Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Neglected

We've certainly been absent from our blog lately. We have a good excuse though. Our boat sank. Just kidding. We're still floating. The real reason, sadly, is that our little captain spent the majority of November being quite sick, which means Eric and I spent the majority of November tending to Helina, driving to and from the hospital, being stressed out of our minds, and attempting to stay afloat professionally by working late into the night--all while also being sick ourselves. If it were not for the energizing high we experienced from dosing on large quantities of fear and coffee, I don't know how we would have survived the month.

Hospital Visit #3
As you might have guessed, this 24/7 craziness left us with little time for blogging. Of course, just because we haven't posted recently doesn't mean we haven't been doing anything exciting aboard Sea Gem--we just haven't had much time to document our efforts. The good news is, our little tot is on the mend (Hallelujah!), which means our schedule is returning to normal (if there even is such a thing).

Among other things happening aboard, Thanksgiving is tomorrow, and we are once again hosting! Although I know we have the tools and ability to cook a meal of this caliber aboard, I'm concerned that Sea Gem is not interested in cooperating with the planned festivities. Like clockwork, yesterday morning, our water pump broke. Then, a hose came loose in the engine room and flooded the floor with water (thank god for bilge pumps and elevated engines). As chaos was unfolding down below, the port-side A/C unit decided to leak all over the floor in the salon. It was an awesome day. Oh, and did I mention it has been raining for days on end and we're all trapped inside the boat?

Thankfully, we have outsourced turkey production this year, so despite what is or isn't working aboard the boat, we'll still have turkey in our stomachs and a happy Thanksgiving it will be!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Galley Upgrade Take 2

Not long ago, I gave our stove a facelift (more like a chemical peel, really) by swapping out its crusty drip pans with new ones. Generally speaking, I don't do a good job maintaining drip pans (hence the crustiness). I'm more of a glass cooktop kind of gal. Although I excel at Windexing flat services, I fall short when it comes to scrubbing burnt food off of domed aluminum. Thankfully, however, I'm great at replacing things I struggle to clean.

The last time I replaced our drip pans, I bought a cheap aluminum set. They quickly blackened. This time, I splurged and bought black ceramic pans. Eric was skeptical that black pans would look good against our off-white stove, but I figured they couldn't look any worse than the charred set I was replacing. To our surprise, the dark drip pans complement the light stove and our appliance once again looks new (well, not quite, but it does look sanitary, which is a nice change).

Even Newer Drip Pans
The surface of the new pans is shiny, so I'm optimistic that cleaning them won't require a tremendous amount of elbow grease. Worst case, the dark surface will be just perfect for camouflaging cooked-on disgustingness.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Not so TEArrific

As I eluded to in a previous post, Eric and I often buy things that we believe will solve a boat-specific problem or will make living aboard easier or more comfortable. Although all of our ideas make sense in our heads, in reality, they don't always come together as intended. Sometimes, this is because we don't fully understand the situation (like when we made plans to move aboard without ever having lived on a boat), and other times, it is because we are solving a problem that doesn't really exist (I tend to be guilty of these types of purchases). A great example of a solution to a nonexistent problem is the collapsible tea pot I purchased back in February.
 
At the time I bought the teapot, we had already made the decision to retire our electric kettle to the depths of one of our on-board storage spaces because the pleasure I got from drinking a cup of tea every now and then was not greater than my distaste for having our kettle take up space on the counter top. A short time later, my parents happened to mention that they had seen a collapsible teapot in a store. Naturally, I immediately went online in search of this mystical kettle. After all, a collapsible teapot seemed like the perfect device for a small kitchen. Mostly though, I just wanted a collapsible teapot because it sounded cool.

Although I absolutely love our collapsible teapot, it just doesn't work well for our purposes.

For starters, it takes forever to boil the water because the kettle can only be placed over low(ish) heat (which all of the reviews clearly state). Is this a big deal? No, not really, but the combination of this, plus the kettle's lack-of-whistle (also noted in the reviews) resulted in me routinely forgetting that I was boiling water. And, by the time I remembered that I was, I was no longer in the mood for tea.

My main frustration with the kettle though, was that it took forever for it to dry. No matter how many hours I left the teakettle up-side-down in our drying rack, a little bit of water always remained trapped inside. Although I'm sure this had more to do with the humidity in Florida rather than a fatal design flaw of the kettle, the end result was the same. The whole desirability of the teapot was that it could easily be stored after use, but I was reluctant to stash it in a drawer with water trapped inside (I don't actively seek opportunities to introduce mildew into my life). So in an ongoing effort to encourage evaporation, I left the kettle expanded on the stove.

The last reason the teapot didn't work for us was because of something Eric and I hadn't factored into the equation: Helina. A main staple in Helina's diet is instant oatmeal. In fact, there was a time when she was eating it every morning, and I was relying on the microwave to "cook" the oatmeal. This technique resulted in one of two outcomes: (1) a rubbery block of congealed oats or (2) an almost broth-like puddle of mush. Upon witnessing my galley skills in action, Eric said, you know what would be nice? Our electric kettle.

So, we dug it out of its hiding spot and returned it to the counter top.

It's Electric 
With the electric kettle back in the galley, tea consumption has increased, our oatmeal's texture is consistent, and Helina has a great new toy:

Spot of Tea

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Safe Snoozing

Living on a boat comes with an endless stream of unique challenges. Sometimes, when Eric and I come up with a solution to a problem we're facing, we strike out. What works well in theory fails miserably in reality. Other times, however, we get lucky and find a solution that works exactly as we had hoped--sometimes even better. Helina's new bed is an example of us hitting a home run. 

Conceptually, I thought Helina's floor bed was a good idea, but I had my doubts. I was concerned that Helina wouldn't adjust well to suddenly being left, crib-less, in her room with the door shut. I imagined Helina abusing her new freedom by rummaging through her now accessible dresser drawers, munching on diapers, and causing vast amounts of unimaginable damage. I anticipated tears, screaming, sleepless nights, a cranky baby, cranky parents, and annoyed neighbors.

What I wasn't expecting, was Helina adjusting to her new accommodations almost immediately. In fact, I wouldn't even say that she has adjusted to her new sleeping arrangements--she has fully embraced them and seems genuinely happy about having her own room. At night, when we tell Helina it is time for bed, she ushers herself into her room, shuts the door, then promptly falls asleep.

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Zzzzzzzzzzz...
Now that Helina is no longer caged inside a crib, making sure she remains in her room for the duration of the evening is important. Although the boat is locked at night, we certainly can't have Helina leaving her room and roaming the boat even if escaping from the hatch is impossible. Thankfully, Sea Gem's previous owners had installed a latch on the outside of the door to Helina's room back when their grandchildren used the room as their own (and the door cannot lock from inside the room). With the latch locked, Eric and I sleep soundly knowing that Helina is safe in her room.

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Zonked
The only challenge we now face as the result of the new setup is opening the door. Helina sleeps at ground level, so having a door that opens inward is a bit of a problem, as she is often sleeping directly in the path of the opening door. Solving this problem was easy, however. So that we can check on Helina at night and confirm her location prior to entering her room, we reinstalled her video baby monitor. Now we are able to spy on our daughter whenever we want--even with the door shut.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Freezing

Eric and I are often asked about whether or not we're able to cook aboard the boat. This is one of those questions that gives us insight as to how others envision our life afloat. When we're asked about cooking and food storage, I suspect that the person inquiring about our accommodations pictures us eating out of cans and storing perishables in a dirty cooler that doubles as our coffee table. Although that scenario couldn't be farther from reality, these days, I'm starting to feel like we're living up to other people's expectations (or, rather, spiraling down to them).

Awhile back, our freezer died, and since then, we've been relying on our ice maker to freeze a small number of necessities (ice cream and pizza). Then, our refrigerator died (or rather an integral component of the refrigerator died), so we purchased what is essentially a freakishly expensive cooler (it can either refrigerate or freeze--hence the cost), to serve as our makeshift fridge. And where does this magical cooler live? On the floor of our salon under the navigation station (basically in plain sight). 

The good news is, now that our refrigerator is back up and running, we can convert the cooler from refrigerator to freezer. While this is certainly a step in the right direction, the only draw back is that we haven't yet fully remodeled our galley, which means that the freezer must remain on the floor of the salon for a short while longer.

The timing of our refrigerator/freezer re-birth couldn't have been more perfect (with the exception of the whole galley remodel hiccup). A Trader Joe's, which is new to Miami, just opened, and as you might know, they carry a wide variety of delicious frozen food. It may not seem as though a cooler-sized freezer could hold much, but it absolutely can. Ours is now packed full of goodies:

Freezing Cold
The freezer currently holds weeks worth of food (plus one teething ring):
  • Pasta sauce
  • 2 cheese pizzas
  • Fish sticks
  • Vegetarian burritos
  • Spinach quiche
  • Danish pancake balls
  • French toast
  • Vegetarian corn dogs
  • Dark chocolate covered bananas
  • Beef & vegetable pho
  • Chimichurri rice & vegetables 
  • Kung Pao chicken
  • Vegetable tempura
  • Stir fry vegetables
  • Fried rice
  • Mini chicken pot pies
There isn't much room to spare, but overall, it isn't bad for a cooler!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

A New Life For an Old Dinghy

There are a number of boat-maintenance tasks, such as washing and waxing the hull, that require a dinghy or raft tied next to the boat.  Since we don't have a raft, and setting up and putting away the dinghy takes way too much time to justify, we haven't been able to do these tasks ourselves.  To remedy this, we had been thinking of getting a work float/raft to keep in the water next to Sea Gem.  However, since we have a new dinghy, we decided to to just use our old inflatable dinghy instead. 

This week, we inflated the old dinghy and tied it off in our slip next to Sea Gem.  (A cooler will take the dinghy's former storage space on deck.)

Back from Retirement
And today, we made use of it for maintenance tasks for the first time.  We didn't do much--just scrubbed some streaks off of the hull, but the inflatable was a very comfortable work platform that we'll be making good use of in the near future.

I was also joined in my work by our very young apprentice, who will someday be taking over our hull-scrubbing duties. 

Quick Study

Friday, November 1, 2013

Trashed

I am forever on the hunt for little upgrades for the boat. And by little upgrades, I mean, teeny, tiny versions of everyday items. My latest find? Mini garbage cans (fyi, the pumpkin (also a mini) is just there as a point of reference...I don't typically keep pumpkins on top of our toilet):

Blomus Pushboy Wastebasket
As you can see, these little cans are comically small, and although they do not have the capacity to serve as our boat's main trash receptacle, their size is sufficient for accommodating our bathroom garbage disposal needs. Even though our bathrooms' former wastebaskets were more compact than most, they were just big enough to get in the way, and as you might imagine, the floor space in our bathroom is limited, so every precious inch counts toward making the room feel spacious.

In the master head (bathroom), the new trash can fits snugly next to the toilet, as opposed to resting on the floor where our old basket once stood: 

Almost Out of Sight
And in the forward head, the new wastebasket resides on top of the counter, directly behind the toilet. 

 Micro mini
These mini cans are somewhat of a novelty, but I have no doubt they'll do a masterful job holding used dental floss and the occasional tissue.