Thursday, 5 June 2014

Skeg Bolts and Fresh Fish.

Greetings! It is tempting to go to bed (midnight and the boat is quiet .. most people would call it a night at this point) but I so love the idea of a sending a little dit to read over your morning coffee, that I decided to stay up a bit longer to write to you :)

We continue at anchor in Hatiheu. I thought our stay would be much shorter than this (after all, the other kid boats left a few days ago), but for various reasons, we are still here. We will likely stay at least through tomorrow, and then move on to the main town (Taiohae) to re-provision a bit and then head out of the Marquesas.

Benjamin is 6 months old today. In addition to marvelling that a half-year has gone by since he was born (wow!) it is also time for his six-month jabs. By a lovely coincidence (I love "coincidences"!) the husband of the family who has befriended us is also the local "infermier" (nurse - ex-military, to boot!) so he offered to give Benjamin his vaccinations for me. Even though our conversations are a little stilted, I definitely like his style - when I came yesterday and found out that I needed not one, but two, jabs, he suggested that I come back today so that Benjamin would only get one needle at a time :) This is my preferred approach, but I would have been reluctant to impose a second visit on someone (especially when he was going on holiday today), and was glad when he offered. As for Benjamin, he seemed none the worse for his two pokes, and now his jabs are up to date.

This same gentleman (along with his brother) took Max fishing yesterday afternoon. If this were a high-traffic tourist center, we probably wouldn't have paid the going rate for such an excursion, as they could easily have priced it out of our range but they simply took him to do the fishing they were planning to do anyway as a gift of hospitality. Within the space of two hours, they trolled underway (using handlines similar to ours), fished for deep-water bottom fish (200 ft - they used lines weighted with pieces of rebar and had a motorized gizmo to bring one of them up [our host had the motorised downrigger - I did it hand over hand. Max]- the only mechanized thing on the boat (ie no radio, no GPS, etc)) and fished a third way that escapes me at the moment [jigging with rods close to the rocky headland] ! They left in the late afternoon, and Max came back just at sunset. His share of the catch was two huge fish, one of which was a mean looking red thing that we enjoyed for dinner tonight :) We had a quick look in our fishing book, but I am not sure what they were. Thankfully, his host is the local expert on ciguatera, so regardless of what kind of fish it was, we know that it was OK to eat!

Today was the day we declared war - on the bugs in our boat, that is. We have had some unwanted guests since sometime after Christmas when we returned to the boat from the Condo. Thankfully, we have not had the big bugs that shared the Mexican condo with us, but we seem to have a variety of their smaller cousins - about 3/4" long and similarly nocturnal. We have been trying the "squish-em-as-you-see-em" approach, combined with clove oil and little pots of boric acid mixed with icing sugar here and there, but we have been losing ground. A couple of nights ago, we had a couple of land-lubber bugs (probably 2" long by 3/4" wide) follow us back to the boat (I think they came either on our friends' small boat or our kayak (one was still on the kayak when we went to hoist it for the night - we sent him for a swim!)). Seeing these giant critters galvanized me into action, so I asked for a recommendation in the local shop. I came back with a bottle of suitably poisonous powder and now have to figure out how to sprinkle it where they like to go, without getting it on food surfaces. Not easy. My first experiment is to cover the kitchen counter with foil, then with powder, sprinkle sugar in the middle to attract them, and see what happens by morning. I keep reminding myself that these are all God's creatures who will eventually not live on my boat (they must have some redeeming qualities ...) and that there are worse pests!

Also in the category of one more thing ... this time on the maintenance front, Max dove on the boat today to clean check the hull and found that a couple of bolts that hold the skeg foot / rudder mount in place had come loose. These were removed and reset in Mazatlan in the fall, so it is a bit of a mystery why they should have loosened off. He tightened one today and we (ie he!) will keep watching them and tightening them as necessary until we can do something more permanent. Our mechanic in Mazatlan made a special tool for this, so Max will see what he can jury-rig tomorrow. This little discovery trumped the hike we were hoping to do today, so now we are thinking that we might do it tomorrow morning and then do boat-work/school in the afternoon.

On the school/kid front, Victoria has started a knitting project, and is making good progress, although this seems to have trumped the "write-up" that she was going to do on our bread baking "experiment". I chuckle each time she does something like this - the last segment of Language Arts (that kind of got overtaken by events and lack of internet) was on "informational reading". It is fun to watch her read the pattern (which is basically written in code) and translate it into the stitches she makes with her very capable hands. I felt the same way watching her decipher the "Rainbow Loom" instruction book, and then teach Johnathan how to make the crafts. As for Johnathan, he just finished reading "Where the Red Fern Grows" and loved it. Now he wants to live near the woods and keep a hunting dog :)

The kids and I had had a fun evening last night. After dinner, I started singing "Tomorrow" to Benjamin, but replacing the words with "Manana" and the chores I would do "manana". Victoria wanted to know the real words to the song. The end result was that we watched "Annie" together - it had enough singing, chase scenes, and kids-getting-the-best-of-grownups humour to keep both of them happy (and Johnathan stayed still long enough for me to comb some of his hair).

For the curious, a few food notes ...

We have joined the ranks of tropical cruisers with dozens of bananas all ripening at once on our transom - today I made Mom's chocolate zucchini (banana) cake with a dozen of them, and didn't even make a dent in our supply! Supposedly Marquesans love chocolate, and I stocked up on chocolate chips before leaving Mexico, so we will take one of the loaf cakes into our "family" in the morning. I still have almost an entire stock to use, and we can only handle so much baking, so I may try my hand at banana jam (recommendation of our local host).

I have used the last of my Mexican eggs. As it turns out, I used them the *last* time I did some baking earlier this week. Today when I float-tested each one before cracking it, they *all* floated (two entire flats of eggs!) The funny thing was that even these eggs provided some entertainment value. I asked the kids to throw them overboard for me. Thinking like a busy grownup, I assumed one of them would stand at the side of the boat and dump them all at once. Of course, this is *not* what they did. First Johnathan and then both kids created several different games, all of which were variations on seeing who could throw/catch/smash in mid air the two flats of eggs one at a time. They had great fun, and it was a joy to hear their self-generated laughter wafting down from the upper deck. {For the pantry record, I left Mexico with seven flats of 30 eggs each (six that I had bought and one that was given to me by someone who cancelled their trip after provisioning). Due to seasickness, rolly seas and general laziness/lethargy, I turned them less frequently than I should have (should be 2x/week), and stored some of them in the microwave (no airflow, but at least they weren't going to get scrambled on my belongings!), and used them more slowly than I had planned (we didn't either eat eggs or bake on passage nearly as much as I had expected). If I were doing the passage again, I would bring the same number of eggs. They are much cheaper (and easier to find) in Mexico than here, they are compact, and they are easy to cook. In total my eggs lasted somewhere between 6 weeks and two months without refrigeration. Not perfect, but not bad :) }

On the bright side, we finally have some baguettes on our boat! We missed them on Saturday. There were none to get on Sunday. They didn't come in as planned on Monday (or Tuesday morning), but they finally arrived this afternoon [and we got the last ones in the village]. They were very yummy with our fish-and-potatoes supper :)

Anyway, there is the good, the bad, and the ugly of a "day in the life". We are in a beautiful location, visiting and meeting friendly people, and like any family anywhere, there are aspects that test our sense of humour!

I hope you are well, and enjoyed your little taste of our life with your morning coffee :)

Much love,
Elizabeth
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At 6/2/2014 9:08 AM (utc) Fluenta's position was 08°50.00'S 140°05.00'W
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At 6/2/2014 9:08 AM (utc) Fluenta's position was 08°50.00'S 140°05.00'W

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1 comment:

  1. Your efforts were very much appreciated as I check your blog each day for new entries. Thanks Tim & Kathy Goddard.

    ReplyDelete

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