The autumnal equinox is one of two days each year when regardless of your geographic location you will enjoy exactly 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness. There is Chinese folklore that an egg can be balanced on end during the equinox, which is true but with patience can also be done on every day of the year with the same results. This past equinox brought about an unusually phenomenon aboard our catamaran Makana.Yum
Even though I gave up wearing a wrist watch when we started cruising a little over nine years ago and we have only one clock aboard I’m positive this occurred around noon, lunch time. This phenomenon was the fact that I had just crossed off the last item on the “list” and for the first time in as long as I could remember I didn’t have anything to add to such “list”. Not that my memory is all that great but when it comes to the “list” I do keep active tallies both on paper as well as one constantly running in my head. The list is one which every cruiser has some form of somewhere aboard. It is one of equipment or gear that is going to require repairing or “attention” to keep their vessel operating in a reasonably safe and comfortable manner. Some items seem to remain on the list indefinitely while others attract immediate attention.
As opposed to a terra firma house our home, Makana is quite different, we float. Sure my wife our daughter and I do have many similarities with a luxurious shore side dwelling; water view, 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, kitchen, living room, back deck with a grill and front porch. However, the differences between the two are much more than we have no door bell and are always surrounded by water, while a shore side residence typically has large quantities of water limited to a pool or hot tub. One of the delightful differences is that we just happen to have the ability to easily move our entire “house” and all its contents to a new neighborhood when desired. Since moving aboard the longest we’ve remained in one “place” during that time was the two months waiting out hurricane season while in Trinidad. And because we mainly cruise up and down the east coast from Maine to the Bahamas plugging in a 2000 mile extension cord is to say the least is impractical. Therefore we must generate, distribute and store all our electricity in both AC and DC currents not to mention our fresh water and waste water. Several of these systems which provide power and water aboard Makana do have similarities to those found ashore. The galley and heads are equipped with “normal” faucets and there are four “regular” electrical outlets as well. The differences between the two are more so manifested in how the electrical, water and waste services are provided.
The majority of the time these systems and their associated equipment which provide our services work flawlessly, but not all the time. In the years we’ve spent living aboard I can count on my fingers the number of times when all the systems were simultaneously working as advertised. Even after we launched Makana our then new 38 foot catamaran in Cape Town, South Africa and before the mast was stepped several seagulls decided to make their “impressions” on our shiny white topsides.
The first year living aboard Makana was for me the most challenging. Not only in terms of adjusting to the differences from living on land but more so how often it seemed to me that gear would “break” or require “attention”. I mean this stuff was supposed to be top of the line equipment, which it was when it worked. I may be getting a little “overboard” with my dissatisfaction in regards to how often I had to repair things. In reality most of the time most of the systems and associated equipment worked flawlessly, however when something did need attention it used to really get me down and boil my blood, “Damn the generator won’t start; I hate it when this happens!” I used to have to hide my golf course vocabulary from our young daughter while I worked on such repairs and I don’t even play golf!
However more recently I’ve learned to embrace each “problem” or “situation” more as a personal challenge. I no longer get upset in fact just the opposite, bring it on. You see over the years I’ve discovered how rewarding it can be to locate and identify the “problem” and then create a solution as the “fix”. The satisfaction I’ve experienced when completing a successful repair is rather remarkable. Take for example our water maker which is so integrated into our life aboard with its chunks of steel, aluminum and plastic magically transforming salt water into fresh. One morning it decided on the spur of the moment to go on strike. Then how a few hours later, (OK, I can now admit it took the entire day), I returned it into a working machine once again providing us clean, fresh water. In reality the water maker has only decided not to cooperate once in over 1000 hours of flawless operation while producing over 7500 gallons of pure clean water from the salty sea.
When our daughter reminds me of I need to fix a head or “dad the refrigerator light is out” I now approach each task with a Zen like appreciation and have come to embrace how fulfilling I will feel once such projects are completed. And the icing on the cake is how my knowledge regarding, engines, electrical & plumbing system along with every other piece of equipment aboard has expanded positively in ways that I never imagined. For example take the evening last winter when we had our boat packed with guests over for dinner. I decided to fire up the generator to power the blender and the CD player along with just about every light which were on including the foredeck spotlight. My daughter and her friends needed the spotlight to light their “playground” so they could use our bosun’s chair and main halyard as a swing. However in all the commotion I forgot to open the raw water seacock prior to starting the generator. I immediately realized my mistake when the generator shut down several minutes later due to overheating. Thank goodness the hot water sensor switch was smarter than I saving the engine. Instantaneously I knew what had happened and set about removing what was left of the old impeller, then installing a new one into the raw water pump. And I also removed the broken flanges of the old impeller which had been comfortably wedged into the cover of the heat exchanger. Amazingly this was completed all before any of our guests knew what had happened. I did have to ask several friends to stand up for a second while I retrieved 10mm & 13mm wrenches from my tool box under the cockpit settee upon which they were sitting.
Now back to how I was so sure it was around lunch time when I last had all of Makana’s systems operating simultaneously. You see after I crossed that last item off the “list” I then began to prepare our lunch anticipating using the galley’s stove. My planned grilled Panini’s made with the leftover Mahi Mahi from the prior day’s catch would need to be heated using the propane fueled stove-top. However, at some point between that morning’s breakfast omelets and lunch time the stove had decided to “take a break”. After changing the lunch menu to canned tuna fish sandwiches the challenge now was for me to reacquaint myself with that Zen like feeling before our dinner guests would arrive, bring it on!
And the recipe for the day is one of my favorites a Pizza topped with Chicken & Leeks in a Dijon Mustard & White Wine sauce. Here is the link for the Pizza Dough
- 1 - 16 to 18 in. Pizza dough
- 1 lbs chicken diced
- 2 whole leeks sliced and julienned into 2 to 3 in. strips
- 1 lbs. grated provolone or mozzarella cheese
- ½ to ¾ bottle Dijon mustard
- ¼ cups grated parmesan cheese
- 3 cloves chopped garlic
- ¼ cups chopped shallots
- 1 cups cream or whole milk
- ½ cups white wine
- 1 Tbs olive oil
- 2 Tbs butter
- 1 Tbs each basil and parsley
- ½ tsp each salt, white and black pepper
- ¼ tsp curry powder
- 1 tsp sugar
- 2 drops liquid smoke
- Sun dried tomatoes and black olives also go well with this pizza.
- In a sauce or frying pan heat butter and oil to sauté garlic and shallots then add cream/milk, spices, herbs and sugar. Continue heating add leeks, wine, liquid smoke and Dijon mustard, simmer to reduce volume and thicken sauce. Once leeks are somewhat cooked remove sauce from heat then line pizza crust evenly with sauce. Top with the grated cheeses, chicken and herbs for garnish. Bake at 375F for 30 to 40 min. until golden brown, let cool several minutes before slicing, enjoy.