Saturday, August 28, 2010

Inadvertent foot salad

This is crazy. Okay, first of all, we start w olive oil.

To protect my skin, I put olive oil on every day. Especially here, where you can suffer so much skin damage, it's critical. I applied it all over, just this morning.

Then, inspired to take a morning swim to this gorgeous island (see pic), I set out in a straight line to it. Had I taken a chart briefing beforehand, I would have noted the very shallow coral field that lay probably 2 ft beneath the surface, directly between me and the palms.

But even with a briefing (and who, really, is THAT anal), I would not have known that this coral was totally covered w spiny sea urchins, just waiting for passing, swimming, innocent feet to flipper by to lodge their barbed spiny spines into!

Grrr, and ouch. I received three in my toes, which was plenty for me, thanks.

Morning swim done, I went back to the boat, found the remedy for a punctured foot via sea urchin spines on WikiHow, and learned that one simply needs to soak the affected area in vinegar! Go figure.

(I had tried to pull them out w tweezers, but failed in spectacular fashion which I will not detail in this pg rated format).

Thus, today, as part of my exercise, I had an inadvertent olive oil/vinegar salad. Toe, anyone?


I kinda like it when we have leftovers because it requires a bit of creativity!

Last evening, we had leftover pork chops, the remains of the cous cous, the tail end of a bottle of white wine, and half of an onion. So I threw some olive oil in a pan, added onions to caramelize, but before they were close to being done, the pork (now thinly sliced, went into the pan.

I seared it to give them a good solid crisp. But!! What this also does is to create the oniony porky bits that are stuck to the bottom of the skillet.

Those, my friend, you can pull up with white wine! I poured in enough wine, so that when it cooked down a tad I would still have some of this sauce in there.

And, speaking of sauce ... Remember that papaya chili sauce we scored from Jenny on Union Island? I seasoned with a splash of that, S&P, and ground ginger.

In goes the cous cous, stir it up, and that was a completely righteous dinner!

Oh, as a side, I just hacked up a plantain, fried it in olive oil, and made what everyone described as "candy". That would be the healthier candy on Earth.

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Friday, August 27, 2010


I'm sitting beneath this little palm frond umbrella as I type. The wind is about 10 kts and quote cool in this, the only shade on the exposed 30 yd long x 10 yd wide sand spit. How this doesn't just wash away, I don't know.

Mopion is also known as engagement isle, because it's perfect place to pop the question. Normally, beneath the umbrella is found only one thing: a beer opener.

There is coral surrounding Mopion, with an exposed mound of conch shells, probably the same dimensions as this beach. The locals very commonly use conch shells, piled on each other, as a water break. In this case, they have SO many that it is it's own shoal!


These snapper had been caught just a couple of hours before, by Danny the boat vendor and his 14 yr old son. Check the clarity of the eyes -- that's the only way to assess freshness.

We put them in foil, w butter, white balsamic vinegar, thyme, S&P, and a splash of white wine. Once the foil was crimped closed, it went onto the coals for 10 minutes.

Easy. Fresh. Fabulous!

Mugged by Jenny

On Union Island, there's a great collection of produce stands (see pic below), and they are all right beside each other. Each is run by a woman: there's one Jenny, and a slew of vendors named Kathy.

Here's what I learned about the rules of market economics, a la Caribbean. Once you get within earshot of the stands, preliminary marketing tactics begin ("oh, you're looking for me, love" ... Yes, I know, sounds like I could be at a brothel, but I guess guerrilla marketing works just as well for veggies as it does for other things.).

I heard these sirens of produce and, as I got close, Jenny (the woman in the pic) came over and put her arm around me, laughing, chatting about her melons or whatever, turning me so my back was facing her nearest Kathy competitor. Nice move, Jen.

But, I discovered a rule they have. Once you're in someone's clutches, the other vendors give way, retreating to their dens of fruity bags and veg. Jen had me, so Kathy gave way, until Jen made a fatal error, and released her catch to go fetch something from her stand.

At that moment, by instinct, Kathy struck! Pouncing on me with a brochure of Union Island that had her picture in it, she had played the trump card for U.S. tourists -- a visual distraction designed to shut off the thinking portion of the A.D.D. American brain.

Success! With me mesmerized by her lure, she herded me to her stand to sample her tomatoes, fruit smoothies (which were awesome), some limes, and another avocado. The story ends happily for Jen, though, as we purchased ice and her homemade papaya/chili marinade.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Morning coffee

I love my morning coffee. If I don't have another cup all day, it doesn't matter once I've sat and lingered over this first morning Joe.

At home, this ritual is called "couch time" and is great for slowly bringing in the new day. Out here, alas, there is no couch. But I have to say that a boat deck over looking the Tobago Cays, with the occasional passing sea turtle to share it with, is a pretty good substitute.

Today we are heading back south, to Petite Martinique, and this little sand spit called Mopion, which contains nothing but one palm umbrella with one beer opener on it.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Boat stove

This is my little stove. I basically never ever bake anything, because it's dang hot enough already! It lives on a gimbal, which is a pin that let's the whole thing pivot when the boat rocks. Neat. It let's you cook even when it's bouncy.

Tonight is my daughters 17 b'day!! She asked for a dinner of pasta w a kind of bacon tomato sauce that is nothing short of Italian ambrosia. It'll change your world.

I'm heading below after this blog post because my beer will be done (I'm rehydrating, you know, ahem, for my health) and it'll take about an hour to whip this sauce into shape.

Just have to make sure there's plenty for leftovers tomorrow, cause when Walter brings more bread, it's doing a nose dive right into that sauce.

Happy birthday Grace!

Stress wounds

Stress is a self inflicted wound that starts with the prick, jab, or slice of life events that assail us every day.

But the long term consequence, of any challenge that gets inside us, is welter, fester, and sepsis.

But the quiet cadence of the gently rocking boat drains away the stress like cleansing a wound that has been untended too long.

And it is also the lack of a to do list that unknots your stomach and evens your breath. This is what I mean by "self inflicted" ...

We put unreasonable demands on ourselves that create the stress responses in our bodies, which are the very things that make it harder to get your to-do list done in the first place!

Buying Local

This is Walter, who boats out bread, pain chocolat, and baguettes that his wife makes on the main island. He'll also bring you fruit/veg from the stand back on Union Island.

Walter, I think, has always been here, and he was our friend 3 years ago when we were last in the Cays.

Now we know about his family, grandkids, and daily life. He is awesome. Can't wait to try his wife's banana bread!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


This is their hurricane season. Right now. Exactly while we are here.

So why would two otherwise sane individuals choose, on purpose, to sail here ... NOW?? This area is so far south that hurricanes rarely ever hit. Besides Ivan in 2005(?), the last one before that was Jane in 1958.

That said, we are getting significant weather, like 30kts when sailing over to Mayrieu. The reports say that it's going to be like this for the next couple of days at least.

Monday, August 23, 2010

BBQ fail

Meant to BBQ the chicken last night, but the fates conspired against us:
Dropped the dang grill to the bottom, so had to go for an ear popping dive to rescue it.

The folks who provisioned for us did not see fit to include the lighter fluid. Nice. We tried absurd solutions like RUM ("hey, rum will ignite, let's splash some of that on! Duh).

Needless to say, rum soaked coals is not likely to be the next big thing in picnic products. Plus, the steady 10 kt breeze eventually put out our BBQ hopes as well, and sent us under to the plain old stove.

The chicken and potatoes were amazing any way (chicken was just jerked, potatoes made w caramelized onions and sour cream), and the local avocado was delicious as well.


Okay, Tyrrel Bay (the place we stayed last night) was a pit compared to Hillsborough. This place is gorgeous. There's a little spit of land inside this pristine bay called, aptly, Sandy Island. Perfect for stroll or snorkel.

More Lost-like showers last night, that start, deluge for a while and then just stop. The sun comes back out and it's beautiful again.

Sunday, August 22, 2010


Had leftovers last night: jerk fish, bacon wrapped pork loin w goat cheese and mango chutney on top. The gingered carrots were awesome. This morning is yogurt and muslix.

This after noon, though, we are heading across to Hillsborough (a bigger town) where they have a fresh market and can snag a mango and more limes.

Tonight we will break out the grill for the first time ... We'll probably stick some chicken in a marinade some time this morning ... It's too much to decide just yet. Where's my 2nd cup of coffee??

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