Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Small Boat Domestics

Food glorious food!

  We cruise week in and week out, often unknowingly neglecting our health by eating convenient foods. Here I take a delve down below to see whats cooking (or not) on board my little pocket yacht Shoal Waters. 

  Eating while cruising can be a tad difficult while underway, especially on a long passage involving a considerable time heading to windward. And sailing has to be one of those activities where it is often all to easy to eat quick food that is mainly junk. Biscuits, chocolate and energy bars, and sweets for example. Thankfully, the cruising sailor is always active and therefore burns some of this calorific mass off as there is always some little task or other to do that involves climbing all over the boat, anchoring, hoisting sail, just helming even. It is an activity  that can give one that partakes in it a general account of good health and a sense of well being. Sailing is also one of those activities that unlike going for a run, or a work out at a gym, you are in general doing exercises without realising it.  This could be through the sub conscious act of controlling your stability by the bodie's use of major core muscles of the torso ie, the lower back,  abdominal and obliques, and if standing (even sitting when hiking out etc) the legs muscles are constantly at work as well. The mind is also benefiting by constantly working at our proprioception which is just as vital, if not more so, as the years pass by (vitally important then in my case).  All in all we are doing something that is good. Some of us get these benefits by just owning a boat and the placebo effect this can have.

  The latest from the food gods is that tea is supposed to have health giving anti oxidants. How lucky are us tea drinkers then? There are worst vices but you can be sure as I come off the wind the kettle goes on. Not a fixed rule as I am well known for making a brew while my little ship is riding gunnel-up (No gimble either). For the beer drinkers, alcohol is good for you! According to those same health gods two units a day can have the same health benefits as regular, moderate exercise. This can be depressing news for investors in gymnasiums but walk tall active cruiser-worker-outers as no one has ever become fitter or stronger through alcohol consumption...

  If you do not need a hot drink every half hour while under way then perhaps you will save on gas, and a little hassle having to sail the boat while leaning through the companionway in order to light the stove and fill the tea cup.

  To just add one more to the health bit, and particularly sailing health and fitness. To become healthy, government guidelines recommend at least 30 minutes of moderate activity per day, seven days a week. Fitness is a different matter as we now need to work harder for extended periods, be it cardiovascular or muscular. We need to raise the heart rate to a level that is higher than normal for an extended period of time on a regular basis. To quote the ACSM's seventh edition guidelines ie at least 20 to 60mins at 77 to 90% max heart rate, three to five times a week.  Therefore, as cruising sailors, we may become healthy or healthier than a normal sedentary individual by doing our type of sailing, but still not particularly "fit" in relation to other activities. Ok, no more of this fit nonsense I'm beginning to get a sweat on...

  What I am lethargically getting to is the minefield that is cooking afloat to fuel our bodies in order that we can go cruising for extended periods of two or three days, to a week or so, away from water taps and sinks, and flushing dunnies. As we are afloat most weeks it is easy to eat crap most weeks to. But why? I see it as a good time to try and eat conservedly, (can "steak and kidney pud" be mentioned alongside "conservedly"...) and on the whole trying to eat sensibly.

  We all have our ways of doing things and what foods we like best so I will just give a hint at some of my domestic habits while cruising. I am not saying they are healthy or the right way to do things so take from it what you will but do share yours with us if you have some good practices that you do on board your little ship.

  What I prefer to eat are simple foods that are easy to eat and cook while small boat cruising. This also relates to a dinghy even though I think the open dinghy is a world away from a small cabin boat where everything has a particular place under cover. Sure, Shoal Waters is a sixteen foot dinghy that gets just as much thrown about by waves as does any other dinghy, or boat come to think of it, but, the coachroof and deck does change her comfort level and also her sea keeping qualities.

  So, here we are going a step further than taking a pre-packed lunch on a day-sail and are placing a few items in our galley cupboards.

  Fresh vegetables, generally I find need washing which when low on water is not too good. But I try and get fresh when and where possible. The plus point with veg is it keeps for a few days or more and anything needing peeling doesn't need washing. My samphire habits are mentioned elsewhere so I will not repeat them. But there are also shellfish and even fresh fish if you can catch them. Throw away barbies were costing £1.00 just the other day in the supermarket, a bargain.  A driftwood fire is free, foil rapped those fish cook a treat.

  Need I mention the steak and kidney pudding? This is a luxury and not a food I would eat every day as it comes in a at a whopping 50 grammes of fat (and not particularly good fat either) in one sitting, ( large tin) which is the equivalent of a whole days worth. Its plus point is it is satiatingly filling, you could well make this meal last all day - sure to get you through that cruise. Snacking on fruit such as strawberries, apples and oranges levels up the healthy bit a little.  The pudding meal is also good for knocking you out after a hard days cruising when you are still a little overtired. It should read on the tin "A Sound Nights Sleep Guaranteed"

  And then there is the old chestnut of eat like a King in the morning and graze like cattle the rest of the day.  For this I find a Monte of bacon, eggs, sausage and beans plus a few slices does the job but leaves a staggering amount of washing up, and odd bodily noises throughout the rest of the day..  Simply Ready Brek works a treat though. Boil the kettle and fill a bowl with ready brek. Its says great for kids on the box so its good enough for us old'ens. Importantly, it is easy to cook and will cook itself by pouring in boiling water and stirring, before leaving to stand for five minutes. Add skimmed milk powder to up the protein content/ taste and dried fruit such raisins to taste or add even more carbs.  This is a low fat, slow releasing energy food. Also great for an evening snack or convenient meal on its own, as are most of the cereals.

Ready Brek a great start to the day, or night, or?
  like a boiled egg? To save water the ships small tea pot doubles as a single egg boiler. The boiled egg, when cooked for three minutes, four for hard boiled, results in a clean food that makes minimal mess for cleaning up after. 

Egg boiling in the tea pot
  Uncle Ben's three minute boil in the bag rice is not only low fat but saves hugely on gas.
Add a tin of sardines, some olives and hey presto you are living life on the Mediterranean diet. Enough to keep the marsh ague at bay...  Bread is delicious. It has fat in it already so there is no harm in missing out on butter if using the yolk (the fat part) of the egg.

  Thank the lord for baby wipes and kitchen towels.  The pocket yacht's washing and drying facility in a packet. Without running water and draining sink the small boat cruising sailor has to think before use when reaching for another spoon or fork. There is always over the side for washing in the salt when the tides up and a rinse in a drop of fresh clean water.
  If you cruise single-handed you will probably have one plate or bowl, one spoon and fork etc that you can use for most jobs which minimises again any after cleaning. Everything is either washed or wiped and all rubbish bagged up and taken home to dispose of properly.

The big one. The gut busting steak and kidney pudding is easy to cook in the kettle with no mess afterwards.

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