Life on a boat is slowing starting to return to a normal. Will it be the same as before the lockdown? Probably not. So it could be even better. Regardless, here’s a look at life on a boat for May 15-21.
New life in the marina
A couple of weeks ago, we saw our first ducklings of the year! This mama is a busy duck with 13-14 fuzzy peepers. And there are two who always separate from the group and thus extra peeping and quacking is required until she wrangles the group back together.
I see them at least a couple times a day as she takes them foraging. She also visits the boats in the marina and they will never starve. They already know which boats have full-time residents.
There is concern among the humans that the eagles are quite aware of their presence. Mama duck has taught them to stay close to boats so it’s harder for predators to swoop down and grab them. So far, it looks like she has only lost one or two.
Long weekend life during a pandemic
Usually, the May long weekend starts our summer boating season. Last year, we were in Seattle with our boating club. Not this year. Non-essential boating continues to be discouraged and many of the little islands and communities still want us to stay away. Not to mention, Seattle (and our Washington friends) are out of the question period until the border reopens.
Instead we did a few projects, Handsome Hubby worked on Saturday and we took it pretty easy.
Life starting to return to a state of normalcy
BC’s COVID-19 numbers are remarkably good right now, so the government started the re-opening process this week. Not only can we start dining in our favourite pubs (with restrictions of course), we can get our growlers filled again!!
And our first fill was Slack Tide Hazy Pale Ale from Taylight Brewing in Port Coquitlam. They continued to sell it in cans during the lockdown. But it just tastes better fresh from a tap. So Tuesday was a happy day when Handsome Hubby brought home our growlers, once again, filled to the brim.
[growler: \ ˈgrau̇-lər \ noun – a container (such as a can or pitcher) for beer bought by the measure]
Overall, we plan to take it slow as things re-open. Even though neither of us are high risk, I really don’t want to get COVID-19 and as a hydro lineman, it’s best Handsome Hubby avoids it too.
But I am going through pub withdrawal so tonight’s dinner planned for our local marina pub is exciting!! We’ve missed them so!!
This and that
Handsome Hubby’s hair finally reached the “must have a haircut stage” of the pandemic. So we charged the clippers and, if I say so myself, we had a successful first try at trimming his hair.
A boat neighbour stopped by one evening to ask “if we knew we had a fish in our kayak”. And it turned out we had a fish in our kayak! Not sure how it got there or what the story was. Other than not being alive, it looked in good condition…
What We Ate
Food continues to be how I judge time these days. Breakfast time. Lunch time. Time to prep dinner. Time to buy groceries.
And on the plus side, I’m noticing an improvement in my cooking skills (for the most part). So, yay for the pandemic?
Prime Rib takeout from Frankie G’s pub!! This was the second time they featured this special during the pandemic shut-down. And it was just as good as the first time!! We were especially impressed with the veggies. Now that may be a weird thing to focus on while eating prime rib. But they were cooked perfectly. Still crispy, lots of flavour and fresh as could be. Not an easy thing to do with take-out.
This was a nice treat – there’s little chance I’ll make prime rib on the boat. I don’t have the inclination nor do I really have the space or tools. That is another thing living on a boat has taught me. I don’t have to do everything here and when we do go out for dinner (or do take-out) make sure it is a treat!
Handsome Hubby went to work Saturday afternoon so we switched things up a bit. I made a lentil soup with leftover rice for lunch – hoping to fill him up for a night on Vancouver’s east side playing with hydro. It wasn’t the best nor the worst – need to do some tweaking yet.
If I’m left to my own devices for dinner, chances are I’ll have a huge salad. Which is exactly what I did. The last avocado was perfectly ripe – half for the dressing and half sliced on top.
We rarely make big breakfasts on weekends. But with some ham needing to be used. I took that and a couple of sweet potatoes and an onion to make a ham hash. And topped with Trader Joe’s Green Dragon Hot Sauce, it was a very good (and filling) breakfast.
Dinner though? In one word – disaster. I tried a macaroni bean stew in the slow cooker. Now I know my slow cooker pretty much only has one temperature – high. Evidently I didn’t take that far enough into consideration because, it was more or less done in 2 hours (instead of 5-6) and by the dinner time, the pasta was mush and the whole things was inedible. Not to mention, I didn’t love the flavours, so I quickly deleted that recipe from my existence! And take-out again!
After a lazyish start to the Monday holiday (and a Tim Horton’s breakfast), Handsome Hubby pulled out the smoker and smoked some pork riblets. I’m pretty sure he’s used the smoker more in 2020 than in the previous two years we’ve had it.
And I love watching him enjoy it. He’s got the wood chips soaking and he’s watching the temperature and making sure everything is cooking evenly. Plus the food is soooo good!! It is definitely a great addition to life on a boat.
There are lots of people are working on bread right now. Me included. I’m also working to improve my knife skills. For most of my life, I’ve just been happy to chop the food into more or less the same size pieces and avoid cutting off any body parts.
So, I was pretty excited to create yam fries that actually look like, well, like fries!! They tasted pretty darn good alongside grilled portobello mushrooms on homemade (by me) burger buns!! Feeling somewhat pioneery. (If the pioneers ate yam fries and portobello mushrooms.)
And if you want to try a new bread recipe, I highly recommend the Hoagie Rolls by a Sweet Pea Chef. I’ve made them both as hoagie buns and burger buns. They just work! If you’re using a propane stove like those on a boat, I recommend rotating them after five minutes, again after another five minutes and then keep an eye on them until done to your liking.
A dock neighbour recently gifted us a package of gnocchi he loves. Coincidentally, I had just found this recipe on-line. Kismet? Maybe. Serendipity? Maybe. A darn good meal? Definitely.
I made some minor changes for our life on a boat. For starters, I subbed a couple of Field Roast Italian sausages to make it meatless (three would be even better). And I used diced tomatoes instead of whole because that’s what I keep on the boat. Since we love spice, I added more to the sauce – basil, oregano, parsley, thyme and red pepper flakes. And finally, I cooked it in my large Le Creuset dutch oven, because I no longer have a 9×13 on the boat- it didn’t fit in my Magic Chef oven.
Both Handsome Hubby and I had seconds and there is a significant amount of leftovers. I somehow missed the “serves 10-12” notation. Normally, I would cut a recipe this size in half for life on the boat. But the leftovers will be delish and we shared some with our neighbour whose generosity started the chain of events that brought this amazing dinner into our lives.
Almost lost in the excitement of the gnocchi lasagna was dessert! My National Days calendar said May 20 was Pick Strawberries Day. Now strawberries are not ready to pick here in southern BC. And even if they were, I probably wouldn’t; it’s not my idea of fun.
Instead, I bought a bag of frozen mixed berries (strawberries were sold out) to make my White Sangria Berry Crumble. It’s an easy recipe that includes a yummy and valid reason to buy white wine.
I wrapped up the week by making hummus for the first time on the boat. When we lived in the condo, I made it regularly using my large Kitchen Aid food processor. A Ninja blender replaced the food processor when we moved onto the boat. And I wasn’t sure how it would work for hummus. Turns out, it works even better than traditional food processor! I need to play around a bit with the recipe – it’s not quite perfect yet but it’s a good start!
Beyond wanting to make hummus for hummus’s sake, I needed it for dinner – Potato, Sausage, Brussels Sprout Bowls (a true comfort food for me). The inspiration came from a recipe I found on BudgetBytes.
Instead of the mayo dressing in the recipe, I used my hummus thinned down with balsamic vinegar, water and lemon. I prefer a hummus based dressing – it’s easy to keep on the boat, makes a great dressing base and I love the flavour it adds to bowl dinners.
Handsome Hubby’s Work Breakfasts & Lunches
Meal prep moved to Monday because of the long weekend. HH’s egg casserole additions this week were: diced onion, spinach, grape tomatoes, mushrooms and my leftover prime rib from Friday’s dinner!
For his lunch, I had a pork tenderloin already cooked and in the freezer. And I made Greek salad – it’s his absolute favourite. It’s so easy – mix some olive oil and red wine/balsamic vinegar with a bit of Dijon mustard and add oregano, garlic, dill, basil, salt and pepper. Then halve grape tomatoes and chop a cucumber and red onion. Mix and add a bit of feta and a few kalamata olives.
Wife on a Boat’s breakfasts & lunches
I ‘m finally back into my steel-cut oatmeal breakfast routine. Recently, I developed a habit (bad or not) of grabbing breakfast at the marina cafe. And with the warmer weather, I’m enjoying avocado, tomato and Trader Joe’s Everything but the Bagel sandwiches. But the oatmeal is healthier, cheaper and in reality easier.
For the most part lunch was leftovers this week. Mostly the lentil/rice soup. Not that exciting but was filling and healthy.
A life without music is no life indeed
When we bought our Tollycraft 37, she came with a CD changer, older car stereo and a speaker switcher. There are four sets of speakers throughout the boat – one set in the v-berth, two sets in the main cabin and one set on the fly bridge. So at any given time, we can have two sets of speakers playing depending where you are.
Our music is almost exclusively digital, so we removed the CD changer. And we changed the older car stereo for one with Bluetooth to stream music through the built-in speakers. Everything was almost perfect, except the speakers on the fly bridge were shot thanks to years of being exposed to the elements.
Then last weekend, Handsome Hubby was in one of this favourite boat shops and found a pair of marine speakers for $50!! They didn’t quite match-up to the existing hole (because why would something be easy on a boat), but after a little grinding and finagling they are installed and we have music on the fly bridge!
Heat exchangers, risers and gaskets
As part of our ongoing saga with the cooling on the new port engine, HH removed one of the gaskets from the exhaust system. The thought (and hope) is that the install and reinstall of our exhaust system last year damaged a gasket.
And of course, the one that may be damaged requires a small amount of contortionism to get around the engine and access it. So HH started by removing the easy access one, so he could purchase the right size for our exhaust system.
The real fun starts this weekend when he replaces the other side.
Digital photo albums
We don’t have printed photos on the boat beyond a few cherished ones. I do have digital “photo frames” which are actual TVs with Chromecast displaying photos. And the photos are all backed up on Google Photos, Amazon Photos and One Drive (perhaps a bit of back-up overkill but hey, better safe than sorry).
But there is something about flipping through a photo album that scrolling through photos on a computer just can’t match.
However, printing photos and putting them in albums isn’t an option for life on a boat. (At least this life on a boat.) Which is why I’m incorporating photo albums into my Good Notes app on the iPads.
It took some time, but I think I figured it out. Using Keynote on the iPad, I created templates using master slides. Once I edit the photos (using the iPad), I simply add them to my Keynote presentation. Once I complete an album (or a section), I export it as a PDF to Good Notes where it looks like a photo album. And the albums are safe in the cloud!
There are other ways this could be accomplished. I tried using In Design and other publisher software but that required using a computer because I can’t find a compatible app for those. And being able to do it on the iPad was important to me – it’s fun to sit in the hammock and play with photos. I also tried PowerPoint which I really wanted to be the solution because it would work on my Windows computer but it just wasn’t as easy as Keynote.
Right now, I’m working on our trip to Mérida from earlier this year. And I’ve started a 2020 album with our day-to-day photos. And with plans to go back to previous years and trips, this is a project that will keep me busy for months.
I have no idea when our next big adventure will be. The border is closed until June 21 (and perhaps longer) so we’ll have no trips Washington anytime soon. I have my fingers and toes crossed that a summer cruise takes place in July and maybe again in early September.
In the meantime, I am looking forward to heading to the pub tonight! And hopefully we can visit HH’s mom and dad soonish.