperwork, we might use up too much fuel, and he was in a bit of a hurry to reach Darwin for the start of the Sail Indonesia Rally in July.  Then there were the sea lions.  He’d heard horror stories from our friends in the previous WARC about sea lions climbing up on boats and making their noisy, stinky, aggressive selves at home.

Still, we were sailing within 10 nautical miles of the islands, near enough to smell them, without stopping.  Sadder still our friends on Spirit of Alcides were taking the time to stop and explore the islands.  But as much as Toshi San, Mori San, and I wanted to go, it wasn’t up to us.  Though crew may offer suggestions, a boat is not a democracy.  The captain always has the final say.

Though it can be frustrating, the captain really does have to have complete control of what goes on on a boat (this control does not extend to the galley.  I am captain of my galley.  It helps the boat run smoothly and keeps things together in rough seas or trying times.  Not that the captain has to be a Bligh or anything.  He can listen, but bottom line is that, the captain always has the final say.  Alas this meant I didn’t get to visit the Galapagos this time around.

I was on watch with Toshi San at 3:30 am when we sailed by.  Oh there was joking about “accidently” going off course and ending up there but no.   No giant turtles or blue footed boobies for us.  Not this time. I guess I have to save something for next time around.

DSCN1212 300x224 Captains Call Rice CakesThat morning we had left-over rice from the night before.  Rice is integral in Japanese cooking.    From the start Sato San made it clear that at least one meal of the day should be accompanied by rice.  I usually cook just the right amount.  But what happens when you make too much rice?

Growing up one of my favorite left over breakfasts was rice cakes.  Now “rice cake” can mean so many different things.  Of course there are the Styrofoam-like “healthy” rice cakes.  You know, the ones that taste like nothing unless they are flavored with some salt or seasoning?  Then there are Korean rice cakes which are similar to Japanese mochi.  These dense cylinders of  rice flour pressed into a chewy pasta are used in one of my favorite dishes, dduk boki.


These rice cakes are completely different.  They are more like rice pancakes.  They make an easy and tasty breakfast not to mention being  a wonderful way of using up left-over rice from the night before.



Captain’s Call Rice Cakes


  • DSCN1211 300x225 Captains Call Rice Cakes3 c cooked rice
  • ¼ c spring onions, finely chopped
  • ½ c canned corn
  • ½ c fake crab meat, chopped (optional)
  • 2 T Vegeta seasoning
  • 4 eggs
  • Oil for frying
  • Okonomayaki sauce (optional)


  • Put rice in large bowl
  • Mix in eggs, corn, fake crab meat, and vegeta
  • Scoop onto oiled skillet with ladle
  • Cook in oiled skillet over medium heat until golden, 2-3 minutes on each side
  • Serve hot

rice cake with okonomayaki 300x224 Captains Call Rice Cakes

Passage Preparation Sweet Potato Pockets

preparation 300x224 Passage Preparation Sweet Potato Pockets

Have food prepared for the first few days of passage

Thar be dragons!

I’ve loved dragons ever since I was a little girl.  It might be date back to seeing the Magic Flute at age 3 or my fascination with dinosaurs.  Perhaps even reading Anne McCaffery’s dragon rider series.  It only seems fitting that maps of old stated “Thar be dragons!” in uncharted territory.

There are those who have wondered why I’m embarking on a month-long passage from Panama City to the Marquesas.  Of course I am interested to see what it will be like not seeing land for almost a month.  After all, this is almost twice the distance of my longest passage to date.  But for me pushing boundaries is part of the fun.  Just the thought of the adventures that lay around the corner or over the horizon makes my breath quicken and my heart flutter. Some part of me could just be hoping to find those dragons.


Pocket2 300x225 Passage Preparation Sweet Potato PocketsWhatever the case, for a month long passage more than a little preparation and provisioning is required.  I can’t lie and tell you that the galley is always my favorite place to be.  The first few days of a passage after a long time in port can be brutal.   Standing on watch?  No problem, but if the winds are against you and the sea is a washing machine concentrating on preparing meals in the stuffy galley is grim.  And imagining what flavors and what tastes combine to make a culinary masterpiece or sampling the food to see if it needs more salt?  Forget it.

I rely on a couple simple rules of thumb cut down my time in the galley on the first few days of passage.  After that you’ll get your galley legs.

-          Chop vegetables in advance.  Not only does this cut down on time in the galley, but if the seas are rough or you’re feeling miserable wielding a knife may not be the first thing you want.

-          Use tried and true simple recipes you know.  Thinking about what you’re cooking is not the best thing for settling a touchy stomach.

-          Prepare a few dishes in advance that require minimal effort to prepare.  Some of my favorites are pastys or pocket ‘zas.


Pre-Passage Sweet Potato Feta Pockets


  • Pockets 3 300x225 Passage Preparation Sweet Potato Pockets½  recipe passage maker pizza dough
  • 3 T olive oil
  • sweet potato, chopped
  • ½ onion, diced
  • 1 t salt
  • ½ t freshly ground pepper
  • 1 t oregano
  • ½ c feta
  • 1 egg, beaten (optional




  • Fry  onion in oil in large skillet over medium heat for about 2 minutesPockets4 300x225 Passage Preparation Sweet Potato Pockets
  • Add sweet potato and seasonings stir until coated in oil
  • Cover and cook another 15 minutes until sweet potato is cooked but firm
  • Separate dough into tangerine-sized balls
  • Roll each ball into circle using rolling pin or wine bottle
  • Spoon sweet potato mixture onto center of dough
  • Fold circle over into crescent
  • Brush with egg (optional)

Winch Watercress Wasabi Salmon Sandwiches


ship 300x225  Winch Watercress Wasabi Salmon SandwichesThe worst single word you can hear at a cash register.  It worse still when you have spent 4 hours provisioning and the cashier has rung up a month’s worth of groceries.  When the store in question is over an hour taxi ride away from the marina it is like something out of a nightmare.

Umineko had gotten to Balboa marina the day before and it was lovely.  It had a swimming pool, hot showers, fast internet, not to mention it was filled with WARC yachts resplendent in their flags.  This was a new WARC so I didn’t know most of the yachts, but I had met a few of them in San Blas.

The large crew of Boingo Alive,  delightful men (and 2 women) from a Swiss yacht whom I had met in San Blas, Panama were drinking at the bar.  It is always fantastic to see familiar faces in new ports and this was no exception.  We spent a late first night drinking, catching up, and getting to know one another.

The next morning we all went provisioning; their entire crew and me as Umineko’s representative.  I couldn’t believe how far it was to Cologne from Balboa.  What made it worse was that the taxi had to stop for nearly an hour waiting for ships the size of city to transit the Panama Canal locks and the bridge to go down.  There was actually a roadside stand selling banana bread, sandwiches, and drinks for people who had to wait while the canal bridge was up!

We arrived at the dilapidated shopping center a little before 10, and made plans with the grocery store’s drivers to take us back at 14:00.  After a quick neunies (a Swiss traditional snack between breakfast and lunch they had drunkenly told me about the day before) we got down to provisioning.

Provisioning is far from my favorite thing to do.  Buying enough food for months (or at least one) at sea is overwhelming to say the least.  Just imagine if you had to do all of your shopping for a month+ in one go and you can’t buy or get anything else.  Well, possibly some fresh fish but that’s it.

Still, I was going through the aisles, crossing things off the list and getting things done.  I filled up the first cart.  By 13:30 the second cart was overflowing.  Myself and half of the marina.  The queues of WARC members provisioning, each one with several carts piled high with groceries, was comical.  By the time I finally got to the register I was more than ready to be back at the marina.

It took 20 minutes for the plump Panamanian cashier to scan all of the items.  When I handed her my debit card I was already helping the bag person arrange items in heavy boxes.

“Your card was not accepted,” she told me in Spanish handing it back.

“Try it again,” I said, the panic building.

No luck.

The world went grey.  I’d left my credit card on the boat for safe keeping. After all, we were in Cologne, reputedly dangerous.  I looked through my wallet just to see if money had miraculously appeared.  No luck: I didn’t have even close to enough money on me.

“Could you run it again?”

The woman obliged, but shook her head.  Declined.

My eyes went big.  We were well over an hour away from Balboa yacht club not to mention the fact we’d taken an expensive taxi to get here.

I did the only thing I could.  Harry, one of my new friends on Boingo Alive, was in line several carts back.sandwich 300x225  Winch Watercress Wasabi Salmon Sandwiches

“They declined my card!” I told him in a wail, my face ghost white.

“How much do you need?” The shaggy-haired Swiss artist asked, not missing a beat.  He pulled out his wallet and counted out twenties.

I almost fainted with the strength of the wave of relief and gratitude that washed over me.  When Harry met Sally?  Yeah, he saved her life.  Cruisers are amazing.  The welcoming nature of the sailing community seems to draw the best people to it.  Or maybe sailing simply brings out the best in people.  I’m not sure if it is because sailors are more in tune with nature, realize their own mortality on the high seas, are just doing something they love, or any number of other reasons, bit sailors are some of the friendliest, most helpful people in the world.  To other sailors at least.

Harry had known me for less than a week and without hesitating he lent me the money to pay for the groceries.  No, he wasn’t a Swiss banker.

Earlier Harry had asked if we had any wasabi we could trade Boingo Alive (they weren’t sure for what but that’s how things work in sailing).  Later that day I paid Harry back and brought over a tube of wasabi.  Boingo Alive went through the canal the day before Umineko so sadly we didn’t have time for a dinner party but hopefully I will get a chance to cook for them in some port in the future.

Boingo Alive wanted the wasabi for all the fresh fish they were going to catch, but I love to use wasabi in all sorts of dishes.  I was delighted when I found a vegetable truck in Portobello, Panama selling watercress and all sorts of delicious treasures.  I’ve loved watercress sandwiches since childhood and wanted to put a Japanese spin on them.

Winch Watercress Wasabi Salmon Sandwiches


  • 1 8 oz package cream cheese
  • 1 c watercress leaves (and thinner stems), chopped
  • 2 T wasabi paste
  • 2 T lemon juice
  • ½ t pepper
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 8 oz smoked salmon
  • bread



  • Sandwich2 300x225  Winch Watercress Wasabi Salmon SandwichesMix cream cheese, wasabi, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in small bowl
  • Stir in watercress leaves
  • Spread on slice of bread
  • Arrange cucumber slices on top
  • Lay smoked salmon over cucumber
  • Top with second slice of bread and cut in half
  • Enjoy!

Catamaran Crab Cakes

xhemmingwayfavbar 300x225 Catamaran Crab Cakes

Floridita, Hemingway’s favorite bar

Touristic Havana can be expensive, or at least the prices can be comparable to the US.  Often even at higher prices selection is limited (I couldn’t find something as simple as flour in Havana to save my life).   But if you know where to go, or are lucky and stumble across them, there are wonderful hidden treasures to be found for next-to-nothing.




xhavanafruit 300x225 Catamaran Crab CakesWhile walking through the streets of Havana Vieja, a Cuban invited an Australian couple into his house and sold them 4 good-sized lobster tails for 5 CUC!  I never had that happen, nor as a girl walking around on my own would I have gone inside a strange Cuban man’s house alone.  I found my treasures other places.



We were running out of seafood on Umineko so one of Marina Hemmingway’s expats took me in search of fish on his scooter.  We asked several Cubans on the streets of Jaimanitas, a suburb of Havana.  Most of them shrugged their shoulders, but at last a little Cuban grandmother pointed out the house where a man had fish.  The man opened his freezer and it was brimming with frozen fish.  He took out one enormous bag of fillets, followed by a large bag of lobster tails, and finally an enormous block of grey-brown something.

x5kilocrabmeat 300x225 Catamaran Crab Cakes“Cangrejo,” he told me.  Crab.  After a bit of bargaining he sold me 5 kilos of cleaned crab for 8 CUC.  We were eating delicious crab on Umineko for months.  As Sato San’s favorite American dish (and one of mine) is crab cakes.  This is perfect as crab cakes are extremely easy to make, freeze, and then heat up again as needed.



If you have the ingredients, I definitely recommend making a bunch of crab cakes and freezing them for a passage.  They are easy to make, easier to heat up, and are always a hit.

Catamaran Crab Cakes

xcrabcakes1 300x225 Catamaran Crab Cakes


  • 1 lb lump crab
  • ½ large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 T mayonnaise
  • 2 T Dijon mustard
  • 1 T old bay seasoning
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • 4 eggs
  • ¼ c green onions, finely sliced
  • 1 c bread crumbs



  • xcrabcakes5 300x225 Catamaran Crab CakesStir all ingredients together until mixed but not too much (leave crab lumps) in medium bowl
  • Heat large skillet over medium heat until hot
  • Spray with cooking spray
  • Spoon crab mixture onto skillet in ⅓ c portions
  • Press down into patties
  • Cook 3 minutes
  • Flip and cook another 3 minutes
  • Enjoy then or freeze for later


Crab cakes freeze extremely well and are great for heating up underway

 xcrabcakes3 300x225 Catamaran Crab Cakes

Fair Weather Feta Leek Quiche

feta leek quiche 3 300x225  Fair Weather Feta Leek Quiche


Bent Rudder

x bent rudder 300x225  Fair Weather Feta Leek Quiche

Spirits were high motoring out of Gaviotta Bay.  We were going to Cuba!  Cuba… home of the mojito and the daiquiri, with salsa, fabulous music and better cigars.  The Bahamas had been lovely, but we were ready for a little culture and some fabulous night life.  Maybe some lush jungle treks as well.  Who knew everything Cuba had in store.  We were more than ready to explore all that it had to offer.

I was in the galley making grissini for the passage when a spirit-crushing crunch shook the boat.  The guttural scrape of metal on rock tore at your very soul.  It was sound that made fingernails on a chalkboard sound like a choir of angels.  What had happened?

“It was so shallow. There were so many rocks,” Sato San said numbly.

Sato San went into the water. He didn’t come back with hopeful news.  The starboard rudder was bent.  Not just bent, the fiberglass had been shattered.  We motored to a mooring ball and tried to think.   Plans can change in an instant.

The Spanish aptly named the Bahamas – Baja Mar because the sea is so shallow.  We hadn’t thought anything would happen just coming out of the bay.  Accidents always happen when you let your guard down.

Umineko is a catamaran so we did have another rudder but what if something happened to that rudder?

No, we needed our starboard rudder.

Would we have to go back to the States to haul out and replace the rudder?  What could we do in the Bahamas?  We’d even had problems finding places to haul out a boat with a 24″ beam in the States.

There couldn’t be somewhere to haul out around here, could there?  At least we were at the St. Francis headquarters so it would be easier to order a new rudder here.  If they even had a rudder for the 23-year-old first hull.

x signs 300x225  Fair Weather Feta Leek Quiche
I was near tears when we dropped the dinghy and headed over to St. Francis Resort to talk to George.  If anyone could give us advice it would be him.  In his jovial South African accent George managed to cheer us up a bit.  Apparently, we had tried to leave
at low tide, the worst possible time.  He could talk to St. Francis headquarters in South Africa, but he wanted to look at the rudder first.  They had to straighten one or two rudders a year, so it was possible he could fix it in his workshop and get a nearby boat yard to repair the fiberglass.

George is a legend.  He straightened the rudder shaft in an afternoon and by that evening had the thing being fiberglassed at the boat yard. It would take some time to set though, he warned us.  I shuddered to think what that might mean in Bahaman time.

George must have bribed, threatened, or implored the boat yard because three days later we had our rudder back.  On the fourth day we were underway to Cuba (again).  Though the stress was dreadful, having those extra days in Gaviotta Bay was lovely. We met some delightful people and managed to have a classic Umineko karaoke party the day before we set sail.  If you go to George Town, Bahamas I highly recommend stopping by St. Francis Marina.  Great drinks, some of the best calamari I have ever tasted, and lovely people.

I also got to make a few more tasty treats in preparation for the passage to Cuba.  I love quiche because it is easy and delicious hot or cold.  I bought a large chunk of feta the month before in Florida.  Keeping it frozen I was using it for special occasions and I thought that we needed some tasty food in light of upsetting events.

x fixed rudder 300x225  Fair Weather Feta Leek Quiche
This quiche is easy and tasty, but I do not recommend trying to make it underway because the filling has the unfortunate tendency of spilling all over the oven when there are even little waves.
Fair Weather Feta Leek Quiche

1 leek, thinly sliced
1 c heavy cream
1 t pepper
1 t salt
4 eggs
½ t thyme
½ c feta, crumbled
½ recipe painter perfect pie crust

Preheat oven to 350 F (170C)
Whisk eggs, cream (or milk), and spices in medium mixing bowl
Roll-out pie crust dough
Put into pie tin, pinching edges into a crust
Bake for 20 minutes
Scatter feta and half leek slices over bottom of pie
Pour egg mixture into pie tin
Arrange remaining leek slices on top of pie crust
Bake for 30-40 minutes or until filling puffs up in the center and is solid to the touch

x feta leek quiche 300x225  Fair Weather Feta Leek Quiche

feta leek quich 2 300x225  Fair Weather Feta Leek Quiche

Lighthouse Lobster Tacos

xlobster tacos 2 Lighthouse Lobster Tacos

Menacing nurse sharks are thick in Staniel Cay.  Not quite the ominous beasts from the James Bond film Thunderball, but it amuses me to no end that there are in fact sharks that populate the Thunderball Grotto.

x menacing nurse sharks Lighthouse Lobster Tacos

It may be one of the Bahamas biggest tourist attractions, but Thunderball Grotto is well worth a visit.  I’ve been to James Bond shooting locations around the world.  Thailand, Udaipur India, and I’m sure there were a few others.  Not that I’m making a point of visiting, it just works out that way.  This is the coolest one I’ve been to.

x thunderball grotto Lighthouse Lobster Tacos

You swim into the grotto through one of several openings in the porous rock island.  I chose an opening that you actually dove down and swam underwater through a passage until the cave opened in front of you.  With a high arched ceiling and dim blue lighting flickering off the cave walls the hollow center of the island is a natural cathedral more beautiful than anything manmade.

True to the film, there is an opening in the top of the cave.  Sadly the grotto makes only a fleeting appearance in the film in which James Bond is helicoptered out of the cave.  In real life visitors can climb to the top of the island and those braver than I am can jump into the grotto from the top of the island, probably a 30-foot drop.

More my speed, there are hundreds of fish of all shapes, sizes, and colors that flock, or school perhaps, to the cave for tourist treats.  Naturally we brought the fish some bread and I was immediately clothed in a cloud of opportunistic fish begging for handouts.

x sally with fish 2 Lighthouse Lobster Tacos

We watched Thunderball that night and feasted on lobster tacos.  We still had frozen tails left from our incredible deal with the fishermen in Chub Cay (I didn’t realize just how amazing a deal it was until I saw 3 tails being sold for $25-40 in Nassau on the side of the road).  Tacos are delicious, healthy, and easy to make.  Not to mention perfect for a boat.

We always try to have cabbage on board, I make it a point to stock up on flour tortillas, and most of the trimmings (rice, beans, etc) are pretty standard ingredients on a boat.  The sauce is what really makes this dish though.  I have played with the recipe for ages and this is definitely my favorite.

I would love to hear what you think!

Lighthouse Lobster Tacos

Makes 8-10 tacos


Soft flour taco tortillas

½ head cabbage very finely chopped

Meat from 4+ lobster tails, shredded

Taco Sauce

½ c yachting yogurt

2 T kewpie mayonnaise

1 t salt

Juice from 2 limes

½ t taco seasoning


Boil lobster tails

Cut up cabbage and put in small mixing bowl

Mix yogurt, mayonnaise, salt lime juice, and taco seasoning – sauce should be thin

Heat tortilla

Put lobster in line along widest part of tortilla

Sprinkle cabbage over half of the tortilla

Drizzle sauce over cabbage

Fold taco


Serve with rice, beans, guacamole, chopped tomatoes, or whatever your heart desires and galley offers.


Telltale Spicy Tuna Salad

x telltale tuna wraps Telltale Spicy Tuna Salad

Diving (okay snorkeling, let’s be honest here) shipwrecks is always fun.  Seeing how man made ruins have been converted into a make-shift home, no an entire underwater ecosystem never ceases to amaze.  Yes, shipwrecks are great, but sunken planes?  When I heard that Norman’s Cay boasted a sunken plane from the 1970s I was dying to explore it.

To my relief Sato San was all for it.   We anchored half a mile away right off of the archetypal desert island, one palm tree sprouting up in the middle.  Of course, under the tree sat a wooden bench, but you could always imagine the Swiss Family Robinson had a hand in that.

A few sheets of metal barely stuck out of the azure water, the last remnants of the plane’s top.  The rest had long since rusted away, ravaged by the elements.  Still, it was enough for us to spot it and dinghy over.  There is a feeling of mystique about sunken planes, shipwrecks, and ruins.  It gives you a shivery feeling of wonder, danger, and opens a thousand questions.  What had happened?  Who had been on this plane?  Did they survive?

x sally diving sunken plane Telltale Spicy Tuna Salad

I slid over the side of the dinghy into the warm Bahamian water and came face to face with rusted -propellers and the nose of the barnacle-covered wreck.  I swam around it.  Nothing remained inside the wreck.  It had been too long; the ocean had taken its due.  Resident yellow and black striped fish surrounded the wreck.  Two rays were hiding under the sand, only their tails and a thin outline visible. Until an eye blinked open watching.

I never knew the graceful creatures spent time hiding under the sand, but with flat bodies it made sense.  The underwater world was just as marvelous as I remembered.  I examined the plane from all angles, though decided against actually going inside the wreck and swam until the warm water started to feel cold.  It was time to head back to the dinghy.

x ray under sand Telltale Spicy Tuna Salad

Taira San, our new 70-year old Japanese crew member who had taken up sailing, kiteboarding, and countless other adventure sports after his 60th birthday, was waiting back in the dinghy.  Almost immediately Sato San joined us and we headed over to the desert island to explore.

The island beach was crawling with hundreds of young conchs.  The orangey-pink little shells were everywhere.  We did find a few legal-sized queen conchs with dramatically flared lips in deeper water though.  Our first conchs!

x archetypal desert island Telltale Spicy Tuna Salad

After a little while we headed back to the catamaran to make lunch.  After a long morning of exploring and adventures I didn’t want to make something too terribly involved and besides, everyone was hungry.  Quick and easy was the name of the game.  Tuna salad wraps fit the bill.

Tuna salad is certainly of the best fallback cruising foods. I make sure to keep my pantry well-stocked with canned tuna.  This is one of my favorite versions of the classic.  If you don’t have bell peppers you can omit them but I always like to have onions and celery.

Telltale Spicy Tuna Salad



1 can tuna

½ onion, chopped

½ bell pepper, chopped (red or yellow are prettiest but since they don’t last as long I usually just use green)

2 stalks celery, finely chopped

2 T relish

¼ c mayonnaise

Juice from 1 lime

1 t black pepper

1 t salt

1 t chili seasoning (or cayenne pepper)



Mash the tuna in bottom of large bowl

Mix in veggies

Add remaining ingredients and mix well



Tuna wraps

Makes 4 wraps


1 recipe tuna salad

1 tomato cut into wedges

4 burrito flour tortillas

Sprouts (optional)



Spoon tuna salad onto 4 wraps

Arrange tomato wedges in line on each tortilla

Place sprouts on top

Fold bottom of tortilla up and roll into wrap

x sally and plane wreck Telltale Spicy Tuna Salad

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