Reading Time: 5 minutes
Hippos cooling off in the water at Ngorongoro Crater, August 2014

We Hate Hippos

A few months ago, Jan Wooller got in touch with us. She heard through Bill that we were interested in buying RJ Slocum and had many kind things to say about Bill and the boat.

As you can gather we have amassed quite a lot of experience over the years and know boats very well.

 

We can truthfully say that Rachel J Slocum is one of only a very small handful of yachts that we would be happy to go long distance sailing on. She’s incredibly well thought out and strongly built and will get you out of trouble no matter the conditions. We were green with envy over her forward facing sounder. 

 

Her gorgeous dinghy would happily fit in as an exhibit in the Australian Wooden Boat Festival which is held in Tasmania every 2nd February. Boats built from Huon Pine are uncommon and very expensive and are highly sought after here.

Along with her sage advice, she sent along a copy of her book, “We Hate Hippos: Stories of a Sea Gypsy’s Life,” which is sold on The Coastal Passage. Andrew read the book in less than a week. It took me some time as I had other reading commitments, and I sure am glad I did.

What appeals to me most about her accounts is that the narrative is true to life. It hasn’t been skewed by appealing to an unknown audience. It has none of the distasteful choices made to draw eyeballs, to be click-bait, or to instruct. Since most sailing blogs and vlogs market/advertise vigorously to sustain a livelihood, I take their advice with a grain of salt. I prefer a realistic account, much like those also shared in The Coastal Passage, the most widely read cruising magazine in Australia. 

I take the Hippo book (which I have come to refer to it with Andrew) as knowledge dispensed from a friend who is looking out for you. 

Old school

When I read the short passage about preserving food for long passages, I got pretty excited. When one has to live without refrigeration (let alone deep freeze), I found some practical solutions laid out before me. Ironically, this isn’t new… these are techniques used many years ago before there was refrigeration.

So, it’s time to go old school. 

Salt on butter

Allow butter to soften and pack into clean jars. level the top with a knife and sprinkle enough salt to cover completely. Butter can be kept for up to a year that way, even in the tropics.

Cheese in oil

Cut into blocks and place into an open jar. Fill the remaining space with oil. 

Vaseline eggs

Coat each egg with Vaseline to seal the shell and place into plastic racks. Turn the eggs weekly to prevent spoilage. Eggs usable even at the end of five months. 

Chloroform flour and pasta

Before sealing a plastic container of flour or pasta, place a film canister which contains a cotton ball soaked in chloroform. Since the lid of the film canister is punctured with a needle, the chloroform gas can escape slowly. This is the only foolproof method in preventing weevils. 

Pressure cook meat (beef & lamb)

Use a twenty litre pressure cooker which allows you to prepare 16 450 gram jars at a time. Place uncooked cubed meat into the jars with a small amount of water. Place special one-use-only seals on top and cook the bottles according to the instructions with the canner (e.g., 12 lbs of pressure for over 80 minutes). The meat serves as a tasty ingredient in casseroles, curries and bolognaise sauce, and can be stored for years.

I turned to Andrew after reading these anecdotes, and in turn, he recognized that look in my eyes. It’s time for another culinary adventure!

Other lessons learned

We enjoyed various anecdotes about Jan and Nick’s lives over the past 30 years cruising and voyaging the high seas, including:

Replenishing the cruising kitty

While we have put together a reasonable budget, we cannot forecast for the unexpected and be 100% accurate. Even though they had set themselves up as well as they could, there were times where they needed to take a break from sailing and they were able to find jobs in Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand and American Samoa. 

Life in Japan

Andrew and I honeymooned in Japan. It was a place that long fascinated Andrew and we realized that our visit there was much too short. We’re hoping to have an extended stay there, just as Jan and Nick had. If the South Pacific islands don’t open up next year for cruisers, we may opt instead to sail to Hawaii and then on to Japan.

Misha, the bilge cat

One of the unknowns still lurking in our minds is whether Oreo and Xiao Long are suited for living on a boat. We were encouraged by how Misha and Tigger were cared for, especially when Jan and Nick were ashore and traveling six to seven weeks in twelve countries. There is a particularly dramatic account of Misha while under the care of Bill and his wife in Ushuaia when Jan and Nick visited Antarctica. 

Exploring/hiking

Much like the authors, we love traveling and exploring, so the thought of being able to spend a month to six weeks backpacking is one of our goals of sailing. Sailing afforded them the opportunity to backpack through Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, New Zealand, South Africa, Kenya, Namibia, India and Nepal.

Photo courtesy of Jan and Nick Wooller. Here they are aboard s/v Yawarra II

Learn More

If you are interested in reading more about Jan and Nick Wooller’s adventures over 37 years, some of the information is available online and offline including a diary spanning over 12 years within 95 pages!

Additional Resources

Other cruisers have shared their knowledge through books, courses and coaching. If you’re interested in any of these options, please check out the following links for related resources.

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Maximizing priorities

A few months ago, we launched our 30-weeks to minimalism initiative. This helped tremendously to sort through what we needed to take with us aboard RJ Slocum.

I turned to the experts (the Women Who Sail facebook group that I am part of) and searched for ideas in the past on what we do once we figure out what stays and what goes. Local auction for furniture, estate sale broker (e.g., Grasons ), consignment shops, Free Cycle and simply giving stuff away to friends and family. 

Unfortunately, we were in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, so the usual outlets of selling items or donating to charity were not available to us. What to do?

I took the ideas that worked in the past and weighed them against our goals. In order of priority, here is what we want to maximize first:

  1. Matching gifts – finding the best homes for each item
  2. Speed – showing progress while not living in disarray
  3. Value – adding more funds to our cruising kitty

 

1 – Matching gifts

Given the fact that we have the summer months to do this, we already started to think about which of our friends could most appreciate or use some of these items. We are happy to give these things away and seek no quid pro quo.

This of course is a slow-going process, in particular because it is being handled solo while Andrew works full time.

 

2 – Speed

I was stewing over the lack of progress. The fact was we rearranged items (much like deck chairs on the Titanic), but nothing was moving out of our house. I was still staring at closets full of clothes… and everywhere I looked, we still had a house full of stuff.

My frustration came out one weekend in early June. Andrew was blindsided by this one Saturday morning during his first cup of coffee.

He asked, “What can I do to help you?” 

Over the next hour, we had a discussion about what we want out of this process, and it boiled down to the priorities we set above. My frustration however came from feeling as though I was handling this all by myself when we agreed months ago that this would be a team effort. I was also annoyed over the delays caused by coronavirus, and he assured me that, in time, charities will open up again, and those avenues will be available to us once again.

It was then that I realized that my impatience was my undoing. 

The other factor we need to weigh is the unknown stowage space aboard RJ Slocum. Other than the few measurements taken for lockers and drawers for clothes, we don’t know how much space remains. This is a variable that we won’t know until we head back to Ft Lauderdale at the end of summer. 

So inevitably, we are resigned to shipping to Florida more than what we can fit on the boat. As a result, we’ll have to do another round of purging once we get there, which is another lesson in learning to go with the flow

 

Wedding photos taken at Side Door, Corona del Mar. Feb. 2015

3 – Value

When we can’t find a friend who wants an item and we think we can fetch some doubloons to top up our cruising kitty, we will look to sell the items. This could be once-worn couture wedding dress, Japanese sword, bespoke dresses (sari and qipao) made in Mumbai and Hong Kong, designer clothes, shoes and jewelry, etc. I’ve started a spreadsheet detailing where these items would go to keep everything organized. 

Some of the organizations include:

If you want a copy of the detailed spreadsheet, send us an email and we’re happy to share it with you.

 

Go Green

In September after we have a chance to evaluate the stowage situation on RJ Slocum, we’ll re-evaluate what we have and then there will be a flurry of activity before we ship anything to Florida.

I’m intrigued by participating in some local organizations, such as the Facebook Buy Nothing Project and find their mission and principles are consistent with our philosophy.

Just as we discovered when we decided to pack light, we came across Going Zero Waste  provides some ideas for organizations that will take donations of unusual items such as braseyeglasses, cosmetics and shoes. Before tossing anything, we will also be taking advantage of TerraCycle to determine what to do with other waste streams.

It’s not easy being green. 

 

Reading Time: 5 minutes

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena…”

Theodore Roosevelt

In the arena

Recently, Brene Brown popularized this quote from Theodore Roosevelt by featuring it in the opening passages of her book, “Daring Greatly.” I am reminded of this quote now as we are in the midst of our pre-departure adventure.

Over the past few months, friends and family have been eager to follow our adventures after we cast off. Often, their first questions are, “When do you leave?” And after finding out that we aren’t casting off until after hurricane season, they’ll comment, “Can’t wait to follow you!”

I suppose it’s a common misconception that the adventure doesn’t get going until you’re sailing. It can be argued, especially by those who are in the arena, that the adventure has already begun.

Our Chronicles

In large part, we have been documenting this adventure from the beginning on serenadewind.com. From how the germ of the idea to sail full time was planted 2 years ago to now during our pre-departure phase this summer, which is gated from moving forward by the coronavirus pandemic. 

When you’re outside of the arena, you may think this phase is a chore before life happens. However, when you’re in the arena as we are, Andrew and I know that this is the adventure, and in fact this is the hardest part. 

For cruisers who have gone through this before us and subsequently sailed thousands of nautical miles, they have acknowledged the difficulty of this phase. Here are a few examples featured on The O’Kelly’s YouTube channel and in particular their playlist: Cruising Dream vs Cruising Reality.

  1. Before Cruising
  2. Birth of the Dream
  3. Pre-departure Fears
  4. Preparing to Sail Away
  5. Taking Off
  6. Relationships Change While Cruising
  7. Roles Change
  8. On Passage
  9. South Pacific Realities
  10. The Hard Times

As Nick aptly put it, “The reality is that the adventure begins when you decide to go.” 

The adventure before the adventure

I am a huge fan of podcasts since it gives me an opportunity to multitask. Whether cooking, cleaning or knitting, I am able to stay entertained while going through the motions of whatever it is I also need to accomplish. These days, I am listening to quite a few sailing podcasts (Ocean Sailing Podcast, Sail Geeks, Sailing Ruby Rose) and most recently have binge-listened to Under the Sheets .

Their episode 12, which was published August 2019, is particularly poignant to me with its topic, “The adventure before the adventure.” It reinforces and validates what we have been experiencing, so that you do not disregard what is happening to you now.

From time to time, Andrew and I exclaim to each other:

We’re on an adventure!

It doesn’t matter what we’re doing. This motto brings smiles to our faces and puts the activity into perspective. During this pre-departure phase, we’ve been practicing:

It may not seem like a big deal for anyone outside of the arena, but for us we feel it’s great preparation. Additionally, it puts us into a positive mindset to slowly introduce ourselves to a different lifestyle. 

The Critics

One of the most challenging parts of this transition is handling nay-sayers in your life. In virtually every conversation we’ve had, we have found support and enthusiasm.

Virtually all, except one. 

For those of you about to jump in the arena to begin a voyaging life, your critics will come from any (and all) directions. Depending on how much you value that relationship, you will need to come up with ways of dealing with this sticky dynamic.

As I search for advice from other cruisers, I came across these resources and tips. 

In the end, I followed my gut on how to deal with this situation:

  1. Understand that their fear is talking, not them

2. Empathize with their perspective while being firm with your goals

3. Ask the “5 Why’s” to dig into what’s truly bothering them

4. Try to share as much information as you can

5. Give them time to adjust to the idea, but eventually let it go

Ultimately, it’s your life 

If they cannot be supportive of you, then realize that by not respecting your decision, they chose to alienate you even if that is not their intent. Sometimes, they can’t help themselves.

With my mom, I went through all these steps. I have chronicled our years of sailing experience, which she has forgotten. In addition, I remind her of the sailing trips and the fact that we sailed through storms before, which she has conveniently ignored. Finally, when it came to sharing information and educating her about the lifestyle (the good, the bad and the ugly), I shared links to sailing blogs of couples and families who have done this before. She found excuses not to read any of it.

It was then that I realized that my responsibility ended there. She wouldn’t meet me half way. I forgave her and moved on. Perhaps one day she will come around and see things from my perspective.

Stay positive

During this pre-departure phase, it’s important to stay positive. It’s enough to manage your own fears without having to manage the fears of others. And it’s for this reason that this stage is an adventure in itself as we are tested emotionally and have an opportunity to grow through these experiences.

Here is the full quote from Theodore Roosevelt, if you want to draw more inspiration: 

It is not the critic who counts;

not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood;

who strives valiantly;

who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming;

but who does actually strive to do the deeds;

who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions;

who spends himself in a worthy cause;

who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement,

and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly,

so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

 

Reading Time: 5 minutes
Hiking the Yosemite Falls Trail with elevation gain 2,700 ft (circa June 2018)

A Life of Philanthropy

One of the first posts we published on SerenadeWind talks about our relationship with money . When we began to dig into that topic, a natural extension to pursuing a minimalist life is a life of philanthropy. 

What does a life of philanthropy look like?

Lean into values

Friends and colleagues who know me have witnessed that when I set a goal, there’s a high certainty (approaching 100%) that the goal will be achieved. Whether I am quick to set an objective or take my time arriving at it, my value system is defined by integrity and honoring my commitments.

So, at the beginning of this year, I drew a line in the sand and declared that I wanted to pursue a life of philanthropy. Andrew is in full agreement of this ethos (although I suspect he has embraced this tenet all his life).

The shape and execution of philanthropy still needs to be defined. In the meantime, we have made donations to various causes every month since the line in the sand was drawn. These gifts were made as the needs have presented themselves. 

Non-profit Charter

If we go back to what we wrote, we toyed with the following idea:

How about we set up serenadewind.com with a non-profit charter in mind?

The concept is simple:

Whatever funds that come in will go toward paying boat expenses (including upgrades, maintenance, etc.) and any surplus in excess of some threshold will be given away to causes we believe in.

In the pursuit of minimalism, we don’t want to continue to accumulate money because it will end up owning us. Since the beginning of this year, we have donated to eight organizations roughly 50% of what has already come in through our funding.  

Cash in – Cash out

You may be wondering how we’ve been able to fund charities and organizations over the past few months especially since I retired from Warner Bros.

Andrew, of course, continues to draw income, but we’re not touching any of that. We are also not drawing down on our savings, since that makes up our cruising kitty and we want to be able to sail for many years to come. 

At the moment, the funding is coming through a single source: unemployment benefits.

When I first shared the news of retiring early to some colleagues, a few insisted that I file for unemployment. I was loathed to pursue this, until I thought,

Why not try and if it works, I’ll give it all away.

The decision to do this came at a price: insomnia. Now, I had something at stake where I originally had been laissez-faire. When I discussed it with Andrew, he was in full support of my dropping the matter altogether, and I did so for a few weeks. However, on the morning of the hearing with the judge, I did some quick prep work. The hearing itself was scheduled early afternoon when I was with my mom to address some leg pain that mysteriously began. 

Virtual Hearing

The amount of unemployment benefits in question totals roughly USD $9,000 (before CARES Act  and potentially over $20,000 with CARES Act). In theory, I could set aside 10% to cover taxes and give the rest of it away to those in need. 

While the money is nice, I’ll be honest. It means a lot more to me how it was secured. The most empowering moment came when I was speaking to the judge about my case. He asked a series of thoughtful questions over the course of 45 minutes. When the hearing concluded, he stated that the decision would be sent via regular mail in a couple weeks.

Regardless of the decision rendered, I felt vindicated. I had a chance to share my story to a neutral 3rd party and it felt liberating. If you want to learn more about the case, I will provide a brief write-up about it, which will be posted tomorrow. In reality, I didn’t have to wait that long. Less than a week later, the decision came in the mail.

When I read the decision, I set down the pages, walked over to Andrew and told him the news.

Then I did a happy dance.

Andrew laughed.

Second Mountain

I am reminded each week of how lucky I am to be in a relationship that fully encourages a life of growth and exploration. We are pushing ourselves out of our comfort zone. It first began with our relationship with money (which will continue to be tested throughout our lives) and extends to pursuing a voyaging life on the high seas. 

We refer to this period in our lives as climbing the second mountain. It’s a concept that has been widely circulated through the publication of David Brooks writing. If you have 5 minutes to spare, check out his video on “Should you live for your resume or your eulogy?”

We know the life we are leading is unconventional and not for everyone. The chronicle of our journey on Serenade Wind is largely to benefit those who may be curious about alternative approaches to living a full and balanced life.

For us, life is not about following a prescribed path. It’s an opportunity to choose your own adventure!

Today, in recognition of National Ocean Month, we have donated to Sailors for the Sea who advocates green boating practices. We have learned a lot over the past few months about what we can do to live with a greater awareness about how we impact the environment, which we profiled in Going Green and Ethical Sailing.

Post Script

This story was originally written at the start of this month. Over this past weekend, I received some news about a childhood friend of my brother’s who recently passed away.

Victor Kuo was both a public school teacher and philanthropist, working with organizations including FSG Social Impact Advisors, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, David & Lucile Packard Foundation, and Global Chinese Philanthropy Institute

Thank you, Victor, for modeling an honorable life and may you rest in peace. 

 

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Lifecycle of Ingredients

If you’ve followed our Culinary Adventures, you’ll start to see a theme of no waste in this household. We love cooking and riffing off recipes. Sometimes, this will evolve over the lifecycle of ingredients to create some fun, novel adventures in cooking and help us when we live aboard RJ Slocum.

Turkey 5 ways

It all started when I was a kid and the values instilled in me by my parents when it came to economizing and thrift.

Not only were they homesteaders (before it became en vogue) growing avocado, corn, sugarcane and wheatgrass in our backyard, my parents never wasted food once it was cooked. Bulk dishes became leftovers that extended over days (or sometimes weeks) until depleted.

I’ve taken that principle and elevated it to a new art form … because, you see, I like variety.

The lifecycle of ingredients made up of leftovers became a culinary challenge that I learned at Wellesley College, my alma mater. The dining hall weekly menu would feature something like the following: 

  • Monday – roast turkey
  • Tuesday – turkey soup
  • Wednesday – turkey pot pie
  • Thursday – turkey tetrazzini  
  • Friday – turkey ice cream (just kidding)

Journey vs Destination

This was, of course, all very surprising to Andrew because he has a different approach to cooking. He once told me an anecdote of his culinary experiment to master the art of cooking fried rice.

His process would be to cook a batch of fried rice and if there was something off about it, he would throw it out. All of it. Andrew would then repeat the process over and over again. The garbage would have countless pounds of fried rice ready for the dumpster. In his quest for mastery, he valued learning the skill over the end product.

I can understand that principle… in theory.

Had we known each other back then, however, I would have quietly siphoned off each batch of fried rice into Tupperware containers and place them into the freezer to be repurposed for other dishes, such as

  • a cheesy frittata
  • roll them into balls, cover them in panko breadcrumbs and fry them up
  • place them in a rich flavorful broth with some hand-torn roast chicken 

We would have made a great team back then, as we do now.

Stage 1 Meals

I share this backstory so you get a feel for how we will be approaching our life aboard RJ Slocum.

The kinds of dishes that will be prepared at anchor will primarily be bulk cooking that can be tailored and elevated when we are on passage. Here are some of the ideas that you can take with some basic stage one meals laid out in the following hierarchy:

  • Stage 1
    • Stage 2+

 

  • Braised beef or pork
    • poutine
    • ramen
    • fried rice
  • Grilled salmon
    • salmon cakes
    • chowder
    • pasta salad
  • Steamed rice
    • fried rice
    • congee
    • risotto balls
  • Roasted chicken
    • chicken soup
    • chicken salad/sandwiches
  • Roasted vegetables
    • vegetable soup
    • strata
    • omlette
  • Bread
    • pizza
    • breakfast casserole
    • french toast

The best way to incorporate these ingredients is with eggs, milk, bacon and cheese along with varying up herbs and spices to give them another dimension. Taste the dishes as you prepare them and you’ll be able to adjust along the way so there are no surprises with your final product.

While we’re still observing social distancing and staying at home to prepare our meals, we are using this opportunity to continue to refine our skills for life aboard a sailboat.

We hope you find these ideas useful.

 

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Heading Level 4

If you tried to send me a Linkedin request over the past dozen years or so, chances are I didn’t see it. Apologies if you think I was ignoring you. Please don’t take it personally. I was ignoring Linkedin.

Linkedin

A few months ago, I updated my Linkedin profile. I had originally set up my profile over a dozen years ago and wrote nothing on it. Current employer and title – that’s it. Andrew equates it to the equivalent of tumbleweeds. In large part, this was because I was happy where I was and didn’t need to be bothered with having recruiters solicit me. 

So while I was doing my rounds at the office saying my goodbyes, I decided to use Linkedin as a communication tool for the rest of my business contacts outside of Warner Bros. to let them know I had retired.

When it comes to Linkedin, my approach is to only accept connections with people I have worked with or went to school with. Basically, anyone I can readily vouch for in terms of abilities and competencies in a professional setting. Others seem to treat it as yet another social media platform to collect as many connections as they can.

I will probably go the other direction and cull individuals that I am really no longer in touch with, but I get ahead of myself.  

Adios

Over a weekend, I started to backfill content on my profile. I put all the impressive accomplishments from my resume on there and then (after a moment of reflection) got rid of all of it. I just put the names of the companies and the years of employment. I was done marketing my skills. I didn’t need a website profile to showcase abilities for a life I no longer want to pursue.

Linkedin also provides a feature where you can write articles. I was on a writing kick for serenadewind.com so I decided why not write a short blurb on my retirement. It was then that an article was going around Linkedin that drew my attention.

David Brook’s 5 minute TED Talks video Should you live for your resume…or your eulogy? The timing of this was uncanny. If you have 5 minutes to spare, it is well worth seeing. In this video, Mr. Brooks refers to a book written in 1965 by Joseph Soloveitchik called “The Lonely Man of Faith.”

Taking stock of life

This personal exercise came in handy for me to give some guidance to my mom who seems to have come untethered in recent months. I elaborated on this in a few blog posts and suffice it to say she is still in the midst of figuring this stuff out. I must admit that it is probably a harder thing to do after having a lifetime of habits and beliefs that spans 70+ years as opposed to 40+ years. 

Andrew and I married and moved in together a couple months before my father passed away. I wanted to live closer to my mom in the event that she needed any help. Within the first 6 months after the funeral, she completed the following:

  • sold a rental property,
  • bought a 2-bedroom condo with the proceeds,
  • downsized from a 4 bedroom, 3-car garage house,
  • did renovations on the 2-bedroom condo,
  • moved in, and
  • found a tenant to lease out her old place

So while Andrew and I lived close by, my mom didn’t really lean on us. Ironically, she is doing so now.

Why, after 5 years, is this happening? 

Second Mountain

Thankfully I had done my own work sorting out what I was planning to do with the rest of my life. I had a little head start in helping her redirect and not fall apart. I keep reminding her who she is and that what she is experiencing now is momentary. It is not permanent. 

She asks me for quick fixes. She prays incessantly, but has little faith. I take her through the various stages I went through and chronicled here on serenadewind, such as:

While many of you may have gone through this with your parents, this is new to me … this feeling of the student becoming the teacher. I am showing her the way to figure out what is her second mountain and how to live for her eulogy. 

In the words of Reinhold Niebuhr:

Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime; therefore we must be saved by hope

Nothing which is true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore we must be saved by faith

Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore we must be saved by love

No virtuous act is quite as virtuous from the standpoint of our friend or foe as it is from our standpoint. Therefore we must be saved by the final form of love, which is forgiveness.

 

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Before delving into today’s blog post which originated mid-April, I wanted to draw attention to world events that seem to collide with this topic.

There’s a tremendous amount of rhetoric around black lives matter following the tragedies of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Collins Khosa, Adama Traore and Belly Mujinga, and as a result, hundreds of thousands have taken to the streets in Brussels, London, Rio de Janeiro, Seoul, Sydney, and across the U.S. 

In light of recent events, I am drawn to the word “privilege” since it is echoed throughout this blogpost. What does privilege mean among race, gender or gender identity, birth order, education, religion, income level, ethnic background, body type and other groupings including yacht clubs? Thanks to Peggy McIntosh, I am reminded of what it means to have privilege and how you can use the privilege you have to fight for equity.

How privileged are you? We all have a combination of unearned advantages and unearned disadvantages in life. And it changes minute by minute, depending on where we are, who we’re seeing, or what we’re required to do. So it is when we travel the world, we’ll introduce ourselves to different cultures and engage in interactions that allow us to see humanity in all of its variations and forms. 

 

 

Membership has its privileges

A few weeks ago, while Bill helped to validate our on-going boat costs, he suggested becoming a member of a yacht club to reduce our cruising expenses.

I don’t know about you but the image that I conjure up in my mind when someone mentions yacht clubs is the America’s Cup or an elitist, pretentious club or a rich guy sipping champagne while motoring on a mega-yacht. 

So when Bill mentioned this idea, it seemed to contradict our initial thoughts.

 

Aboard Pacific as we head to the start line of our race.

Cal Yacht Club

My first direct exposure to a yacht club came about 10 years ago. I sailed in California Yacht Club ‘s Sunset Series Regattas in the summer with Bluewater Sailing, one of the ASA schools in Marina del Rey and where I first learned to sail. 

Later on I joined CSC, a fractional-ownership club sailing a Catalina 36 called “Mystic” twice each month. In an effort to increase my time on the water and gain more experience on different boats, Jan from CSC put me in touch with some Cal Yacht Club members, and I crewed on “Pacific,” a 43′ Jeanneau. We raced in the cruising class and happened to take first place on July 16, 2014. (Thanks for cataloging my life, FB.)

At the time, I remember looking into becoming a member even though I didn’t own a boat, and I found it to be cost prohibitive. Ironically, I didn’t do any further research, which is unlike me. I probably could have found something that would suit my needs, but life got in the way.   

 

Photo courtesy of RYCT

Sailing Community

Despite our initial bias, when Bill give us the pros and cons of becoming a member of a yacht club, we were sold. Chief among the benefits was reciprocity with yacht clubs all over the world, which includes access and guest privileges to moorings and facilities.

Equally important is becoming a part of a large community of sailors, cruisers and racers. Even in the current age of communication made easy through social media and online communities, nothing can quite beat the connections fostered in-person with like-minded individuals.

Let’s take a poll

As a sanity check, I posed the question to some sailors in a Facebook Group (Women Who Sail) on the benefits of joining a yacht club and whether yacht clubs still had relevance in today’s era. The responses were overwhelmingly positive – 35 in favor and 2 against. I grouped the responses into categories and tallied up the benefits. Here are the results:

  1. Friendship/community/2nd family – 27
  2. Good facilities/mooring – 14
  3. Learning new skills – 11
  4. Boat talk/knowledge transfer – 10
  5. Reciprocal benefits with other yacht clubs – 9
  6. Traveling together/rendezvous – 6
  7. Racing / regattas – 6
  8. No bullshit – 4 

What strikes me about these results is how deeply ingrained these friendships can be. There was a sense that they looked out for each other and each other’s boats. A couple sailors were turned off by their experience, and largely it was due to a poor fit. In the matchmaking game of sailor and yacht club, that seems reasonable not to have a good match on the outset every time … to bat a thousand, so to speak.

Case study

So with that backdrop in mind, we were provided a very personal first hand account of a lifelong friendship that came about from being part of a yacht club. Bill put us in touch with one of his best friends, who shared with us his background in boating. 

Hugh did not come from a boating family. He started at the age of 15, by volunteering to launch 12′ dinghies at the local yacht club every Saturday morning. Sailing dinghies led to small keelboats. Eventually, he built his first ocean racer “Glenshiel” and launching her in 1957. The love of his life was Glenshiel v11, an Adams 40′ fast cruising yacht, upon which he has lived his dream of logging over 100,000 miles around the Pacific including a circumnavigation of Australia. 

Hugh tells us how he first met Bill over 30 years ago. 

I first met Bill one fine Monday night whilst having my regular beers with my crew at the Royal Yacht Club Of Tasmania when a beautiful yacht moored in the marina.

We walked out, beers in hand to greet the new arrival and were amazed to see the name Rachael J Slocum London on the transom. We hadn’t had a visiting Yacht from the U.K. since just after World War 2!

My hail of “Ahoy” brought a face up from down below and of course it was Bill.

In addition to sharing his time with us and answering our questions, he also sponsored our membership to the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania. 

 

Photo courtesy of RYCT

RYCT

 

The Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania, is the largest yacht club in the Australian state of Tasmania. It is best known for its role as the finishing destination for the annual Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race. The club sports a range of facilities, from a 120-berth marina to on-site maintenance facilities.

Originally known as the Derwent Sailing Boat Club, for its location on the Derwent River in Hobart, the club was founded in 1880. It was called such for thirty years until, in 1910, King Edward VII granted the organization permission to use the prefix “Royal”.

We’re officially yachties!

Membership Process

Ever since Bill planted the idea in our heads, we have popped onto the RYCT Facebook page to catch up on the weekly updates announced by Commodore Tracy Matthews.

We have also taken to watching footage of the 2019 Sydney to Hobart race, though I do keep falling asleep before they arrive in Hobart. This historic 75th race was particularly slow-going at the end, as the winds dropped to 2 knots, and it took forever before Comanche would cross the finish line. I’m sure it was more agonizing for the sailors!

Meanwhile, the RYCT board met on April 28th and our application was tabled for consideration. In the ensuing month, our application is displayed on the Club’s notice board for member review. Nominations are ratified at the next Board Meeting if there are no objections. That meeting took place May 29th, and we were officially made members!

 

Photo courtesy of RYCT

Future Sailing Plans

The rest of our sailing plans for 2020 will find us in the Caribbean in December and early 2021. Beyond that, we are looking ahead to cross the Panama Canal and head across the Pacific to the Marquesas Islands in French Polynesia,

As intrigued as we are about the stories told by Bill and his wife when they rounded Cape Horn, we will likely attempt that on the next circumnavigation. In the 2021/22 season, we will have our sights on sailing to Tasmania to pour a whiskey cocktail for Hugh… perhaps The Andrew , a cocktail that was named after Serenade Wind’s captain. 

Photo courtesy of RYCT

Lucky seems to be too small a word to describe how we feel about this path. We are incredibly grateful for this initial glimpse into the future life we are embarking on. It is hard to hold back our excitement, but we remain vigilant in following the protocols set forth by the governments in California, Massachusetts and Florida. 

Reading Time: 8 minutes

Time to Level-Up

When it comes to preparing meals at home, the last area I tend to stock up is canned food. Canned ingredients are seldom prioritized because I prefer to cook with the freshest ingredients, farm fresh being the goal. The same comes to cooking, and I realized that I am lacking this skill in my cooking arsenal when it comes to preparing canned food recipes.

This seems like an essential skill while living on a boat. So, it’s high time to level-up.

What’s in your pantry?

In one of the recent episodes from Sailing Project Atticus , Desiree was providing a tour of the galley, including where she stored provisions and her use of combining canned goods with fresh produce to create meals. Behan from Sailing Totem also offers her strategies for cooking pantry meals as the basis for provisioning.

My pantry currently is stocked with the following:

  1. coconut milk
  2. evaporated milk
  3. lychee
  4. grass jelly
  5. pear juice
  6. San Marzano whole tomatoes
  7. Portuguese sardines
  8. Pate

That’s it in the canned food category that I replenish with any frequency. The only reason for their existence is to serve as ingredients for identified recipes making: Denise’s ultimate chocolate mochi (1 & 2), Taiwanese summer dessert (3 & 4), Momofuku braised short rib (5), marinara sauce (6), and snacks (7 & 8). 

Cooking primarily with canned food is not really in my repertoire, so I have an opportunity to hone in this skill before we move aboard RJ Slocum.

Canned Food Recipes

From a simple google query, I discovered some recipes that I would tackle over the next few weeks. These resources include:

  • BBC Good Food – Use up tinned ingredients like tomatoes, beans and tuna with these easy dinners. Or try our simple bakes for a great way to use canned fruit.
  • Bon Appetit – 10 pantry staples you should always have as well as pantry 2.0 recommendations.
  • Cheapism – 30 cheap and easy recipes from canned foods.
  • Epicurious – Cult canned food items and what to do with them. Say hello to canned cheese. Another article features many ways to use whole canned tomatoes
  • Love Canned Food – Find the perfect tinned food recipe using affordable delicious canned food products. Canned food recipes can be made quickly for the family.
  • The Modern Proper – What canned good should be in a well-stocked pantry? Which ones can you actually build a healthy, quick meal out of? Here’s the TMP list of canned food must-haves.
  • Taste of Home – Have canned goods collecting dust in the back of your pantry? Make the most of them with these yummy and straightforward canned food recipes.

Pantry Buster

Since I already have identified specific uses with most of my pantry canned items, I had another look at what else is currently stocked in the pantry. After taking inventory, I discovered we have one can of baked beans, 3 cans of sockeye salmon and 1 can of pineapple chunks.

A few of these items had expiration dates that had long since passed. When I had volunteered at a food bank, I learned not to be too bothered by this since the cans were in good shape.

If you want to evaluate your pantry, feel free to reference this guideline from FoodPrint.  

Sockeye salmon options:

Baked beans options

Pineapple chunks options

So without further ado, here are our top 5 choices from this experiment to seek out the best canned food recipes. 

#5 – Salmon Chowder

Given we continue to observe social distancing and staying safe at home, I had to do a number of substitutions on the salmon chowder since I didn’t have all of the ingredients readily available. 

  • Pantry – canned salmon
  • Fridge – mushrooms, onions, sour cream, bacon drippings 
  • Freezer – peas, homemade beef broth

You’ll be surprised how chunky and warming this dish came out. Yields 8-10 servings and it goes great with some crusty home-made sourdough bread… yet another culinary adventure!

There are many ways to substitute to make this more pantry-friendly, such as:

  • canned mushrooms
  • canned peas
  • spam
  • evaporated milk

Okay, next up….

#4 – Beef and Bean Meatloaf

Using this recipe from Food in a Minute as a jumping off point, I took into account what other items we currently have stocked in the house, substituting where applicable and supplementing based on preferences:

  • Pantry – baked beans, dried portobello mushrooms, panko bread crumbs, sugar, seasonings, BBQ sauce, zacusca and rice (side dish)
  • Fridge – celery, onions, eggs, bacon and homemade pickled carrots
  • Freezer – ground beef, garlic and peas (side dish)

Without over-handling, this came together as a fairly wet mixture and in retrospect, I would add more panko bread crumbs and eggs for binding. I pan-fried a teaspoon of the mix and adjusted the seasoning. Then, I turned the mixture into two loaf pans.

This made two loaves, which is enough for 16 servings.

Even though Andrew doesn’t mind eating the same meals over and over again, I prefer to vary things up. So the meatloaf made various incarnations: as a sandwich, quesadilla, fritter or served with rice, french fries or mashed potatoes.  

 

#3 – Caribbean Salmon Cakes

After scanning the pantry and refrigerator. I was missing some ingredients for the creole salmon cakes and had to substitute. This also makes for a completely different recipe, so here is my modified version, now renamed “Caribbean Salmon Cakes”.

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients:

2 7.5 ounce cans salmon, Alaskan, wild caught
1 cup Japanese mayonnaise (Kewpie)
1 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup spring onion, minced
1 carrot, peeled and minced
2 teaspoons brown mustard
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon Sunny Caribbee Jerk spice seasoning
1 teaspoon garlic powder
extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

Drain salmon and set aside. In a large bowl add minced vegetables, all the spices, mayonnaise and mustard, mix well. Fold in salmon and panko bread crumbs.

Form into 4 patties or you could make appetizer size if desired.

Heat about 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat, add patties in brown for about 4-5 minutes per side until nice and golden brown.

Finish in the oven 350 degrees for 10 minutes.

Served hot with cilantro scallion rice

#2 – Spicy Pineapple Linzer Cookies

I really wanted to bake a traditional Taiwanese pineapple cake, especially since I’m Taiwanese. It’s the national symbol of Taiwan and of good fortune, as the word “pineapple” in Chinese means “prosperity arrives.” Unfortunately, I really don’t like it because it’s dense and dry.

Carrot cake was another option, except Andrew is generally not a fan. As for pineapple cocktails, I am over fruity drinks having consumed a few watermelon mojitos each day (and every day) for the past couple weeks.

Note: I will recycle and upcycle ingredients until we’ve extracted every last ounce of nutrition. There’s no waste in this household! 

So, then I came across an interesting recipe from Saveur magazine. The Spicy Pineapple Linzer Cookie is an elevated cookie served at Te Company in New York City that pays homage to the Taiwanese pineapple cake.

The recipe called for the following ingredients:

  • Pantry – pineapple, flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, vanilla, hazelnut flour, lime
  • Fridge – butter, eggs, yuzu kosho (spicy citrus chili and garlic spread)
  • Freezer – rosemary

For this recipe, I made a few modifications, including:

  • halved the recipe
  • switched pistachio for hazelnut
  • modified yuzu kosho paste
  • switched Meyer lemon for lime zest
  • switched pink Himalayan Salt for Maldon Sea Salt

Otherwise, the recipe is identical and delicious! Yields 3 dozen cookies and the perfect accompaniment with a cup of tea, with its buttery, zesty and spicy bite.

 

#1 – Condensed Milk Chocolate Chip Cookies

The beauty of this recipe for condensed milk chocolate chip cookies is the fact that – perhaps with the exception of butter – everything is shelf-stable. It can also be argued that you can source canned butter, in which case the whole recipe is shelf stable.

Andrew has quite the sweet tooth, so I am pretty pleased that we have an option for baking while underway that doesn’t require eggs or milk. This makes about a dozen 3-4″ cookies, that are soft and chewy, with a tender crumb.

  • Pantry – flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, corn starch, salt, light brown sugar, condensed milk, vanilla extract, chocolate chips
  • Fridge – butter
  • Freezer – n/a

Andrew and I work in the same office at home. Most days he is taking conference calls while I quietly type up content for the website or update the bullet journal. The day after these cookies were baked, he brought the Tupperware containing the remaining 8 or 9 of these bad boys and proceeded to eat them one by one.

At one point, I overheard him talking with his mouthful of cookies and I turned and look at him, whispering, “Are you going to eat all of them?”

Deer in headlights.

He nodded and continued his conference call. Suffice it to say, these cookies were a hit. I may add slightly more salt next time to round out the flavor profile. The crumb is certainly tender and stays moist even going into our 3rd day of keeping them at room temperature.   

All-Pantry Meals

We hope you’ll have a chance to try out these canned food recipes. We had a lot of fun experimenting with them and riffing on the ones published. 

Other cruisers have shared their strategies for cooking and provisioning canned food meals. Thanks again to them who have forged a way ahead of us to develop these survival skills while sailing the high seas. These include:

When we consider provisioning when we move aboard, we may tinker with some of the ingredients suggested by Epicurious to create all-pantry meals , much like the condensed cookie recipe. I am also inspired by Behan from Sailing Totem to experiment with canning meat for long passages because our fishing skills have not yet been tested. 

Now that’s a sea foodie challenge. 

Reading Time: 5 minutes

In the final part of our tour of s/v Rachel J Slocum’s interior, we conclude the downsizing process that began with 30-weeks to minimalism. When it comes to the rest of the living space aboard s/v Rachel J Slocum, we will bring the “bear minimum” aboard because we need to leave room for spares. And we have no idea where Bill has the spares stored or how much if it is there is!

That will be one of the priority tasks when we visit Ft Lauderdale again. 

Saloon

Starting from the starboard side, this space is comprised of a long settee that can be pulled out into a double berth. Bookshelves line the starboard side of the saloon and as well as the starboard side of the owner’s cabin. As far as books, we will bring along sailing, cooking, writing, philosophy and climbing. Works of fiction will be stored in a Kindle. 

At center, the Lugger engine is concealed under the table, which can slide away allowing 360 degree access. 

On the port side, the saloon features a recessed liquor cabinet and wine storage between the two club chairs,

Throughout, many of the hatches allow easy access to the electrical wiring which Bill designed and installed himself during this vessel’s construction, which occurred over 3 1/2 years in southern Taiwan.

Desk / Main Nav Station

The desk is located forward of the club chairs on the port side. It includes a variety of instrumentation, while the remainder is located at the nav station which is adjacent to the companion way on the starboard side. 

Desk / main nav station

Other cruisers have shared ways to stay in touch, including:

Sea nav station

We will also be bringing computer and electronics to serve a few purposes:

  • back-up navigational tools (iPad with waterproof case)
  • storing sailing log/maintenance records/living expenses
  • generating website content
  • VOIP communication 

There is a tall, vertical nook next to the nav station where all the nautical charts were stored. We might repurpose this living space by creating pull-out, sliding shelves.  

V-berth

The fore cabin doubles as a workshop and sleeping area/stowage. In the brief visit we had opening drawers, I was overwhelmed at how each available space was taken up with spares, spares and more spares. The Voyager’s Handbook suggests leaving 1/4 to 1/3 of stowage for spares. We aren’t taking much because everything else is for the boat, to maintain her operations and keep us safe.

 

Spares, spares and more spares! Even the seat in the aft cabin has spares!

Everyday Tools

We captured some of the advice from youtube channel sail followtheboat, who provided the top 10+ everyday tools needed aboard a sailboat. These include:

  1. Socket set (imperial and metric)
  2. Marlin spike
  3. Screwdrivers (flat and Phillips, differing lengths)
  4. Multimeter
  5. Electrical kit (wire stripping, black & red tape, terminals, crimping gun)
  6. Torches/flashlight – 12V spotlight, work lamp (portable and rechargeable), headlamp (white and red lamp), diver’s torch
  7. Cable ties or zip ties
  8. Adjustable wrench (keep lubricated with WD40)
  9. Multitool
  10. Sailor’s knife with blunt end, serrated, rust proof, bright handled 

Out Chasing Stars offers their perspective on not just which tools but how to store them in their post Tools for Cruisers

I don’t envy Andrew’s task ahead of him, as he needs to evaluate what he brings from his tool box in comparison to what Bill already has stocked aboard RJ Slocum for specific boat use. 

Marine life

As we choose items that we take with us, we have become acutely aware of the impact salt water, sun and humidity could have on each item.

For humidity, we will be investing in Eva Dry Wireless or Probreeze dehumidifers as suggested by Marga while she gave a tour of her boat Dogfish, a Kelly Peterson 44 on the youtube channel s/v Adventurer.

Sunbrella will be the fabric of choice for tenting our boat as well as for fabrics used for the upholstery, cushions, etc. to help minimize damage from the sun and salt water.  

Corrosion is also a big factor, so we can’t be cavalier and buy just anything, we have to check for whether it is stainless steel, etc.

Finally, there is also the issue about creepy, crawlies. Living closer to nature sometimes means living closer to bugs, so we’ll need to address our habits when it provisioning food (bugs can nest in cardboard, so we will need to process/sanitize everything before it is stored on the boat), Mosquitoes love me. Andrew? Not so much. So we’ll need to figure out what sort of netting or screens exist or are required on the boat.

 

Circa 2017. Our climbing gear has doubled in quantity since then! Luckily harnesses, webbing and caribiners can be repurposed for sailing.

Rest of the living space

Because we are using this live-aboard home to sail around the world, we also want to make sure we are able to bring other items that contribute to living life beyond the boat. These include:

  • climbing gear
  • snowboard gear
  • longboards
  • folding bikes 
  • provisioning gear
  • knitting supplies
  • snorkeling
  • fishing
  • electronics – communications (headset), others

The sooner we get back to Ft Lauderdale, the sooner we can sort out the living space and develop a strategy. We’ll provide more updates, so check back here after our sea trial. 

 

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Sea Foodie

In the 4th part of our 30-weeks to minimalism series, we tackle the galley. Once again, we will need to think critically about what items are used daily and can still serve us in the future aboard a sailboat. Being a foodie (and now a “sea foodie”) makes this a greater challenge, as we have accumulated many tools and equipment to make our lives easier when it comes to preparing delicious meals and entertaining guests. For example, I don’t think the sous vide will be coming along nor the German crystal stemware or the Turkish wine flask or the French hand-blown glasses…

The list goes on and on. 

The galley of RJ Slocum

Features

When Bill’s wife took me through the galley, one of her favorite features was the layout. Notice how the cleaning, prep and cooking stations face toward the saloon. This is pretty awesome while on a mooring ball, and we want to entertain guests down below. 

What other features make this a good layout

  1. Can the cook be thrown across the boat?
  2. Plenty of ventilation
  3. Are the “hot” and “cold” areas logical?

I will take each of these points in turn below.

Can the cook be thrown across the boat?

As you can see from the picture above, when the cook is preparing a meal sink, prep area, stove and access to hatches is contained within a U-shaped galley. There is also a strap in the even that there is forward-motion roll. The stove is gimbaled athwartship which means when the cook needs to take something out of the oven, there is less surprise or spillage when removing hot items. 

Plenty of ventilation

When it comes to ventilation, note that the galley is located just as you step down from the companionway. There are also 3 hatches/portlights and fans positioned over the stove to direct airflow out of the boat. The “sea foodie” in me appreciates all the attention to detail when it came to this boat’s design.

Are the hot and cold areas logical?

Refrigeration is located on the starboard side, recessed into the countertop and positioned in the outer permitter of the boat, meaning closer to the surrounding water which will naturally cool it. So once the refrigerator is cooled by the Sea-Frost engine refrigeration (hydraulic) to cool the refrigerator in the galley and the cockpit, food stays cold longer.

Port side lazarette contains a Seafrost refrigerator

Does it spark joy?

Despite being a sea foodie, I am not particularly attached to the cookware, place settings or appliances we have. Don’t get me wrong… I invested quite a few pennies on Le Creuset, Riedel, Breville along with the various Crate & Barrel, William Sonoma and other brand name kitchen and dining items.

If it’s gonna break, rust, takes up too much space, we’re gonna ditch it all. Instead, we’ll invest in squared off containers whether plastic or glass for storing provisions, stacking pots/pans such as Magma and unbreakable, multi-use items.

Perhaps the only thing that will survive is the Cuchen, because she talks to us. On second thought, maybe also the cast iron pan, the Bialetti moka espresso pot and the Laguiole flatware. These days, Andrew’s daily afternoon coffee is coming from a French press, so I guess that will come too.

Once we get to Florida, we’ll reassess and buy what we need from a local restaurant supply store , along with whatever items Bill and his wife found useful. 

 

Galley Storage

During our first trip to check out s/v Rachel J Slocum, I couldn’t retain all the information about the galley. Bill’s wife showed me how she had stored and used each of the hatches, but I didn’t bother with measuring out the space. I suppose I was less invested in kitchen and dining products than I am with clothes. 

So once again, I will turn to examples from cruisers who are willing to share their insights such as:

As for provisions aboard RJ Slocum, there are two deep pantry drawers measuring 12″ width x 31″ depth x 12.5″ height, for about 5.3 cubic feet of space. We will tackle this subject in more detail in our upcoming post on Canned Food Recipes where we explore culinary adventures in pantry meals, thus embracing all things sea foodie.