30 October 2012

One year of cruising!!

Exactly 365 days ago we untied the dock lines in Rock Hall MD and started our cruising adventure on Habibi - with mixed feelings. We left behind so much but even more was waiting for us out there!

Just for the fun of it, let's put it into some numbers:
So far we cruised the distance of 4'500 nautical miles (around 8'300km).
We stopped at around 70 different anchorages or marinas in 10 different countries.
We ran aground 3 times but managed to set us free either with the engine or while waiting for the tide to rise...
We saw winds from almost 0 up to 50 knots and seas as high as 15 feet (5m).
The water temperature climbed from freezing 12.5C up to pleasant 31C.
We published around 135 blog posts and 1'245 pictures on facebook.
And the most amazing number: Marco and I never have been separated more than a couple of hours during the past 365 days!

We've met countless people on the way - amazing, surprising, awkward, generous, odd, open minded, stingy, spontaneous, lazy, chatty, wonderful people. Some of this encounter led into friendship, others did not. But all in all - if there is any kind of emergency (and be it running out of booze) we experienced the cruising folks as very helpful.
As we've already pointed out in various posts cruising life isn't always as sweet as it appears to be and there have been times when we were more then ready to sell Habibi right away! But cruiser's must all suffer from amnesia ;-)

Our minds (and camera's chip) are filled with all the beautiful places we've been able to visit. The reason we stayed in Grenada so long was on one hand Hurricane season and on the other hand some work that had to be done on Habibi. Now the next season is waiting for us and we are READY! Ready to be sailing again, to explore new places and revisit places we've liked. Ready to meet old and new friends. Ready to fish, relax, enjoy - maybe even sipping on a cocktail while watching the sunset on the beach...
Stay tuned for new adventures on Habibi!

With love from paradise
Marco & Rahel

29 October 2012

Project: Fuel polish

Those of you who know Marco personally most probably are aware that he likes to research a lot - mostly about boats at the moment of course ;-) He is regularly checking forums and technical sites in the web to inquire and is reading in the books we brought over. When we bought Habibi we still lived thousands of miles apart and we couldn't do work on the boat ourselves. So Marco spent most of his free time reading and learning about maintaining a boat - I didn't always like it back then... but I'm even more happy he did today! It gives him the ability to fix problems or improve a system on his own. Imagine we'd to call a "specialist" every time we're facing a problem!

For quite some time he had this idea of assembling a "fuel polish system". He explained it to me but to be honest - I couldn't really picture it. He ordered the parts: a filter, a pump, a switch and some rubber pipe. I still didn't see how that would work. He needed a box and our friend built one according to the instructions given. NOW I understood!
It's actually simple once you've seen it. And brilliant. We can use it either to filter diesel before it goes into our tank (you suck it out of a jerry can, it goes through the filter and then into the tank) or we can use it to clean the diesel that's already in our tank. On the sucking end there is a long copper pipe mounted that allows to reach till the bottom - that's where the residues are hidden.
OK you might ask yourself now why all this hassle, money and waste of storage place? First, you don't want to clog your engine because of dirty fuel. This usually doesn't happen in a quiet anchorage but in high seas while drifting onto some cliffs! Second, to prevent that you can hire "specialists" who come to your boat with their fuel polish equipment (usually it's old, dirty, worn out and incomplete) and ask a lot of money for it.
So Marco thought it is good invested money as we could even use the filter as a spare for the engine. I think my husband is a genius!

filtering fuel before it goes into our tank

filling the tank with "clean" diesel

checking the filter for some residue

fuel polish system in action

With love from paradise

26 October 2012

homemade Callaloo Soup

Five months in Grenada and so many things I've postponed to the last minute. Like for example to cook a Callaloo Soup! Callaloo is a local vegetable, comparable to spinach, and an ingredient of many local dishes here in Grenada. I tasted Callaloo soup twice in restaurants, once it was average and once amazingly yummy. So finally I gave it a try and you know what? It turned out to be so easy and so good!

That's how Callaloo grows

Here's how I cooked it:

Ingredients (serves about 6):
1 lb Callaloo (I guess it would work with chinese spinach or swiss chard as well) 
1 selery stalk
1 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic gloves, chopped
1/4 tsp Thyme
1 sweet pepper, chopped
1/2 lb ocra, sliced
1 liter (4 cups) vegetable stock
1 can coconut milk, shake well before open it
salt and pepper to taste

Wash all vegetables thoroughly. Heat some olive oil in a pot, cook onions until soft. Add selery, pepper, ocra, garlic, thyme and the cut Callaloo. Cook and stir until Callaloo reduces its volume. Add stock and coconut milk and bring to a boil. Then cover and reduce heat. Let it simmer until all vegetables are soft, about 30 - 40 min. Puree soup with a stick blender (how I love my new toy!). Season with salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!

 cook and stir all vegetables until Callaloo reduces volume

add stock and coconut milk, bring to boil, let simmer 30-40min
With love from paradise

24 October 2012

Fruits n' critters

Do these fruits and veggies not look clean and fresh?
I prefer to buy produce fresh from the market or the local stores. They usually sell what's in season and I believe that it never was treated with any pesticides. The basket full of healthy goodies you see in the picture got the same treatment as all the fruits and veggies I bought on our trip: they immediately get tossed in a bath of water with some vinegar and little bleach. I learned before we started our cruise that one should do that to prevent getting any bugs on board. So far I never saw anything else than some dirt floating in the water. Not today - in front of my eyes the water started to be alive. And I finally knew why I was doing this procedure! If I had skipped the washing cycle our Habibi would be populated by some ants and other critters by now... no bueno!
Maybe you find this disgusting and ask yourself why I didn't throw the whole stuff over board? To be honest this thought shortly hit my mind. But nothing survives bleach, right? (I was VERY generous with it today!) And when I recalled all the places where we've eaten and bought our food on our journey and count the times we got sick (almost zero) I thrust aside this thought and kept the fruits. They are too good to be wasted!

With love from paradise

19 October 2012

Rainin' in paradize

Today it's rainin - welcome to paradize!
 Lyrics by Manu Chao


With love from paradise

11 October 2012

Project: Rebedding chain plates

It was always on our to-do list to rebed the chain plates but we had all kind of excuses - too hot, too wet, too busy, too lazy, too afraid as we have to touch the rigging - you name it! But now that we're counting days till we'll leave the dock we really have to work on our job list that we'll have more time to enjoy the anchorages and places we are going to visit. So, no excuses anymore and bow to the inevitable!

The reason why we wanted to rebed the chain plates was not because they were leaking. Touch wood, so far they were perfectly dry. But as on our Island Packet we have the chain plates built into the hull you really REALLY want to prevent them of getting any moisture. It's very strong but IF there was a leak it could easily cost a fortune to fix the damage!! Therefore better to do the job because you (sort of) WANT to do it than you HAVE to do it. We'll demonstrate step by step of what we did:

Removing the cotter pin

Loosen the rigging turnbuckle

Remove cotter pin and clevis pin of the shroud

Chain plate with deck plate still screwed on

For protection of the wood application of some blue tape

Unscrewing of deck plate

Prying off the deck plate with a cutter

Chain plate with the old caulk

Deck plate needs to be cleaned properly

Removing of the caulk with instruments like a screwdriver

Caulk removed as good as possible

Caulk residues and tools to work with

Final cleaning with an abrasive cleaning pad

Wiping the gap thoroughly with Acetone
The new sealing ready in its caulk gun

Rebedding the chain plate with the sealing

Putting the deck plate back in place

Removing of excess with a plastic spatula
Derosted shrout as good as new - just needs some final cleaning

Now the fun part starts - tuning the rigging!
Did we mention that we actually have eight! chain plates to rebed?

With love from paradise

10 October 2012

CAUTION: nothing for sensitive natures!

There are some dangers on a boat you might not be aware of enough. Like a fishing rod carelessly stored in the guest cabin (among a lot of other stuff, again...you might remember our post "cleaning the attic"?!).

Marco unfortunately managed yesterday to push a hook with a barb into his finger so deep that we haven't been able to pull it out again. Dinner was just about ready on the table and he wanted to grab the foldable chair... With the conclusion that instead of eating we had to make a trip to the local emergency unit. What turned out to be an adventure by itself! First we called Ralph the cab driver of our trust. As he wanted to prevent us of paying too much he first directed us to the General Hospital, a governmental clinic. Puh, I didn't dare to take a picture but to put it this way - it didn't look very reliable or hygienic... A bunch of people was already waiting outside! and the queue didn't seem to move at all. Ralph went inside to inquire for us. When he came back he just shook his head and made us go back to the car. It looked like we had to wait till midnight for our turn!
So he drove us to the second choice, the private hospital St. Augustine's. What a difference in any respect! First: It looked and smelled like a real hospital. Secondly: There were no people waiting and the nurse had to call the doctor to come to the clinic. Thirdly: We realized that it was going to be much more expensive (guess that's why there were no other patients).

Anyhow we were happy when the doctor, an Indian by the way, appeared shortly after the call and seemed to know what he was doing. He had to anesthetize the finger, cut it open to finally remove the hook and suture it (Sorry, no pictures of that!). Marco almost fainted during the procedure as he'd drank some rum before to numb the pain... Alcohol and anesthetic don't go together well obviously! The doctor recommended to take some antibiotics and it turned out that we had in our medical kit what he was going to prescribe. At least one point where we were able to save some money!

Lessons learned:
- never store a fishing rod with the hook attached OR wrap it so it won't cause any injuries.
- keep some order on a boat so you'll find what you're looking for at one glance (at least TRY it)
- keep the list of your medical kit on your phone in case you need to know its content
- the same applies for the list of vaccinations
- next time don't cut the hook that short - we could've managed to press it through and remove it as the barb was in the right direction - yes, it would need much more rum!

And before you say anything about poor fish or so...Marco is planning already for the next "hunt" -  I guess that's a kind of a boy revenge thing...

With love from paradise

09 October 2012

Sorrel - a taste of Christmas

While I had lunch recently in a local restaurant the juice the waiter highly recommended was "Sorrel". We ordered it just out of curiosity and it was surprisingly tasty - fruity but not too sweet, a little sour and with a spicy twist. But I had no clue of what it actually consisted.

When I examined later the produce section of a little local store I discovered a bag with the label "sorrel cut" on it. I asked a salesperson for advice on how to use it. Her explanation sounded very easy so I decided to buy a bag. But before I started experimenting one question was bothering me:
What is "sorrel" anyway? I researched shortly in the web and found some useful information. When I understand it right then what you can see in the pictures are the calyces and sepals that origine from the plant Roselle, a species of Hibiscus.

So I started the preparation process according to the advice I've got in the store:
First I washed the cut sorrels (approx. 250gr) in cold water. Meanwhile I brought some water to a boil - I didn't measure really but it was around 2 liters. Then I threw the drained sorrels into the hot water, added a stick of cinnamon, around 12 cloves and 4 tablespoons of sugar. This really depends on someones taste. We don't like it too sweet.* Then I covered the pan and let it stay for 24 hours.

Next step was to skim off the sorrels and spices from the tea or juice - I did it with a strainer.

As I then had the feeling that there was still a lot of liquid in the sorrels I additionally squeezed them by hand and could gain some more drops.

The juice tastes best when chilled so I filled it into a bottle and kept it in the fridge for a couple of hours before drinking. Due to the added spices it gives you a taste of Christmas! But nevertheless it is very refreshing and tasty.

From paradise with love

* When I gave a glass of my juice to taste to a Grenadian his conclusion was that according to him it needed much more sugar and his wife would've added some ginger as well. But besides that he seemed to like it ;-)

05 October 2012

Camping in the yard

After a year in the water it was finally time to do some Habibi maintenance on dry land. Which means we needed to sail a few miles to Spice Island Marine for the haul out. It's not just the closest haul out, it's also a very professional one. They have roughly 300 boats on storage and the gear to lift and move boats looks very impressive.

Our task list was not that long: Raising the waterline (see the cleaning the attic post) and a new antifouling. And of course some minor things like cleaning the through hulls, changing zincs and other stuff you just can do while on shore. We hoped to be finish in a couple of days, but hoping is probably the wrong word. We wanted to go back into the water as fast as possible - living on the yard is a nightmare!

I always laugh when people compare boating with camping - they have simply no idea! Habibi is very comfortable and we always "park" our comfortable house in the middle of the "wanna be" places. Usually next to a few multi million dollar yachts. Yes, that's cruising - we share the best spots with the wealthy ones! But while rich people have a captain who watches the work done in the yard poor suckers like us have to do that ourselves. Means we live on the boat while it's in the yard. And quite frankly that's worse than camping!

Imagine, you just can reach your boat with a ladder, several feet above the muddy ground. A yard, even a nice one, is usually hot, dirty and dusty. So you stay now on your boat while the work on the bottom starts. Which means a lot of extra dust. The ground of a marina is dirty, soaked with all the old paint and antifouling. Of couse that mud sticks to your shoes and therefore to your boat. I don't want even guess how toxic that stuff is. Maybe I just could smear some dirt on my hull instead of a 300 Dollar per gallon antifouling? I'm sure it will work but it may be illegal anyway....

So even we live now on higher grounds it's not that elaborated. This corner of the island is well known for mosquitoes AND dengue fever - what a combination. And don't ask, I guess not even Darwin could answer the evolutionary secret why this little bastards survive that spoiled soil!
Besides the fun with the mosquitoes you should know as well that out of the water half of the boat systems are not working: The toilet gets no flushing water, you cannot even run freshwater as the sink drain will pour over the wet antifouling paint. Of course the air condition is cooled with sea water as well. Means we have now cosy 37 degrees Celcius inside the boat. With no wind between the boats this gives a real feel temperature of 80 C or so....at night of course. So going to the restroom at night is actually nice as it is cooler down there - even if it means climbing a ladder in the middle of the night.
Did I mentioned that the fridge is barely cooling as everything is simply too hot and the keel cooled freezer is not working out of the water as well... yes' you're right: Beer needs to be served warmer as usual... What a disaster!
I tell you, that really feels like camping and it just sucks!

But, after all it was worth it - Habibi is back in the water after 3 days on land and she has a brand-new bottom paint. Hopefully it will keep the barnacles away for a loooong time...

this is one of this hated little barnacles - his life is now over!
preparing bottom for raising water line and antifouling
brand new bottom paint
last brush strokes
launch of Habibi