'Til the butter melts

Pursuing the cruising dream in 32' of sailing ketch


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January – The Month in Numbers

It’s that time once more!  

We’re tucked (tightly!) into the anchorage in Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, Florida now. The weather here in the Keys is sublime; upper 60’s at night, upper 70’s to low 80’s in the day and horrifyingly sunny, with more boats and cool folks than you can wrap your head around. With that in mind, we’re staying put for a few weeks, it looks like. We may even get a mooring in another week or so – there’s a waiting list 41 boats long!  
Now that January is behind us, we take a peek at the events (and expenses) that kept the crew and the boat happy during our month’s travels.

Here, presented in no particular order, are some numbers that I found interesting from the month of January, 2017 or – where so noted – since we left Rockland In August. Enjoy!
1 – Number of refrigeration system “failures” – corrected by a good cleaning of the condenser coil!

*5 – New species of wildlife we’ve seen this month

4 – the number of locks Sionna rode (14’ up, 13.5’ down) while crossing the Okeechobee Waterway from Stuart to Fort Myers Florida.

2 – sets of cheap new snorkel gear purchased. We’re in the Keys, Mon!

8- Nights in port in January

23 – Nights at anchor (free!) in January

166 – Days since leaving Rockland

89- Days underway since leaving Rockland

10- Days underway in January

24 nm (nautical miles) (27.6 statute) – Average miles covered per day underway
1303 nm (1498 sm) – Miles from Rockland in a straight line.

156 nm (179 sm)- Miles covered in a straight line in January

2134 nm (2454 sm) Miles actually sailed/motored from Rockland

**184nm (211 sm) – Miles actually sailed in January
13.5 gal. – Diesel fuel purchased in January

141 gal – Diesel fuel purchased since leaving Rockland

***13.6 nmpg (15.6 smpg) – Sionna’s average fuel consumption in January

15.1 nmpg (17.4 smpg) – Sionna’s average fuel consumption since leaving Rockland


****$578.70 – Provisions purchased (Now includes booze, as separating that out was embarrassing. The Keys are EXPENSIVE!)

$19.12 – Coffee/pastries purchased (which comes with Wifi!)

$225.29 – Dining out. Sometimes… you need to.

$15.91 – Propane for cooking since leaving Rockland

$0.00 – charcoal for heating the cabin (It’s been warm!!)

$91.77 – Boat parts purchased in January

$16.01 – boat maintenance supplies

$153.38 – Mooring/slip/dinghy dockage fees for January

$325.77 – Diesel purchased since leaving Rockland

282 amp/hours – amount of solar electricity produced in January

*Tarpon, Rosette Spoonbill, Sea Turtle, Frigate Bird, White Ibis, Catfish(caught & released!)

** This is about ½ the mileage we clocked in December. We’ve arrived!

*** Down slightly – less help from the wind.

**** Includes food, toiletries, paper products, booze, etc. 
Want to know what it would cost YOU to live this glamourous lifestyle?  

The answer is – “It depends”!

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December – The Month in Numbers

It’s that time again!  We’re snuggled into the anchorage in Fort Myers, Florida, the weather is generally warm (though today it’s 60 degrees and blowing stink), and we’re staying put for a few days. Now that December is history, let’s look back at the milestones and expenses – both routine and non – that marked Sionna’s progress toward warmth and sun. 

Here, presented in no particular order, are some numbers that I found interesting from the month of December, 2016 or – where so noted – since we left Rockland In August. Enjoy!


1 – Number of collisions with errant boats suffered by Sionna, causing significant but easily repaired damage to her mizzen boom. (Hint: Avoid marinas!)

1 – Number of mechanical breakdowns that required quick thinking, nerves of steel, and anchoring in the MIDDLE of the channel on the Intracoastal Waterway.

14 – Nights in port in December

17 – Nights at anchor (free!) in December

135 – Days since leaving Rockland

79- Days underway since leaving Rockland

22 – Days underway in December

24.7 nm (nautical miles) (28.4 statute) – Average miles covered per day underway


1216 nm (1398 sm) – Miles from Rockland in a straight line.
331nm (381 sm)- Miles covered in a straight line in December

1950 nm (2243 sm) Miles actually sailed/motored from Rockland

*493nm (567 sm) – Miles actually sailed in December
40.1 gal. – Diesel fuel purchased in December

127.5 gal – Diesel fuel purchased since leaving Rockland

**15.3 nmpg (17.6 smpg) – Sionna’s average fuel consumption in December

13.9 nmpg (16.0 smpg) – Sionna’s average fuel consumption since leaving Rockland


***$376.77 – Provisions purchased (Now includes booze, as separating that out was embarrasing)

$40.50 – Coffee/pastries purchased (which comes with Wifi!)

$260.00 – Dining out. It was a rough month.

$15.91 – Propane for cooking since leaving Rockland

$0.00 – charcoal for heating the cabin (It’s been warm!!)

$321.50 – Boat parts purchased in December

$345.05 – Mooring/slip fees for December (when we can’t anchor)

$294.04 – Diesel purchased since leaving Rockland

374amp/hours – amount of solar electricity produced in December

* This is more than twice the mileage we clocked in November.

** A 6 mpg improvement from November. We had better winds to help the engine.

*** Includes food, toiletries, paper products, booze, etc.


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“Boats & Booze” – The A to Z Challenge

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I don’t know what it is about boats and alcohol.

I’m not talking about drinking and driving issues, the DUI of the water – that seems to be very rare, at least in cruising circles.  (Day-trippers on powerboats, however, is another matter!)

But there is definitely an undercurrent of thinking/fantasizing/obsessing about and planning for the consumption of such beverages aboard.  Why is that?

They’re called “Sundowners”, or in the words of author/cruiser Bill Robinson’s fractured French, a “chapeau” – a night cap.  It could be anything from splitting a beer before turning in to loosing the cork to the rum bottle, so…

It’s often said that in planning to leave your shore abode for an extended cruise aboard, you should assume that the way you’re accustomed to living on land is the way you’ll live on the boat – your habits, likes and dislikes aren’t going to change overnight just because you’ve changed to a moveable address.
This is valuable information when you’re planning for things like provisioning and touring abroad.  Never liked canned chili when you were ashore? Then don’t expect you’re going to fall in love with it once you leave land behind.  Not much of a hiker? Then chances are you’re not going to be making a 20-mile hike every day to view the Catacombs of Paris and such.

But I think “beverages” is a place where that rule falls down. There is something wonderfully insidious at work after a long passage, or even a long day of sailing. The wind is drying and the sun is hot, the constant motion of the boat has (hopefully) eased as the anchor settles in and the sun dips toward the horizon.  It feels, somehow, luscious and decadent and oh-so attractive to find a sweating glass of rum and coconut water and watch the sunset unfold, for you alone…

The chances are that if you enjoy the occasional drink ashore, you’ll enjoy them even more, and more often, once you’re living on the water. That, and the company of others of similar mind, means you’d better plan for more booze storage than you were originally thinking. Heaven forbid you should run out when the nearest liquor store is 500 miles to windward!

Run & Coconut Water a la Sionna

4 oz. unsweetened coconut water
2 oz. medium rum
2-3 tsp. sweetened condensed milk (to taste)

Mix ingredients together, stirring long enough to
dissolve the milk. Pour over ice (if you have it)
and top with fresh ground nutmeg.
Enjoy!


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What’s for Dinner?

Or breakfast? Or lunch?

There’s something about a nice meal. It just settles the mind and eases the stresses of a day. But the opposite is true as well.  A lousy meal can take a hard day and just make it harder.

Eating ashore is one answer, but with what money? Once in awhile, absolutely, but all the time? This cruise would last about three weeks. The answer is to cook.

I think it’s relatively easy to eat well on shore, particularly if you have some basic cooking skills and the time to use them. (Don’t have time to cook? Here’s a great opportunity to work out your priorities!)  And when I say “Eat Well”, I’m not saying fancy, overly expensive, huge preparation times and $5000 8-burner gas ranges that would launch a hot-air balloon in 3 minutes on a cold day.

No, I’m thinking simple with high-quality ingredients. A fresh salad (lettuce, avocado, tomato, maybe some peppers, a balsamic vinaigrette), a loaf of fresh bread, and two lightly seasoned pork chops on the grill for five minutes a side. Add a glass of Merlot if you wish, and relax: This is that good life.  Can you do that on a boat? Of course.

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But it’s a choice.  Like so many things in cruising, you choose where to spend your energies and time.  You can have a boat with every possible advanced and convenient feature, but you’ll work full time to pay for it or work full time yourself maintaining it if you do. For us, part of the fun of cruising is the two-fold process of hunting/gathering the raw materials for meals, and then experimenting to see what we can create with the relatively limited space and equipment we have available aboard.

(As a reference, I’ve got to put in a plug for a blog and book called The Boat Galley.  Carolyn does the blog, and she co-authored the book (available HERE) with Jan, who also has a blog of her own called Commuter Cruiser.  I can’t say enough good things about these two ladies, who are savvy, charming and helpful to a tee! Check ’em out.)

Mind you, our options will be expanding by a factor of many x 10 when we next take to the water.  2016 will be the first time we’ve had a boat with an actual, honest-to-God gimballed marine stove, the first time we’ve had an oven aboard, and the first time with refrigeration.  Previously it’s been a portable cooler and a Coleman camp stove, plus the propane grill on the rail.  Are we excited? You bet!

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Maine Mussels, al la Keith & Nicki

So where do you get ingredients? Granted you can’t always eat from the bounty of the sea (and no, I’m not telling you where I gathered 25 pounds of fresh mussels in less than 10 minutes without even getting out of the dinghy) but when you can, you learn about “Fresh”.  As in, “it’s-been-ten-minutes-since-these-mussels-left-the-sea-floor” fresh, and “They don’t even know they’ve been harvested yet” fresh.  Difficult prep?  Yeah, it was rough: knock off the barnacles, rinse in salt water, put in a pot and add 3 cups of water, steam 8-10 minutes-just til they open. Eat.

No, feast. Dip in a little melted butter if you’re addicted to butter like I am, or not. If you’ve got some bread to go with, even better.

There seems to be a conception among many folks just considering cruising that you’ll be eating out of cans the whole time, or you’ll be stuck with camp-food the whole time. If that were true I wouldn’t be going cruising.
The reality is that you’re most likely to continue eating – or trying to eat – about the way you do ashore, with a few adjustments. That could be great, but it could also be unfortunate if Haute Cuisine for you has always been a package of pop tarts and a coke. After all, your home is now a traveling kitchen, and every country, region and town has its own culinary speciality.  Why wouldn’t you branch out and explore all those opportunities?

Except chicken-fried anything.  I’m not sure exactly what “chicken-fried” is, but I do know that deep frying is usually what you do to disguise something that isn’t really edible otherwise. Except french fries – I love good french fries.100_4262

Perhaps what I’m really saying here is this: Don’t let the fact that your kitchen (galley) is tiny scare you off from cooking. Wherever you cruise, every single person you meet eats, and most of them cook. Yes, you’ll need to make adjustments for the limitations of storage space and tools (my Kitchenaid mixer stays in the RV while we’re aboard!), but you can cook. You can create amazingly sumptuous meals from the provisions you find along the way in stores, road-side stands and farmers markets, and the simpler and closer to the source you provision, the happier and healthier you’ll be.

And yes, that lobster roll above was the 5th lobster meal in 3 days, when a charter crew handed us a plastic bag with nearly 4 pounds of picked Maine lobster in it, saying “our guests didn’t eat lobster.”  Wow – Pity that. Twist my arm a little…

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Bon Appetite!