Friday, January 23, 2015

A whole year without...

There honestly isn't much I miss of accepted home comforts during this life we're living on Impetuous. What people who live in houses in the western world take for granted doesn't appeal to me. I don't dream of central heating or cooling, TVs, cars, limitless electricity or piped hot and cold water.

Catching our own fish and water, using only what power is produced by our solar panels, doing our own laundry by hand and finding what we can, without spending too much, comes naturally to me as someone who likes to live frugally and pay attention to our environment.

I don't find being out of contact a wrench, although I'm learning that almost having internet or patchy phone contact is much more frustrating than none at all. I love the way that if we have a problem we have to rely on ourselves to sort it out. Risk is assessed in a slightly different way when you don't have the safety nets we're used to.

I don't wish our life was easier either. I actually really enjoy rowing ashore and finding out how we will organise water, gas or recycling in each new place.  Looking around to find the cheapest shops and hunting out markets for fresh stuff or even better finding what is growing wild is never a chore but an engaging way to spend our time.

We both equally choose not to have an outboard motor, or expensive electronics such as chart plotter, autopilot, radar, watermaker, or electrical anchor winch; our 'raison d'etre' is not for our life to be as easy as possible (or for that matter to be as hard as possible) it just comes naturally to both Duncan and I to relish some challenges in our lives. We're young and need to do exercise. Pulling up the anchor chain, lugging about water jugs, rowing, walking or cycling about keeps us happy and healthy.

Nor do I long to stay in a marina in order to use the facilities. This year (February 2014 in Guatemala to January 2015 here in New Zealand) we have stayed in a marina a grand total of one night. This was Shelter Bay in Colon, Panama and cost us over $50 US for one night; we hated it. As soon as we found out there was an anchorage possible instead, we moved there.

We're not purists; we have a very efficient fridge which we can make ice in, two cheap ($200) computers and a diesel engine on our boat but in short I'm extremely content with exactly what we have on Impetuous and if I felt something was lacking I'd be working on sorting it out. Having said all this there is one thing that I have really been missing this whole year whilst we've been away from the UK...  

For an entire year I have not experienced the shear unbridled joy of a long, luxurious hot bath.

That is, until last night when we anchored off Smokehouse bay on Great Barrier island. In this bay, for free community use by any boater is a bathhouse. Built by Eric Webster and maintained by his family and the community which uses it. There is a smokehouse to prepare your fish, a campfire area with benches, tree swings, mangles and washing lines, an area to dry out your boat for maintenance on the tide and best of all the bathhouse. It's a simple system with rainwater caught from the roof, a fire with a backboiler outside which gravity feed heats a big hot water tank inside. A beautiful cast iron bath in a lovely clean, spacious yet cosy room. The water was copious and boiling hot after tending the fire for a few hours.

The joy; I cannot tell you...      

Thursday, January 8, 2015

End of an Era...

With Christmas and New Years' celebrations over...  With last years aim of crossing an ocean crossed...  As friends take their boats out of the water, or spirit them away to marinas stripped of sails thinking of earning some money here in New Zealand or travelling in a different way for a while...  It feels very much like we are reaching an end of an era. And so I realised we are; when I rummaged around to find that we were down to our very last can of American bought tomatoes.

It was a happy day back in February of 2013 when a special offer saw the price of canned tomatoes drop to three cans per dollar at our local store. We had been studying the market for a while where we were working on the boat in Dickinson, Texas and knew that this was the time to buy buy buy.

We knew that there would be places over the coming years where you could expect to pay a considerable sum of money for our staple and we wanted to be sure we would never run out until we could buy them cheap again.

'Can I have eight cases please?' I asked at our local store, 'As I'm buying so many can I have a discount?' (I had to try) 'No way. They are on offer three cans for a dollar, that IS the discount' came the reply. 'You can pick them up tomorrow.'

Cans for us means one thing; tomatoes.  This simplicity is very helpful when the labels come off. Argued there could always be a few odds and sods to be found; maybe an artichoke here, some chipotle chillis there, or a sauerkraut may sneak in... if they're small they may be water chestnuts, but generally all cans we carry and use are tomatoes.  We mix them with beans for chilli or a herby breakfast mix; we use them as a base for many curries, pasta sauces and various soups; and I love to make pizzas whenever we can face the heat of the oven!

Stacked up on the galley side they gave us a real sense of achievement. We had come a long way and the goal was well and truly within sight. We had bought four years prior, what many might have regarded as a wreck of a boat. Though Impetuous was still out of the water, it wouldn't be long until she was launched and we would be sailing off on her. Here we were, stocking up on tomatoes that would last us until we were somewhere totally different.

During the years on Impetuous our 192 cans didn't all rust and no, we didn't varnish them. Before crossing the Pacific we did re-order them, checking for damage. We had a slight list to starboard, in part caused by our food stores, so as we were going to be sailing on a port tack for a month or more, it was time to shift to port anything heavy... Who says cruisers don't think of these things!

It will be with both sadness and joy that we open that last can of tomatoes. An end of an era suggests a loss.  But we will be happy to have crossed an ocean with no shortage of canned tomatoes, happy to have never paid silly money for more supplies and happy not to have died of botulism!