Jettison Japanese Curry

ship2 300x225 Jettison Japanese CurryIt was dark when we set sail.  Of course we had meant to leave during the day, but as with many of the best laid plans, this one fell by the wayside.

I was preparing dinner when the police boat sped up to us.  Who were we?  Where were we heading?, the officer wanted to know.  Did we have permission to go past La Playita?

I apologized and explained as calmly as I could that sailing vessel Umineko was were setting sail for the Marquesas. We had not known that we required permission.  Would it be possible for us to continue on our course?

The officer seemed flustered but I apologized profusely.  He told us to be absolutely sure not to go past La Playita without informing them 24-hours in advance ever again.  I gave him my word that I would never be so inconsiderate again and that seemed to placate him.  We had to be careful of a few ships that night but it was a pretty quiet night so everything would be okay.

Moon 300x224 Jettison Japanese CurryI thanked him again and got off the VHF radio and  back to dinner preparations in the galley.

One of our go-to meals on Umineko is Japanese curry.  When I joined Umineko I loved Indian curry and Thai curry, but I’d never even heard of Japanese curry.  Well apparently Japanese curry is one of the most popular every-day Japanese dishes.

Though extremely popular curry isn’t technically a traditional Japanese dish.  Toshi San explained that British colonists brought curry back on their way from India.  Though curry itself isn’t traditionally Japanese they have made it their own.  Japanese curry isn’t as spicy as many Indian or Thai curries.  Another uniquely Japanese twist is that it is invariably served with fukujinzuke, a sweet pickle mixture.  Well, invariably served on Umineko at least.

Jettison Japanese Curry

Ingredients:Japanese curry 300x224 Jettison Japanese Curry

  • 4 squares Golden Curry
  • 750 ml (2 ½ cups) water
  • 1 carrot, sliced (thick slices)
  • 1 potato, halved and coarsely chopped
  • 1 onion, coarsely chopped
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 cups rice
  • 1 T vegetable oil
  • Fukujinzuke (optional)

 

Directions:

  • Cook rice
  • In deep skillet, sauté onions in oil  over medium heat
  • Add potato and carrot and cook for 5 minutes
  • Pour in 500 ml water and simmer for 10 minutes
  • Stir in curry squares (broken up) until dissolved
  • Cook another 5 minutes slowly adding remaining water
  • Crack eggs Into curry and cook for an additional minute
  • Serve steaming hot beside rice
  • Enjoy!

Jettison Japanese Curry

ship2 300x225 Jettison Japanese CurryIt was dark when we set sail.  Of course we had meant to leave during the day, but as with many of the best laid plans, this one fell by the wayside.

I was preparing dinner when the police boat sped up to us.  Who were we?  Where were we heading?, the officer wanted to know.  Did we have permission to go past La Playita?

I apologized and explained as calmly as I could that sailing vessel Umineko was were setting sail for the Marquesas. We had not known that we required permission.  Would it be possible for us to continue on our course?

The officer seemed flustered but I apologized profusely.  He told us to be absolutely sure not to go past La Playita without informing them 24-hours in advance ever again.  I gave him my word that I would never be so inconsiderate again and that seemed to placate him.  We had to be careful of a few ships that night but it was a pretty quiet night so everything would be okay.

Moon 300x224 Jettison Japanese CurryI thanked him again and got off the VHF radio and  back to dinner preparations in the galley.

One of our go-to meals on Umineko is Japanese curry.  When I joined Umineko I loved Indian curry and Thai curry, but I’d never even heard of Japanese curry.  Well apparently Japanese curry is one of the most popular every-day Japanese dishes.

Though extremely popular curry isn’t technically a traditional Japanese dish.  Toshi San explained that British colonists brought curry back on their way from India.  Though curry itself isn’t traditionally Japanese they have made it their own.  Japanese curry isn’t as spicy as many Indian or Thai curries.  Another uniquely Japanese twist is that it is invariably served with fukujinzuke, a sweet pickle mixture.  Well, invariably served on Umineko at least.

Jettison Japanese Curry

Ingredients:Japanese curry 300x224 Jettison Japanese Curry

  • 4 squares Golden Curry
  • 750 ml (2 ½ cups) water
  • 1 carrot, sliced (thick slices)
  • 1 potato, halved and coarsely chopped
  • 1 onion, coarsely chopped
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 cups rice
  • 1 T vegetable oil
  • Fukujinzuke (optional)

 

Directions:

  • Cook rice
  • In deep skillet, sauté onions in oil  over medium heat
  • Add potato and carrot and cook for 5 minutes
  • Pour in 500 ml water and simmer for 10 minutes
  • Stir in curry squares (broken up) until dissolved
  • Cook another 5 minutes slowly adding remaining water
  • Crack eggs Into curry and cook for an additional minute
  • Serve steaming hot beside rice
  • Enjoy!

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

Ingredients:

  • 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

 

 

Directions:

  • 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)

Passagemaker Pizza Dough

grissini dough with rolling pin 1024x768 Passagemaker Pizza DoughPizza is a favorite among yachties and land-lovers around the world.  Sure, if you are lazy you can bring store-bought crusts or pizza crust mixes (yeah, I didn’t know mixes existed either until one boat I crewed on had a stock of pizza dough mix.) but let’s face it.  Making your own pizza always tastes a thousand times better. Cheese may be a commodity on long passages, but saving a bit for a pizza night once and a while can boost morale immeasurably.

This is my all-time favorite pizza dough recipe.  Simple enough to make under way, it’s packed with flavor.  Putting the Italian seasoning in the actual crust makes all the difference.  It is leagues better than any pizza crust I’ve had in a pizzeria.  I use this recipe for grissini, and all types of pizza from oven baked to the nautical stand-by pan-fried, and it works like a charm.

Passage Maker Pizza Dough

1 large pizza

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ t of yeast
  • 1 t sugar
  • 2 T pizza seasoning or Italian seasoning
  • 2 c flour
  • ½ t salt
  • ⅛ C olive oil
  • ¾ c warm water

Directions:

  • Mix yeast in warm water and teaspoon sugar and allow to proof 10 minutesDSCN8693 1024x768 Passagemaker Pizza Dough
  • Mix dry ingredients together
  • Make a hole in center and add water and olive oil
  • mix in with spoon
  • When too thick kneed with hands for 5 minutes
  • Cover with damp towel
  • Allow to rise 30 min
  • Punch down and roll out into circle or rectangle  with rolling pin or I like to use a wine bottle
  • Cover with toppings

 

IMG 1453 300x225 Passagemaker Pizza Dough

Panama Canal Popcorn

mooring buoy gatun 300x288 Panama Canal Popcorn

Mooring Buoy in Gatun Lake

We have seen some strange moorings, but tying up to a big floating mooring buoy with other boats rafted up to us may have been the oddest.  Imagine a floating steel barrel as a mooring.  Now imagine a boat on either side.  Then two other yachts rafted up to them.  It was not the ideal situation, but it was our only option.  We couldn’t make it across Gatun Lake at 8 knots so we had to go through the last two locks the next day.

Gatun Lake was extremely deep and we just didn’t have a long enough chain to anchor like the massive ocean liners did.  None of the yachts did.  So despite vehement protests from Toshi  San,  that it just wasn’t safe,  we had to moor on the dubious steel mooring.  At least our friends on Spirit of Alcides were on the opposite side of the buoy which was nice.

We bid farewell to our adviser and settled in.

 

 

 

 

Gatun Lake 300x225 Panama Canal PopcornApparently we had a slightly better time through the Gatun locks than Spirit of Alcides, or at least a better rafting up partner.  Where we had been rafted up to a lovely Canadian couple and their friends, Alcides had a much more colorful experience.  They had gone through the Gatun locks rafted up with a Jamaican fishing boat.  And all that that entails.

More rust than metal, Johni John sailed in its own personal cloud of smoke.  A sailing stereotype, the fishing vessel had such an overpoweringly Jamaican “smell” our friends on Alcides were practically getting high just rafted up to the vessel.  I didn’t believe them until I saw the boat the next day.

 

 

rafted up1 300x225 Panama Canal Popcorn

Johni John and Island Girl in front of Miraflores crowds

A new adviser came to our boat the next morning and we were off motoring our way across Gatun Lake to Pedro Miguel lock.

 

 

ship1 300x225 Panama Canal Popcorn

Ship behind us

We rafted up with Spirit of Alcides just before entering the lock.  Ahead of us was a monohull called Island Girl who had the dubious honor of rafting up with the Rastafarian Johni John, and behind us was massive ship.  Having a ship that large so close may have been a bit intimidating, but in the daylight, with an adviser whose English was fluent, our transit went as smooth as silk.  I even popped some of my favorite popcorn for all of us to enjoy.   We smiled, waved at the crowd, and handled the lines like pros.

 

the crash 300x224 Panama Canal Popcorn

Crash

Just a short motor-sail away were the Miraflores locks. Nearest to Panama City, this lock is home to one of Panama’s biggest tourist attractions, the Panama Canal museum where tourists can watch ships transiting the canal pulled through by the mechanical mules.  We would be on a live feed broadcasting worldwide.  We had to look our best.

Alcides and Umineko motored together between locks like a pair of Siamese twins.     Whether it was Johni John or Island Girl, the two boats decided to break apart between locks and raft back up inside the lock.  Our adviser cringed when he saw this happening.

They made it through Pedro Miguel without any problems, but it got out of control at the second Miraflores lock.  We watched aghast as the pristine white Island Girl, caught in the strong current, swung far over to one side of the lock.  The beautiful yacht tried to compensate and get back over to their canal partner when an eddy caught it.  Suddenly the engines were clearly doing everything they could to keep it away from the fishing vessel they needed to be rafted up to.  The strong currents were too strong, too fast for the boat’s engine.

 

 

the Ambulance 300x225 Panama Canal Popcorn

ambulance at the lock

No one could look away.  It was like watching a car accident in slow motion.   Island Girl was sucked into Johni John’s rusty steel hull.  There was a sickening crunch that we all felt.   We waited, and waited.  Our adviser informed us that we were waiting for an ambulance.  Island Girl’s captain had been injured*.  This was the first time he had seen this happen in his 23 years as a Panama Canal adviser.  Whoever made the call to ignore their adviser paid dearly for not paying attention to the professionals.

Though the second Miraflores chamber didn’t go quite so well for everyone, involved,* the first with the crowd was lovely.  To celebrate I popped some popcorn and we shared a bottle of celebratory wine with our canal buddies Spirt of Alcides.

 

 

 

 

sally with popcorn 300x225 Panama Canal Popcorn

Sally at Miraflores Locks

Popcorn is one of my favorite boat snacks.  You can find unpopped kernels in almost any country for next to nothing, it’s easy to prepare, and

great to snack on.  Besides, who doesn’t love popcorn?  My recipe for popcorn is a bit different though.  I grew up with popcorn seasoned with Spike salt substitute and nutritional yeast.  Just this makes tasty popcorn, but I took it one step further and added a third ingredient, Vegeta. You can find all of these ingredients in most health food stores and some grocery stores as well.

 

 

 

 

Panama Canal Popcorn

Ingredients:

  • popcorn 300x225 Panama Canal Popcorn

    Panama Canal Popcorn

    ¾ c popcorn

  • ⅓ c vegetable oil
  • 2 T nutritional/brewers yeast
  • 2 t Vegeta
  • 2 t Spike

 

Directions:

  • Put popcorn into the bottom of a large pot
  • Pour vegetable over kernels making sure they are covered (just barely)
  • Cover with lid and cook over medium heat shaking occasionally
  • When popping slows, after around 4 minutes, remove from heat
  • Pour half into a bowl and season with half of seasoning
  • Pour remaining popcorn into bowl and shake other half of seasoning on top
  • Enjoy!

*Island Girl´s captain was not badly injured.  He hurt his wrist trying to keep the boats apart and was out for a week but there were no breaks on person or yacht.

DSCN1201 1024x767 Panama Canal Popcorn

Bridge of the Americas

Monkey Fist Apricot Poppy Seed Biscotti

tires 300x225 Monkey Fist Apricot Poppy Seed Biscotti

tires and lines for transiting the canal

The Panama Canal.   After months spent going through locks on the Erie Canal I was finally transiting the legendary Panama Canal.  This was the big time.  The man-made cut severing the umbilical cord of the Americas.  A channel through between two oceans.

We had visited the lock museum and seen the cars pulling along the monstrous container ships.  Now it was our turn

We anchored a mile outside of the canal with the other boat that had been in the previous WARC, Sprit of Alcides.  It had been  nice to reconnect with people we knew and we were looking forward to rafting up with them, or tying our boats together, as we transited the canal.  We were waiting for our canal adviser to be dropped off.

 

xAlcides 300x225 Monkey Fist Apricot Poppy Seed Biscotti

Alcides with Panama Canal tire fenders

 

The Panama Canal Authority, PCA, requires that every yacht have an adviser on board as the canal be tricky to navigate.   The PCA appoints

these experienced advisers to help ease passage through the canal.  The captain doesn’t have to take the adviser’s advice, but the advisers are experienced.  If their advice isn’t heeded things may go awry.

A fast ferry motored up to Alcides and dropped off their adviser and they were on their

way.  We watched forlornly as they pulled up their anchor and motored toward the canal.  When would we go!?  We had the same transit time.  We had made plans to raft up together!  We’d met.  Discussed which side we would raft up on and put the massive tire fenders and canal gear we had rented on the opposite side to protect ourselves from the walls!

Panama Canal 300x225 Monkey Fist Apricot Poppy Seed Biscotti

going into the canal

Jose, our adviser made a few phone calls.  Bad news.  Things had gotten mixed up.  We were going in the following transit.  We would raft up to a Canadian catamaran transiting.  We were less-than-pleased.  But we couldn’t think too much about it.  There was a lot to think about to transit the canal.

I fed Jorge dinner, cornbread and chili with biscotti for dessert, while the 6’2” Panamanian he briefed us.  We’d heard most of it in the WARC briefing, but it was good to hear it again.

Because there were five of us on Umineko, we hadn’t needed to to hire extra people to be line handlers on Umineko, but that meant that we were all new.  We had to pay attention to our adviser.

 

 

rafted up 300x225 Monkey Fist Apricot Poppy Seed Biscotti

boats rafted up

It was dark before we reached Gatun lock, but the canal was so bright it almost seemed like day.   Motoring into the massive channel rafted up to the boat was awe-inspiring.  Even with a cruise ship called Prince of Tides of us and another catamaran rafted up to a monohull behind us the cavernous lock still seemed empty.

Almost as soon as we entered the canal the monkey fists were lobbed onto Umineko by the Panamanian line handlers on shore.  The WARC briefing had warned us about these soft-ball-sized lead-filled knots of rope potentially breaking windows, solar panels, crew member’s head, or other more fragile parts on the boat.  Whether we had fantastic line handlers or were just lucky every one of the monkey fists hit their mark.  We quickly grabbed the fists and tied our dock lines to the rope and secured them to the boat.

 

 

Monkey Fist 300x225 Monkey Fist Apricot Poppy Seed Biscotti

the Monkey Fist is far more intimidating in person

After traversing locks in the Erie, Darwin, and on the ICW, I thought I knew about locks.  I couldn’t have been more wrong.  The gargantuan locks were on a completely different scale.   It is as much like those in the Erie Canal as an elephant is to a mouse.  You’d think navigating locks, taking slack in and letting it out wouldn’t be a big deal.

Unfortunately there were a few complications.  Jose’s English was questionable, and he had trouble understanding and communicating with the Japanese captain and rest of the crew.   I spent what felt like hours line handling and trying to play translator.   Add to that we were transiting in tandem with the other catamaran we were rafted up with.  And of course enormous amount of water roiled, eddied and churned around the boast trying to pull us this way and that.

 

 

Even so, we did make it through unscathed.  We never bumped one of the towering concrete walls.  We didn’t have to transit with a container ship.  None of our cleats were ripped off.  And thankfully we didn’t sustain any damage to captain or crew from the monkey paws.  But this was only our first lock.  We would tie up to a mooring in the middle of Gatun Lake that night.  Tomorrow we had two more locks to get through.  And we had an audience for the Miraflores lock where the visitor’s center was.

sally line handler 300x225 Monkey Fist Apricot Poppy Seed BiscottiOn any boat it’s almost mandatory to have snack food around.  After all, keeping something in your tummy is a good way to prevent seasickness.   Unfortunately keeping snack food around with voracious Japanese men can be somewhat of a challenge.  I would open a bag of cookies, look away for a minute and poof!  No more cookies.  If I baked them it would be even worse!

My secret weapon, was to make biscotti.   This recipe makes about 90 biscotti and happily these crunchy little biscuits last for weeks.  I would still have to ration the biscotti.  I would hide the majority of them and put about 20 in the cookie box each day.

But not everyone has voracious crew mates on board so you might want to halve this recipe.

 

Monkey Fist Apricot Poppy seed Biscotti

Ingredients:

  • 1 t salt
  • xbiscotti 300x225 Monkey Fist Apricot Poppy Seed Biscotti1 ½ t baking soda
  • 4 c flour
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 c sugar
  • ¼ c poppy seeds
  • Zest from 1 lemon
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • 1 c apricots, chopped

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Line 2 loaf pans & with greased parchment paper
  • Press dough into pans
  • Bake 30 minutes
  • Cut into ⅛” slices
  • Lay out on cookie sheets.  You may have to do several batches depending on the space in your oven.
  • Bake additional 15 minutes or to desired crispiness.

I’ve found leaving the biscotti in the oven after you turn it off is the best way to get the biscotti crunchy without singeing them.

Charter Chirashi Sushi

DSCN1054 300x225 Charter Chirashi SushiThe barter system is still thriving in the sailing community.  One of my favorite trades was on Elephant Island in San Blas.  I traded some banana bread for a winch handle.  I was delighted with my side, but the Australian couple seemed equally pleased with their banana bread.  The woman even threw in some clothes she liked the bread so much!  That isn’t quite the norm though.

At Shelter Bay marina by Colon, Panama was a party every night.  Not only were the fabulous people from WARC 2014 there, but as with most marinas there were interesting people living on many of the boats.  We befriended one megayacht’s crew, a young South African  surfer and a wry Brit.  They had caught an enormous tuna a few days earlier and asked me if I wanted any of the meat.

 

I jumped on the offer and told them that I would cook them dinner with it.  This kind of barter on boats is a lot more common.  Very few yachts have a ton of freezer space and even fewer have a flash freezer.  When a crew of four catches a 20-lb tuna you’re a) going to be eating a lot of tuna for a while and b) will have to give away at least some of it if you don’t want to throw it away.

This leads to quite a few presents and exchanges of fish between yachties.  And if you’re given fish it only makes sense to cook it for your patron.

What could we do with delicious fresh tuna though?  Sashimi was an option, of course, but that was more of a starter.  We needed something for a lovely dinner party.

I first tried chirashi sushi, or chirashizushi in Argentina when my lovely friend Machiko invited me over for dinner.   I fell in love with it from the first bite.  Chirashizushi means “scattered” sushi and it is also a favorite in Japanese home cooking.  Since then I have tried chirashi sushi in a restaurant, rice with decadent slabs of sashimi, but I really prefer the homemade variety.

It isn’t hard to make, and like so many Japanese dishes it looks beautiful.  If you bring chirashi sushi you will be sure to be the hit of the dinner party.

 

Charter Chirashi SushiDSCN1056 300x225 Charter Chirashi Sushi

Serves 6

 

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups short grained or sushi rice
  • 1 packet Tamanoi Sushinoko sushi rice seasoning powder
  • 3 lbs fresh tuna (3-days old is ideal)
  • Pickled daikon, thinly sliced or shredded
  • Nori, cut into thin strips
  • Kazimi ginger (pink pickled ginger in thin strips)
  • 2 eggs

 

 

Directions:

 

  • Cook rice
  • Spread in large bowl,  and fan to cool
  • Gently fold in sushi rice seasoning powder using flat rice spoon
  • You shouldn’t make the sushi rice so far in advance that you need to refrigerate it.  In fact, it should never be refrigerated.  The ideal sushi rice is served at body temperature.
  • Spread on a flat platter
  • Beat the eggs and cook 2 minutes over medium heat in small square skillet if you have one.  A small skillet will do.
  • Flip and cook the other side about 1 minute
  • Turn onto cutting board and cut into thin strips (it’s called tamagoyaki)
  • Cut fish into bite-sized chunks
  • Arrange fish, kazami ginger, tamagoyaki, nori strips, and pickled daikon strips over rice
  • Serve and enjoy!

DSCN1058 300x225 Charter Chirashi Sushi

Winch Watercress Wasabi Salmon Sandwiches

Declined.

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

Ingredients:

  • 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

 

Directions:

  • 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!

Paddle-Out Paella

plump kuna women 300x225 Paddle Out PaellaSailing is fantastic.  More than just the exhilarating, relaxing, challenging time on the water, I adore nature, snorkeling, and exploring new places.  But what makes places is the people and the unique traditions.

From the start of our stay Kuna Indians rowed dugout canoes out to Umineko hawking bracelets, and the traditional mola weavings they were famed for.  Several plump Kuna women made their rounds to the yachts, delighted to have so many potential customers.

 

 

 

molas 300x225 Paddle Out Paellamolas were expensive, but the craftsmanship and time that went into making them was impressive.  The figures stitched onto the colorful weavings looked similar to aboriginal art from Australia.  Each one was unique, the fabric layers painstakingly hand-stitched as they had been for hundreds of years.  When one mola-master demonstrated the intricacy, each stich so fine it was almost invisible to the naked eye I realized how exceptional these traditional weavings truly were.

Every day new canoes rowed up to us.  One man came with his son in a dugout canoe.  The short We invited the two on board to chat.  Each canoe was made from a single “cedar amargo” tree.  Everything was still made traditionally with machetes and axes.  One canoe could last decades, but today not everyone made their own.   Special canoe-makers made canoes.

father and son2 300x225 Paddle Out PaellaWith no markets on Chichime, or any of the surrounding islands we were running low on vegetables.  The isolation was as bad as being on a long passage.  We were starting to wonder if we would have to sail somewhere that had a grocery store.  That morning we were delighted to have a canoe pull up beside us selling that day’s catch of fish and lobster.

 

 

 

 

father and son 300x225 Paddle Out Paella

We were a little disappointed that they didn’t have veggies but how could we pass on a fish delivery service?  For $10 we bought the whole lot.  We didn’t have a lot of fresh veggies, but with the delicious variety of seafood I just had to make paella.   Isn’t half of cooking in a galley about making delicious things with what you have?

Paddle-Out Paella

Ingredients:

  • 2 ½ c water
  • 2 T vegeta
  • 1 ½ c long-grain rice
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • ½ c white wine
  • 3 T olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1 generous pinch saffron (alas our saffron was too old so the paella wasn’t yellow)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 ½ c shrimp
  • 1 c squid
  • 4 small lobster tails
  • 2 T lemon juice (juice from 1 lemon)

Directions:

  • In large skillet sauté garlic and onion in olive oil about 2 minutes on medium heat
  • Add rice, tomatoes, salt, pepper, and vegeta and stir until rice is fully coated
  • Add water, white wine, and saffron, cover pan with lid and simmer 20 minutes
  • Add lobster and simmer another 5 minutes
  • Add shrimp and squid and cook 2 minutes more
  • Sprinkle lemon juice over paella
  • Enjoy!

 

Furling Fish Sausage Omelet

DSCN0956 300x225 Furling Fish Sausage Omelet

Sailing into Chichime Island, skirting shipwrecks and coral heads, was stunning.  A lush palm forest ringed in transparent turquoise.  I understood why backpackers paid upwards of $500 for a week squeezed into tourist boats like so many sardines to visit the famed San Blas Islands.  A glimpse of this paradise was almost worth it.

Dozens of masts reached up to the sky greeting us as we sailed up to Chichime Island, San Blas.  We were with the World ARC round-the-world rally, at least through the Panama canal.  It wouldn’t be anything like sailing with the previous year’s WARC rally since we would just be with them for a few weeks.  Still, both Sato San and I were more than a little nostalgic.

 

DSCN0990 300x225 Furling Fish Sausage OmeletWhen the Rally Control, or WARC organizers, boat motored up to us in a little dinghy, we were delighted to see some of our old friends.  To make it even better, we were in San Blas, Islands which I had been curious about ever since I heard about them years before when traveling through Colombia.

For a first breakfast in San Blas I had made one of my favorite omelets.  Fish sausages are one of my favorite cruising foods. In reality they are really less of sausages and more like plastic-wrapped fish hot dogs.  Actually that’s not quite fair as they are really tasty.  The most exciting thing about them, and what makes them a wonderful cruising food is that they don’t need refrigeration.  I’m really not sure how many preservatives are used in them, but they last for ages.

 

The fish sausages can be used in a lot of things, but one of my favorites is to make an omelet out of them.

Furling Fish Sausage Omelet

Serves 2-3 people

Ingredients:

  • Vegetable oil, to grease the panDSCN1022 300x225 Furling Fish Sausage Omelet
  • 5 eggs
  • ½ c milk
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 Japanese fish sausage, sliced
  • 2 slices cheese, halved
  • ½ green pepper, chopped
  • ½ onion, chopped

Directions:

  • DSCN1023 300x225 Furling Fish Sausage OmeletWhisk together milk, eggs, salt, and pepper
  • Heat oiled large nonstick skillet over medium heat
  • Sauté onion and pepper in small skillet, about 5 minutes
  • Pour egg mixture into pan and cook until starting to solidify, 2-3 minutes
  • Sprinkle onion mixture over half of the omelet (the less-cooked half if there is one)
  • Arrange fish sausage over mixture
  • Lay cheese slices on top
  • Fold omelet over the filled side and cook another 2 minutes
  • Serve and enjoy!

 

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