Monday, July 27, 2015

Introducing....Cooking on a Boat with Kirsten

When Emma was on the boat there were some things that she wanted to learn how to cook but we didn't have the proper ingredients or a store nearby to buy those ingredients or enough time so I told her I would make some cooking videos for her. Turns out people liked popular demand, I am posting my first ever episode of Cooking on a Boat with Kirsten. I hope you enjoy. The recipe will follow.

Rice Balls

A big thanks to JustOneCookbook for enlightening me on how to make grilled rice balls. You can find the original recipe here:

Cooked Japanese rice (I started with 3 cups of dry rice and cooked according to the package which yielded roughly 20-25 rice balls)
Delicious Filling (smoked or candied salmon, kelp, cheese, pulled pork, etc)
Soy sauce or Unagi Sauce (recipe follows)

Cook rice according to package directions. Once the rice is cool enough to handle without burning yourself, wet your hands with water and sprinkle them with salt. Spread a layer of rice across your palm, place your chosen ingredient on top of rice, place more rice over that and form into a ball. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

Heat a lightly oiled frying pan over med-high heat. Place a small glob of butter on each rice ball and place on heated pan butter side down. I then put another glob of butter on top of each ball. Wait until the bottom has browned before flipping. I try to get as many sides browned before they fall apart. When I'm at home I am going to try brushing the rice balls with the Unagi sauce while they are browning but not sure how that will go yet. On the boat I just drizzle the finished rice balls with the Unagi sauce.

Unagi Sauce:

1/4 soy sauce
1/4 cup mirin
2½ Tbsp. sugar

In a small saucepan heat mirin and sugar over medium heat. When the sugar has dissolved add the soy and continue to simmer until the sauce has thickened slightly.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Rugged Point

From the pictures, I'd say that we must have had a nice sail down to Rugged Point, but honestly, I can't remember. We anchored in a little cove all by ourselves and hopped in the kayaks to paddle to shore. As we neared the shore the water became ridiculously beautiful and Thailand-like. Is there anything BC doesn't have? Sheesh! When we got to shore there were signs warning of an unprovoked cougar attack last year along with a recommendation of carrying large sticks. Wary of cougar-on-human/chihuahua violence, we all searched through driftwood for the perfect cougar-hitting club. Once appropriately armed we followed a trail through the forest to a gorgeous stripey beach where we spent the afternoon hiking and exploring.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Bunsby Islands Solitude

The Bunsby Islands are a marine provincial park and a sea kayakers paradise. We anchored in cozy West Nook and took to the kayaks. We paddled through the maze of tiny islands past sea otters to the outer edge where the swells rolled in from the open ocean. We paused here to listen to the swells and soak in the beauty of the seascape that surrounded us. We were entranced as we slowly bobbed up and down in solitude above a forest of kelp that reached for the surface while sea otters watched us from a distance. When we came out of our blissed-out, wow-we-can't-really-believe-we're-here-experiencing-this trance, we paddled to a beach to explore. Aaron and I found a perfect kayakers camp covered thick in fluffy moss which we tested out. It was so soft and perfect you wouldn't even need a pad to sleep beneath the canopy of old growth trees. Back on the boat we watched a small storm blow through our anchorage leaving behind a rainbow and a perfect, glowing God-light sunset in its wake.

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Sunday, July 19, 2015

Columbia Cove

Oh my gosh, Brooks Peninsula and Columbia Cove are so amazingly beautiful. I have to hand it to the First Nations folks, they really know how to pick a village spot. We landed our kayaks on the beach at low tide and walked through pillow-soft sand on the long tidal sand flat to the forest entrance where potlatches used to be held. I imagine that the celebrations must have been grand in such a splendid setting. We hiked through gorgeous old-growth forest amongst ancient, towering giants over to a huge, soft sand beach. We had the entire beach completely to ourselves. There was not another living, human soul there. After exploring further, we found out that we were not, in fact, alone. Pressed into the sand were the huge paw prints of what could only have been a wolf. We followed them to the water line where they disappeared under the rising tide. We explored rock formations with blue-green pockets of Carribean style water. It was like being at the Baths in the British Virgin Islands (one of the most beautiful places we have ever been), except we had this paradise completely to ourselves. We saw reminders of civilization and traces of man that the wild waters of the Pacific had deposited amongst the driftwood. We rummaged through the giant, weathered logs where we found litter from Japan, Taiwan and Australia. We spent two afternoons here, totally blissed out, exploring, playing in the water and beach-combing in perfect hot, sunny weather. As we kayaked back to the boat, we explored a sea crevice. It was a thrilling ride as the waves picked us up and pushed us deep into a fissure in the black rock and then spat us out again. Later as we relaxed in the sun on the foredeck after a swim, we watched a huge osprey dive-bomb a bald eagle as a sea lion slowly swam by. We sat back and let our souls soak up the wild, remote beauty and felt incredibly thankful that Marinero can bring us to such amazing places.

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Friday, July 17, 2015

Brooks Peninsula Birthday

Brooks Peninsula and Cape Cook, named for Captain Cook, has changed little since the famous sailor laid eyes on it. Somehow the Brooks Peninsula escaped the last ice age as well as the hand of man, leaving it stunningly beautiful. Sticking six miles out into the Pacific Ocean, the peninsula has a reputation for nasty wind and ginormous waves earning it the nickname The Cape of Storms. It also happened to be our next big obstacle on the west coast of Vancouver Island. Billy Proctor had warned us that if we saw the "Cap on the Cape" forming in the afternoon after a sunny morning we should turn back because the wind would fill in and it was going to get rough out there. Rough for Billy equals mind numbingly terrifying for us.

We were stuck in North Harbor listening to the wind and weather on the radio, waiting for our chance to go around the Brooks. After two nights of waiting in soggy conditions, the winds were forecast to die down for a day so we jumped at the chance to get out of depressing, clearcut Quatsino Sound. We were anxious to lay our eyes on some pristine country and old growth apex forests. We awoke bright and early on Jason's birthday and were out by 6:45am to make our passage around the dreaded, anxiety producing Brooks Peninsula. The day started calm and cloudy as we raised anchor, then shortly after exiting the sound the wind filled and we had 15 knots behind us along with a following swell which translated into a beautiful run downwind. Like something out of Mordor, there was a perfect line between gloom to the north and sun to the south directly over the peninsula. We felt like we were sailing back toward the sun and summer. After we passed Solander Island the sun broke out and the swells slowly built. We spent the afternoon basking in the sunshine and surfing down 10-12 foot waves. It was awesome. As we entered calmer waters, Pika emerged from her cubby desperate for a bathroom break since she had refused before our early departure (she can be a bit grumpy early in the morning) so we put her leash on her and placed the chihuahua on the swim step where she performed her bathroom duties as we slowly sailed along. Good dog. After 7 hours of amazing sailing we dropped anchor in Columbia Cove and went for a swim and a hike to the beach. We were so thankful for such a great passage and it felt glorious to have two out of the four major obstacles of the west coast out of the way, the perfect way to spend a birthday.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Stuck in Quatsino Sound

Turns out our gut instinct to round Cape Scott a day early was right. We awoke in Sea Otter Cove to a gale warning forecast for the west coast of Vancouver Island. It would to blow that afternoon and was forecast to continue for days. Though we really wanted to stay in Sea Otter Cove to explore for the day, we decided that Quatsino Sound would be a better place to sit out a multi-day blow since there were lots of anchorages to explore there, so we headed back out into the open ocean to make the passage to Quatsino. Conditions were calm and windless so we had to motor for the morning. Unfortunately Quatsino Sound has been extensively logged which made us sad. We anchored our first night in East Cove with more views of more clearcuts. It was a bit blah. The following day, after a morning paddle, we headed back down inlet to Winter Harbor which brought us back to the mouth of the inlet. As we approached the mouth of Quatsino, big, choppy waves rolled in from the open ocean, making an uncomfortable but exciting roller coaster ride. We tied up at a dock in Winter Harbor where we went for a hike through some old-growth forest to a rock beach. It was also a bit blah there so we decided not to spend a night and headed around the corner and anchored in North Harbor. We were stuck for two nights in the rain while we waited for the winds to calm down and we all got intense boat-bound fever (a variant of cabin fever). Though we were bummed to be stuck, it was nice to get a day of forced rest before facing the infamous Brooks Peninsula and the dreaded Cape Cook.

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Monday, July 13, 2015

Rounding Cape Scott

We spent weeks and weeks worrying about going around Cape Scott, reading and re-reading its description, asking other sailors advice and having people telling us we're crazy for wanting to go around the top of Vancouver Island. We spent weeks and weeks trying to decide if we should go over the Nawhitti Bar or under it through all of the reefs, watching the weather and waves, and formulating a plan. We were so anxious about getting it over with that we ended up rushing a bit through the Broughtons. So after all of this anticipation, the day finally came for us to stage our passage around Cape Scott. We left early from God's Pocket to get to our staging ground, Bull Harbor. The plan was to spend the night there, then get up and leave at 4:30 in the morning to hit the Nawhitti Bar when it was perfectly high-water slack. Just before we made the turn into Bull Harbor we caught our first glimpse of the bar. It was about an hour after low-water slack and it looked totally calm and placid. We stuck to plan and tied up to the dock at Bull Harbor. We couldn't really go on shore because we needed permission to do so, so we were going to have to just sit in the boat and wait which sounded like a really long, painful day of anxious waiting to us, given that it was only noon. Jason checked his tide charts again and looked at me and said, "technically we could go over right now if we hurried and we wanted to." True. We had just seen the bar and it looked totally flat and calm with no wind. Hmmmmm. And the weather had been really unstable and we knew that the day following our planned passage the winds were supposed to kick back up. What if they kicked up a day early and we got stuck or had a horrible passage because we waited? We knew everything was calm and glassy at that moment. What to do? We went for it. Against all our plans and advice, we went over the bar in the wrong tide, with a southeast wind blowing the wrong direction at the cape....and it was a non-event. No horrible waves or trauma. I'm not saying everyone should do this but we felt comfortable with it since Jason had studied the passage for so long and we had actually seen the totally placid conditions at the bar. We're so happy we went with our gut instinct, because the winds did hit a day earlier than forecast and it would not have been a fun passage. It was such a relief to be over the bar with no major trauma, now we just had to make it around wild and remote, Cape Scott, with a reputation for being rough and unpredictable. With its combination of remoteness, open exposure to the Pacific Ocean and a collision of currents, it can get nasty out there. We watched Cape Scott grow as we tacked closer and closer, beating to windward through 15-20 knots and growing waves. As we rounded the famous point it was exhilarating to all of our crew, though a bit nauseating for me. Here we tasted our first real ocean swells and, though they were small compared to what we experienced later, they didn't agree with my stomach. All the same, it was crazy to look out into the distance and know there was nothing but ocean between us and Russia, Japan and Australia. Given all of my obsessive provisioning we could have set a course for Hawaii without having to worry about going hungry, except for maybe that the cook might be too seasick to go below and prep food. It was wild to look towards land and see all the rolling, crashing waves on the shoreline. We were in real ocean. It felt like quite the accomplishment to make it around with no major trauma. I'm so proud of Jason for all of the planning and, throwing out of the planning, he did to make our passage a success. After 9 1/2 hours and 60 miles, we gingerly weaved our way through sea stacks surrounded by foaming waves into the safety and calm of Sea Otter Cove, where we caught out first glimpses of real, live sea otters, and tied up to a ginormously huge commercial fishing boat mooring ball. Exhausted, but still riding high on our accomplishment, we blissfully ate dinner in the cockpit as the sun sank low in the sky turning the cloud caps on the mountains a lovely pink. I still couldn't believe we were really on the west coast of Vancouver Island.

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Saturday, July 11, 2015

In God's Pocket

Legend tells of a legendary Sasquatch that lives on the east side of Hurst Island near God's Pocket. Apparently so fearsome, First Nations people who live in the area won't go ashore on that part of the island. With intrigue like that, how could we not stop? It was the perfect place to spend Father's Day. After a quick overnight and provisioning stop at Port McNeill, we headed to God's Pocket where we snagged the only spot on their room-for-only-one-boat dock. God's Pocket is a kayaking and scuba-diving Mecca. Jacque Cousteau raved that it was one of the best places in the world to scuba dive. It has sweet, colorful little cottages, a dining room and a bonfire pit to accommodate those who come there to play and explore. We spent our afternoon hiking to the top of the island behind the lodge where we watched fog blow across the water, up the mountain and whip past us. Later, while eating dinner in the cockpit, we watched humpback whales blow just outside the cove. After dinner, while washing dishes, we heard a "Hello, family" from outside the boat. The chef had come down to the dock to surprise us with sweet gifts of chocolate cake and rice crispy treats. We then went for a sunset hike, through some of the most magical forest we have ever seen. There were all kinds of crazed roots and trees growing over rocks and all kinds of pockets and nooks and crannies within and under the rocks. Out on the point we watched more humpbacks as the sun began to set. Aaron found two crazy shells on top of a large boulder he had climbed. We've never seen anything like them and they look a bit like thick fingernails so we decided that a young Sasquatch must have been up on that rock chewing his fingernails. Back at the dock we joined a group of kayakers around the bonfire for lively conversation and stories of adventure. We asked the owner if they see the humpbacks very often. He said that they see them every night at about the same time. In fact, last year the humpbacks spent several nights in the tiny cove. He said they make really funny noises while they are sleeping and he's actually had customers complain about the noise. It totally cracks me up to imagine sleepy patrons calling him in the middle of he night to see if he could do something about their rowdy cetacean neighbors.

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