Saturday, 31 July 2010

Abandon Ship...

...I have! Well only temporarily as TBH takes the engine to pieces-again! Yup the impeller has gone, damn it. I know we are a bit slow on this boat but you would think by now that we could have got the drop on this engine maintenance game...
First the fridge starts to get a bit slow to recharge each day. Then the amount of smoke coming out of the exhaust starts to increase. And correspondingly the amount of water starts to decrease as it pumps out into the river. Through all this the engine temperature stays the same!
Doh!  We scratch our heads for a day or two until enlightenment dawns. Ooh it must be the impeller. My excuse is that we have our minds on other things...I know that's not good enough but there you go it's the reality of life for us, and maybe a taste of our future in old age!

So I have taken the computer off to a palapa(shed) over looking the water and am surfing the net as TBH contorts himself on the cabin floor. Sometimes you just need to be apart....

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Treading water.

Depending on your perspective I live the perfect life (although I would disagree with that statement on a regular basis).

Sailing a boat around the world, visiting exotic locations, eating gourmet food....
...I live in a 40' x 13' space that is never fixed. Use an old fashioned washing dolly to do the weekly laundry in water that I have caught from the sky.Making all our food from scratch, catching fish and constantly repairing things!
The truth of course is somewhere  in the middle of those two scenario's.

Life on a boat (I prefer boat, yacht has too many 'luxury' conoctations) is certainly challenging at times, even downright terrifying.It can also be the most blissful,calming, natural existence you could possibly imagine.
Not that it is for everyone mind you. Type A personalities find it exceedingly difficult to adapt to a lifestyle that, first and foremost, is dictated by Mother Nature. She can be a demanding authority too!

In the current climate of frugality, economic uncertainty, stress and despair it occured to me that the way of life I have embraced has taught me many things about surviving in a world that is no longer a familiar place.

Not that I am asking you to believe that my life revolves around frugality! Hedonism is far more my style - but pure hedonism. The delight and glory of one perfect moment, one ideal creation. Zen if you like.

Those moments when the sails are set correctly, the wind blowing just strong enough, the sun not too hot and the boat creaming her way across a blue ocean. Eager to experience the next anchorage, water chuckling behind me as I stand at the wheel.

It doesn't happen all the time, not by any stretch of the imagination! But when it does you are transported to another level, another world.
If you ride a horse it's the same sensation when the animal is going forward 'on the bit', a sense of flying and floating across the ground.

So as we wait out another hurricane season it's those memories that sustain me, the thought that there will be many more of those moments to come.

And in the meantime I treasure the tiny things. The sight of a small turtle pushing it's way through the mangrove swamp yesterday morning.Head high, feet shoveling like crazy, shell bobbing in the ripples. I don't know where he was heading but boy did he have a sense of purpose!

Monday, 26 July 2010

Spider tennis.

Here in the jungle there are LOTS of creepy crawly things, reptiles and insects and WORSE!
I try not to think about the WORSE stuff too often. We religiously keep the fly screens in place, day and night. And there is always a can of bug killer at hand. Makes me feel safe, sort of.

Now I am no shrinking violet and can cope with most things, exceptions being rats and leeches. Yuck. Just writing that sentence has made me squirm...

One part of the day that I love here is around 4pm. The relentless heat is beginning to subside and there's no sign of the dusk driven mosquitoes and other blood sucking lovelies of the Tropics. I usually take a break up on deck then. Sat in the corner of the cockpit with my current book and a long iced drink..

So there I was yesterday when something caught my eye, glancing up I look with horror at the Tarzan of jungle spiders swinging towards the boat on a thread of web that must have been made of steel to hold the bodyweight of this bugger. It was so big I could see it's eyes, and that's without putting my spectacles on! I swear I could hear it yelling "Ah A ah a ah"!! beating it's chest with all six of it's legs that weren't clinging to the thread.It even looked a bit like Johnny Weismuller.

Bloody hell! I grabbed TBH's abandoned flip flop, and with an almighty swing batted the creature back into the jungle. Yeah!  Game, set and match to the middle aged matron with the devastating forehand!!

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Whale Ahoy!

From time to time we see whales when we are out sailing. It's always a thrill, but the encounters also leave me feeling VERY vulnerable. When sailing along the coast of Roatan, off the coast of Honduras, we had a close encounter with a big Sperm Whale. These are the ones of the classic Moby Dick tale, with the big square head. The beast was slumbering on top of the water in calm conditions, it was longer than our boat (40 feet) so it was a bloody good job that we both clocked each other in the nick of time and , astoundingly, obeyed the COLREGS and made the right direction of turn. Avoiding each other by a matter of feet.
That left my heart in my mouth I can tell you.

But these folk, off the coast of South Africa weren't so lucky. You occasionally read stories about whales attacking boats but it's rare to actually have photographic evidence. Have a look at these, scary huh!

You can read more about the story here.Now that's what you call a mess...

Monday, 19 July 2010

It'll never be the same again...

I used to buy Old Spice aftershave for my dad at Christmas and birthdays. Back in the days when 50p pocket money went a looong way. Just look at the promo now!

Made me smile to myself, now do I buy TBH some of that 'Lady scented bodywash' or some of this...?

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Sunday Treat, Chelsea Buns.

Ooh yummy! I woke this morning with an overwhelming need for Chelsea buns,big sugary ones filled with fruit, fresh from the oven.

So I made some. They were FANTASTIC! First time of trying too, all gone now. I did share I promise!!!

For about 15/16 buns:
18 oz/540gr Strong White Flour + a little extra for dusting
1 teaspoon (5mg) Salt
1 packet of easy-blend-Yeast
½ pint/300ml Milk
2 oz (60mg) Unsalted Butter, plus a little extra for greasing the baking tray
1 large Egg, lightly beaten
For the filling:
6 oz/180gr Mixed Dried Fruit (Currants, Raisins, Sultanas)
3 oz/90gr Mixed Chopped Peel
4 oz/120gr Dark Soft Brown Sugar
4 oz/120gr Unsalted Butter - melted
For the Glaze:
2 tablespoons (30ml) caster Sugar
1 tablespoon (15ml) Milk
Equipment needed:   A 13 x 9 ins (33cm x 23cm) Baking Tray
 Sift the flour & salt - through a sieve - into a large bowl. This will aerate it, and make the buns lighter.
  1. Make a well in the centre and add the easy-blend yeast.
  3. Slowly warm the milk and butter together until the latter has melted, then add .this to the flour mixture. Partially mix this together then add the mixed egg and continue mixing to form a soft dough.
  5. Knead for a further 5 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.
  7. Cover the bowl with cling wrap, or place it in a plastic carrier bag and place it in a warm place - such as an airing cupboard, until the dough has doubled in size - this might take about an hour.
  9. Lightly grease the baking tray with a little butter.
  11. Mix the dried fruit with the peel and sugar.
  13. Remove the risen dough from the plastic carrier bag (keep the bag) and knock-it back with your fist to expel the air and restore it to its original size.
  15. On a lightly-floured surface, roll it out into a rectangle of about 20 x 15 ins (51 x 38 cm).
  17. Brush the surface with the melted butter, then cover evenly with the dried fruit.
  19. Roll up the dough from the long side, in the style of a Swiss roll.
  21. Cut this roll into 15/16 pieces, then arrange these evenly (flat-side-down) on the baking tray. Try to leave a little space between each piece.
  23. Put the tray back into the plastic bag, and put them in a warm (not hot) place for about half an hour, by which time, they should have doubled in size again.
  25. While they are rising, heat an oven to 200°C/400°/Gas 6.
  27. Bake them for 25 minutes - or until they're golden on top. Remove them from the oven
  29. While they're baking, make the glaze - this is done by dissolving the sugar in the milk, over a low heat, then bringing this to the boil, and then simmering for 2 minutes.
  31. Brush the buns with this glaze, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool - so they don't become damp on the bottom.
  33. When they're cool, break them apart.

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Varnish in pictures.

Preparation, preparation, preparation!

Sand off the old varnish, depending on the state of it. If it's in reasonable nick just a little. If there is serious damage take it back to the wood with stripper, chemical, or a heat gun if you have the skill to use it!

We always use foam brushes, a new one for each coat. Only 5Q each from the local hardware store! For this project TBH has a 3" and 1" brush.

Don't think of brushing at all, let the varnish flow onto the surface! A Zen like trance comes over TBH's face when he is laying the new varnish down...

You can only lay it off once, so don't be tempted to brush back and forth! There will be more coats to come!

Remember the finish is achieved by the sanding between coats, NOT the build up of varnish!

Only one coat, allow to dry for at least 24 hours and then sand it all down. Heartbreaking but oh so necessary to achieve that mirror like gloss that we aspire to..

.So that's where my pudding basin went! You have to watch TBH like a hawk or he's liable to make off with all sorts of unsuitable(in my eyes) bits from the galley...

And there you are..
After just three coats with a sanding between each the cockpit has that wonderful gleaming coaming again, fit for visitors...until the next time which will come around all too quickly!

Friday, 9 July 2010


TBH is out in the cockpit sanding down the coaming. It's that time already, when the varnish needs to be renewed. It doesn't last long in the Tropics. The weather is co-operating by remaining overcast and actually not raining either. So it's action stations!

I really need to go shopping. We are way down on provisions but something just keeps coming along to postpone our visit to town. Good job we were well stocked!

It's hard to believe that it is July already, before we know it the hurricane season will be over, again.

Dylan Winter recently posted his proposal for a new TV series called low water. Looks lovely, it will be interesting to see whether there is any take up by the broadcasters. Our experience is that they have virtually zero funds for commissioning new series these days. Wish him well though.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Web 3.0

Long time... no blog!

Thank you to those who are concerned that all is well with my world. Yes it is, in fact, in many ways, it has never been better.

I have alluded to the genius of TBH many times, probably to the intense irritation of many. Sorry! But he is, a genius I mean.

It can be an onerous task taking responsibility for the well being of such a creature. In many ways it's like owning a racehorse. Keeping it at the prime of condition as it prepares to run a big race. More so over a length of time. Possibly a better analogy would be a marathon runner.

When TBH is in thought mode he is a strange creature. Totally focused on the cerebral concept that he is grappling with. As Einstein said."Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% hard work". That means, in our case that life can be turned upside down as everything revolves around the astonishing concepts that TBH is wrestling with. Night becomes day. Meals are taken erratically. Conversations are taxing and stimulating. My poor brain struggles to keep up with the powerful exercise thrown it's way...

OK I guess that statement sounds pretty wacky to many but you'd better believe it!

As Yala has developed both intellectually and practically, we have often felt that we have been swimming against the tide. Naive, mad, unsound. We have had all those accusations, and more, thrown our way. One particular technical forum became so frustrated that they accused him of selling snake oil. Boy that got me mad. Ten years of development, $$$$ of investment and they think it's smoke and mirrors. Sigh. Ah well, who ever said that the path to enlightenment was simple.

So, finally, it is wonderful to hear the world starting to talk TBH's language. To talk about web 3.0. The next generation of the internet. No, not the banal super advertising direction that many believe will happen, not the over charged web search engines that, to me, simply, appears to fuel a highly targeted advertising industry (God forbid). But the fact that by using the internet, and of course the Yala, we can combine the resources of our wonderful human minds and actually GET SMARTER. Goodness knows we need to. As our world accelerates into the abyss of ecological, financial and social disaster somewhere along the line we need to take control again. Unite our thoughts to halt the slide into a moral bankruptcy.

So you heard it here first folks! The last couple of weeks interest has risen sharply in what TBH is saying, the ancient philosophies and wisdom that he incorporates into his thinking are beginning to gain traction in the slippery world of political and business ambition. Maybe there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Have a look at this video, it can maybe explain better than I the thought behind this project of ours.

And of course sailing has been a great inspiration to us both. You know when you are employed there is never time to just think. To explore the ideas that so often fly rapidly across your consciousness only to disappear over the horizon just as you reach out to grasp them. For both of us the ocean, life on a boat has opened new doors. A lot of them physical (some of them I'd rather had remained closed) but many of them simply thoughtful.

I can't speak for TBH, well I try but it's not really on is it! But for me sailing has revealed aspects of my character that have both surprised and appalled me. In learning about myself, how I react to external stimuli, I am beginning to find an inner peace and acceptance of my role in life. And do you know what, it's a strangely moving experience!