Tuesday, January 22, 2013

San Juan

We've arrived safely in Puerto Rico.   Just stepping off the plane you know you're somewhere tropical.  It's not the temperature so much as the humidity.  It feels like a soft warm caress.  My dry Colorado skin just soaks in the air here.

Old San Juan is picturesque.  Yesterday we had fun tramping through "El Morro", part of the old fort.  "Massive" and "It was pretty cool" were the descriptions I could coax from the crew.

We were a bit puzzled and put off by all the debris in  the city streets, until we realized that Monday was the day after the "Fiestas de la Calle San Sebastian" Pretty much the biggest festival in San Juan.  It also explains the crowds we found Sunday night while we hunted up some food.

Today we enjoyed the beach.  It was lovely.  Sandy, but good.  It will likely be Easter before we get all the sand off us.  It's a price we're willing to pay.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


I've got too many.  I'm trying to narrow down to a manageable number the books we'll bring on this trip.  I mean we'll be gone 7 weeks.  That's a lot of books.  A.  Lot. of. Books.  I was pretty proud of myself this evening when I narrowed down the choices to just a few piles.  I mentioned this to Lego Kid, who looked at my piles and rolled his eyes.  "That's already too many to carry Mom, and still not enough."

That's us.  Here's  where the e-books might help.  Just in the last 2 years we went from no e-books to 2 rooted Nooks, 1 Kindle Fire, and one Simple Nook.  Of them all, my fave to read on is the Simple Nook.  The Kindle is the only one that I have control over though, so that's the one I load up.  I don't actually get to use it, since the kids seem to think it's theirs, but there you go.

I still have to decide what to load.  I wish I could just push a button and have every classic I've always meant to read on it, but it doesn't work that way.  And how's a girl to know where to start? 

There's the Project Gutenberg.  You can search by author, title or subject.  I typed in sailing life and children, and got some good suggestions. Looking up by author I got Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, L. M. Montgomery,.... Do we, or do we not, live in the most amazing times?  I can find, at the click of my fingers the works of all the best books ever.  Thus I am totally stymied by the tyranny of choice.  Moby Dick?  Of course.  Tolstoy?  I should.  Dostoevsky?  Well.... I'm looking forward to a cheerful holiday.  I don't see that he'll help.

So let's think about audio books instead.  Libribox is to audio books what Project Gutenberg is to written books.  There aren't as many choices here, simply because they haven't gotten around to everything available through Gutenberg, but they're working on it. 

As just a side note, the Kindle needs a MOBI format, Gutenberg has this available for most books.  Not all places do, most e-readers (that are not Kindle) use EPUB.  (Cory Doctorow, for instance, publishes his e-books for free, but general in an PDF, HTML or plain text)  I've had pretty good success using Calibre to format them for my Kindle.  (Thanks to Firelord for his tech support!)

And then I feel the need to tell all of you about this, instead of winnowing the piles of books sitting in the hall.   My bad. 

But wait, you can help me!  What classics (ie copy right free ) books would you bring with you?  Which for you, and which for the kids?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The boat

Many non-sailing/cruising friends have asked "What will it be like?"  "Where will you sleep?"  "What will you eat?"  "How will you cook?"

The food issues I talked about in Menu planning, here.

To answer the other questions, perhaps you might go read one or more of the many, many, books out there on liveaboard cruising, or cruising with kids.   If I get a chance, I'll post a list of books on the topic.   In our case we are chartering a boat (getting a bit of a discount for keeping it for so long).  It's comparable to renting a car or RV in experience.   For now, here's a link and some pictures of the kind of boat we'll have.

inside layout
inside view -
notice the lack of books, LEGOS and clutter?  Ya.  That's how you can tell it's not our boat.

under sail

Monday, January 7, 2013

Menu Planning

For food prep we'll have a stove, oven, and fridge.  They'll be small, but functional.  There will also likely (hopefully!) be a propane grill on the back rail of the boat.

On a boat space is limited, especially fridge space.  That's if you're lucky enough to have a fridge - some boats come with what is essentially an icebox.  (Or in the case of one boat we charted it had a fridge - it just didn't work)   We like to be free to come and go as we please, to sail where there are very few other people, without being tied to shore by needs like food, water, fuel, etc.  To do that requires a little planning.

We need to minimize the perishables that need to be kept cold.  A lot of things you keep in your fridge at home are actually fine for a few weeks at room temperature - even in the tropics.  Mustard, for instance, has enough salt and vinegar to keep for quite a while with out refrigeration.  Eggs, if previously refrigerated (thus guaranteed not to be incubating) can be kept out.  I've read that rubbing petroleum jelly on the shells helps them keep even longer. (It supposedly seals the porous shells and keeps the air from oxidizing them.  I haven't tried it, yet.).  Still there are things that need to be kept cold (like meat and leafy greens), and somethings that are just much nicer cold (like milk and beer).

If you think of a boat as a giant floating RV, with less access to road food, you'd be on about the right track.   While we eat a lot of fresh whole food at home, it can be harder on a boat.  Still, it's no worse than camping or back packing.  Here's a sample of a menu/shopping list we made for our last boat trip.  It will have to be modified, we'll probably try to have enough on board to go two weeks w/o reprovisioning, and we're not likely to get all the same kinds of food that we're used to.  Still having something like this list will help us not forget anything too vital.