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galley jan 2016

Cyclists enjoy friendship and brunch

...5,4,3,2,1 Happy New Year!. I've never been big on New Year's Resolutions although sometimes in a fit of optimism I've made a small promise to myself of something I'd like to achieve in the New Year. Sadly by the time February rolls around my promise was generally long forgotten. So over the past years instead creating resolutions, at 10 o'clock on New Year's Day John and I have been joining a group of friends, thanks the organization of John Stimpson, outside the Friday Harbor Post Office for the annual San Juan Island Commitment Bike Ride.

Initiated in 1983 by a group of keen riders who called themselves the San Juan Cyclists the Commitment Ride was an excuse not to over indulge on New Year's Eve and a chance to get out and do something with friends on New Year's Day while others around the country slept in, watched football games and parades or undertook polar plunges. Throughout the summer the SJC's would regularly train together and enter events such as the STP (Seattle to Portland Classic) along with partaking in fun island activities such progressive dinners by bicycle. In the early years sweatpants were the norm and even though the group gradually transitioned to spandex leggings and flashy bikes their focus was still fun and health. These days the Commitment Ride has taken on a festive flare, its open to anyone and generally the invitation is by word of mouth. Bikes, riders and attire range from spiffy to eccentric and you may even spy some vintage in the mix. The ride occurs rain or shine, frost or snow, and there's been as many as 47 riders and as few as five when a black frost hit.

I was first invited to the Commitment Ride in 2002 after I'd been riding over the summer in training for the island's mini triathlon. As we assembled at the Post Office I felt I'd entered the posse of an elite riding group. It was a serious long ride and even though I'd trained for a few weeks, on my ancient $50 road bike, I had to peddle like mad to keep up and felt the pain of my efforts for many days thereafter. John, inspired by my efforts bought himself a mountain bike thinking we could ride together but as our bikes weren't compatible I left him in the dust. Problem solved as the next Christmas Santa gave me a new mountain bike to match John's.

Eight Commitment Rides later we're still regularly riding together throughout the winter. Between us we now own and embarrassing total of 9 bikes scattered throughout the world and when travelling we rent or borrow bikes whenever possible. It's one of our personal commitments to enjoying life and staying young at heart. Funnily enough as a reward to our hard earned cycling efforts a tasty treat often features along the way.

San Juan Island Cyclists

On completion of the Commitment Ride there's now the fun bonus of gathering at a fellow rider's house to share brunch and stories. It's nothing official although it's evolved that it's the guys who create the dishes. They've become rather experts, often sharing tips on their creations so here's some tasty recipes from an eclectic committed cyclist's brunch.

Orange Pecan Baked French Toast

1 loaf French or multi grain bread - sliced
6 eggs - lightly beaten
2 cups milk
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch salt
½ cup butter - melted
1 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon orange zest
2 tablespoons orange juice
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 cup chopped pecans

Arrange bread, standing up in two rows, in a greased 9x13-inch baking pan. In a large bowl, whisk together next 6 ingredients and pour over bread. Refrigerate overnight. Next day combine remaining ingredients and spread over bread. Bake in a preheated oven at 350°F for 45 minutes. Serve with maple syrup. Serves 6.

Cheese and Sausage Breakfast Casserole

8 bread slices - cut into cubes
1lb spicy pork sausage - crumbled and cooked
1½ cups grated sharp cheddar
10 eggs
2 cups milk (do not use low-fat or nonfat)
2 tablespoons chopped sun-dried tomatoes
1 4oz can mild green chilies, drained or diced fresh chili to taste
2 teaspoons dry mustard
salt and pepper

Arrange bread in a greased 9x13-inch baking dish. Top with sausage and cheese. Beat together eggs, add remaining ingredients and pour over sausage mixture. Let sit a few hours or overnight. Bake in a preheated oven at 350°F for 50 minutes. Serves 8.

Garlicy Hummus

1 15oz can chickpeas
4 garlic cloves - crushed
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup tahini
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper

Drain chickpeas reserving liquid. Mash chickpeas with a potato masher until coarsely pureed. Add remaining ingredients and thin with reserved chickpea liquid to desired consistency. Serve with crackers or crudités.

Rosemary Nuts

1lb raw unsalted nuts - pecans, walnuts, and almonds
2 tablespoons unsalted butter - melted
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
3 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons kosher salt

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper and spread with nuts. Roast 10 minutes, transfer nuts to a bowl. Mix together butter, sugar, rosemary, and salt. Pour over warm nuts, and toss with a wooden spoon. Transfer nuts back onto baking sheet and let cool 30 minutes.

Smoked Salmon Deviled Eggs

8 hard-boiled eggs - peeled
4 oz. cream cheese - softened
2 tablespoons sour cream
4 oz smoked salmon - finely chopped
3 tablespoons red onion - minced
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon paprika
capers and fresh dill for garnish

Slice eggs in half lengthwise and separate yolks. Beat together cream cheese and sour cream until smooth. Mix in egg yolks, smoked salmon, red onion, salt, and paprika. Pipe mixture into egg whites. Cover and chill. Before serving, top each egg half with 3 capers and a dill sprig.

Vegan Apple Oatmeal Cookies

2 cups quick-cooking oats
1 ½ whole wheat flour
1½ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup coconut palm sugar
1 cup almond milk
½ cup unsweetened applesauce
¼ cup melted coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1½ cups grated apple
½ cup chopped walnuts - toasted
1/3 cup raisins

Line baking sheet's with parchment paper. In a large bowl mix together the first 6 ingredients. In a small bowl whisk together next 4 ingredients. Add wet mix to flour mix and stir in remaining ingredients. Drop ¼ cup of dough onto the baking sheet, for each cookie, 2 inches apart. Bake in preheated oven at 350°F for 15 minutes. Store in refrigerator and microwave for a few seconds before serving.

Anchored in one of our favourtie spots, Sturt Bay, on the northern end of Texada Island.

...This month's galley is kindly written by Amanda Cooper who I've yet to meet although I've been following her sailing endeavors through updates from her Mum Beth who featured in January's 2012 Galley Essentials.

Ten years ago my boyfriend Kyle & I met at a bar in Vancouver. After we spilt beer on each other, he invited me to get a new shirt where he was living on his Grandpa Jack's wooden 35' troller, docked down the road at the Plaza of Nations. I stayed there all weekend and it then wasn't long until I moved aboard. The rest is history. We've lived in an attic, apartments on Main Street and have both crewed on various boats together and apart, but now we are back to where it all started, on the dock in False Creek and loving it. I'm a professional photographer and you can view my work at

Currently, we're moored on Granville Island, aboard our Alberg 37, Quartz. When it comes to moorage in the creek, it really doesn't get better than this. We found Quartz in the spring of last year on the Sunshine Coast and it was a quick buy. With a new engine, autopilot, full cockpit enclosure, diesel stove and a full keel she was everything we needed for adventures on the West Coast and beyond. We've since done trips around the Gulf Islands, Desolation Sound & up to Princess Louisa. The lush green British Columbia coast is truly stunning. Even if we sailed up and down this coast for another ten years, we couldn't see all there is to see. Always on the hunt for new nooks to anchor in, you could say we're dedicated to ‘Gunkholing', defined by Wiki as a boating term referring to shallow water cruising, meandering place to place, and spending nights in coves.

We came by this lifestyle naturally, as both of our parents are enthusiastic Gunkholers. In fact, Kyle's dad Ron used to spend the summers on his sailboat anchored in Campbell Bay on Mayne Island, the bay where my Grandma lived for the last twenty-five years. Kyle says he remembers a little water-skier ripping around and disturbing the peaceful sanctuary. That was me! Grandma was a sailor and she and Grandpa spent a season in the Caribbean in the 80's and that she says was the best year of her life. My parents Beth & Norm caught on to the good life too and named their boat, Sarah Jean II, after Grandma. They've sailed to the South Pacific, New Zealand and back, and have now started their own offshore sailing school, Ocean Forest Voyaging.

Due to necessity our mantra onboard is to "Keep it Simple". The Alberg 37 is not known for it's fancy galley. We have diesel stove that isn't gimbaled, an external two-burner alcohol stove, one sink and standard top-loading fridge. Generally, we try to keep it to one pot or pan at a time. Aside from that, we don't have a car, and use Kyle's motorcycle to go provisioning. Luckily though we live right next to the Granville Island Market where there's endless fresh produce. Here's my favorite smoothie recipe.

Green Smoothie

1 banana
1 avocado
a handful of spinach
a cup of almond milk
a pinch of turmeric

Blend all ingredients together.

This past Christmas Kyle asked for a pressure cooker, and I'd have been silly not to get it for him as it makes for simple & delicious meals. And I don't think that I have mentioned yet that Kyle is actually a talented chef, rarely following recipes and intuitively mixing ingredients to taste. I'm the Salad Queen, which includes salad rolls, smoothies and wraps. We've eaten vegetarian at home for as long as I can remember and more recently would like to be vegan when possible. It's a fun challenge. For us sailing just isn't a pastime, but a lifestyle that is synonymously in harmony with nature. Occasionally Kyle will catch a fish & we will gratefully enjoy it, but most often we keep our fridge meat & dairy free.

Leaving Princess Louisa Inlet, after spending a few blissful days exploring.

On the sunny New Year's Day of 2016, our first trip since the summer, we put the new pressure cooker to good use while motoring across a glassy strait to the Gulf Islands. The cooker is perfect for conserving fuel, and creating one-pot meals that can last days! After being on the water in the cool winter weather, nothing beats a good bowl of chili. Although to be honest, we had our full enclosure up and snapped tight, so with the diesel stove going and the sun shining through the plastic, the cockpit was hot! It was like we were in a solarium sauna! I was in my bathing suit it was so hot. If you want to do winter cruising comfortably this is the way to go. Here's how we did the chili.

Vegetarian Chili

1 zucchini
1 green pepper
1 onion
3 cloves of garlic
1 can whole tomatoes
1 can crushed tomatoes
1 can corn
1 can mushrooms
2 cups assorted dried beans
pinch cinnamon
crushed chilies
salt & pepper
1 tablespoon of cumin
½ teaspoon chili powder
hot sauce

The instructions are uncomplicated. Chop veggies then combine in pressure cooker with canned vegies and beans. Bring to pressure and cook 45 minutes. Add spices and chili to taste once pressure is released. Serve in bowls with bread to dip. Serves 6.

The next morning, we wanted to have something special because we were on holiday, of course! These pancakes, a healthy twist on an old favorite, leave you feeling light yet satisfied before a day of exploring.

Apple Cinnamon Pancakes

1 cup pancake mix
¾ cup of water
1 grated apple
A few spoons of ground flax seeds
A few spoons of chia seeds
A pinch cinnamon

Combine pancake mix with remaining ingredients and whisk until large lumps disappear. Let stand 2 minutes. Preheat skillet over medium high heat. Skillet is ready when drops of water sizzle, then disappear almost immediately. Lightly grease. For each pancake pour ¼ cup of batter onto skillet. Flip when golden brown. Cook until second side is golden brown. Serve with maple syrup & fruit. Serves 2.

After eating chili for a few days we were ready for something new. In the summer we often BBQ mushrooms with corn but in winter roasting them is an excellent way get the juiciest results.

Portobello Mushroom Burgers

...This delicious meal will get you excited about all the magical possibilities of mushrooms.

2 portabella mushrooms
1 tablespoon coconut oil
2 whole wheat buns
1 avocado
1 tomato - sliced
2 tablespoons humus

Cut out the mushroom gills, rub mushroom with coconut oil then roast at 350°F for 20 minutes. Toast buns in oven and create burgers with mushrooms and remaining ingredients. Serve with a salad. Serves 2.

 Enjoying hot soup at Canoe Cove Joe's with Joe

March 23rd 2015, at 0115 hrs, 44.53 N, 124.38 W, Log Reading: 180,947 miles. Close-hauled at 6 kts under double reefed main and triple reefed genoa in 25 kts S headwinds with occasional squalls.

Currently we're 31 miles NW of Newport, Oregon reefed down so as not to arrive at the Yaquina River mouth in the dark or with a strong ebbing tide which may cause breakers across the bar entrance.

Our six keen expedition crew came aboard four days ago in Victoria, Canada, ready to experience heavy weather as why else would anyone sign up to sail down the Washington-Oregon coast so early in the season? Our personal reason for starting down the coast in March instead of the usual June is simply to be able to sail beyond the Caribbean before the July start of hurricane season.

We've yet another 7,000 miles to sail to Sweden this year, via Panama, so it's taken John and I a few weeks focused outfitting to fully prepare Mahina Tiare. She wintered ashore on Vancouver Island at Canoe Cove Marina, 20 miles north of Victoria, and thankfully the weather cooperated for our recent re-commissioning. Our extensive projects included anti-fouling, hiring a competent technician to help with some engine, plumbing and electrics, along with a rigger for a few modifications. Boatyard life can be rather frazzling as your yacht becomes a tight construction zone with job lists that seem to grow rather than diminish. On Mahina Tiare the galley bench is transformed into a central work station by laying out a thick clear vinyl covering to protect the white Formica so you're unlikely to find the space to make a cuppa let alone a meal.

Thankfully, this boat yard life was very bearable as Canoe Cove Marina has great facilities like hot showers, laundry, chandlery and Canoe Cove Joe's For breakfast we'd snatch a bowl of muesli aboard but hunger would quickly set in as the chilly mornings rolled along. Canoe Cove Joe's is the perfect place to warm up while grabbing a hot baked muffin and to follow up later in the afternoon with a piping hot soup and garden salad. Joe always has a ready smile. He started out in retail management then switched to culinary arts college before spending 13 years cooking at a private boarding school. Everyone raves about his burgers and chips but for me his soups are a savoir. I just had to ask for this recipe.

Roasted Squash and Apple Soup

1 squash - peeled, deseeded and diced into cubes (about 3 cups)
salt and pepper
olive oil
1 onion - diced
wine or juice for deglazing
1 cup of apple juice
1 cup vegetable stock
1 cup diced apples
1 cup whipping cream

Season squash with salt, pepper and oil. Roast 25 minutes at 400° F. In a saucepan sauté onion and deglaze with wine. Add remaining ingredients. Blend with a hand blender. Simmer 25 minutes. Serve with a drizzle of maple syrup, dollop of cinnamon whipped cream and a sprinkling of chives.

As Canoe Cove Joe's is not open of dinner we were rescued from starvation by taking a stroll up the hill to the Stonehouse Pub & Restaurant The building itself is a 1930's stone-faced "cottage" with a beautiful windowed dining room. We'd often arrive late to a packed house but the friendly staff always made space for us. It would be hard to choose a favorite item from their extensive menu but with St. Patrick Day around the corner their shepherd's pie is hard to beat and had me creating this recipe.

Lamb Shepherd's Pie with Cheesy Potatoes

2 lbs lamb - cut into 1-inch cubes
4 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoon butter
3 cups chopped onion
3 carrots - diced
3 celery stalks - diced
2 cups white wine
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cans beef stock
8 garlic cloves - minced
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon fresh oregano - minced
2 tablespoons fresh thyme - minced
salt and pepper
3 lbs potatoes - chopped
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 cup ricotta
½ cup grated Parmesan
¼ cup cream
3 eggs - lightly beaten
½ teaspoon dried oregano - rubbed

In a large Dutch oven, working in batches, brown lamb in olive oil. In same Dutch oven sauté onion in butter 10 minutes. Add carrots, celery and 1 cup wine. Boil until mostly evaporated, about 5 minutes. Add flour, cook 2 minutes. Add tomato paste, stock, garlic, herbs and lamb. Cover and simmer 1 hour. Meanwhile cook potatoes in water. Drain and mash. In a saucepan sauté garlic in butter 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in ricotta, Parmesan and cream. Stir in eggs, potatoes, salt, pepper and oregano. Remove cover from lamb, add remaining wine and simmer 45 minutes. Transfer lamb to 2-quart 8×8 glass baking dish and cover with potatoes. Bake at 375°F for 30 minutes. Serves 6

With boatyard chores accomplished we sailed to Victoria for our final days in port of provisioning, checking systems and ensuring all necessary items are aboard and stowed. It's difficult to find time to visit with friends but we've discovered its fun to schedule a couple of restaurant evenings and invite everyone to join us. Rebar and The Tapa Bar rate high on my must visit list as their eclectic menus make decision making a challenge which I enjoy. The following recipes are inspired by their nibbles plus I'm excited to have a new cod recipe for Norway.

Spiced Hummus

1 15oz can chickpeas - drained, reserve liquid
2 tablespoons tahini
½ lemon - squeezed
1 clove garlic - crushed
1 tablespoon soy sauce
½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon Cajun spice

In a food processor pulse chickpeas 2 minutes. Add remaining ingredients, start food processor and gradually add reserved liquid until desired consistency is achieved.

Rebar's hummus with pita, salad and salmon

Bean and Salt Cod Salad

1½ cups cooked white beans
1 tablespoon capers
1½ cups dried salt cod - soaked 12 hours with a few water changes - shredded
salt and pepper
¼ cup lemon juice
1/3 cup olive oil
1 shallot - minced
4 cups arugula
1 cup parsley - chopped

Combine beans, capers and cod. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in parsley. Whisk together lemon juice and oil until smooth adding shallot, salt and pepper. Toss arugula with half the dressing and place portions on 4 plates, top with cod mixture then a drizzle of dressing. Serves 4.

Time to go bananas

We departed San Diego's Shelter Island the first week of April last year in time to get clear of the busy channel, which we then shared with two large cruise ships, before sunset. The night passage was quiet and our plan to arrive at Ensenada harbor entrance just after sunrise worked perfectly. After docking at Baja Naval boatyard marina and a few hours spent checking in at the CIS office we were free to enjoy town.

Our new expedition crew of six were eager to checkout a restaurant recommendation from the marina staff while I was more in the mood for a Mexican experience so John and I headed downtown. We were hoping to re-discover a gallery from an earlier visit and were thrilled to find Fausto Polanco was still at its corner location. Set in a historic courtyard hotel the store is a combination of folk art and custom furniture with each of the small hotel rooms decorated in different themes. I was captivated by the five-foot tall paper mache statues celebrating the day of the dead but doubted they'd fit with Mahina Tiare's tropical décor. Soon in need of sustenance we ventured off to a sidewalk restaurant for a spicy soup and salad.

Quinoa Mexican Soup

4 cups vegetable broth
2 14.5oz cans fire roasted diced tomatoes
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 red onion - chopped
4 cloves garlic - crushed
1 poblano pepper
1 red bell pepper
1 jalapeno
1 cup dry quinoa
1 tablespoon paprika
½ teaspoon of each chipotle chili powder, ground coriander and cumin
2 bay leaves
pinch cinnamon
1 avocado - diced
1 lime - cut into wedges
handfull chopped cilantro

Set oven broil at 550 F. Cut the three peppers in half, removing stems and seeds. Place on a baking sheet, cut side down, and roast 3 minutes until charred and black. Place in a plastic bag, close, and allow to steam. Peel charred skin by hand and dice peppers. Heat a Dutch oven, add olive oil and sauté onions until they start to stick then add 1 tablespoon vegetable stock. Repeat this deglazing step, stirring often, for 30 minutes or until onions are caramelized. Meanwhile, cook quinoa in 2 cups of water then toast for 15 minutes in a non-stick skillet. To Dutch oven, add remaining stock, tomatoes, garlic, peppers, spices and bay leaves. Simmer uncovered for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove bay leaves. Serve with quinoa, avocado, lime and cilantro. Serves 6.

With a great late afternoon breeze we set sail for San Benito Island, 310 miles south. Chilly but favorable winds had us anchoring in time for a tabbouleh lunch after which we met the only two (out of 50) residents currently in the small village at this barren and mountainous fishing outpost. The father and son were remodeling their shack and related that everyone had left for a few days as a lobster and abalone fisheries test was underway. They eagerly pointed out the trail to the new mountain-top lighthouse and Alberto with his long legs set a blistering pace to the summit which provided stunning views.

Mexican Brown Rice Tabbouleh

2 cups brown rice
1 red bell pepper - diced
½ red onion - finely diced
1 garlic clove - minced
2 limes - juiced
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons chopped mint
salt and pepper

Combine lime juice, red onion, oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Add dressing to rice with remaining ingredients.

Back aboard after bracing swims we sailed for Bahia Magdalena but at midnight our navigator noted it looked like a night landfall so crew elected to continue on to Cabo San Lucas. Mellow conditions prevailed so we sadly missed landfall on Dave's birthday. Upon entering Cabo we discovered it was a little too chaotic for our taste so we opted to make the most of a new breeze and sail on to Paradise Village Marina near Puerto Vallarta. This marina is pure paradise as managers Dick and Gina Markey ensure you feel at home offering you access to the adjacent world-class resort. We had a brilliant evening visit to PV with an entertaining meal overlooking busy malecon (boardwalk) at La Chata Restaurant complete with marvelous moles, margaritas and mariachi bands.

Chicken Mole Verde

1 3lb. chicken - cut into 8 pieces, or four whole chicken legs
½ cup chopped cilantro stems
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
2 cloves garlic - chopped
2 onions - chopped
1 bay leaf
8oz tomatillos - chopped
2 jalapenos - stemmed and chopped
½ cup cilantro leaves
2 teaspoons salt
2 cloves garlic - chopped
2 8" flour tortillas - toasted
2 tablespoons oil
tortillas and rice for serving - optional

In a 6-qt. saucepan place chicken and first 6 ingredients in 12 cups water, simmer, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes. Remove chicken, strain liquid, reserving 4 cups. In a 4-qt. saucepan cook tomatillos and jalapeños until darkened and thick, about 10 minutes. Transfer to blender with cilantro, salt, garlic, tortillas, and 1 cup reserved cooking liquid; puree. In a 6-qt saucepan heat oil and sauté sauce until it thickens, about 5 minutes. Whisk in remaining liquid and simmer until thick, about 30 minutes. Add chicken and cook 10 minutes. Serve with rice and tortillas. Serves 6.

Sheets were eased for our sail to Tenacatita noted for its mangrove river excursion that often features crocodiles and fascinating bird life. Our next pit stop at Caleta Campos offered a refreshing swim ashore through surf and a couple of hours for a snooze. We departed at sunset and experienced a pleasant passage to many cruisers favorite beach town of Zihuatanejo. Sarah's quiet shore side lunch, a delicious sesame seed tuna sashimi with mango, jicama, cucumber and papaya that the menu labeled as "Caribbean", presented an eclectic mix of cultures and flavors.

Sarah's sashimi lunch

Club de Yates de Acapulco was the final destination for our keen self-named "A Team" Leg 2 crew and when they departed John and I set about in a whirlwind of chores while enjoying the clubs pool and a bounty of fresh Mexican fruit. Banana's feature high on MT's staples list and when there's time it's fun to make the following recipe.

Banana Peanut Butter Energy Bars

3 ripe bananas
1 cup peanut butter
¼ cup honey
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups oats
1 cup nuts and/or seeds

Using a hand or standing mixer, mix bananas, peanut butter, honey, cinnamon and vanilla until very smooth. Mix in oats and nuts/seeds. Turn out onto a parchment covered baking dish. Press and flatten until evenly distributed. Bake at 350 F for 30 minutes. When cool cut into bars.

Farewell to Cocos Island Salad

May 3rd, 2015, 1400 hrs, 14.12 N, 96.18 W, Baro: 1011, Cabin Temp 89F, Sea Water 86F. Close-reaching, 13knots North winds.

We enjoyed our week at the Club de Yates de Acapulco with swims, beach runs and forays to the impressive nearby Superama supermarket. When our six new crew joined at noon temperatures were in the 90's so we had a refreshing mango salad lunch, after unpacking, then a swim before setting sail 1,060 miles for Cocos Island.

Thai Beef and Mango Salad

2 7oz striploin steaks
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 garlic cloves - finely chopped
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
5oz bean sprouts
5 spring onions - thinly sliced
1 ripe mango - sliced
2 baby gem lettuces - roughly torn
2/3 cup chopped peanuts
½ cup each chopped fresh mint and coriander


1 tablespoon soy sauce
juice of 1 lime
2 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon caster sugar
1 garlic clove - peeled and minced
1 red chili - deseeded and finely chopped

In a bowl, marinate steaks in sesame oil, soy sauce and garlic. In a large frying pan heat sunflower oil and sauté steaks. Let rest then thinly slice. In a large bowl whisk together dressing ingredients. Add bean sprouts, spring onions, mango lettuce and beef. Garnish with peanuts, mint and coriander. Serves 4.

Now into our sea rhythm crew are getting along famously and we're especially entertained by Alison's stories of her work as a rocket scientist. At sea John writes our web updates but as Alison's kids are keenly following Mahina Tiare's homepage satellite tracker we encouraged Alison to write an entry.

 “Hi Clair and Paul! Its evening and the sky is clear and the moon is shimmering on the water. It's so bright on deck headlamps aren't needed but that makes it tough to see many stars. It's cooled off with the sunset and it's incredible to sit on deck rolling with the seas. Today when we saw a huge pod of spotted dolphins, I thought of how much you'd have loved to dangle your feet above them as they rode the bow wave. In the afternoons we look forward to swimming alongside the boat (which we slow down) and when we get tired we hang onto a line dragged behind. Since we shower on deck the head has 3 enormous bins of yummy fruit including five varieties of mangoes. We also caught a mahi and I even had seconds served with chermoula. Happy Mother's Day Mom, I miss you all, love Mommy/Alison.”

Baked Mahi with Chermoula

2 lbs. firm white fish
¼ cup olive oil
½ onion - diced
juice of 1 lemon
2 scallions - finely chopped
½ cup chopped parsley
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon crushed dried chili
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
salt to taste

In bowl combine all ingredients except fish. Spread a ceramic baking dish with a quarter of chermoula. Place in fish and cover with another quarter of chermoula. Refrigerate an hour. Bake at 400° F for 30 minutes. Serve with extra chermoula.

May 13, 2015 6.56 N, 81.06 W, 25-knot N winds.
Costa Rica is discouraging yachts from visiting Cocos so we had modest expectations of being allowed ashore. As we approached the ranger station at Wafer Bay we replied to their radio call and requested a stop for repairs. We needed to replace the engine impeller, change oil plus transfer fuel from our jerry jugs and three 50-liter additional containers stowed on deck. Once anchored three pleasant rangers arrived explaining that they'd love to welcome us but the rules state: yachts can only stop 12 hours and crew may not enter the water or go ashore. During our check-in they repeatedly asked if we needed water to which we replied no but when cheeky Alison politely inquired if we could take a quick shower ashore they happily said that's fine. Yippee!

We headed ashore at 3pm after their working hours and visited with a couple of naturalists learning that their efforts to stop tuna poaching inside the park limits are largely ignored by the fishermen and politicians. It currently wasn't tuna season but warmer water temperatures had caused thousands of red crabs to wash up dead on the beaches and the sharks to go really deep. Two visiting private vessels had submarines and the naturalists had been offered dives for shark behavior studies to nearly 6,000'. As a thank you we gave the rangers chocolate and in exchange they gathered generous handfuls of fresh chilies, cilantro and basil which were terrific in the following salads.

Cocos Is Chart and fresh salads

Veggie Grain Salad

1 cup faro
1 cup barley
1 15oz can chickpeas
½ cup diced carrot
1 cup shredded red cabbage
1 apple - diced
1 red bell pepper - diced
1 bunch kale - chopped
4 medium green onions - chopped
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

Lemon Vinaigrette

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
2 cloves garlic - finely chopped
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey
salt and pepper

Cook faro and barley as directed on packages. In small bowl, mix together dressing ingredients. Add kale and massage with dressing to soften and absorb dressing. In large bowl combine grains and remaining salad ingredients. Mix in dressing.

Chili Corn Salad

6 ears of corns
2 tablespoons canola oil
¼ cup fresh diced cilantro - diced
1/3 cup crumbled queso fresco or feta
1 tablespoon olive oil
juice 1 lime juice
1 fresh jalapeño pepper - seeded and stemmed, minced
1 clove garlic - crushed
¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
¼ teaspoon chipotle chili powder

Set oven to broil. Line a sheet pan with foil and cut kernels onto pan. Toss with canola oil. Broil corn until slightly charring, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl, season with salt and mix in remaining ingredients. Serves 4.

Asian Carrot Salad

½ cup peanut butter
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon hoisin
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon chili garlic hot sauce
3 tablespoons hot water
1 lb. carrots - washed, peeled and spiral cut
1 cup shelled edamame
½ cup cilantro - chopped
chopped peanuts for garnish

In a bowl whisk together first 7 ingredients. Slowly add water. In a large bowl combine carrot edamame and cilantro. Slowly add dressing. Garnish with peanuts and cilantro. Serves 4.

Upon leaving Cocos Is we cruised the coastline marveling at this diverse treasure island with its sheer cliffs, lush vegetation, profuse waterfalls and prolific bird life. Now on course for Panama we're hoping our favorable breeze and current will last.

Exotic Cuisine Adventures in Panama

As we approached Panama our ship traffic greatly increased when neared Punta Mariato and unfortunately so did our head winds and contrary current. It ended up being a long wet rough night as we motorsailed into a vicious chop, double-reefed, smashing into seemingly square seas resulting from the relatively shallow water. After clearing into Panama we decided to sail for Isla Taboga, six miles away, for a little relaxation.

Also known as the Island of Flowers this small volcanic Isla has a colorful past. The name Taboga is derived from the Indian word aboga meaning “many fish” although conquistador Vasco Nunez de Balboa, the first European to cross the Panama Isthmus, named the island Isla de San Pedro. The following conquistadores enslaved the Indians and the beachside town of San Pedro was founded in 1524 around a church that is now claimed to be the second-oldest church in the Western Hemisphere. The island thereafter endured a long history of colonization, plundering, fortification and the establishment of a sanatorium by the French which then became a vacation resort and internment camp under the Americans.

Today the friendly island is known for its sandy beaches, tranquil hikes, quaint holiday accommodations and welcoming restaurants. Our canal agent Tina McBride has a getaway apartment above the beach and highly recommended Calaloo Fishbar. Owned by Cynthia, a Canadian, the fish bar is an artfully decorated, cool breezy space with salsa music and cuisine served with a Latin America twist. We had the perfect lunch while downing icy lemonades and variations of the following recipes. After lunch we explored the hillside town noting the many exotic pets such as red squirrels, iguanas and tropical birds the locals keep in cages on their balconies and after a few quiet moments in the elaborate church we headed back to MT for a swim and Thai dinner.

Creole Shrimp

½ lb shrimp
2 teaspoons creole seasoning
2 tablespoons olive oil
8oz smoked sausage
1 onion - diced
1 green bell pepper - diced
½ cup diced celery
2 cloves garlic - crushed
1 teaspoon thyme
1 14oz can stewed tomatoes
2 cups broth
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon Worchester sauce
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
2 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 teaspoon hot sauce
salt and pepper
2 green onions - diced

Season shrimp with creole spice. In a Dutch oven heat 1 tablespoon oil then sauté shrimp 2 minutes; remove. Add sausage and sauté until browned; remove. Add remaining oil, onion, celery, bell pepper, garlic and thyme; sauté 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, broth, bay leaf, Worchester sauce and paprika; simmer 12 minutes. Toss in shrimp. Season to taste and garnish with green onions. Serves 4

Calaloo's Creole Shrimp served with rice and coleslaw and salsa

Thai Fish Curry

1 lb white fish - cubed
1 13.5oz can coconut milk
3½ tablespoons Thai green curry paste
2 teaspoons fish sauce
1½ teaspoons palm sugar
2 tablespoons coconut oil
½ cup sliced onion
2 tablespoons fresh ginger - sliced
2 garlic cloves - crushed
1 cup green peas
1 cup diced carrots
2 tomatoes - diced
2 red bell peppers - diced
lime wedges and cilantro

Whisk together coconut milk, curry paste, fish sauce and sugar. In a large, heavy bottomed pan heat coconut oil then saute fish one minute until sides turn white. Add onions, ginger and garlic; saute 1 minute. Add peas, carrots, tomato and pepper. Add curry-coconut milk cover and cook for 4 minutes until fish is cooked. Garnish with limes and cilantro. Serves 4.

La Playita Marina located on Amador Causeway provided us with scenic views of the canal and Panama City for a week. A highlight for John and our crew was the first ever one-day public viewing of the canal expansion. Tour buses shuttled 45,000 people to a walking tour through the last stages of construction of three of the new 16 giant locks. The multibillion-dollar expansion will accommodate vessels 25% longer and more than 50% wider than the current Panamax ships with an increase from 4,500 containers to 12,000. As it was an early start our guide Elias suggested a hearty Panamanian breakfast of which he recommended the following addition.

Breakfast Chorizo's

6 chorizos - sliced
½ red bell pepper - diced
1 onion - diced
1 tomato - diced
70g tomato paste
some oil
salt and pepper to taste

Sauté vegetables 3 minutes add chorizo and cook 5 minutes. Add tomato paste and a bit of water to create a sauce. Season to taste and cook until sauce has thicken and chorizo is cooked.

Thankfully our canal transit went smoothly and we made it through in a day to spend the night at Shelter Bay Marina. Portobelo was our next anchorage, a wild-west kind of end-of-the-road town which had been a major Spanish port for the transporting of silver and gold. Looking for a place ashore to leave the dinghy while we explored we noticed a new "Casa Vela" (sail house) sign on a waterfront house. Here we met Ray and Birgit; a German couple who do welding and sail making along with hosting drinks. Birgit also offers lunch. There's no menu so you eat whatever she decides to make. After a hike and drinks at Casa Vela we returned to Mahina Tiare for a Lebanese dinner inspired by Beirut; a lively restaurant we'd enjoyed while at Amador. Now before heading out across the Caribbean to Antigua we'll visit the San Blas Islands after which we hope to make Puerto Rico our next landfall to help break up the passage.

Lebanese Chicken Skewers (Shish Taouk)

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts - cubed
2/3 cup fat plain yogurt
6 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons tomato paste
10 cloves garlic - minced
2 lemons - juice
1 tablespoon paprika
2 teaspoons thyme
1 teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon allspice
salt and pepper to taste
4 skewers, soaked in water for 20 minutes

Mix together yogurt, olive oil, tomato paste, garlic, and lemon juice. Stir in the paprika, thyme, cumin and allspice. Coat chicken with marinade and refrigerate 1 hour. Thread chicken onto skewers and grill for 5 minutes each side. Serve with tabbouleh, hummus and pita's. Serves 4.

After sailing the Barents Sea from Tromso to Svalbard, Amanda's goal is to reach the edge of the arctic ice pack. To see if seal and reindeer are included in a Longyearbyen surf and turf menu sail to

Bev revives a kiss from birthday boy Robbie on his 70th birthday in Fiji

I've been following Bev and Robbie cruising adventures since they first sailed with us aboard Mahina Tiare through Madeira and Azores in 2007. Now currently cruising Australia, Bev is a seasoned sailor with the following culinary secrets to share.

Spice is the variety of life! I know most people think it's the other way around, but in the galley on our Hylas 46, Mersoleil it's the spices that make Robbie's and mine cruising cuisine exciting, so much so I've chosen four completely different recipes to illustrate how we use spices to create delicious meals.

Quality poultry features in cuisines the world over, which makes it a perfect mainstay for cruising sailors and the ubiquitous skinless, boneless chicken breast stars in each recipe. You probably have six of them in your freezer right now. Serve these chicken selections four days in a row and you'll never hear the words, "Chicken? Again?"

Sonja's Spice Rubbed Chicken

This impressive dish is ridiculously simple, only takes thirty minutes and never fails to produce remarkably moist and juicy chicken; not a single drop of moisture escapes into the pan. I'm dying to know how it works! So far, I've decided it's a miracle. Consider having your side dishes ready before placing the chicken in the oven!

2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tablespoon ancho chili powder
2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
½ teaspoon black pepper

Preheat oven to 325°F. Pat chicken dry with paper towels. Mix the spices and coat chicken with mixture. Bake chicken covered, in a 10" pan, 20 minutes. Remove to cutting board, tent with foil, let rest 5 minutes, slice and serve.

Moroccan Chicken Tagine

This stew is a family favorite, based on a recipe from Gourmet Magazine in the 1970s. While preparing this meal I find I must contain my enthusiasm. A few extra ingredients will overcrowd the pot! This fragrant and exotic tagine is more labor-intensive than most of my cooking. But the spectacular colors, rave reviews, frequent recipe requests all keep it on Mersoleil's menu.

1 cup celery including some leaves
1 onion - chopped
3 chicken breasts - cut in 1½" chunks
½ cup butter
salt and pepper
4 sprigs each fresh parsley and coriander
3" cinnamon stick
¼ teaspoon cayenne
generous pinch saffron threads
2 14oz. cans diced tomatoes and juice
2 cups 1½" pumpkin flesh
2 carrots
2 turnips
2 bell peppers
1 cup raisins
2 zucchini
1 19oz. can chickpeas
1 each handful chopped fresh parsley and cilantro
2½ cups couscous

Cut vegetables into 1" chunks then place ingredients on the countertop in the above order. Bundle parsley, coriander sprigs and cinnamon with kitchen string. In a 5qt. covered pot, cook chicken, celery and onions in butter over low heat for 5 minutes. Season to taste. Add herb bundle, cayenne and saffron; simmer 10 minutes. Add tomatoes and 4 cups water. Cover and simmer 1 hour. (Skim off any froth.) Add pumpkin, carrots and turnips; simmer 30 minutes. Bring to a boil, remove 2 cups of liquid and reserve for the couscous. Add remaining ingredients as follows, simmering 4 minutes between additions: bell peppers and raisins, zucchini and chickpeas, chopped fresh herbs. Discard herb bundle. Cook couscous in reserved cooking liquid. Serve tagine with couscous and hot spiced oil. Serves 6.

Hot Spiced Oil

1 teaspoon caraway seeds
2 teaspoons cayenne
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
½ teaspoon salt
1 large garlic clove
½ cup olive oil

In a coffee grinder, whir dry spices to a fine powder. Mix in blender with remaining ingredients Serve in a glass container with a spoon, stirring oil before each serving.

Bev's Satay with Peanut Dipping Sauce

Chicken Satays

Most satay recipes call for skewering the meat before marinating. We've found this a more boat-friendly procedure.

1 large skinless, boneless chicken breast
8 bamboo skewers - soaked in water
1 tablespoon honey
¼ cup soy sauce
2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
½ teaspoon chili powder

Pound chicken breasts flat, then slice into 8 long strips 1" wide. Mix together marinade ingredients, add chicken and refrigerate 2 hours. Thread chicken onto skewers and broil or BBQ until done. Serve hot with peanut dipping sauce and sundowners. Makes 8.

Peanut Dipping Sauce:

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
½ onion - finely chopped
½ cup chunky peanut butter
2 tablespoons soy sauce
½ cup coconut cream
2 tablespoons sweet chili sauce

Heat vegetable oil and sauté onion 4 minutes. Add remaining ingredients.  Cook, stirring, till smooth.

For Robbie and me, part of the fun in cruising comes from experiencing the amazing cuisines of the lands we visit. As our spice collection grows, I'm learning new ways to combine and enjoy them.  Life is good!

Thai Spring Rolls

Fresh spring rolls are pretty, festive, delicious and easier to prepare than you might think. I promise you'll become skilled at this with practice! Make 3-4 per person to avoid disappointment - they disappear rapidly.

12 dried rice papers
75g dried mung bean vermicelli (a good handful)
4oz chopped raw chicken
2 teaspoons sesame oil
4 garlic cloves - finely chopped
2" piece fresh ginger - finely chopped
soy sauce
12 fresh Thai basil or mint leaves
1 small carrot - julienned
1 teaspoon finely chopped hot chili pepper
3 tablespoons sweet chili sauce

Heat sesame oil in a frying pan and sauté chicken with garlic, ginger and soy sauce to taste. Don't be timid: filling should be flavorful. Let cool. Heat 3" of water, in a frying pan larger than your rice papers, to a temperature as hot as your hands can tolerate. Place vermicelli in a bowl and add a third of the hot water. Drain after ten minutes and snip vermicelli into 2" lengths. Spread out a dampened tea towel on your work surface. Place a rice paper into hot water for a few seconds until soft. Remove, shaking the excess water back into pan, then lay it on the tea towel.

Onto the rice paper place a tablespoon of chicken, centered one third of the distance from the top (the point furthest away). Top with an equal amount of vermicelli, a few carrot strips, a basil leaf, a sprinkle chili and a drizzle of chili sauce. To prevent your hand sticking to the rice paper, dip the back of one hand, especially your index finger into the hot water. Fold the sides in so they overlap in the center, leaving finished roll 2½" wide. Roll up a parcel, bringing top edge of the rice paper towards you, compressing filling as you roll. Use your wet finger to hold the filling. Repeat with remaining papers. Serve with sweet chili sauce for dipping.

This month Amanda sails from Svalbard to make landfall on Jan Mayen. She'll then sail on to Iceland where she hopes to taste snow flake bread. Sail to to view her adventures.


Amanda with circumnavigator Sr Genuíno Madruga

We made landfall in the Azores on the island of Flores after a 14-day passage from the BVI's. As the island loomed closer it's sheer volcanic cliffs caught the morning light and checkered patch work fields of green rimmed by blue hydrangeas spread across the island top shimmering like icing on a cake. A few small villages dotted the landscape, their whitewashed houses sparkled in the warm morning sun like decorations upon the icing. This was my fifth visit to these islands and to me the Azores are the most beautiful islands to be viewed from the ocean.

It's a hike up a cobbled lane to the town center and we passed small stone houses surrounded by gardens containing abundant vegetables and flowers with pig pens tucked in the corner. Locals tending to their morning chores shyly returned our greetings pointing us in direction of customs and a store that sold us fresh bread and cheese. We next met the harbormaster Tiago and as we were keen to explore he printed off a spectacular hike that traversed a cliff face to a wild and isolated beach then proceeded to arrange a tour for the next day. In the evening on his recommendation we dined at a restaurant overlooking the 1910 lighthouse for a typical Portuguese dinner with the following dessert.

Pineapple with Port and Mint

1 pineapple
3 tablespoons fine ruby Port
¼ cup freshly minced mint leaves
Cut pineapple into ¼-inch thick fan-shaped pieces. Place in a non-metallic bowl, add Port, and toss to mix.

Chill 4 hours. Toss in mint and chill 30 minutes. Serve in stemmed goblets with mint sprigs.

The next day we were treated to a stunning tour of this rugged island with our guide Silvo delighting in portraying the history of each village and what they were structured around. Best of all was Faja Grande, literally at the end of the road on the west side, where there is a lovely new stone-paved walkway past a historic water-powered grain mill to a large natural swimming pool underneath the island's tallest waterfall. Back in Lajes the ferry had arrived bringing several hundred visitors for the Festival of the Immigrants; a celebration of culture and tradition.

We dined in a festival's food tents enjoying several specialties including the following soup. After sunset the parade began down main street and when the Fajainha band finished the accompaniment for a very exuberant folk dance group they then rushed back up the hill to accompany the next dance group that followed the children's parade. Everyone was having an enjoyable time and when we were then invited to a symphonic concert in the park to be held at midnight, we had to politely decline as we were exhausted.

Caldo Verde Soup with Kale

6 tablespoons olive oil
¾lbs Portuguese chouriço - sliced
1 onion - diced
4 garlic cloves - minced
2 lbs white potatoes - diced
4 cups chicken broth
4 cups water
2 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoons fresh ground pepper
1lb fresh kale - diced

In a large pot saute chouriço in olive oil 4 minutes. Remove chouriço. Saute onion with garlic until translucent. Add potatoes, water, broth, salt and pepper. Simmer until potatoes are tender, 15 minutes. Purée potatoes until smooth. Add kale and chouriço, simmer 5 minutes. Serve with tabasco and Portuguese corn bread. Serves 6.

Horta, on Faial Island was our next port of call and upon entering the harbor there were tons of local kids in zipping around in Optis and Lasers as part of the yacht club's summer program. Being back in Horta was a real treat although I was kept busy repainting previous boat names including Mahina Tiare's that still exist amidst the hundreds of boat names and paintings on the marina's breakwater, walls and sidewalks. A highlight was visiting a new restaurant, in the whaling bay of Porto Pim, of two-time sole circumnavigator Genuion Madruga for his excellent fish and shrimp rice.

Genuino's Fish and Shrimp Rice

Genuino's Fish and Shrimp Rice

16 large prawns
300g white fish
2 onions - diced
1 carrot - grated
8 garlic cloves - chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cups fish stock
14oz tomatoes - diced
2 ½mild red chilies - chopped
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cups rice
¾ cup white wine
1 14.5oz can chopped, peeled and pureed Italian tomatoes
5 anchovy fillets - chopped
1 green pepper - diced
1/3 cup Italian parsley - chopped
salt and pepper

In a large pot sauté onion, carrot, and garlic in olive oil. Add stock, tomatoes, chili, lemon juice, sugar and salt. Simmer 30 minutes. In a casserole dish on medium heat add rice then ladle in hot stock, alternating with wine and tomato puree until it has absorbed, approximately 30 minutes, as you would with risotto. When rice is ¾ cooked, add green pepper and anchovies. Fish takes 8 minutes to cook and prawns 5 minutes, so add accordingly. Season to taste and sprinkle with parsley. Serves 6.

During a cycling adventure on Pico Island John and I were attracted to the old whaling village of Lajes so now decided to sail there. In the days of whaling Lajes do Pico was a very busy and thriving town. Whales are now hunted with cameras instead of harpoons and in the new small marina we counted eight whale watching boats. Between boat projects we hitchhiked to villages either side of Lajes, explored town and its wonderful whale museum, and enjoyed dinning at the harbor side Whale'come Bistro which serves a delightful cod lasagna.

Salted Cod Lasagna

4 salted and dried cod steaks
4 cups warm milk
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons flour
2 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon nutmeg
12 lasagna sheets
1 onion - julienned
1 red pepper - julienned
1 zucchini - julienned
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 14.5oz can petite diced tomatoes
1 6oz can tomato paste
1½ cups grated cheese

Soak cod for 24 hours changing water 4 times. In a saucepan, melt butter, stir in flour and continue stirring until color changes to sandy brown; about 6 minutes. Whisk in milk and cook 10 minutes while stirring. Add salt and nutmeg. Poach cod in water 10 minutes. Drain. Cook lasagna sheets for 8 minutes. Sauté onion, red pepper and onion in olive oil until al dente. Add 2/3 can of tomatoes and 2/3 can of tomato paste. Shred cod removing any small bones and cartilage. Combine with vegetables. Combine remaining tomatoes and tomato paste then spread on baking dish base. Add a layer of lasagna sheets, top with cod mix, béchamel then cheese. Continue layering. Bake 350°F for 35 minutes until golden brown.

We truly love the Azores and are already planning our next visit, possibly with backpacks and folding bikes

Ready to enjoy tea and cake at the Minginish Artisans fair

As Scotland is one of John and mine's most favorite countries, we purposely planned a long turnaround in Oban, located on Scotland's west coast. Years ago writer/cruiser Beth Leonard wrote about anchoring off Dunvegan Castle on the Isle of Skye and enjoying a classical music concert on the castle lawn. That stuck with John and after friends mentioned great hiking on Skye's he researched Dunvegan Castle and discovered that the estate rents historic cottages on the grounds by the week. He chose the Laundry Cottage, situated on the loch right in front of the castle, and for 6 months we'd been excited to visit with plans for using the cottage as a base for daily hikes. On the morning our crew departed we'd gathered our kit and were checking email when we received surprise message from my parents, Robert and Lesley, saying, "We've just flown in from Auckland and are in Oban - let's get together"

Needless to say we cancelled our rental car and joined mum and dad in their rental car. With the boys in the front seats driving and navigating that left mum and I in the back seat to visit. But wait, we also needed something to do so our first stop was Fort William where we decided upon knitting. It wasn't an easy mission but after stumbling across a teddy bear maker who had Highland spun and dyed wool plus a sock pattern all we then had to do was scour the second hand shops for sock knitting needles.

Luckily, upon arriving at Dunvegan's quaint laundry cottage we discovered there was plenty of room and that we were also offered free range of the castle grounds and several themed gardens plus a castle tour. Although the UK was suffering a wicked summer we were experiencing a heat wave with no midges, perfect for picnics. With the arrival of mum and dad John and I downsized our hiking plans and studied a pocket book of 40 Skye walks. We'd also picked up Skye's Gallery and Studio Trails booklet and formulated new plan to alternate hiking with studio visits. Mum and I soon realized Skye's art scene is very impressive so with our knitting interest we choose to limited our studio visits to those containing wool; including tartans and tweeds.

Skye's numerous peninsulas allow for intriguing exploration and we did our best to hit the highlights. For example, the first day took us to the central region with the aim of hiking the Fairy Pools but a recent article in The Times had now made the pathway a thoughfare so we continued on down the road and had a wonderful scramble to get close up views of the Cuillin Ridge. When the afternoon weather socked in we dashed to Talisker Distillery for a tour but again crowds forced us to retreat. Never mind we discovered the lovely ladies of Minginish hold an artisans fair on Wednesday at the community hall complete with homemade soup and scrumptious cakes.

The ladies of Minginish Walnut Cake

Walnut Cake

8½oz - walnuts
3¾oz whole wheat flour
4 eggs - separated
8oz caster sugar
zest of 1 lemon
confectioners' sugar

Pre-heat oven to 375F Grease a round cake pan and line it with parchment paper. Grind walnuts in a food processor until you have a coarse meal. Beat egg yolks with sugar until pale and creamy. Stir in zest, walnut meal and flour. In a small bowl whisk egg whites until stiff peaks form, add to mix. Bake 30 minutes. Dust with confectioners' sugar.

Although Dunvegan was remote we happened on a live concert in the Red Roof Cafe, a tiny isolated coffee house/art gallery in the nearby village of Glenvale. The captivating singer Robyn Stapleton had recently won Scotland's Young Singer of the Year contest and was accompanied by an equally talented young guitarist.

A highlight of touring Dunvegan Castle was the discovery of an old photo of Finlay McQueen who lived on St. Kilda; an isolated island formerly owned by the same family that owns Dunvegan. As my family clan is McQueen, perhaps Finlay is a relative. I'm now looking forward to our St Kilda visit.

Our five days of swanning about the countryside and delighting in Dunvegan soon ended. Thanks to my mums great cooking skills and the abundance of tasty local produce we'd also enjoyed many fantastic meals so here's some of mum's recipes as a window into what Skye has to offer.

Chicken Liver Pate

4 strips of bacon
1½ cups leeks - diced
3 cloves garlic - crushed
1 lb chicken livers
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ cup red wine
1 teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon dried parsley
½ teaspoon ground sage
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon fresh parsley - chopped
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary - chopped
¼ teaspoon salt

In a large non-reactive frying pan brown bacon. Remove bacon from pan. Add leeks and garlic; sauté 2 minutes. Move leeks to the side and add chicken livers. Drizzle with olive oil. Cook 4 minutes then turn livers over, add wine & herbs. Cover pan and simmer 15 minutes. Remove lid and cook 3 minutes more. Add liver mix to a large food processer along with bacon, herbs & salt. Puree until smooth. Portion into 5 4oz mason jars and chill.

Cullen Skink with Mussels

3 garlic cloves
½ cup chopped parsley
juice from ½ lemon
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons butter
1 onion - chopped
1 leek - sliced
1 lb potatoes diced
2 bay leaves
1 lb smoked haddock fillets
3 cups milk
1 lb fresh mussels

In a blender, puree garlic and parsley. Add lemon juice, mustard, vinegar, olive oil, water and pepper; blend until smooth. Cook onion, leek, potatoes and bay leaves in butter, 5 minutes. Add haddock, half the milk and water to cover; simmer 10 minutes. Remove fish and flake. Add remaining milk and pepper to pan; simmer 10 minutes. Add haddock and mussels, cover and cook 4 minutes until mussels open. Serve drizzled with vinaigrette.

Chicken & Mushroom Pesto Pasta

16oz pasta
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic - crushed
1 chicken breast - thinly sliced
8oz sliced mushrooms
1 cup pesto
salt & pepper
Parmesan cheese - grated

Cook pasta according to packet instructions. Meanwhile in a large frying pan heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and saute garlic 1 minute, add mushrooms and cook 5 minutes. Remove mushrooms, heat remaining oil and saute chicken 5 minutes. Drain pasta, reserving a small amount of cooking water. Add pasta, pesto and mushrooms to chicken. Season to taste. Add a little cooking water if pasta seems dry. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese. Serves 4.

A relaxing lunch in Valletta

Last October saw John and I leaving Mahina Tiare in Sweden for a winter refit of new teak decks and engine. We'd thought of a tour of the countryside but as winter was fast approaching this did not seem an overly enticing event. It was then that our friends Vicky and Roland contacted us saying that they'd finished their summer Med sailing and that they were now back in Valletta, Malta with a few weeks spare before hauling out for the season. Aha, thought John, why not go visit and check it out the yachting scene before we head back to the U.S.

We landed in Malta in torrential tropical downpour complete with lightning and thankfully enjoyed a hotel for the evening before joining our Vicky and Roland aboard their boat Bella Luna. They'd planned a day of sightseeing in the old town of Valletta and thankfully the weather cleared to sunny blue skies.

Valletta, Malta's capital is a World Heritage site of fascinating Baroque architecture that's fun to explore. Bastion walls, moats, forts, cathedrals and dense clusters of limestone building with timber balconies abound, thanks to the Knights of St John, who in the 16th century built the sizable fortified city as a refuge to care for injured soldiers and pilgrims during the Crusades. An extensive underground tunnel network ran below ground while above ground the streets followed a uniform grid with stairs not conforming to normal dimensions to allow knights clad in heavy armor to climb the steps. In the later years the original austere style gave way to more lavish palaces and churches with graceful façades and sculptured motifs. Nowdays there seems to be unlimited cafés, wine bars and restaurants and we chose a lovely Sicilian themed soul food café for a rejuvenating lunch.

Quinoa with Blood Oranges

1 cup quinoa
1¾ cups water
pinch salt
2 green onions - sliced diagonally
¼ cup thinly sliced Kalamata olives
2 blood oranges - peeled, sliced and cut into quarters
2 olive oil
1 blood orange - juice and zest
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
cracked pepper and salt to taste
¼ cup toasted slivered almonds
12 fresh mint leaves - torn

Bring quinoa and water with a pinch salt to a boil. Cook on low 15 minutes then fluff with fork. In a medium bowl, add green onions, olives, half the blood oranges and quinoa. Dress with olive oil, juice, zest and vinegar. Season to taste. Garnish with almonds and mint. Serves 2.

Brodu - Maltese Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion - sliced
1 clove garlic - chopped
1 stick of celery - chopped
1 carrot diced
½ white cabbage - sliced
1 cup cherry tomatoes - chopped
1 cup wholegrain pasta
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon crushed chili
salt and pepper
6 cups water

In a large pot, heat oil and saute onions and garlic. Add bay leaves and a pinch of salt, celery and carrots; cook 3 minutes for vegetables. Add cabbage, tomatoes and chili, cook 3 minutes with lid on. Add water to cover and simmer 20 minutes stirring occasionally. Add pasta and cook another20 minutes. Season to tasted. Serves 4.

In the evening we headed out to Takris, a rustic restaurant and bistro for a taste of local fare based on the traditional peasant food. The marriage of tastes of Maltese cuisine is the result of a long relationship between the Islanders and the many conquerors who occupied the Maltese Islands over the centuries. As the islands are hot dry and small they can't sustain large herds of cattle so any meat that was to be had went to the nobles. The villages lived on fish until the ban on hunting rabbits was lifted and rabbit became everyman's feast. Fenk is the local word for rabbit and by attaching the prefix -ata people not only refer to the food eaten, but the conversations had and wine drunk, therefore a fenkata encompasses all activities that take place during a certain event or time. John chose fish, Roland bragioli (beef with olive) while Vicki and I had rabbit in red wine served with roasted vegetables.

Takris's rabbit in red wine

Rabbit in Red Wine

1 Rabbit - cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 red onion - diced
6 garlic cloves - chopped
6 bay leaves
2 cups of dark red wine
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
½ cup of peas

Add olive oil to pan and heat until olive oil is very hot. Add rabbit and braise until golden brown. Add red onions and garlic; sauté until translucent. Add bay leaves, red wine, tomato paste and peas. Bring to a boil then cover and simmer for an hour until liquid is reduced by half. Remove bay leaves before serving.

We sailed to the neighboring Island of Gozo the next day where we enjoyed the spectacular tranquil anchorage and clear waters or Dweja Bay. Time ashore was spent hiking and renting bicycles to explore the exotic landscape and town of Victoria and the Cittadella which has been the center of activity of the island since possibly Neolithic times. The tiny island of Comino was not to be missed on our return to Malta and we delighted in this small paradise with clear water and sandy beaches. Our last few days on Malta were really interesting as we further explored inland. A highlight was evening visit to ancient walled city of Mdina with its extraordinary mix of medieval and baroque architecture was stunning as lamp lit by night it's referred to as "the silent city". An Arabic restaurant was Vickie's choice and we weren't disappointed with its hearty fare and small delights like the following.

Stuffed Olives

large pitted olives
soft part of bread slices
salt and pepper
olive oil

Mash together bread, anchovies, caper and parsley. Season to taste. Add olive oil to make the mix softer. Fill olives with mix.

Almond Cookies

1 cup blanched almonds - whole or slivered
1/3 cup sugar
pinch salt
1 egg white
¼ teaspoon almond extract
14 whole almonds

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a food processor combine almonds, sugar and salt. Process until very finely ground. Add egg white and almond extract and pulse until the dough comes together. Roll the dough into 14 evenly sized balls, and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Press one almond into the center of each cookie, pressing down slightly. Bake for 10 minutes or until just starting to show a hint of gold. Let cookies cool on the pan, then transfer to an airtight container.


A local boating family dining at Teresita's

I'd first sailed to Santo Domingo, the capital of Dominican Republic, in 1988 aboard Maiden. As a qualifier for the Whitbread Around the World Race we'd raced the Route of Discovery Race from Spain to Santo Domingo and had won on handicap against a large line up of maxi yachts. Our win caused an uproar with the maxi's and they protested to the Whitbread Race committee to change the handicapping rating for the around the world race. Our hopes and dreams of an overall victory for the upcoming race were dashed. Never mind, we were now guests in in an exciting new county and it was time to celebrate our current win with style.

Nearly thirty years later I was again setting sail for the DR. This time on an upwind passage from Panama. Calm seas and favorable N winds prevailed as we departed the San Blas Islands so we sailed Mahina Tiare whenever possible and motorsailed when necessary staying 20-50 miles off the coast of Columbia to avoid headwinds and contrary currents. On passing Cartagena several ships drifted offshore waiting for dock space. The next day as we passed Baranquilla the sea turned the color of mud and trees along with small bits of islands drifted by. At times the headwinds increased to 20-25 kts and we'd reef down motorsailing and tacking along the coast to avoid rougher offshore conditions. A day later in the lee of Punta Vela we ghosted along while John and our crew changed engine oil then transferred the lazarette fuel jugs into the main tank. We then tacked out to sea and set sail NE towards Boca Chica, DR.

Our roughest day held winds of 25, gusting 35 knots and we were totally reefed down concentrating on keeping boat speed down to 6 knots but overall sea conditions weren't bad considering. The forecasted SE winds that would have allowed us to ease sheet only materialized our fifth night at sea. The next day our crew spotted skyscrapers and we were soon winding our way into Marina ZarPar. Our first impression of the DR was that of exuberant total chaos! 50' sport fishing boats zoomed by just a few feet off our beam with music blasting and people dancing on the foredeck. Yep, it's the weekend...time to party! We had no difficulty clearing in and were happy to find a first-rate marina and Teresita, a friendly little outdoor restaurant to celebrate our arrival with a variation of the following.

Our Teresita dinner - fried plantains, coconut rice and marinated octopus

Coconut Rice with Pigeon Peas

2 tablespoons of olive oil - divided
1 teaspoon finely chopped cilantro
¼cup chopped celery
1/8 cup of capers
½ teaspoon mashed garlic
12 pitted olives cut into halves
½ teaspoon of thyme leaves
1 bell pepper - chopped
1 pinch of oregano
1½ teaspoon of salt
3 cups of boiled green pigeon peas - if available
3½ cups water
½ cup tomato sauce
2 cups of coconut milk
4 cups of rice

In a large saucepan heat 1 tablespoon of oil, add cilantro, celery, capers, garlic, olives, thyme, peppers, oregano and salt; cook 2 minutes. Add peas, water, tomato sauce and coconut milk. Bring to a boil, stir in rice, simmer stirring regularly until water has evaporated. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and simmer 15 minutes. Uncover, stir in the remaining oil, cover again and simmer another 5 minutes. Rice should be firm but tender inside. Serves 6.

Dominican Shredded Beef

2 lbs of beef
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 sprig of thyme
1 teaspoon oregano
4 tablespoons of vegetable oil
1 large red onion - sliced
½ tablespoon of crushed garlic
1 cup of carrots - cut into large cubes
½ cup of peppers - cut into cubes
2 cups of tomatoes - cut into large cubes
1 cup tomato sauce

Season beef with salt, pepper, thyme and oregano. In a large sauce pan heat half the oil and sear beef. Add enough water to cover beef then cover pan with a tight-fitting lid, simmer until meat is tender, rotating every once in a while and adding water if necessary, 3 cups of water should remain. Cool to room temperature. Cut beef into 2 inch slices, then shred. In a heavy saucepan saute onions in remaining oil until transparent. Add garlic, carrots and peppers; simmer 3 minutes. Add tomatoes and simmer 10 minutes. Add tomato sauce, meat and remaining beef liquid; simmer 10 minutes. Serve with rice. Serves 6.

Cornmeal and Coconut Cake

3 tablespoons of butter
2 cups cornmeal
3½ cups milk
2½ cups coconut milk
½ teaspoon of salt
½ cup of raisins
4 cinnamon sticks
1½ cups brown sugar

Butter a 2½ quart baking pan. Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large pot on medium heat add all the ingredients Stir constantly until it breaks a boil, lower heat and continue stirring until it thickens to yogurt-like consistency. Remove cinnamon sticks. Pour batter into pan and bake until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean; 35 minutes.

The next day after checking out the beach resort town of Boca Chica we headed 12 miles by taxi to Santo Domingo. We met Felix, a professionally-trained and licensed guide who took us on a fascinating walking tour of the "old colonial city" which contains many restored historic buildings, most of which are more than 500 years old. Santo Domingo is proud of the fact that this is where Columbus landed, and that it has the first church in all of the New World. Felix recommended the colonial Mimosa Restaurant and dinning on lobster pasta in their tranquil bricked mango tree courtyard was very enjoyable experience that took me back to my previous visit to Santo Domingo.

Lobster Pasta

1lb short pasta
1 cup sun-dried tomatoes - chopped
4 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup of black olives - chopped
4 garlic cloves - chopped
1½ lb lobster meat- diced
1/3 cup white wine
1¼ teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of pepper
½ teaspoon of chili flakes
½ cup basil - chopped

Cook pasta. Meanwhile saute tomatoes, olives and garlic in oil 3 minutes. Add lobster and cook until it turns white. Add wine and season with salt, pepper and chili. Add pasta and toss. Garnished with basil. Serves 4

 Immigration, customs, navy and a security service, complete with a German shepherd drug sniffing dog, came aboard the next morning as required by the US requires for all vessels heading to Puerto Rico. Rather bizarre, and this dog REALLY did not want to come aboard. other than having to quickly remove all traces of our pancake breakfast to the shore as it was confusing the poor dog we had no problems and were soon on our way to Puerto Rico.


Old-fashioned Holiday Social at English Camp

After an expedition season of sailing season of visiting seven countries it’s nice to be nestled in at home on San Juan Island for the month of December. There are two sources I use for upcoming events on the San Juan’s; one is and the other is The Journal of the San Juan Islands ( which comes out on Wednesdays. I prefer The journal as I can then tear out the events I’m interested in attending and keep them handy as a reminder. The beginning of the month has rather a full social calendar as the community begins its Holiday celebration.

The best way to start the festive season is to attend the time-honored island event at the Historical Museum at the beginning of the month. The heritage buildings are beautifully decorated in holiday finery and sparkling lights set them aglow. They’ll be caroling both inside and outside by the roaring fires, lighted trees and selfies with Santa are a must while a winter wonderland train set takes mainstage delighting children of all ages. Ivar’s chowder and chili from Ernie’s Cafe warm the soul while festive baked goods abound.

Festive baked goods at the Historical Museum

Cranberry Orange Pinwheel Cookies

1 cup cranberries
1 cup pecans or walnuts
¼ cup packaged brown sugar
1 cup butter - softened
1½ cups granulated sugar
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 eggs
2 teaspoons orange zest
3¼ cups all-purpose flour

For filling, combine cranberries, nuts and brown sugar in a food processor. Process until cranberries and nuts are finely chopped. In a large mixing bowl beat butter until smooth. Beat in sugar, baking powder, and salt. Beat in eggs and orange zest. Beat in as much of the flour as possible then stir in remaining flour. Divide dough in half. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. Roll half of dough into a 10-inch square between two sheets of wax paper. Spread out filling onto dough within ½ inch of edges. Roll dough into a tube. Wrap in plastic wrap. Repeat with remaining dough and filling. Refrigerate 4 hours. Preheat oven to 375°F. Cut rolls into ¼-inch slices and place on an ungreased baking sheet at least 1 inch apart. Bake 10 minutes. Makes 60.

On the first Friday in December the SJI Chamber of Commerce partners with local businesses for the Island Light Festival. It all starts in the late afternoon with an open house at the Whale Museum that features glittery ornament making, healthy snacks and delicious cookies. At 5pm the Friday Harbor Elementary School choir leads a caroling parade from the Whale Museum down the main street to the Memorial Park situated on the waterfront. Here you can expect more even more caroling as they meet up with the Islands Cordsmen Plus. It a very festive scene as everyone is dressed in fun holiday seasonal attire especially hats.

Honey Ginger Cookies

2¼ cups flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
13 Tablespoons butter - softened
¾ cup brown sugar
½ cup honey plus 1 teaspoon
1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger
1 lemon - zest and juice
1 cup confectioners’ sugar

Preheat oven to 350F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Mix together flour, salt and baking soda. With a hand mixer cream butter, brown sugar, ½ cup honey, ginger and zest until fluffy. Mix in egg yolk. Stir in flour mix. Drop tablespoons of dough onto cookie 2-inches apart. Bake 12 minutes. Combine powdered sugar, lemon juice and 1 teaspoon honey, drizzle over cooled cookies. Makes 30 cookies.

The arrival of Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus to Memorial Park creates quite a buzz as Santa has the very prestigious task of turning on the thousands of lights that adorn the two impressive trees while Mrs. Claus hands our more treats. It’s then on to Brickworks for chestnuts on the open fire, pictures with Santa, crafts with Island Rec, the Animal Shelter Giving tree, cocoa and spiced apple cider. SJI Ag Gild team up with Duck Soup Inn and interns from the schools Food for Thought Program to create a super soup supper with Santa and past soups have included beef borscht and leek and potato.

Leek and Potato Soup

3 leeks - sliced and washed
5 potatoes - chopped
1 onion - chopped
6 cups chicken broth
2 cloves garlic - crushed
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
fresh ground pepper

In a large saucepan simmer leeks, potatoes, onion, broth, garlic and salt for 25 minutes. Stir in milk and parsley. Puree if smooth soup is desired. Season with pepper. Serves 6.

On the weekend you’re invited to dress in your finery for an old-fashioned Holiday Social at English Camp Barracks hosted by the National Parks Service. The park provides beverages, warm fires and entertainment that includes re-enactors in period dress, storytelling, music and folk dancing. There’s generally an international flavor and you’re welcome to bring tree ornaments and holiday cookies and that reflect yuletide and winter solstice celebrations throughout the world.

Chai-Spiced Cookies

½ cup unsalted butter softened
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 cup flour
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground cloves
¾ teaspoon cardamom
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ cup confectioners’ sugar - sifted

Preheat oven to 350°F. Beat butter with granulated sugar until well blended, stir in flour, spices, salt and vanilla. Scoop and roll dough into small teaspoon-sized balls and place and inch apart on parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Bake 15 minutes until lightly golden. Roll warm cookies in confectioners’ sugar. Makes 30 cookies.

Rosemary Parmesan Shortbread

2 cups flour
1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup finely grated Parmesan
1 cup unsalted butter - room temperature
1 teaspoon water, if needed

Place flour, sugar, rosemary, salt and Parmesan in food processor bowl and pulse until combined. Add butter and pulse until a soft dough forms. If not, add water and pulse until combined. Spread a large sheet of plastic wrap on a work surface and place dough onto it. Using plastic wrap, form dough into a tight compact log about 2½ inches in diameter. Chill 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 375F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Slice log into 1/3-inch thick slices and arrange on sheets, about 1-inch apart. Bake 12 minutes until the edges are beginning to brown. Makes 30 cookies.

If you’re feeling creative, then the library has a number for holiday crafts lined up like block print Christmas cards or creating dream catcher ornaments and at the end of the month to wrap up the celebrations a great Christmas drama features at Roche Harbor by the ensemble at Islands Stage Left.


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