BBQing in the Snow of Winter

My first wife was a vegetarian. While I wasn’t, I did eat less mean than previously and tried not to cook meat that produced smoke (like hamburger) in the house. Therefore, since the mid-‘70’s, I’ve had a BBQ grill no matter where I lived.

Whether in Fairbanks, Alaska, Italy, Germany or now, on Dauntless, I’ve always had a grill. Since the early ‘80’s, when I lived alone in Southern California, I came to appreciate the convenience of a gas-powered grill.

For 30 years, I’d always buy the cheapest two or three burner BBQ I could find. They would typically last half a dozen years before it was time for a replacement. Sometimes that replacement could be hastened, as when moving to a new house in Fairbanks, the grill was packed in the back of the pickup and at some point, fell out.

Oops.

Fast forward a decade, living in a typically small one-bedroom apartment in New York (Manhattan to the uninitiated), I had only a little hibachi that we would put on the windowsill of our apartment to use.

We wanted a real terrace or patio, so we could have a real BBQ grill again. Though we were able to satisfy our craving for burnt meat as we did BBQ almost every weekend on my mother’s apartment terrace in Brooklyn’s Brighton Beach/Coney Island.

So, we started looking for a new rental apartment in New York and going to listing of an apartment building that I had actually looked at one year earlier, on 57th St. We really like the location and the building, though the apartment itself had a weird layout, as did its terrace.

The Weber Q-280 in the summer of 2014

In talking to the real estate agent, Dennis Daniel, (for anyone looking for a place in NY), he convinced us that we should and could buy an apartment in New York instead of renting. He was a true master in terms of helping us understand what we really wanted and then helping us recognize it when we saw it.

Thus in 2007, When we moved to our new rooftop apartment in New York in 2007.  Having spent half a million dollars for a one-bedroom apartment, I considered our choice of grills. This was the primary reason we had moved after all.

Reading so many rave reviews about the Weber, I figured the extra few hundred dollars it would cost was worth it. Thus, in the summer of 2007, I bought my first Weber, the Genesis.

My Weber Genesis in the spring of 2013 on our roof top in NY
Another view of the rooftop with the Weber (under cover) on the right

A cooking pamphlet came with the grill, which essentially said, forgot what you think you know, do it this way and your foods, will come out perfectly.

I did and they did. Other than following directions and understanding the difference between direct and indirect heat, the build quality and more importantly the heavy iron materials used, made all the difference.

With its heavy cast iron components, the grill was able to hold heat extremely well. Thus, I did make the best steaks I had ever cooked. The reviews raving about the Weber were spot on. It did make a difference. I even used the Weber to bake apple pies, since I was able to put a little smoke into them. While I miss that Weber and that rooftop a little, I also know that it set the stage for my circumnavigation on Dauntless. I’d been there 7 years, the longest I’d lived anywhere in the previous 50 years. Dauntless had come into our lives and it was time to move on. I also know myself well enough that I’d get bored with heaven after 7 years.

In the first months with Dauntless, still in Florida before we made the trip to the Northeast, I found a light, “boat” grill. I figured I was on a boat, I had to make a sacrifice. There really wasn’t room for a larger Weber “portable” grill.

While coming north on the Intercoastal Waterway (ICW), we used the grill once. What a disappointment. It had trouble really getting hot. But within a couple of days the ICW solved the problem for me. The grill was mounted on the port rail near the stern.

One day while motoring northward, I got too close to a channel marker that was mounted on a telephone pole stuck in the water. I panicked and instead of turning the wheel, I tried to turn off the autopilot, but didn’t succeed. The pole swept along the port side rubbing on the rub rail until it got the grill, at which point it mangled the grill and mounting bracket that I had had made for it.

The grill ended up in the dumpster in St. Augustine. The Dutch friends who were with me at the time, had come from rainy Holland to get some sun, found Florida with the worst weather in years. When they left to return to Holland a week later, they were thankful to get away with their lives and back to the rain they were familiar with.

Could have been worse.

Besides you’ve read about all these close calls before. Well, most of them!

Weber had the Q-280, which was the largest of their “portable” grills and would use a normal 20-pound propane connection. I got it and it had been on Dauntless ever since.

Getting ready yesterday

I’ve grilled in temperatures as cold as minus 30°F (-35°C) in Fairbanks, so I wasn’t going to let a little snow get in the way yesterday.

Almost done

We had planned to have steaks and we did. Delicious as ever. Thanks Weber.

Resting with butter
Sooooo Goooood

 

 

 

 

Almost Done

I had hoped to leave Vallejo for my trip north as early as a week ago. It wasn’t to be and with the eastern Pacific high showing signs that it doesn’t know that summer is here, I doubt I will leave before mid-month!

Dauntless’ Fly Bridge

Talking with a boating friend Friday who is very attuned to the weather in Northern California, he told me that normally, this eastern Pacific high is strongest in April, when it produces the strongest Northerly winds. But it’s now June and the April high is still here.

As a weather forecaster, the shoulder of the seasons, spring becoming summer, etc. is the hardest thing to predict. Each season has its own peculiarities, as well as the type and strength of the weather produced.

One crosses the North Atlantic in July because that’s definitely summer. Low pressure areas in the North Atlantic in July are the fewest and weakest of the year. Winds are almost never above 50 knots. When I was planning my first Atlantic Crossing, that’s why our planned departure was in July. June and August are the shoulder months, August weather can quickly transition to fall. Two sailboats were abandoned off the coast of France in a May storm, a few years ago.  That I found myself in the North Atlantic in late August is a story I have related a number of times. Needless to say, the weather was worse than the month before and the successive three lows that rolled over me during my last 72 hours were definitely a sign of fall type weather; summer was over.

Dauntless’ Fly Bridge

Now, I’m waiting for spring to end. In the meantime, having gotten almost all my projects done, I am now cleaning up the small things.

My fly bridge has never looked so good. All my mild steel items, cotter pins, bolts, nuts, have been replaced with stainless steel. In the past, I used what was handy. During the last couple of months, I have spent days removing rusted fasteners or clevis pins that are ruined because they have a rusted cotter pin inside.

Lesson Learned.

I also added a line of lights for the galley and added a lighted led switch that purposely stays on all the time. I figured people new to the boat, Ti and Thien in particular, would appreciate some help in finding lights and things.

Blue Led switch is middle right just below the cabinets
Dauntless’ solar panels

Over the next days, I am reorganizing my tools once again, as well as much used electrical parts.

Here is the latest snapshot of the weather patterns and winds over the North Pacific. First picture is today, the second picture is June 11th. No point in looking at anything else.

In the meantime, here is an interesting link to the video Ti made, Ti Cooks Pig Ears. with English subtitles. Yes, another Vietnamese delicacy. Who knew they did more than Bahn Mi sandwiches and Pho !!

 

North Pacific Weather Patterns Valid 02 June
North Pacific Weather pattern valid 11 June

How Fresh is Fresh

In the last 5 years Dauntless has visited almost two dozen countries.  While, I’ve been in couple dozen more in the last 40 years. That’s a lot of different languages and cultures.

Chicken, Rice, a green vegetable, some pickled vegetables

It was 42 years ago, that I first set foot in Italy and it would begin a life of living and experiencing new languages, cultures, foods, etc. Sitting on a bus, passing thru the middle of Milan, in just looking out the window, it was obvious this was not the Italy I had expected, nor was it the Little Italy of New York either or the Italy of Italian-Americans. Not one cannolo was in sight. In fact. It would take me a year to find one and that was further south in Florence.

Passing a billboard advertising skin cream which depicted naked women, I vowed then and there to leave my perceptions behind and reboot my expectations. For effective cross-cultural communications, this can be the only starting point. When in Rome, Do as the Romans.

No phrase probably sums up a successful expatriate experience better. I was/am always amazed at the number of Americans I would meet living overseas like I yet complaining that it wasn’t Kansas.

Living so, accepting the people and cultures I’m immersed in, allows me to enjoy my travels and adventures with Dauntless, or like this month, without her, in Vietnam.

Even when speaking a common language, understanding and accepting cultural differences is crucial for good relationships of any sort.

Trinh speaks pretty much fluent English. When she doesn’t understand a word, it’s usually because of my pronunciation. Our miscommunications center around different understandings of the same word or sometimes, while the words are understood, the background isn’t.

Thus, began our discussion about “fresh” chicken. A little question about fresh chicken, became a bridge to cross cultural communication.

Trinh is the best cook I’ve ever had the pleasure to know. I’ve always prided myself on my own cooking and for most of my life, I’ve done most of the cooking in the household. Over the past year, I tried to analyze what makes her cooking so good, even better than almost any restaurant I’ve eaten here in Vietnam. And should we try something new to her, if we like it, she will recreate it at home. I’ve concluded that it’s her meticulous preparation and wholesome ingredients she uses.

By far my favorite dish is her fried or sautéed chicken.  I’ve never had such delicious fried chicken any place or any time in my entire life. The skin cooked to almost a hard, crunchy shell, with moist, tender chicken underneath and flavors that just melt in your mouth.

Chicken to die for.

I knew she always bought the packages of chicken wings at Co-Op Food. Co-Op is owned by the government of Vietnam. They have two retail stores that are everywhere in Vietnam: Co-Op Mart, which is like a large supermarket, familiar to any westerner and Co-Op Food, a small, convenience store style store. I like both, initially, I had to leave my preconceived ideas at home about Co-Op Food. When I think convenience store, I think packaged snacks, old hot dogs, mystery meat burritos heated up in microwaves and gallons of colored water, chemical based drinks in large plastic cups.

But Co-Op Food is the place for everyday items and fresher foods than Co-Op Mart (the supermarket) offers and why Trinh only buys the chicken at Co-Op Food, not Co-Op Mart.

Now, if you know me at all, you know I’m skeptical of almost everything I hear and half what I see. So, I pressed Trinh on the difference, why was this package of chicken wings better than that one?

What do you mean the chicken at Co-Op Mart is not fresh? When was it killed in the last week or so?

She looks at me, like I have two heads (because she wouldn’t touch chicken killed last week. Who knew?, not I).

No, she responds, the chicken at Co-Op Food is killed that night.

What do you mean that night? I ask, still not able to get my mind around her expectations of freshness.

She explains: Chicken at Co-Op Food is killed, plucked, packaged at 01:00 a.m. on the morning I buy it. It’s on the shelves around 06:00 a.m.

She doesn’t know how old the chicken is at Co-Op Mart, she guesses a few days at most, but it’s older and she’s not buying it, ever.

For a boy grown up in a supermarket culture, with foods routinely shipped thousands of miles and processed and packed ages ago, it’s fascinating to realize that while the outside package looks the same, the behind the scenes processing is totally different. These supermarkets and smaller food stores are competing with local markets that are everywhere, literally every quarter mile.

Supermarkets do as local markets

Who knew that fresh could be that fresh.

Lotte Supermarket in District 7, Ho Chi Minh City

I can’t fault the results.

How Fresh is Fresh?

In the last 5 years Dauntless has visited almost two dozen countries.  While, I’ve been in couple dozen more in the last 40 years. That’s a lot of different languages and cultures.

Chicken, Rice, a green vegetable, some pickled vegetables

It was 42 years ago, that I first set foot in Italy and it would begin a life of living and experiencing new languages, cultures, foods, etc. Sitting on a bus, passing thru the middle of Milan, in just looking out the window, it was obvious this was not the Italy I had expected, nor was it the Little Italy of New York either or the Italy of Italian-Americans. Not one cannolo was in sight. In fact. It would take me a year to find one and that was further south in Florence.

Passing a billboard advertising skin cream which depicted naked women, I vowed then and there to leave my perceptions behind and reboot my expectations. For effective cross-cultural communications, this can be the only starting point. When in Rome, Do as the Romans.

No phrase probably sums up a successful expatriate experience better. I was/am always amazed at the number of Americans I would meet living overseas like I yet complaining that it wasn’t Kansas.

Living so, accepting the people and cultures I’m immersed in, allows me to enjoy my travels and adventures with Dauntless, or like this month, without her, in Vietnam.

Even when speaking a common language, understanding and accepting cultural differences is crucial for good relationships of any sort.

Trinh speaks pretty much fluent English. When she doesn’t understand a word, it’s usually because of my pronunciation. Our miscommunications center around different understandings of the same word or sometimes, while the words are understood, the background isn’t.

Thus, began our discussion about “fresh” chicken. A little question about fresh chicken, became a bridge to cross cultural communication.

Trinh is the best cook I’ve ever had the pleasure to know. I’ve always prided myself on my own cooking and for most of my life, I’ve done most of the cooking in the household. Over the past year, I tried to analyze what makes her cooking so good, even better than almost any restaurant I’ve eaten here in Vietnam. And should we try something new to her, if we like it, she will recreate it at home. I’ve concluded that it’s her meticulous preparation and wholesome ingredients she uses.

By far my favorite dish is her fried or sautéed chicken.  I’ve never had such delicious fried chicken any place or any time in my entire life. The skin cooked to almost a hard, crunchy shell, with moist, tender chicken underneath and flavors that just melt in your mouth.

Chicken to die for.

I knew she always bought the packages of chicken wings at Co-Op Food. Co-Op is owned by the government of Vietnam. They have two retail stores that are everywhere in Vietnam: Co-Op Mart, which is like a large supermarket, familiar to any westerner and Co-Op Food, a small, convenience store style store. I like both, initially, I had to leave my preconceived ideas at home about Co-Op Food. When I think convenience store, I think packaged snacks, old hot dogs, mystery meat burritos heated up in microwaves and gallons of colored water, chemical based drinks in large plastic cups.

But Co-Op Food is the place for everyday items and fresher foods than Co-Op Mart (the supermarket) offers and why Trinh only buys the chicken at Co-Op Food, not Co-Op Mart.

Now, if you know me at all, you know I’m skeptical of almost everything I hear and half what I see. So, I pressed Trinh on the difference, why was this package of chicken wings better than that one?

What do you mean the chicken at Co-Op Mart is not fresh? When was it killed in the last week or so?

She looks at me, like I have two heads (because she wouldn’t touch chicken killed last week. Who knew?, not I).

No, she responds, the chicken at Co-Op Food is killed that night.

What do you mean that night? I ask, still not able to get my mind around her expectations of freshness.

She explains: Chicken at Co-Op Food is killed, plucked, packaged at 01:00 a.m. on the morning I buy it. It’s on the shelves around 06:00 a.m.

She doesn’t know how old the chicken is at Co-Op Mart, she guesses a few days at most, but it’s older and she’s not buying it, ever.

For a boy grown up in a supermarket culture, with foods routinely shipped thousands of miles and processed and packed ages ago, it’s fascinating to realize that while the outside package looks the same, the behind the scenes processing is totally different. These supermarkets and smaller food stores are competing with local markets that are everywhere, literally every quarter mile.

Supermarkets do as local markets

Who knew that fresh could be that fresh.

Lotte Supermarket in District 7, Ho Chi Minh City

I can’t fault the results.

Don’t Miss Great Foods Because of Bad Translations

A little background. I came to Vietnam with some trepidation. I don’t like hot climates, hot weather or most foods that they produce. I came to meet my special person though I had an open mind. In the early days, I made the mistake of saying I didn’t particularly like “Hot Pot” as Lãu is translated in English (and my spelling here is not 100% correct, as I can’t find the correct accent for the “a”.

Vietnamese Lẩu. This a fish version that both Trinh and I prefer

A very bad translation at that. I, of all people, should have known better.

Having spent the last 40 years in and out of Europe, if I venture into a place that even has a menu in English, I always ask for the native language, be it Italian, French, Spanish, Dutch or German. Why? Because generally, the translator is trying to put the food into a familiar concept, when no such comparison exists. Sometimes even the literal translation misses the mark widely.

One time in Wissembourg, an ancient French town along the French-German border, after a typically simple, but exquisite French dinner, the dessert offered was “frozen omelet”. We passed, but on walking out, we realized what they were offering was Baked Alaska, (whipped egg whites surrounding a block of ice cream that is browned in the oven) one of my favorite desserts.

The recent home of the fish before he made it to the pot.
The restaurant will grill the half the fish, with the other half going into the Lẩu

Fast forward 40 years later and my ill-informed comment about Hot Pot, had me missing a Vietnamese specialty for months until the confusion was cleared up. But why such confusion in the first place?

Because the Natives are trying to put it into a context we understand. The problem is that there are 500+ Chinese who also have a thing that’s called “Hot Pot” in English, which is totally different that the Vietnamese version. Even the Koreans have a version, which they call Shabu Shabu, which in my mind is better way to handle different foods that don’t translate well.  If I go to a Korean restaurant and see Shabu Shabu, I know exactly what I am getting. When I see “Hot Pot” the only thing I am sure of is that a pot is involved, and it will be hot.

Even the Google Translation of Lãu leaves a lot to be desired. Their definition, “a casserole of meat and vegetables, typically with a covering of sliced potato”.

The grilled portion of the fish

Who came up with that definition? A twenty something person who read about ancient life in the Midwest?

 

Café Culture

I have two favorite cafés in Ho Chi Minh City, Bui Van Ngo Coffee is larger, fancier and also has some baked goods. Café Thuy Moc is smaller, homier and they make killer smoothies, my favorite being Sinh To Bo, an avocado smoothie.  They are also on a busy street corner that I can watch fascinated how crossing traffic manages to crisscross in a smooth ballet of traffic.

Sunday morning, 08:00, at Bui Van Ngo Coffee in Binh Tan, HCMC, Vietnam

Sunday mornings both places are full, which goes to my observation that about 40% to 50% of the population have Sunday off, at least partially.

I haven’t been to China yet, but having spent time in Korea, Japan and Vietnam, the Vietnamese work the most. Japan and Korea (South Korea of course) being closer to a more western life style with more time off.  My friend Sam, married to Bac, who wrote the book, For Two Cows I Ain’t Half Bad, remarks that when he arrived in Vietnam in the late 1960’s, the Vietnamese had a life style that had hardly changed in the last few thousand years. 90% of the population were agrarian, farmers, and farmers are renown the world over for one thing, they just want the powers to be to leave them alone.

A page from the menu of the popular cafe

I blame the U.S. State Department for most of the post WW2 debacles. Full of ivy league graduates who think they know everything, but, know nothing about the places in which they are supposed to be experts. They lurch from one fiasco to another. Acting when they should sit on their hands and being still when they should act. How is Iraq any different than Vietnam? Ok, basta, enough.

Café Thuy Moc, smaller. The owners, the couple on the left and their one year old daughter, who just learned to walk on the right.

Having been on Dauntless for the last three months, the first week back in Vietnam was a bit strange. Probably jet lag as much as anything, though I did, or I should say, Trinh did, change my apartment for a house.  I like my new neighborhood better, it is less industrial, than the previous one. Even though I had a 10th floor apartment the amount of dust that filtered in every day was astounding. Most probably from the large apartment complexes being constructed nearby. Now, almost no dust.

My German neighbor back in the day said I had an empfindlich stomach. Google does a good job of translating that to mean: sensitive, delicate, touchy. That’s certainly my stomach. But it really likes Vietnamese cuisine. Maybe even more than I do. I was surprised these last months being in the USA and Mexico as to how much I missed the food and as to how much I didn’t like most of the offerings in the U.S.

Coming up, Foods to Die for

Update, I just recently discovered cappuccino in Vietnam. My hard and fast rule is never, ever get  a cappuccino outside of Italy, as it is just awatered down, over milked version fo the real thing.

But coffee in Vietnam is always strong and good, so I thought I’d spend the big bucks, 49,000 VND or about $2.20 US and give it a try.

I’m so glad I did.  As good as in Italy. Perfect in fact.

Thanks Vietnam

cappuccino
Sinh To Bo at Café Thuy Moc
Avocado smoothie

 

 

Some More Foods of Vietnam

Trinh is checking out the rice a the local supermarket by smelling each handful. Smelled like rice to me. Of course, she doesn’t buy it here, because it costs 12 cents a more than the local outdoor market or rice store.
Hot Pot at our “new” Hot Pot Place
Grilled fish (sea fish) at home
A Pho place in our neighborhood
A seafood salad at home
Chicken wings with rice and rot kohl at home
Chicken wings with vegetable and rice at homEvery

Here is a week of food I’ve had. Now, of course, in any category, it’s some of the best I’ve ever eaten.

 

Enjoy

Provisioning for an Atlantic Crossing

Our Christmas steak in the middle of the Atlantic

I know I’ve not been writing for a while.  Without being on Dauntless, my life is not as colorful or at least I’m not talking about it as much.

While perusing Trawler forum and Cruiser Forum, I came across the story of the two women picked up off of Japan:

https://unreasonablydangerousonionrings.com/2017/10/31/19-reasons-this-survival-story-smells-fishy/

It did get me to think about how I provisioned the boat the first time in 2014 and then, subsequently for the westbound trip, 11 months ago.

It’s hard to imagine that one year ago, Dauntless was in Rabat, Morocco and I took a quick 10 days first ever trip to Japan. But that’s yet another story.

What food did we put on the boat for our New England to Ireland passage in 2014?

There are a number of factors that had to be taken in account and planned accordingly:

  • Dauntless, with its 700-gallon fuel tanks, 300-gallon water tanks and a Katadyn water maker, capable of making 160 gallons of water a day (24 hours), had the range to make this 2600 nm trip easily.
  • With a full-size refrigerator and freezer, we did not have to cover our eggs in Vaseline like sailors of old, but our refrigerated space was not unlimited. While Romaine lettuce will last two+ weeks, did we really want to fill our fridge with bulky lettuce?
  • The trip should take 26 days underway. We did plan on stopping in the Azores, but I didn’t want to be required to make that stop just in case. So, we would plan on having at least 30 days’ worth of everything.
  • Lastly, everyone asks what happens if the engine breaks and can’t be fixed or the propeller falls off or we get hit by a meteorite? Well, if the latter, no trace would ever be found, but for the former, what was the plan?  Look at a map.  Let’s say we were disabled in the middle of the North Atlantic, what would I have done?

Well, I would NOT have called the Coast Guard.  If you call the CG, they come and will take you off the boat. Two problems with that plan:

  1. Dauntless can leave me; but I’m not leaving her. My life raft is on the fly bridge.  When the water gets to the fly bridge, I’ll consider deploying the raft and setting off the EPIR.
  2. Despite what you see on TV, being rescued, hoisted off a boat in the ocean has a lot of risk for both rescuers and rescues. No thanks. Maybe if I’m in the lift raft, but not from a floating boat.

So, that leaves us with what was the plan? Propeller has fallen off and is now on the bottom of the Atlantic or on its way (FYI there is a formula to determine exactly how long something takes to settle on the bottom of the ocean. For a grain of sand, it takes more than a year, for a propeller, it’s probably a 6-hour trip).

The prevailing winds are westerly, from the west. Therefore, sooner or later, those winds will push Dauntless at 1 to 2 knots towards Europe. So, the one-month trip becomes 3 or 4. Not great, but doable.

That gives me my goals for provisioning:

  • One month of food that will be consumed.
  • 3 to 6 months of foods that will most likely not be eaten, but is easy to store and will keep forever.
  • Only get stuff I like to eat.

So that was easy.  In practicality, it’s like taking a trip to Costco and buying like you won’t, can’t, be back for half a year.  That’s what we did:

  • Fresh food for two weeks
  • Freezer stocked with meats, pork, beef, chicken, all things we would eat at home.
  • Longer term supplies consisted of those items that we do like normally, but also will last practically forever:
    • Peanut butter, 2 large Costco sized jars
    • Canned sardines, 2 dozen tins
    • Rice, 10 pounds Japanese
    • Condiments, olive oil, etc.
    • Canned tomatoes, 24
    • Canned corn, 24
    • Crackers, dry pasta,
    • Canned beans

Dauntless cooks with propane.  It fires the Weber grill and the Princess three burner stove.  I’ve never used the oven portion, since the Weber does well if I have to bake something.

In hindsight, I had too much canned stuff that I normally don’t eat, beans and tomatoes come to mind. On the plus side, when provisioning for last year’s Atlantic Passage, I hardly had to buy any canned things, only some canned sardines from Spain.  I’m still eating the peanut butter from 2014!  I finally ran out of rice this past summer.

One also must keep in mind that you need to have protein that you like, keeps forever and is easy to store. One can probably live forever on peanut butter and sardines. Rice also keeps well, though I don’t eat very much, as it took me 3 years to eat 10 pounds.

Leaving Spain last year, I did have about 6 liters of UHT milk.  I don’t drink milk, but I really like it in coffee in the morning, so this was something that really went to my peace of mind, though I could easily have lived without it. (I stopped drinking milk during the 6 months I was living on the Arctic Ocean on Ice Island T3. Never drank it again, as in a glass of milk).

In hindsight, the one thing I should have had was fishing tackle.  Even though I don’t fish, it’s foolish not to have the capability if crossing an ocean.

But looking at our steak we enjoyed on Christmas Day, 900 miles from Martinique, I need to go find some red meat!

 

 

 

A Change of Plans Redux

Crossing the Bay of Biscay
Crossing the Bay of Biscay to A Coruna

Eons ago, back in February, when we first visited Galicia, the plan was to stay the winter. Off the beaten track, inexpensive, cool in summer and winter: Ideal.

Then, life happens and the best laid plans of mice and men go astray.

So, plan B was formulated.  For those of you keeping score at home, it was really the original Plan A, but then who’s counting.

Then less than two weeks ago, while in France, an English sailor on a very big, beautiful sailboat, convinced me that to linger too long in the Bay of Biscay or even in Galicia or Northern Portugal, was cruising for a bruising.

Now, I may not heed, but I always listen.  And now, having heard the same warnings yet again, I decided this needed to be one of those times I also heeded.

Thus, just last week, I bit the bullet and had to tell my three sets of friends who are coming to meet Dauntless and I over the next two months, and only weeks earlier had bought plane tickets to Spain, that they would have to change those recently bought tickets as Portugal was now the meeting point.

Galicia is out, Portugal is in.

And like most decisions, once made, it was clear to me, it was the right thing to do.

A Coruña is a wonderful town, wonderful food, beautiful people and fantastic wine.

wp-1470576383076.jpg
Vermuteria Martinez in A Coruna

We had two dinners in an absolutely great small restaurant, Vermuteria Martinez, that we had found in February.  A must stop for anyone visiting Galicia.

But I also realized it was time for me to move on.

Now, even the extra stops I had planned over the next week have been nixed.

Sometimes the past is like an anchor.

One of those real expensive anchors with the hoop, plated in gold or platinum (or certainly priced as if they are) and while you hate to part with, having cost a small fortune plus your two middle children, you come to realize that it’s time to get the fire ax and cut that chain before you are dragged down.

Galicia and Spain, so many wonderful memories, in fact, nary a bad one, but now moving to the past. It’s time to move on.

It’s time to get to Portugal.

New places, faces and spaces.

But one cannot leave A Coruña, Galicia and Spain without a bit of melancholy or even “triste”

Thus a little Charles Aznavour seems appropriate at this time.

Charles Aznavour, “Come è Triste Venezia”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ireland Part 1

A Tunnel of Green, (one of the more meager ones)
A Tunnel of Green, (one of the more meager ones)

It’s going to be hard to say goodbye to Ireland, the land is gorgeous, the people wonderful and the sun shines at least once a month to remind you what it looks like.20160515_173827.jpg

Today, I took a day off.  Every day I’ve been working on Dauntless, getting my little projects done.  The new holding tank is in and connected, the bilge pump also, so forward bilge work is almost done.20160515_141652.jpg

20160515_173436.jpg
Byrne & Woods, Roundwood

So, with the sun out and the buds on the trees getting bigger by the day, I thought it would be a good day to drive to the town of Roundwood, about 70 miles NE of New Ross, about 30 south of Dublin.

Well the drive turned out to be even prettier than expected.  The roads were even more picturesque and the traffic was actually minimal.

The restaurant, Byrne & Woods, lived up to expectations. Here is a link to my review:

Bryne &

the drive home
the drive home

Woods

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Out the side window, while I waited for the cows to go home.

Spain – What’s Not to Like?

Just got back from a quick, one week, reconnoiter of Galicia in northwest Spain.

NW Spain and Northern Portugal Spent the first two nights in Leon; Then on to Oviedo and Aviles, just NW along the coast, though we stayed in a hotel inland. Then onto A Coruna for two nights and finally Vigo for two nights.
NW Spain and Northern Portugal
Spent the first two nights in Leon;
Then on to Oviedo and Aviles, just NW along the coast, though we stayed in a hotel inland.
Then onto A Coruna for two nights and finally Vigo for two nights.

A great week, that just confirms that the Dauntless adventure on the Iberian Peninsula this year and 2017, will be fueled by fantastic food and wine at prices that even a New Yorker would love.

Everything good, nothing bad, don’t even need any of my usual qualifiers. And that includes two run-ins with the police that were so very helpful, not punitive; an example of what every inhabitant of this planet yearns for.

So much was good, people, wine, food, hotels, costs, etc. So here are just the highlights:

  • Leon – City of free tapas. We spent 4 hours going to 7 different places, drinking a total of 8 glasses of wine (each) and eating delicious tapas at each place.  Total cost 30 Euros or $35. Try that in NYC and the bill will be 10 times more, PLUS 20% more for tips.
  • Our favorite place in Leon, Meson Jabugo.
  • Wines & Tapas – I loved:
    • Ribera del Duero, Rías Baixas aka Albariño; Ribeiro.
    • My favorite tapa, morcilla, simply because it was so good. In Leon, the cured beef, sliced like the Jamon, was also great.

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      Cathedral in Leon
A Leon Favorite
My Leon Favorite

We went to check out these two towns in particular because they are large, good transportation access and most of all, the marina is within minutes of the town centre:

  • A Coruna – The heart of Galicia. Only slightly more expensive then Leon, but Dauntless can’t get to Leon.  Galicia is Celtic and the similarity is evident in the people.  We took in the military museum after checking out the marina ($300 per month in October).  We had gotten to the museum about 5:15 p.m., 45 minutes before it’s closing.  Virtually empty of visitors, a wonderful.

    Morcilla
    Morcilla, eaten with the bread and wine. All this cost $7
  • Vigo – The largest city in Galicia. Here the cost of the marina for a month for a Dauntless would be around $400, but it’s a year around cost and includes electricity.

Encounters with the police:  EEKwp-1456518551979.jpg

The first time I pulled over
The first time I pulled over
  1. Went to get car upon leaving Leon. We had parked
    Pizza as a tapa and free. Total cost here $3
    Pizza as a tapa and free.
    Total cost here $3
    Going down the pass
    Going down the pass

    just outside of the old center, but evidently, on the wrong street.  My mistake, the hotel staff had told me exactly the area I could park in and this block was one block sooner, but I misinterpreted the parking sign.  Yes, I know, cats speak better Spanish than I.  So, I get to the spot and see no car.  But I do see the spot it was in and as it had just rained, it was clear I had just missed the car disappearing by less than an hour.  Two hours later, after having a great visit with the policemen of the traffic police, we were underway.  Total cost was about $150.  The police were so apologetic from beginning to end.  I was relieved that the car had not been stolen nor damaged and it was clearly my mistake.

    Downhill, the snow is letting up
    Downhill, the snow is letting up
  2. Leaving Leon, we have headed north northwest, over the mountains to the coast of North coast of Spain and the city of Aviles, where I wanted to check out the marina. We took the smaller road N-630) and avoided the autopista.  As we got north, we started climbing into the mountains, the clouds came lower and lower and the light rain turned quickly to snow and then very heavy snow (2-3” per hour).  Our rental car had crappy summer tires, but I do know my snow.  Going ever slower, we made the summit of the pass, at an elevation of about 5,000 feet (1800 m).

I was relieved, as going uphill in always more problematic, so my plan was to wait until a snow plow came by and follow him.

The north coast
The north coast

OK then I discovered that traction was really bad, temperature too close to freezing, so the snow plow track was icy. It was better on an unplowed road. And in fact, I had to get on the shoulder to stop the car.

After waiting a bit, maybe 15 min, it was time to try again we did at a slow speed, but I was in second gear and this let the car get going too fast, maybe 20 mph.

Vigo
Vigo

We come around a curve, and there is a car off the road, with a police car behind him, but a policemen was standing in the middle of the road.

Marina in Vigo
Marina in Vigo

I go to slow and pull left, but any braking action, even with the anti-lock brakes, did not help and I realized that I was close to losing control in this curve.

So first I honked the horn, to warn the policeman standing in the road and then got totally off the brakes to stop the skid and knowing it was the only way to get around the turn.

After those seconds we went around the curve in the outside lane and on the next straightaway, pulled to the shoulder to stop, which we finally did in about 12” of snow.

We bought our food for the flight the next day here
We bought our food for the flight the next day here

We were stopped, but now stuck.  I waited a bit to think about the ills of the world and the errors of my ways.  About 10 minutes later the police came by and I did not know what to expect.  In the US, at best they would give you a lecture, at worst, give you a ticket and tell you the road is closed, so you must stay there for the rest of your life.

Empanada Morcilla (Masa Gallega) It was different then Leon, but excellent; not too rich.
Empanada Morcilla (Masa Gallega)
It was different then Leon, but excellent and not too rich. We had hesitated at buying such a big piece ($5), but we gobbled it up and it was sooo good. A wonderful way to end our trip. Every Day was Perfect.

Being in Spain, we got neither.  Instead, probalby grateful that I had not run him down, they were very helpful, he asked me what gear I had been in, I told him second and he said I needed to be in first gear, so the car doesn’t get going so fast (this was a 15 degree down grade).

We thanked him and he was gone.  I tried getting the car out of the ditch and after a bit of thinking, (front wheel drive cars always have better traction in reverse) I got out and we were underway again.

In first gear for a few miles until we were down to about 3,000 feet and the road was not so steep, at which point, all was right with the world again.

I’m really looking forward to being in Spain and Portugal this coming year and into 2017.  I wanted to share the details above because it is indicative of Europe in general and Spain in particular.  In all my years in Europe, I have never been in such friendly countries as Ireland and Spain.  I’m sure the Celtic connection is part of that reason.  I am looking forward to meeting new friends and having new adventures.

The fact that Spain is the most affordable country I have been in Europe in the last 20 years just makes this choice even better.

Anyone who wants to see Europe, but has a limited budget, 2016-17, will be the time to take advantage of Dauntless’ hospitality.  It won’t be until 2019 in South Korea before we experience such inexpensive places again.

The fact that Spain also has some of the absolute best wines and food, just make it ever sweeter.

And here is ashort, cute video of happy kids in A Coruna

 

 

 

 

 

Butcher, Baker, Candlestick Maker

Alas the candlestick maker is no more.

Being back in Waterford is so much like coming home; though I just left home to fly here.

Umm, maybe I have two homes: wherever Dauntless is and wherever Julie is.  That’s simple enough!

So I’m back in Waterford to make plans for what needs to be done for winter.  Dauntless and I want to be ready to leave Waterford, probably forever, by early April.  Seems like months away; it is months away, but everything on a boat takes longer.

Dauntless at low tide
Dauntless at low tide on the Waterford waterfront. The crane in the background is still used.

So this morning I made my rounds.  Also walking in Waterford, being surrounded by friendly, warm people is the perfect antidote for the last day’s fiascos.  I have described Irish as like Italians and Spaniards, but they speak English; but have now come to the conclusion that they are on a level all by themselves.  Unlike pretty much everyone else in Europe, the Irish never had an empire, not even the inkling of one nor even the desire.

They use more terms of ___ then anyone else and they truly mean it.  Need something; everything stops while they try to solve your problem.

And they curse more than New Yorkers also!  Not like “F—k you”; but more like the exclamation, “can you believe we had a whole f—king day without rain!”  And they drag out the sound so it is more like “foooking”.

Cute.

At 3:15 p.m. the streets are full of uniformed kids of every age coming from school.  It baffles me how Americans, who pride themselves on being egalitarian, can’t see how important uniforms are for kids.  Umm, I wonder why those expensive private schools in New York, ($40k per year) make their kids wear uniforms and even limit technology in the classroom. Worst of all, they even make their kids learn the multiplication table.  There should be a law against that.  But I digress.

I made my little circuit of the town this morning deciding that I was going to make a wholesome dinner today.  Yesterday, arriving from New York, I had my coffee in the morning and an ice cream bar, a Magnum Black, for dinner.

The Bread baker on the left,the butcher on the right, John Molly's, is hidden behind the truck.
My bread from Hickey’s Bread on the left, my butcher on the right, John Molly’s, is hidden behind the truck.

I like cooking for guests, but today I had decided I needed real food. So my first stop was the butcher where I got 4 lamb chops and Brussels sprouts.  Then, the baker, where I got some crusty Hobbit bread. Then the second baker, the cupcake guy, as I love his apple pies.

Master of Cakes, Cupcake Colture
Master of Cakes, Cupcake Couture

I just finished making my coleslaw, No secrets there, real mayonnaise, vinegar, salt, pepper and a tablespoon of Korean hot pepper paste with vinegar.

My Laundry. How could I miss it!
My Laundry. How could I miss it!

And in cruising through the World Wide Web, I found this link about mayonnaise which I thought to the point.

http://thedelicioustruth.blogspot.ie/2008/10/real-mayonnaise-vs-light-mayonnaise.html

 

OK. Gotta Go, my lamb chops are done resting.