Sunday, July 23, 2006

Answers to some readers' questions

July 23, 2006   Sunday
Chaguaramas, Trinidad

A couple of people have posted inquiries on the message board.  Rather than answer there, thought I would post a couple of answers on the blog page.

Barbara had asked if any foods had made us ill yet.  Not really.  I was very sick all one night when in Grenada, but  could not identify any particular food as a source.  I had drunk some fruit juice about 16 hours earlier that day and possibly that was the cause, but not likely.  It was not a local juice, but was a standard box type fruit juice like you buy in any supermarket.  I did not eat lunch that day and then had red wine and cheese and crackers for a late dinner.  Bill had the same wine & cheese and he did not get sick, so don't know what caused the problem. 

Bill has not had any gastrointestinal problems at all since moving aboard.  Of course, he is not nearly as adventurous in his dining choices as me.  Everyone who knows me, knows that if there is something different or unusual on a menu in any restaurant, then I will try it.  I am not so adventurous in purchasing raw food products, especially meats.  Still haven't purchased any "sliced cow's feet" or "pig trotters" or any of the other strange animal parts that are sold in all the island stores.  I actually cannot imagine what they do with the sliced cows hooves; seems to me that if you boiled them for a broth that you would get glue. 

We have not yet ventured to the fresh market here in Trinidad -- because the maxi-taxi leaves our marina at 6:30 a.m on Saturdays for that trip.  That is a little early for us; not sure there is anything we need to buy that requires being dressed and out front that early in the morning.  Anyway, from what we have been told by other cruisers, this fresh market is not just produce like one would expect.  They also put whole cows and pigs and sheep/lambs/goats laid out on tables; and slice off what you want to buy.  Flies and no refrigeration and all that smell simply does not sound very appealing to us.  So we are sticking to supermarkets and cuts of meat that we can identify.  I do plan to buy some texturized vegetable protein (soy) the next time we make a trip to the supermarket.  I have heard that you can make decent tacos and pastas with it as a substitute for ground beef.

Liz had asked if we had found that there was anything that we thought that we needed that we found that we did not need.  That is somewhat of a hard question to answer since we have only been living aboard for less than 3 months; there may be things on board that we haven't used yet but will use later.  I would have said that the manual food processor that I bought was a waste of money and space, but then last Sunday I used it for the first time to julienne carrots and zucchini to make Spring Spaghetti for the weekly marina pot-luck dinner (which was a huge hit, BTW).  That little processor made perfectly shaped julienne pieces in minutes, whereas it would have taken me more than an hour to manually cut all those carrots and zucchini into tiny strips; and my manual cutting would not have looked nearly so uniform in size.  Today I plan to cook potatoes au gratin with green chiles and polish sausage for the weekly pot-luck, and will again use that manual food processor to slice the potatoes uniformly.  I am sure that there will be many uses for it and we had the extra space, so I am glad that I brought it.

The only thing that we think was somewhat of a waste is the Globalstar satellite phone.  I would recommend it for anyone cruising near-coastal US and northern Caribbean, but the reception deteriorates the farther south you go.  Could not tell you how many dropped calls we have experienced.  It is extremely annoying.  If we had it to do over again, we would have bit the bullet and purchased an Irridium phone in the first place.  The Irridium phones are much, much more expensive both to purchase and for the minutes used; but the Irridium does work world-wide.  The Globalstar simply does not have a large enough service coverage area.  We had planned to use this Globalstar for maybe two years (throughout the Caribbean and also on the western coast of Central America

We planned to then sell this one and maybe purchase an Irridium phone when we started out in the Pacific, ONLY if we had actually used the Globalstar often enough to substantiate the cost of another satellite phone.  Most cruisers actually do not carry a sat phone in the Pacific; they just use an SSB (which is like a HAM radio for marine use, called Single Side Band). 

We have a good SSB.  We use it to listen to the various weather information services and have listened to a few of the cruiser nets on the SSB, especially the one we call the "Murder and Mayhem Show."  This is actually called the Caribbean Safety and Security Net.  It is broadcast each day at 8:15 a.m. as a means of letting all cruisers know of any thefts, robberies or other security problems anywhere in the Caribbean.  We also can send and receive text-only emails via the high-frequency radio.  We have subscribed to two weather services that send us an email each day at 6:30 a.m. providing the weather forecast for whatever area we are visiting.  As long as we can get an SSB connection, we can receive weather reports.  One service also sends us personalized weather forecasts if we request one for a specific passage.

Can't think of anything else that we brought that we wish that we hadn't -- other than way too many clothes; and we knew at the time that we were bringing too many clothes.  We just couldn't see throwing away perfectly good clothes as long as we had space onboard to store them.  I still have probably 9 large plastic storage ziplock bags of clothes that I have not even opened, all stacked in the bottom of my hanging locker (which is HUGE--it is as big as many land-home closets).  However, I do wish that I had brought a few pairs of mid-to-high-heel sandals.  There have been a few occasions when I would like to have worn something nicer than boat shoes.

I am not looking forward to the pot-luck at the marina gazebo tonight.  Bill volunteered to do the charcoal tonight, so we have to go; but I have been sequestered inside the boat for the past 2 days trying to avoid some very tiny mosquitoes.  They aren't bothering Bill at all, but I know they will literally eat me alive tonight.


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