Monday, November 20, 2006

Cape May, NJ

Wind: NW 10 knots

I don’t understand Karl’s blog entry. I’m not sure if it’s a compliment or an insult. Oh well. So the rest of our passage went fine, aside from our severe lack of sleep causing us to snip at each other. Karl had a bird come and visit him during his last watch, sitting on the boom to keep him company. I had a huge tug pulling a barge pass me about 100 yards away. I kept shining our spotlight (thanks Ralph!) on the sail to make sure he would know we were there, and I hope he did, but I would have had to take evasive maneuvers otherwise. Karl’s attempting to fix our autopilot, the Master, right now, so that we can use it if we decide to do the DelMarVa coast (the offshore route between Cape May and Norfolk, VA).

There’s a storm supposed to blow in on Wednesday, so we were supposed to head up the Delaware Bay tonight to get away from the coast, but I don’t know if we really will, especially because our friends on Sea Belle just showed up. We’re sharing the anchorage here with two other cruising boats, too—Decibel, out of Freeport, Maine (they have a sailing dinghy and a dog!), and Hispaniola out of Portsmouth, NH. So we’re in the New England section of the harbor, I guess. We haven’t met Hispaniola yet, but both boats appear to have three crew members, including captain, without being much bigger than our boat. An arrangement I can’t say I envy. We can barely keep from killing each other sometimes and there are only two of us.

After we got in, we were severely hypothermic the rest of the day, and exhausted, but I refused to go to sleep because I thought it would throw off my sleep schedule. Fat lot of good it did us—we still slept in until ten this morning, and haven’t left yet. But Karl made me awesome clam chowder last night, doctored out of cans, and I threw baked potatoes in the oven, and we ate those with butter, cracked pepper, cheddar cheese, and sour cream. I don’t think I’ve ever had better food in my life. Actually, I know I have, but those first creamy, delectable bites of potato in my frostbitten, sleep-challenged body were like heaven.

We’re certainly eating well on the boat. This morning, with the leftover baked potatoes, Karl cooked me up bacon, scrambled eggs with cheese and spinach, and curried hash browns. It was delicious. It’s been a week since we’ve been shopping, and we’re still eating like kings. All these things keep amazingly well—the spinach had barely begun to go bad, and we ate every last leaf of it, the sour cream, even the bananas. We’ve eaten both bacon and kielbasa that had been left, unopened and unrefrigerated, in the boat for over a month, without getting sick. Let that be a lesson to all of you people out there about the quantity of nitrates in your food. Not good news to you, I imagine, but for us cruisers, it’s definitely fortunate. So does unopened non-dairy creamer, opened mayonnaise, and unrefrigerated citrus fruit.

I’m sure, at this point, that you’re beginning to worry about our health. Karl makes fun of me saying that I’m never happier than when I can eat moldy food, and in some ways it’s true. I was thrilled to discover that Lin Pardey recommends hanging a side of bacon in your chain locker and wiping the mold off of it with a vinegar solution before hacking off chunks and eating them. In fact, she goes into great detail about the kinds of mold that can be wiped off raw, unrefrigerated meat after which it may still be eaten. It’s awesome. A girl after my own heart. It’s still nice to know that other people have eaten unchilled food for decades, living to a ripe old age, without keeling over and dying.

Things that do go bad quickly: salsa. Bagels. Anything that’s opened and is liquidy or moist. Actually, moisture kills everything, even cabbages that are supposed to survive indefinitely. Ah, the joy of the cabbage, though. We’ve been eating one down for the last several days after I rescued it from death by mold. Karl put some in eggs yesterday morning, it’s delicious in soup, especially ramen, when spiced appropriately. There’s something very heartening about cabbage soup in the cold, despite its bad reputation. I keep wanting to write recipes, like the soup I made for Karl on watch the other night when we used a vise clamp as a pot holder to keep the soup from falling off the stove. I had all my leftovers from burritos in the pan—refried beans, taco meat, spinach, habanero salsa, and chopped tomatoes, and then added a ton of cabbage and an Oriental ramen. It was delectable. Again, we were freezing, beam-reaching over the chilly wine-dark sea, so probably anything would have been good, but I swear, someone should market my Mexican ramen. Especially the dissolved refried beans in the broth—mmm mmm.

Lin Pardey also says you can keep food on the stove indefinitely by bringing it to a boil for a couple of seconds every day, as long as you keep the lid tightly on. Keep leftovers indefinitely? On the stove? It’s thrilling, this boat life. Waste not, want not. Most of our leftovers become the basis for our meals the next day—the tacos turned into soup, the soup turned into new soup, the potatoes turned into hash browns, the squash turned into beef stew. I’m just now trying to figure out what to do with the leftover clam chowder. Maybe white clam sauce for pasta? Who knows.

I’m very excited about our prospects for Thanksgiving. I was just surveying them in Joy of Cooking right now. I think Karl’s going to do a little turkey on the grill, that will probably feed us for a week, I might bake some rolls and make stuffing, and we have the ingredients for the rest of Thanksgiving dinner already on the boat. I’m trying to decide if I want to try to make pie, too. That might be a little ambitious. It won’t rival the feast I had last year at my sister’s, but what could?

Sorry to go on and on about food. In the cold, on the boat, one has little else to think about. And it’s been a while since I had to manage the cuisine of my own household. It’s very exciting.

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