Wednesday, 30 September 2009

How many women to mend a sail?

... well in our case at least three! One to sew, one to guide and one to consult!

After my words of the other week about the excellent condition of our staysail, I had to eat them as I realised that the scrubbing had destroyed jast about every stitch on the UV strip. Fortunately Cindy and Carole came to the rescue and helped, well really orchestrated, the restitching.

I had such fun, the rest of the marina thought the inmates had taken over as to cries of ' Ready about' and 'lee o' we made our way along the less than pristine stitching!

And now she's strong and repaired and ready to go. Thanks mates...

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

The perfect traveling companion.

The perfect gift for anyone who loves to cook or grill!

A perfect balance of luxury and whimsy, this sophisticated briefcase is brimming with the unexpected—an amazing array of easy to use gourmet products that can transform an ordinary meal into something extraordinary. This is the perfect gift for anyone who enjoys good food, from the discerning gourmet cook, to the time-pressed homemaker. Offering hundreds fancy and easy culinary possibilities, our products bring sophisticated fun and flavor to any kitchen.

Five Sauces: Pomegranate Teriyaki, Lemon & Mint Chili, Garlic Chili, BBQ Figs and Red Wine Onion.

Three professional spice blends that can be used in myriad applications, from the exotic to the everyday.

I really, really want one of these!
Doesn't it just look wonderful, take it anywhere and rustle up the most amazing food on the hoof. I was surfing this morning and found this lovely website for artisan food producers, wish I was in a place they could deliver to...

We went to the potluck at Mario's last night. A small crowd but yet again food to inspire. I love potlucks, seeing the different interpretations of food from across the world. Ok in this case it was pretty much USA only but us Brits put on a good show, cannelloni (Italian) from us and curried potatoes from Androsian (Indian) who said the Brits aren't cosmopolitan??

I think appreciation of good food must run in the genes. My Gran and Mother were both great cooks, well Mum still is, and all three of my kids are great chefs. Lucy is a partner in a new Thai restaurant/cocktail bar in Bournemouth, England. She cooks a mean ramen dish. Charlotte bakes heavenly cakes and James would knock the other backpackers for six in his traveling days when he would create a mean chicken puttanesca from local ingredients.

My dear late husband always said;' the two best things in life are food and sex, neither of which should be hurried.'

How very true!

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Who says it's over?

We are anchored very close to the huge bridge that crosses the Rio Dulce here in Fronteras. Usually the sound of the big lorries coming down the hill is overwhelming, they have something called 'jake' brakes that sound like a hydraulic drill at full throttle. Well there seem to be far fewer lorries around and I was wondering if that's a sign of the economic downturn.

Laying in bed( I do a lot of random thinking in bed) last night I also recalled that when we first arrived here the local supermarket was full of people shopping, in fact it was hard work shouldering your way past men with guns, women with babies strapped to their backs, yet our recent visits have been to a place with clear and usually unpopulated aisles...

A number of the marina's are not full, unusual for this time of year and Mario's where we spent two seasons is like a morgue. Last time we visited, a week ago, only four boats were occupied, the restaurant has shortened its hours and it's menu.

I read that as far as 'our leaders' are concerned financial disastar has been averted. The bankers are claiming victory and everything is well. It sure doesn't feel like it from where I am sitting. Our disposable income has dropped by 25% due to the exchange rate difference. Unemployment is up in both the UK and USA and the President of Guatemala has announced a state of emergency where the drought in the East of the country is causing widespread famine.

Does that sound like a world in command of itself?

Friday, 25 September 2009

Odds and Sods and Panacotta.

Loads of rain, so lots of washing being done! The boat looks a bit like 'Widow Twankey's Laundry' these days. Still it's good to get everything clean and fresh and still have water in the tanks!

The Navy patrol has been in evidence for the last few days. They have a big boat that you can hear coming for miles by the throbbing of it's engines, not much opportunity for a stealth operation there I think. The crew are all very friendly and gave us a cheery wave every time they cruised past, which was about five times yesterday. Must have been keen that the U.S. Embassy officials who were down got a good look at them!

We are enjoying the current crop of oranges that the Mayan's are selling along the roadside in Fronteras. For 5Q, around half a euro you get a bag of 8-10 juicy fruit. perfect for that freshly squeezed juice to start the day. I juice up a couple of bags and keep them in the fridge, it's TBH's favourite accompaniment to his breakfast pancakes.

Cleaning out the fridge the other day I was faced with a number of half empty containers that needed using up so scouring my cookbooks I made this delicious yogurt pannacotta. It was so easy I am wondering why I haven't made it before...

Yoghurt Panacotta.

2tbsp cold water
1.5tsp gelatine
1/2 cup plain yoghurt
1/4 cup milk
1/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup sour cream
1tsp vanilla essence

Put the water in a bowl, sprinkle on the gelatine, stir until dissolved and set aside for a minute.

Whisk milk and sugar in a pan over medium heat. When it's hot but NOT boiling whisk the mixture into the gelatine.

Whisk that mixture with the sour crean, yoghurt and vanilla essence until smooth.

Cover and chill for at least 3 hours.

I made a strawberry coulis to go with it and we ate the lot! It was so good I have just made it again.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Enron-the play.

The play is taking London by storm, running until 7th November it's sold out and receiving tremendous reviews, 'an allegory for our times'.

Wish I was there to see it, hope one of my kids will have a look and give me a full report.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Paedophile Cleanup among U.S. nationals on the Rio Dulce.

Looking at the Rio Dulce Chisme website this morning I was delighted to read this article:

U.S. Embassy officials here Thursday, Sept. 24

A complaint is expected to be presented by local Guatemalan law enforcement officers (PNC and Navy) to the visiting delegation of U.S. Embassy consular and embassy officers when they meet here in the Rio Dulce Thursday, Sept. 24 at 10 a.m. at Hotel Catamaran.

The complaint is directed at those U.S. citizens in the Rio Dulce who engage in sexual activities with underage Guatemalan girls. Image

The police and the Guatemalan Navy have been reported to have observed this kind of activity for quite a while and have issued a reminder that this activity is now illegal in Guatemala.

Officers indicated they want to give fair warning to those concerned that they plan to firmly enforce laws prohibiting solicitation of underage children for sex.

An informed source told the Chisme-Vindicator that the police and Navy have been observing late night activities at local marinas and are taking note of those who engage in these practices.

There is an additional reminder to visitors from the United States that U.S. law now forbids this kind of behavior from U.S. citizens even when in foreign countries. U.S. law was changed specifically to crack down on U.S. citizens who travel to foreign countries looking for sex with underaged girls.

Complaints concerning this would also fall under the jurisdiction of the F.B.I.

Consular and Embassy Officers, including the new American Citizens Services Unit Chief, David Chang, will present information of interest to American Citizens in Guatemala and will be available to answer questions.

Embassy officials will be in Livingston on Wednesday, Sept. 23 at 12 p.m. at Hotel Villa Caribe then in Rio Dulce on Thursday, Sept. 24 at 10 a.m. at Hotel Catamaran.

On Monday, Sept. 28, they’ll be at the American Club (3a. Calle 14-00, Zona 15 Colonia Tecun Uman) in Guatemala City at 6 p.m.

About time too.

Regular readers of my blog may recall that I wrote about this issue and was mightily abused for my view. Well all those who lyrically supported their 'May to September' relationships, their 'help' for impoverished locals, I bloody hope you are quaking in your boots now.

Good on the Guatemalan authorities for finally tackling this disgusting, immoral criminal activity.

Strangely I was commenting to TBH last night that the old men with young girls didn't seem to be so obvious in Bruno's Marina these days. Now I know why!!!

This is one of my posts from October 4th 2007:

Sordid Lives Contd.....

Don't tell Mommy.
The caption and photograph come from the Rio Dulce Chisme website.

Well I seem to have stirred up a bit of a hornets nest here!
I posted my blog on the YBW forums website.

A most interesting set of responses! Sadly most people seem to disagree with my view, or maybe, hopefully, the silent majority is staying silent.

Monday, 21 September 2009

Sunday amble along the Golfete.

Sunday morning was cool and bright after the rainstorm of the previous evening, and we prepared to travel back upstream across the Golfete.
This guy was out early tending his fish traps in the reeds just by our anchorage.
The steam was rising from the jungle as the sun rose.

The anchor is away and off we go...
TBH tidy's the deck, removing the raincatcher that did so well in filling our tanks last night!

This really is a lovely spot, we'll be back...Look at that moisture, like something out of The Lost World!

Just as we reached the end of the Golfete we were passed by this tug with a merry toot of greeting.
...and to finish the perfect day, a glass of red wine with a roast chicken supper. Lovely!

Sunday, 20 September 2009


Garbage, basura, call it what you will but it's a never ending problem on board a sailing boat.

Over the years we've had our fair share of learning experiences! Worst has to be the hordes of squirming white maggots that proved impossible to eradicate. We carried the little buggers for a couple of weeks before we were able to jettison them in a proper refuse area. Yuck.

I wouldn't say that I am a rampant ecologically driven human being but I do have respect for my planet and in particular the oceans that we live on. The sight of otherwise pristine islands desecrated by floating plastic bags and those immortal water bottles is a sad sight.

I learnt the hard way that refuse stowage on the boat is a serious issue. Apart from smell, health hazard there is also the space issue to be addressed!

So when we go shopping now I remove all extraneous packaging right there at the checkout, makes eyebrows raise I can tell you. Let them have the disposal problem, after all there is far too much packaging on most products anyway. I buy refills of things like washing up liquid, our current squeezy bottle at the sink has been with us since Trinidad. Refills of fabric conditioner, liquid soap etc.

If we are offshore, in deep water, cans are jettisoned overboard along with all bio-degradable crap. We open the ends fully to ensure they will sink. The very few bottles, we don't drink alcohol on passages, are carefully filled with seawater and also go overboard.

All plastic wrappings are carefully washed, prevents maggots developing, compacted and stored until landfall where we make sure they are dumped in a 'proper' refuse facility. Beware the lads who for five bucks take away the trash only to dump it over the nearest hedge.

I never resent the charges that countries make for this service.

It's much harder when you are cruising as we are at the moment, inshore. NOTHING, apart from food scraps goes over the side.Mind you it pays to be careful on this one too. We were in Panama when after an excellent Sunday lunch shared with friends the hostess threw the remains of the leg of lamb overboard. A mighty splash and snapping of jaws left her shaking from a rather too close call with a large crocodile!

Cans are washed and crushed to save space and we store the trash in a cold box below decks. Liberally sprayed every few days with Lysol we can usually keep going for 2-3 weeks until it is full.

One of the items on my wanted list is a can-crusher. I reckon it will cut our volume by half. Another thing for the next child to bring out with them!

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Hogwart's Rules..

I love Harry Potter! Ever since the first book I have been hooked. An original subscriber to the website/forum and an unequivocal enthusiast I have devoured all the outpourings of JK Rowling, sad but true!

When we were in Orlando last year we heard rumours about Harry Potter Land coming to Universal Studios and now it's confirmed that the opening date will be Spring 2010...I am making my reservation now!

On-line conferences!

We have been back up river for a few days. Re-provisioning, refueling and catching up with friends who are returning to their boats after months of traveling/visiting their homes.

It's lovely to see everyone again and hear about their various adventures.

Yesterday was Guatemala's Independence Day and so throughout the weekend the river has been extremely busy with what seems like every boat out and loaded down with parties! A great time appears to have been had by all, I must say that the wash was pretty overwhelming at times. We were sincerely glad not to have been fending the boat off from an unforgiving dock.

I haven't seen too much of TBH. He's busy programming and answering emails. It's amazing this world of ours. Yesterday we set up an online conference, on the boat, via wifi to connect ourselves with Chile via the USA. Makes my mind boggle! We can share computer screens with our customer, talk them through a presentation, in real time and even record the session for discussion at a later date, wow. Fiendishly clever.

Friday, 11 September 2009

Technology and freedom.

As I lay in bed last night, sweltering in the heat, my mind started mulling over technology and what it means to me.

I suppose it was at the front of my thinking as we had rather caned the batteries yesterday and in penance had to switch most systems(including the fans) off to allow some recovery! There is a price for everything on the boat.

With two computers working pretty much all day it is asking a lot of our power system to cope with the demands. I think we are very fortunate that most of the time we manage to satisfy all our need whilst out here at anchor and living life 'unplugged'.

As coverage of Yalaworld grows we are dealing with many inquiries every day. I wonder what the prospective customers would make of where our 'office' is situated? Anchored in an idyllic bay, no roads anywhere near, linked to the internet via a wifi connection that is fed from an aerial on top of a distant hill surrounded by deep jungle.I guess a lot of them would be a little jealous!

And yet in many ways I have rejected much of the technology that surrounds everyday life, even though we are working at the bleeding edge of business development. Strange isn't it.
I have no microwave, no washing machine,dishwasher, food processor or television. Yet I find a simple satisfaction in my choices.

Have I got some strange perverse kink in my personality, some would say yes! As I lay in the silence last night, the atmosphere unpolluted by the humming of an electric fan I felt connected to the world in a different and visceral way. The boat was a living creature, nurturing me safe within her shell, breathing softly to the gentle movement of the water. I thought about what we would do if the batteries died, dead in the water so to speak, but of course we wouldn't be. We are a sailing boat, designed to live by the forces of nature.

Even in our own way we allow a separation from the elements that dilutes the experience. How much more that must be for many of the cruisers we meet who rely totally on their electronics and gizmo's. Why would you be out here without feeling that deep sense of connectivity with the natural world?

I dreamt of freedom. To me the thought of sailing the oceans propelled by the wind, reliant on my own resources was the answer. Was I naive? Maybe in some respects but generally I've found what I was searching for and it is freedom...

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Sometimes life is good!

We have had a lovely day.

Our anchorage is just perfect, calm and protected from most weathers. Last night the Tropical rains fell really hard and we were able to fill our tanks again. It's the wonderful part of the rainy season; no jerry jugging gallons of water in the dinghy!

I celebrated by washing the sheets, which quickly dried in the gentle warm breeze.

As the weather is relatively cool, just about 90 degrees today(I did say all things are relative), I had a baking fest. Quiche Lorraine x 2, cherry and almond muffins, potato salad. Yummy stuff.

TBH was kept busy with Yalaworld, it is getting a lot of coverage at the moment and he is fully occupied answering queries and telling the world about his amazing new concept.

So after an hours swimming around the boat we settled down for the evening.

I have been bidding for ages on ebay for a manual coffee grinder. The old fashioned hand operated wall mounted cast iron type. To date I have been beaten at the final fence, usually the internet fails just at the vital moment but tonight I was successful!!!

Delivery to my daughter ready for them to bring out at their next visit. I am so excited...

And finally a wonderful sunset just to round off a happy and fulfilling day. Sleep well...

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Some People...

What is it with some people?

Here we are anchored in the most beautiful natural surroundings. Butterflies flit like painted rainbows over the boat, startling white cattle egrets fly like origami birds from one side of the bay to the other. Vultures soar on the thermals as the day builds heat over the land and the indignant squawking of a flock of parrots fills the air as they untidily flap their way from tree to tree.

The wind rustles the leaves, small wavelets slap against the hull and the buzzing of insects and croaking of frogs all add to the symphony of nature.


Why oh why do some people have to play their stereo systems at a level that must be unimaginably painful up close and downright antisocial even a long way away? Is it compensation for a small dick? A desperate' gee mom look at me ain't I clever' personality deficiency?

Well it's horrid, and a really nasty form of environmental pollution.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Why the world is not my oyster...

..well could be 'cos we sail a Bowman!

Enough of this wit and on to the main event.

It's almost two years now since I started to write this blog, my how time flies when you are having fun...

Just about five years since we made the momentous decision to turn right at Gibraltar and set sail across the Atlantic. Boy were we novices back then! When I think back to our passage from Gib to Lanzarote in the Canary Islands I grow cold. Like many moments in my life I fail to recall exactly how a decision was reached, just the vague knowledge that somewhere along the line this is the right thing to do. TBH was always keen to tackle the Atlantic but I rather fancied the more hedonistic lifestyle of swanning around the Med for a few years. Needless to say we crossed the Atlantic, he's very good at letting me believe that I am in control but getting his own way all the same. Still I don't hold it against him, much.

Those six days around the coast of Africa were hard work. I suffer from seasickness and the washing machine like motions of the sea really were not at all helpful. But we made it, in one piece and invigorated by succeeding in the challenge that we had set ourselves. We felt that we had made the leap from Cruisers to voyagers.

And now the time for decisions comes round again. Life has become more complex since the launch of Yalaworld and for the first time in years we have to consider longer term responsibilities as we decide where we head for next. As the business moves from embryonic to growing I find myself weighing up all the options. Sounds good doesn't it!~ Just wish I could come to some decisions!

Kamchatka, Japan, Aleutians still top the list but realistically will probably have to be deferred a while until we can safely be out of communication for long periods of time.

So the big question is ... North, South, East or West? Right now the world seems a much bigger place than an oyster!

Friday, 4 September 2009

Clean Sails.

It's been a busy few days as we have got to grips with cleaning and refurbishing the fore sails. After two rainy seasons they were beginning to take on a rather nasty green hue!

I was pleasantly surprised that the staysail was in much better shape than I had expected. It's UV (sun-protection) strip was beginning to show signs of wear in a couple of places but on close inspection, once we took the sail down, these are easily repairable and we don't need to replace the whole strip yet.

We last had these sails overhauled in St Marten and that's back in 2005. Then we replaced the UV strips on the staysail and yankee and had both of them restitched. We have had to make the odd repair since but nothing more than a few stitches or a small patch.

The staysail is our 'storm' sail too. Being a cutter rig when we reef down the main with three reefs in bad weather we can balance beautifully with the staysail. The two sails balance us extremely well and we can keep good power( and steerage) even in very high winds.

So it's important that the staysail is in tip-top condition. It's the one we rely on when the going gets really tough.

Mind you it's hard work cleaning them at anchor! Not a lot of space! We took the staysail down and one of us feed it in sections to the other who, with the help of a bucket of oxy-clean and a stiff brush, put plenty of elbow power in to scrubbing off the disgusting green mould that was taking over. Well worth it though as it looks fantastic this morning.

We jumped over the side as soon as we had finished to cool down and get clean, bliss.

Now the Yankee to do, that's somewhat bigger and will take longer, oh well.