Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Tuesday Tip #8: Cutting Board

This isn't really a tip as much as a great product. I mentioned last week that I keep my cutting board on my one of my drying mats but didn't talk about the actual cutting board. I have a great one. It's a joseph joseph cut and carve cutting board. Basically I love it because it has an angle to it so it collects all the juices from veggies and meat. I hardly ever have to worry about the juices getting on my counter tops. The only thing I've found that I don't like is that my white one seems to stain so buy a colored one. Color is more fun anyhow!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Raft-UP: Clothes and Laundry

I guess it's my turn. First I'd like to apologize to the bloggers and readers for having some of the links incorrect this month. I didn't realize until I went to read the posts that they were incorrect. I must have been smoking something when I wrote the post. Actually I'm going to blame it on sleep deprivation from too many nights at sea. That's what I get for procrastinating and writing the post underway.

Anyhow, I loved the posts this month. They could have been boring but nope. I got a few good laughs and some good ideas on laundry and looking good.

We are one of the lucky boats that has a washing machine on board. When we were looking for boats this definitely wasn't on the list. I didn't even think it was an option. Now I wouldn't trade it for anything. Even more room for shoes! Technically the thing is supposed to dry but really it just spins and spins and doesn't dry so I don't bother wasting the power on it. I wash the clothes and then hang them out to dry. I HATE doing laundry. Since we have solid stainless bars around our boat I can't hang laundry on them so I have to hang a line every time which gets to be really annoying. I hate hanging it up and I hate pulling it down. But I'll stop complaining because I know that I have it good. If there is a laundry room in a marina and I have a lot to do I usually opt to use it but if I only have a load or two I do it on the boat and save my change. Laundry rooms usually aren't cheap. In AU a load could cost $8 Yikes. But yes I did it a few times.

I brought a lot of clothes on the boat when we moved on and in the last year I have taken a lot of them off. I finally had the realization that I'm not going to be working in an office again anytime soon and if and when I do my work clothes will be so out of style that I'll hate them and want new ones anyway. I didn't have a lot of these but I had enough that they had to go. I also got rid of anything else I just simply haven't worn except for a few items.

While many people swear off cotton on a boat I just can't and won't. I LOVE it! All my shirts and underwear are cotton and for the most part it isn't a problem.

Everyday Wear:
Both Mark and I have pretty simple wardrobes but we do have a lot of items. I have an entire collection of Old Navy tank tops. I had a set of them when I moved on the boat and I wore and stretched them to their end during my pregnancy this past year so before coming back to the boat I bought at least two in every color available this year. This is primarily what I wear with a pair of khaki (in various colors) shorts. I also have a few pairs of light weight quick drying pants which I opt for when it's raining. For places like Indonesia where I need to be a little more conservative with my shoulders I have a set of light weight t's that I got at Nordstrom on sale two years ago. They were a super score off the clearance rack. I bought them in every color and now wish I had two in every color. I envy men who can go back and buy the same shirt five years later...

Which is exactly what Mark does. He found a collared fast drying shirt from Columbia that he loves. People may think Mark only has two shirts (one blue and one black) but actually he has about 40 of these. No joke. He had about 20 of them and then the Christchurch earthquake happened. We were pretty sure that he lost them all and since these are the only thing he likes to wear he ordered up another set. We got the original batch back and now he has tons. He's happy though because his goal is to always have more shirts than I have underwear since that is when I do laundry. He also has a few pairs of Patagonia shorts that he loves. (Tammy: Mark 'owns' Columbia on this boat). Many people probably wouldn't like them on a boat because they are thick but he likes that they are sturdy and have super deep pockets, good for keeping pick-pockets out.

"Island Wear" which is what we wear underway and never on any island:
I stick with the Old Navy tanks underway but have a selection of little cotton shorts. You know the kind that cheerleaders wear to camp (ladies you know what I'm talking about). These are light weight and comfortable to lounge around in. when it's colder I have five pairs of identical sweat pants and three matching sweatshirts. Yep, when we find something we like we just grab it in bulk. There aren't a lot of clothes shopping options out here and many places are much more expensive than back home so it's just easier to grab it if we love it and be done.

Mark usually wears his normal shirts but opts to sport just his scivvy's which are travel boxers. Yep, he wears big thick shorts with fast drying undies. Whatever.

Socks and Shoes:
We have way to many pairs of socks on this boat. When I lived on land I always complained that my socks went missing. I swear they multiply on a boat. No matter how many I throw out I feel like we have way to many. I have a feeling MM and I will be making some sock puppets in the very near future.

I usually have two pairs of flip-flops on board (Right now I only have one thanks to Mark kicking my new one's off the dock). I used to have a bunch more but I realized that for the amount that I wear flip-flops on the boat they need to be good quality supportive ones so all my foam one's had to go. I found a great kind that I love so now I keep a pair to wear and a spare. I also have a pair of sneakers, a pair of dress sandals and two pairs of heels. If I don't have to go in the dinghy and I don't have to walk miles (which rarely happens) I love a pair of heels and jeans. I've actually thought of sneaking a few more pairs on board but I really don't get to wear them often enough. Plus with MM I can't really carry him in heels so oh well.

Mark has his one pair of flip-flops and two pairs of dress shoes.

We don't do boat shoes. We had them in the beginning but realized that we just don't wear them. We are pretty much barefoot on board. If it's cold we put on socks. If it's bad weather and we have to go on deck we wither do it barefoot or put on our foul weather boots. But in bad weather we usually don't leave the cockpit unless it is an absolute must.

Extra Clothes:
We both have a couple of pairs of jeans on board. I've had lots of opportunities to wear them. Anywhere it's cool enough to wear them I do. All through NZ and Australia that was pretty much what I wore. Mark has two sweaters. I have a few more. 

Both of us have a few nice going out options. When we are in places with nice restaurants we like to go to them (this of course may change a little now that we have MM).

We have hiking clothes for backpacking like we did in NZ.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Tuesday's Tip #7: Drying Mats

Okay, I know it's Thursday in the States and I'm late but I missed Tuesday and then I wanted to post about Kupang so shoot me.

I have three Microfiber Dish Drying Mats on the boat.

I keep one on each side of my sink and another on the opposite counter. The one's next to my sink are used for drying dishes obviously but, one of them is also next to my stove and acts as a supper large hot pad. It's much better than putting down potholders or trivets because it covers the entire area, is always out and available, and stuff that is placed on it doesn't slide around or off underway. Pans out of the oven go straight onto the counter without a problem.

I also have one that is under my cutting board on the opposite counter. I like to keep my cutting board out on the counter because it's large to store and I use it all the time (no real point in stashing it if I'm just going to get it out again). Having the pad under my cutting board allows me to wash the board and then just put it back where it belongs. Underway the pad keeps the board from sliding around. It also catches and absorbes any liquids that may spill which is much better than it getting into the crevices on the counter. Since they are washable when it happens I just throw it in the laundry.

In short they are great for a number of reason... stuff can dry on them, they stop stuff from sliding around, and they work great as a large heat pad.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Kupang, Indonesia

We arrived a few days ago but customs didn't make it out to our boat the afternoon we arrived so we stealthily went ashore to the opening activities anyhow. It was fun to see all the dancing and activities but it was far to loud for MM tiny little ears especially because of all the feedback the PA system was having so we called it an early night. The following morning customs came out to our boat. I had made five copies of an assortment of papers that they may need and it was a good thing because all three officials wanted a copy of everything. I thought we were good until they told us we needed to head into land to see immigration. I then knew I would need to make a few more. All the officials onboard wanted a picture with MM so we let them (don't want to piss off customs that's for sure).

I asked the fleet what I would need for immigration so that I could be ready and was told that I would need 10-12 copies of somethings so I spent the next hour+ printing stuff out (ironically I broke the printer I posted about last week and had to pull out the spare). I did need five copies of one thing when we got in but most stuff I only needed one or two of so it was an hour seriously waisted. Oh well.

All the officials from different departments had come from their offices all over the city to check us in at a single location which was nice. We took a number and got in line. We had to work our way around a very small room with a lot of people, paper, and stamps. We received a couple of large booklets and packets of paper that we need to keep until we check out. Far more than we have ever received anywhere else. They also love official stamps. One of the officials had at least ten stamps just for herself. And they love if you have a stamp yourself. Mark and I have discussed many times getting a boat stamp made but never had. Hearing that this might be the case I grabbed a stamp out of my scrapbooking supplies and went with it. They loved it. And yes, all these officials wanted pictures with my baby too!

On our crossing we lost a nut off an important bolt so we knew that had to be a priority. We set out on hunt to find some sort of a hardware store. We found a small shop and asked if anyone spoke English. They all gave us the hold on signal and went to the back. Out came a young girl who we explained what we needed to. She said they didn't have it but they knew the name of the place that did. She started to explain how to get there on a bus but wasn't really sure. Then the owner of the shop said something and the girl said. We will take you. Mark and I looked at each other and though okay let's go. They moved the front counters of the shop aside and pulled the car out (this is one of the few cars we have seen. Most people ride on motorbikes). We all hoped in including the girl who we learned was the shop owners son's English teacher (we now understand why those who speak English really don't speak it well).

They actually didn't know where the shop was but they kept stopping at places to ask for directions/see if they had the nut we needed. We drove around for a good hour or so and got a nice tour of the city. They finally tracked the place down but it didn't open until 5pm (we aren't in OZ anymore where everything closes at 5). So they took us to one more shop and then dropped us back off at the beach to wait until until the shop opened since it was within walking distance. It was really nice of them to help us out!

As we were walking into the beach restaurant our friend John on SeaMist said he was heading out to get a boat stamp made. I quickly jumped on the opportunity to get an official stamp done so we wouldn't have to use my scrapbooking one again. John and I took what was supposed to be a 300m walk but turned out to be about a 2km walk to the stamp shop. We thought we were looking for the name of the shop and as everyone we asked knew the name we thought we were headed toward a pretty substantial shop. Turns out the name we had was the name of the street. As we turned the corner I looked into a rather empty building that had one display case in it and I could tell that it contained a number of stamps. This must be the place.

The shop owner didn't really speak any English but he understood a little. We asked when they would be ready and he said "yesterday." We took that to mean tomorrow and wrote down what we wanted out stamps to say. He understood 'big' and 'little' which was really all we needed him to understand. We left not really knowing what we were going to get but figured for $5 (we probably could have bargained that down) it really didn't matter that much. I had looked at getting a stamp in AU and it would have been at least $60.

The following day Mark and I took a walk around the city through all the markets and even found ourselves wandering through some of the homes (if you can really call them that). We couldn't go ten feet without someone wanting to come up to MM and touch him. It's really kind of an issue. Everyone wants to touch him and hold him. I try to be good about the situation but it's a little hard to have complete strangers constantly walking up to you and wanting to touch your kid. Especially when they aren't clean. On one hand I hate to be closed minded but on the other I really don't want MM to get sick and you really don't know what some of these people are carrying around. Most of the children have runny noses and I just don't want it passed on to MM.

The Ergo is great because MM is strapped to me so people can't try to hold him, which they do if he is not. We love letting the other cruisers play with him but have realized that we need to be careful with this too. Some of them will pass him off to an Indonesian without a thought and all it will take is one second of Mark and I not paying attention for our beautiful boy to go missing. So there are now a few people who are on the no list when it comes to playing with MM. It's a little sad but my babies safety is my number one priority and if you will hand my kid over to a stranger then you can't hold my kid.

MM had been photographed on more phones than I can count. When we walk down the street people literally take out their phones and take photos of him. It's a little weird but I can't really stop it so I'm learning to live with it. Photos from afar are fine just don't get to close.

We enjoyed another night of entertainment and even got to do some dancing ourselves.

The next day I woke up not feeling so hot so we stayed on the boat and went in just a few hours to get another piece of paper that customs forgot to give us and one more nut (since it's always good to have a spare). I thought that my sore throat was from all the smoke in the air. Everyone smokes here, I try to keep MM away from it as much as possible but it just isn't possible - breaks my heart that! But yesterday it was clear that it was more than just a sore throat and I spent the entire day in bed. I guess it's better me than MM. This however proves my point that all these people coming up to us all the time is not a good thing!

Today we will try to start our move toward Alor. The festivities begin in three days and we don't want to miss a minute.

So far I've learned that Indonesians are crazy about paperwork and babies...or maybe their just crazy? Yep, that's a family of five on a motorbike.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Big changes and lots of sailing!

I'm not really sure what happened a few weeks ago but suddenly I decided I wanted to go to Indonesia this season. I just woke up and thought. Let's go! So I e-mailed the Sail Indonesia Rally and thought "If they are still accepting boats this late in the game then we are meant to go." Turns out the Rally registration closed the next day but they gave me the weekend to think it through a little more. By Monday we were registered and ready to go which meant we needed to actually go.

Go 1500 miles (more as the crow flies than the shipping lanes run but you get the idea) from the Whitsunday Islands to Darwin in about 15 days that is. Somehow (God must have been on our side) we did just that. In fact we did it in pretty quickly (are days early!) especially considering we stopped and dropped anchor for two nights along the way just to get a break.

The crossing wasn't bad but it was a bit difficult. We were inside the Great Barrier Reef and I can tell you that there is a lot to watch out for in there. This is no open ocean sailing where a little cat nap will lead to nothing more than being startled awake by a waypoint arrival blaring on the Raymarine. This is big-boy, watch where you are going even though you can't see a damn thing in the dark sailing. Look through the dark night and hope you see the few flashing buoys that will guide you in the right direction. And lord please don't let a tanker run us over since we really are in THEIR way (I'm really glad Mark decided it was time for AIS - yes every boat should have it!)

We had a few rough weather days but we did get some perfect days. We were even out long enough that I had a few no sea-sickness days. As far as big passages go it really wasn't that bad and my kid really is a champ. His favorite part were his (good) daily pool parties in the cock-pit. Mark and I bought a little-tykes swimming pool for MM that we set up in the cock-pit and just let him chill-out and relax. He loved it! Wanted to be in it forever (probably because it was much cooler than being in the boat). And we loved it because it was so entertaining to watch him kicking and splashing and trying to swim (not sure how he figured out how to kick and paddle but he did). I'm so glad it looks like he'll be a better swimmer than I am.

As usual we though the hardest part of the crossing was over. Little did we know that getting into the Marina was going to be the biggest challenge. The tide here can be really crazy so the marinas are behind locks. That's right, they are gated. You move your boat in, it fills up with water and then you motor on out. Not that big a deal. We did it in Panama right. Wrong! First they have all sorts of crazy rules so rather than being able to just schedule our time to enter I had to call pest control so they could tell me that we were okay to enter. I had to wait over an hour for a call back so they could ask me two questions that apparently the marina couldn't ask. "How long had we been in AU? and Had the boat been hauled out while we were here?"

We asked the Lockmaster how long it would take us to get up the river. She drastically under-estimated and we were terribly late. We tried calling her to let her know but they have no VHF in the locks (why?) and she didn't answer her phone. Finally after getting up this crazy river which our charts told us had less than a foot of water under us but really it was 30 feet (I said big tides didn't I) and had boats literally moored in the channel, she gives us a call as we are outside and tells us she won't let us in for 45 minutes. Now what? We turned around and had to go back down the river and then come back up because there was no room to circle. 

Now the story gets good. When we were making the appointment for the locks Mark was very clear that we didn't know what to expect and that we needed to know the procedure. She told him prepare for a port-side tie-up and that was it. Okay no problem. We put all the fenders and lines out on the port side and pulled-in. She put out a boat-hook and took my bow line. Great! I waited for her to tie it off but she wasn't. She just kept pulling on it which caused our backend to start swinging almost smashing the outboard into the wall. I'm waiting for her to tie off the bow so she can get the stern but she just stands there and after I've had to save the outboard a few more times, and Mark is fighting her with the bow thruster, we finally start yelling at her to tie off the line.

She tells us that she doesn't tie off the boats. What? How are you supposed to keep them from crashing into the other wall especially if she is tugging on them (she said she was keeping us from going forward...no she wasn't). Finally, I just lost it and told her to tie off the line and do what she needed to do to get the water filled. We'd worry about keeping the boat in place. And yes, I used some choice language (luckily MM was asleep below during all of this). At this point we are literally inches from the Starboard wall with fenders all down the port side because that's where we were told to put them and I'm just standing there pushing us off the wall.

Finally the doors open and she yells at us that she isn't there to take orders from us. We agree. She was absolutely correct. She should have told us exactly what to do. Instead she just stood there in silence causing all sorts of issues. Seriously, she stood there in silence, tugging on a line and causing our backend to continually swing out almost bashing it into the wall multiple times. If Mark wouldn't have had the bow-thruster and/or there would have been more wind that I couldn't fight we would have smashed the entire side of the boat. A little direction would have gone a long way! Unfortunately we'll have to go back out that damn lock in a week or so but going down should be a little better because I'll be high enough that I can tie the back myself and do the job properly.

Alright, that's enough. I didn't mean to go off but this woman truly was one of the biggest idiots I've ever met and the fact is she just doesn't really give a damn or understand how to do her job. It would have been better to be tied off but if she wasn't going to that is really all we needed to know so that we could have prepared properly.

I have to say that over the last few months I've noticed that ALOT of the people in marinas have NO idea what they are supposed to be doing. We have pulled into a number of slips where we throw a line and rather than get it tied off they just stand there or put it in entirely the wrong place. Boat docking is not rocket science. Understand a few key things and it really can go very smoothly but I don't think they give dockhands ANY training and I don't think they understand just how fast a perfect docking job can go bad if a line isn't tied off fast enough.

Anyhow, we made it to Darwin and will had a busy 1.5 weeks to prepare. I did some serious provisioning. The rally is three months so I tried to provision for at least that plus an extra month or so on some things (baby items mostly) since we aren't sure of the plan after.

Our last night in Darwin was a little more "exciting" than we would have liked. The marina we were in was in the middle of a housing development. About a 100 yards across the water from us about 10+ very drunk guys decided they should set off fireworks which were going in all sorts of directions. We tried to yell at them and tell them to stop and that it was really dangerous to do that so close to boats (fiberglass burns very quickly and doesn't stop until it reaches the waterline) but they didn't want to listen. We explained that we have fuel on our decks (gas and propane) but they didn't care. I told them I have a six month old baby they were waking up... still they didn't care. Finally Mark and I called the cops and while it took awhile they did come out and go over to the house but a few hours later the guys decided to set them off again. Mark slept in the cockpit of the boat because we were worried one of them might swim over and do something to our boat for calling the cops. Needless to say it was a long night so we didn't get started very early the next day. We didn't leave Darwin till about 3:00. After a three day crossing from Darwin we are now in Indonesia. Hopefully the blog is about to get interesting again as I'll have lots to write about.

I have to admit. I'm a little nervous about this trip. The reason we weren't going initially is because of Malaria concerns and I am still very nervous about my baby getting sick. I will be taking every precaution I can. If we decide that the risk has become to much we will leave Indonesia early although I'm not sure where we will go. If I have to, him and and I will be on lock down in the boat at night (and day) if necessary. We have screens for all of our hatches and I purchased a screen for the cock-pit. I have a few citronella candles and lots of bug spray but I'm open to hearing any ideas on keeping MM safe!!!!!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Raft-UP: Clothes and Laundry

I'm posting via e-mail from Indonesia so I hope this works. Yes, Mark and I made a last minute decision a few weeks ago to head out of Australia and I'll fill you all in soon but first this months Raft-UP topic and schedule. 

This month we are hitting on something that every boat has to deal with.... Clothes and Laundry. One of my not so favorite things about being on the boat. Head on down the list and stop back here at the end of the month to hear what I've got to say on the matter. 

We have a few new writers this month and I'm sure you'll enjoy what they've got to say. Verena has an interesting background as a hydrographic surveyor (you know all those little soundings you see on your charts - well she used to take those up in Alaska) and Toast has a bunch of kids on board so I'm sure she'll have plenty to say on this months topic. I'm sorry not to give them a proper intro but being that I have limited internet I'm feeling lucky to even be getting this up on time! 

The next few months will be a little shaky as I have no idea what my internet availability will be so bear with me as Mark and I explore a very new and different country.

4th:  Lynn @  www.sailcelebration.com
5th: Ean @ http://morejoyeverywhere.blogspot.com - I just have to say that I love that the Man on the boat will be writing this one!
11th: Verena @ www.pacificsailors.com (new writer)
12th: Toast @ http://blog.toastfloats.com (new writer)

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