Silicone – Yes or No?

I know what you’re thinking – what is she on about now? I am, of course, talking about silicone kitchen tools and how they are a must on our boat. I am in love with them!

In a previous blog (October 2014) entitled Gallery Series: Part 2, I espoused the benefits of my newly-purchased silicone muffin trays from a baking point of view but I also want to say they are perfect for those of us who have limited space, seriously DISLIKE scrubbing pans, and want something light-weight. But, of course, not all tools claiming to be silicone are the same. I did a little research (click here) before purchasing my Artisan baking sheets and Grazia 12-cup muffin tray and, as they say, the proof is in the muffin, or pudding! I’m super happy with them.

Ready to eat

According to the those who know about such things, you need to make sure the silicone product you purchase doesn’t have any ‘fillers’ as this will reduce the quality. This can easily be checked when buying in-person by bending the product; if the colour of the product doesn’t go all the way through and you see some white or lighter colour, it includes fillers. I purchased my items online through Amazon and read reviews on the brands before making my choice. Fortunately, when mine arrived, it was red all the way through!

From a baking point of view, nearly all my muffins have browned when using the silicone tray. However, there was one occasion when they didn’t brown and I’ve put that down to my choice of ingredients: I used wet coconut rather than dry. In addition to traditional sweet muffins I bake savoury, such as cheese, zucchini, and also bake meffins. Yes, meffins; that is, meat muffins. These are really good during a sail 🙂

Brown all over!
Brown all over!

The cleaning of the tray is probably the best feature – it’s soooooo easy and, apart from initially greasing the molds, I never add oil or butter prior to filling. How easy is that 😉

From a limited storage point of view, the muffin trays can be cut into 2 x 6 cup, 3 x 4 cup or 4 x 3-cup trays, plus they are light. I haven’t needed to cut mine down but I have seen it done.

The baking sheets have also been good; no greasing and cleaning of trays. They are a little ‘limp’ so I place the sheet on an inverted baking tray for stability and it works well.  I also leave one on the bench beside the oven and use it for hot pots and pans.

Artisan baking sheet
Artisan baking sheet
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Baking sheet with inverted tray for stability

I am now ready to dispose of my hard, slightly rusty, muffin tray and I’m happy not to be using baking paper or disposable muffin cups, which usually end up stuck to the muffin.

So, there you have it, silicone kitchen utensils gets a big YES from me.

 

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Bequia and Black Box Deposits

Whilst we are waiting for the winds to drop and we can be underway for our next leg north, we find ourselves in Bequia for at least 10+ days. This isn’t all that bad as this is a gorgeous little island (7 sq miles) with a population of about 5,000 in St Vincent and the Grenadines. It is our fourth visit and we always enjoy it. The island has everything we need; some nice restaurants, a good anchorage, great fruit and veg from nearby St Vincent, friendly people and picturesque scenery.

The first few days we caught up with other cruisers we knew and general stuff like provisioning after a few days at Tobago Cays where there are no shops. Sunday it rained on and off all day and we didn’t go ashore once so by Monday we were ready for some exercise. So we joined up with 4 Coconuts (Toutou, David, Maya and Tyler) and Notrie Vie (Sunny and John) plus two of Sunny & John’s friends, Angela and Neil and took a gorgeous walk to the Hawksbill Turtle Sanctuary on the north-east coast of the island. It was a sunny day but the walk was along the main road which had good tree coverage providing some much appreciated shade. As we left the main town of Port Elizabeth, a stray dog decided to tag along much to Tyler and Maya’s delight. They quickly named him Potato and he spent the whole day with us. Tyler asked him if he’d like to become the 5th coconut! He was a lovely dog and waited for us outside everytime we went in anywhere. Mal subsequently named him Red Dog after the dog in the Australian film of the same name. On our way back to town we stopped at The Firefly Plantation for lunch and a swim. There didn’t appear to be any guests so we had the beautiful grounds to ourselves. Originally a volcanic island, the soil is very fertile and this hotel uses much of the fruit and veg grown here.

Whilst we’re waiting for the weather-window, we can do some jobs and make some significant Black Box deposits! A friend of ours, Mike Sweeney from One Love Catamaran Charters, refers to Black Box deposits as jobs to do before they actually need doing. Our job list has been getting longer and longer so we decided we could probably do one a day for the next few days and put a seriously big hole in the list. Mal has been polishing, checking fuel levels, cleaning windows, etc, whilst I’ve been replenishing the damp-rid, which we place in each berth during the summer months, and cleaning the odd mildew spots that crop up with the humidity.

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Any more jobs to do?
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Damp Rid replenishment

On Friday I joined Jo from Serenade, Diana from Serenada and Mary from Night Watch, for a girls’ day out! We had a most successful day enjoying a spot of lunch and visiting every boutique, gallery and hair salon that Port Elizabeth had to offer.

New York Boutique
The high-end, New York fashion boutique in Bequia

We’re very excited to use the new boardwalk (almost finished) linking Tony Gibbons Beach (aka Princess Margaret Beach) to the main beach at Port Elizabeth. It’s a pretty walk and quite convenient for us.

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Today Mal and I joined the abovementioned girls and their partners, Greg, Gill and Ralph, for a good walk across the hill to Friendship Bay to visit the Whaling Museum. Bequia has a strong history of whaling and they have an Agreement from the IWC that they can take four whales per year. The whaling season is from February to April and the Agreement is that they must hunt in a traditional manner. This involves using a hand-thrown harpoon from an open sailing boat and, we understand, there are fewer and fewer people available with these skills, resulting in no whales caught during 2013.

The walk was pleasant enough along the roads but the Whaling Museum was closed so we continued on and came across a lobster co-operative. As we stood there, boat after boat arrived with their catch of very large lobsters which were transferred into floating holding crates. They informed us that they provide the local market and restaurants on the island and export to Trinidad and as far away as Japan. A local was making a lobster trap and was charging 5EC ($2.50AU) per trap.

We then continued on down the road to the airport when a tropical downpour arrived. We hailed a local bus and got a ride back to town. We then had a much-needed lunch and beer at the Whaleboner Restaurant before hiking back to our dinghies and heading home.

Whaleboner's Stools (480x640)
Whalebone stools at The Whaleboner!

Looking at windguru.com it looks like Thursday 27th is our window of opportunity and, at this stage, Plan A is a very long day-sail straight to Marin on Martinique, approximately 90nm. This means bypassing St Vincent and St Lucia. We are then looking forward to some playtime on a French island whilst waiting for my sister, Annie, to join us. Very exciting 🙂

Until next time, keep well, Sue & Mal xx

 

A first big year or a big year of firsts!

I was reading our friends Alex and Dave’s Sailing Banyan blog, which neatly summarised their second season* of sailing in The Caribbean and it got me thinking about our adventure living on Kool Kat since February this year.  It struck me that, so far, it has far exceeded both our expectations and that it has been a big year of FIRSTS. I knew Mal had a pretty good idea of what it would be like but I was worried I might get bored whilst we were waiting for the hurricane season to pass. I mean, really, what is there to do when you can’t go sailing very far, you don’t know many people and it’s so damned hot? Well, you use the time productively doing boat maintenance, swimming, fixing the broken bits, swimming, making friends, more swimming, sailing to close islands and back, still more swimming, and doing lots of stuff for the FIRST time!

This week we stored two inflatable SUPs (Stand Up Paddleboards) for friends Jody and Peter from S/V Mary Christine whilst their boat was on the hard. They were happy as they didn’t have to deflate and pack them away and we got to try them out for the FIRST time. Mal, being a past wind-surfer, took to it like a duck to water and I surprised Mal; I did OK. Jody and Peter gave excellent instructions: step 1, sit on the board;

Step 1step 2, get into a kneeling position;

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step 3, stand up and place the oar front and centre, like a tripod;

IMG_5387 (640x427) IMG_5389 (640x427) IMG_5391 (640x427)step 4, paddle and then smile at the camera.

IMG_5392 (640x427) IMG_5393 (640x427) IMG_5394 (640x427) IMG_5396 (640x427)Their instructions worked, with some minor hiccups, and we now want two. Thank goodness for the warm Caribbean water 😉 Thanks to Jody and Peter for the loan – I know we got the good end of the deal!

The following are pictures of some other FIRSTS this year for Team Kool Kat. Not all were planned or expected!

FIRST Halloween:

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Guy from Scream and some Aussie Joker

FIRST International Regatta:

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2014 Carriacou Regatta on S/V Banyan

FIRST scuba experience:

Open Water Course participants FIRST broken bone (for Sue):

Broken ring finger
Broken ring finger

FIRST Hash:

Woohoo, we've finishedFIRST Granddaughter’s (Sue) FIRST birthday:

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My little cutie, Autumn.

FIRST anchor dragging!

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We’ve now joined the Rocna Club with this big mumma, 40kgs.

FIRST Aussie visitors:

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Jo & Bob – we hope you come back soon!

FIRST

  • up-close experience with turtles: swimming with green and hawksbills and stroking a gigantic leatherback whilst she laid her eggs – absolutely gob-smacking for us.
  • living on a boat AND living 24/7 in each other’s pockets: a challenge but we wouldn’t change it for the world.

That’s all the FIRSTS we could think of although I know we’ll remember a few more after the post is published! What have been your memorable FIRSTS this year? We hope they were good and we’d love to hear about them so drop us a line.

Love, Sue & Mal xx

*The Caribbean sailing season is roughly from November to June.
Note:  Thanks to friends who have taken some of these photos and, in particular, thanks to Jo Almond for the sunset image.