2015 ARC DelMarVa Rally

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Captain Peter and Galley Pirate Kristin will be participating in the ARC DelMarVa rally from 20-27 June, circumventing the DeMarVa Peninsula with about 20 other boats.  We even got a shout out in the June edition (page 55) of one of our favorite publications, Spinsheet!  We will be sailing 450 nautical miles in three continuous legs, from Annapolis to Portsmouth down the Chesapeake Bay, from Portsmouth to Cape May offshore, and from Cape May up the Delaware Bay and through the C&D Canal back to Annapolis.  While these are fairly familiar waters, we will be doing this as just a two-man crew, which means manning the helm solo, including overnight–a first for Kristin!

ARC DelMarVa Route

It also means provisioning ahead so that we can have good, home-cooked meals that meet a Galley Pirate’s exacting standards, but that don’t require much galley time underway, when the non-helmsman should be sleeping or tending to equipment needs.  These first weeks in June, Kristin will be posting some of the preparations, and particularly tricks of the trade, to eat well underway with minimal fuss. During the rally we will post culinary updates here!

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Here is my first secret: Camsquares.  Made of rigid, virtually indestructable food-grade plastic and with super air- and water-tight lids, these things can get knocked around the icebox six ways ’till Sunday and not get squashed or have lids pop off.  They are made by a company called Cambro and sold at professional restaurant supply shops–we get ours at Caire in New Orleans, but their website (linked above) has a “where to buy” button.  The 2-quart size makes a perfect amount of something for the two of us to have three meals, which is about when you get tired of something if you have it over the course of a few days.  They can’t go in the microwave, but can go in the dishwasher…not that either is a real convenience on a sailboat!

But what is a convenience–or a necessity–is icebox facilitation.  As mentioned, these take a beating and keep things fresh and clean.  Even better, you can freeze them and line the bottom of your fridge with them and they make it WAY more efficient, keeping things cold much longer between charges.  When we sailed our boat back from Lake Michigan to Annapolis we had ten or twelve of them frozen in the fridge.  We worked our way down over the course of the trip, pulling the top one out in the morning to defrost, and at the end of four weeks, the bottom one still had some frozen parts…THAT is efficient.

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5 June, 2 weeks out: today I made ranchero sauce for Huevos Rancheros (also good on chicken and fish, and I’ve even mixed it with sour cream to make an impromptu dip for chips), Chattanooga Chocolate Chili, which doubles down with a meal of World’s Fair Nachos, the filling for Mediterranean Stuffed Peppers (which can also mix with sour cream as a dip…you never know when friends will show up and you will want to serve something fun), and Black Bean Soup.  Watch for the latter three recipes in future Galley Pirates posts.  These four containers would give us probably 16 or more meals–way more than we need! We may end up bringing some home, but we hope instead to find folks to share a meal with, and have something good to offer.

*Here is a good time to note: the Galley Pirates pride themselves on ALL of their recipes being galley friendly, as tested by being prepared by us in our galleys.  Provisioning for a passage, if you have a land-home (and more influentially if sadly, a land-job), you might do the heavy lifting in a land-kitchen, as I have here.  Otherwise, everything you see on Galley Pirates is done in a galley, and afloat!

Next week…galley rationalization for a passage, and final provisioning!

19 June UPDATE: so much for “next week” and as for galley rationalization, no time for that! Work got out of hand, so last provisioning was done in a flash on Friday. A few tips worth recording….

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Remove inner packaging from boxes and put in ziploc bags, noting what it is and cooking instructions in Sharpie. Things will stay fresher, takes up less space, and no soggy cardboard that you just have to carry off the boat later. And yes, this Pirate does use boil-in-bag rice when it comes to a passage…so much easier, quicker, more reliable, and especially clean-up free…you just throw away the bag and rinse the pan.

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Similarly, anything you can measure and mix together at home, like baking mixes, bag it and Sharpie the rest of the recipe on there. This is a fantastic beer bread recipe (future post) with about 10 dry ingredients you can pre-mix, then add a beer-and-a-half on the boat and bake.

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Captain Peter’s camping trick for eggs…break them into a Nalgene bottle to avoid having to protect them in the icebox the whole trip. Obviously lends itself best to scrambled, but you can actually spoon an egg’s worth out individually later too.

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Another good Nalgene bottle use…elegant syrup concentrates for drinks. Today I boiled ginger, mint, and cinnamon basil from the garden with sugar and water and mixed with lemon juice (same recipe essentially as our Fauxito). This concentrate, mixed with seltzer or even just water makes a special and refreshing drink to offer guests. As the non-drinkers in the marina we never want to be thought of as a less festive cockpit to visit!

That was about all the provisioning time I had! Grabbed the frozen foods in Cambro containers and it was off to the boat to store it all away.

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Produce in the hammock and we’re almost ready to go.

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Be sure to post an easy-to follow provisioning list, including where to finds things and especially icebox locations, to prevent long searches there, should another crew member get galley duty while you’re at the helm or asleep.

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The night before we left, little marina elves left us well wishes and goodies. Marina communities are the most generous I have ever encountered. Everyone’s mutual love of sailing and adventure means we all genuinely enjoy contributing to someone else’s trip and seeing them off in fine fashion. One neighbor left these treats, another brought beautiful produce from his farm, and a third gave us Pennsylvania Dutch Birch Beer. All came in so handy in spite of my careful provisioning…

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Granola to top yogurt and fruit as we left the slip on Sunday..

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Birch Beer with muffulettas for lunch on Sunday…

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And fresh cucumbers with Spanish meatball sandwiches for lunch on Monday! “Monday?” You ask…”what about dinner Sunday? Well, the trip down the bay turned out to be a screamer with no time for meals after lunch…

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We woke Sunday morning to the prior night’s tornado warning. Remnants of cyclone Bill had blown through, leaving a 15-20 knot westerly in it’s wake with gusts to the high-twenties starting right around dinner time and through the night. Good news is, the trip to Portsmouth that we thought would take 36 hours or so was over in about 20, but dinner was a couple of cold Spanish meatballs and no free hand for a photo.

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One fun picture from Sunday, the Picton Castle from Nova Scotia right off our starboard lifelines…beautiful! Just wish I had good photos of the many pods of dolphins playing alongside the boat for hours, flocks of pelicans and herons flying close to the water in formation, and so many other fantastic sites that I couldn’t the a hand off the wheel to capture. Day one, magical. A night in port, and then offshore, into the Atlantic!

24 June: Huh…wow…my first serious trip offshore today, so a confession…even for me, with my fine-dining-afloat obsession: big wind, big ocean, big swells…NO BIG MEALS. The good news is, you don’t really want to stuff yourself, which is good because, with just the two of us, there was NO time for the galley, and I’m not sure even fiddles would have kept a pot on the stove the way we were rockin’ and rollin’.

We did have a two-hour motor down the river in Portsmouth to get out to the harbor and through the cut to the deep blue, so it was time for a good breakfast…

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Blueberry pancakes and sausage! But maybe only eat half, don’t fill up quite to the top, and save half for 4 am when you come off watch in the rain.

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Oh and by rain I mean the “extreme thunderstorm threat” that both materialized out of thin air and made good on itself when we were halfway up the coast. After a rolling rush during the first half — top speed through the water 11.9kts! — we hit a storm with more wind and lightening than either of us has ever seen, and it lasted from 9pm to 3am, motoring into 40-knot winds and reversing seas in the dark. And the dark was the good part, because when the lightening lit everything up, I didn’t like what I saw.

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**Update 29 June: I have received some expressions of doubt, perhaps based on the pre-storm meal, or the post-storm sunrise, as to the severity of the storm.  To which I say only…look at the above radar image.  We were 2/3 of the way up the impenetrable coast, and sailing NORTH through the big blob to the right, which was coming SOUTH.  It was long, and it was nasty.  ‘Nuff said.

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But here’s what it looks like when you didn’t capsize, and made it through the night…

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And here’s what you eat when you get to port…yogurt with nectarines the color of the sunrise. Now, time for a serious nap.

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See above for serious nap instructions.

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25 June: a day to relax in port in Cape May. Starting with 11 hours sleep, and a couple more just sipping coffee and watching the sun come up from the cockpit. Also a good day to take stock of what’s left in the larder and use the most labor-intensive or delicate-to-serve choices today, vs the next couple days when we will be screaming up the Delaware Bay toward home and probably feeling pretty lazy about galley time.

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My Captain started it off by making me brunch…a new recipe “Ranchero Rolls” was born! Huevos Rancheros sounded good, but a bit too heavy, so he scrambled up the eggs with ranchero sauce in them, and rolled them up in tortillas with pepper jack cheese. Lovely dipped in a bit more ranchero sauce!

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After a few chores, a late lunch of Mediterranean Stuffed Peppers and fresh baked beer bread, recipes to come in future posts.

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And a little advertising to the marina crowd while they smell the bread baking! Tomorrow, last run up the bay, down the canal, and toward home port.

26 June: final passage, out the Cape May inlet, up Delaware Bay, through the C&D canal, and down the northern part of the Chesapeake to home. The day started out gray and rainy, and with a glitch…after an early departure to time the tides, we found ourselves in open water with a gas tank registering low despite showing near full and passing a dipstick test the day before, so around we turned and back into Cape May to top off. Good decision…we took 20 gallons, or about 3/4 of our tank…would have been trouble up the bay, not to mention the canal.

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Never one to let adversity stand in the way of eating, I took the extra motoring time to insist upon breakfast. These Nutella banana crepe roll ups were an accidental recipe good enough to post later. Essentially, faced with leftover pancake batter Tuesday, I thinned it and made big, thin pancakes, smeared them with Nutella and sliced bananas, rolled them up in foil and stuck them in the icebox. With coffee, sausage, and fruit…both boat and people were fueled and we somehow still made the tide change to ride the Magic Carpet up the bay.

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Just as well, because the commercial traffic was impressive, despite most being hunkered down at anchor below the bay, trapped by Longshoreman hours in upper bay ports, and a weekend storm forecast that made the port anchorages less hospitable than open water. We call this shot “the parting of the Swans” as a container ship plowed between our 391 and the 48 that was the rally control boat.

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Top of the bay we turned into the canal to an impressive sight…HUGE car carrier coming out. Hard to believe it fit, and dropping the main as we steamed past him port to port a minute later…the sight of one of those walls of steel moving by you a stone’s throw away is something I hope not to see too often.

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Which vindicated my choice for dinner, World’s Fair nachos! From the 1984 expo in New Orleans, you open a bag of Fritos, dump in chili  (in this case, our award winning Chattanooga Chocolate Chili), top with sour cream and green onions, and eat out of the bag with a spoon. One handed, no clean up, and delicious!

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Followed by a beautiful sunset over the Elk River, and a most incredible ride down the upper bay, close hauled in 15 knots on one tack, practically hockey-stopping in our Back Creek slip at about 3:30 am. An absolutely incredible trip – 450 miles in about 75 hours of sailing – and a fantastic experience.

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Home to a happy dog, a nap, some cleanup, and planning the next adventure…and the menu, naturally.

A pirate’s life for me!

Read more about the ARC DelMarVA 2015.

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