Sunday, February 7, 2010

Boat Bread and Coffee

Yesterday I spent a good part of the day working on the boat, Sven and Gabi had left, it looked like my tenure at the marina was over, and the alternator still was not charging to its potential. Once again I took apart the engine enclosure, quite a pain with the way the cabin is laid out, and I began to diagnose yet again. I know for certain the alternator is putting out the proper voltage, 14 volts and some change, but I was still not getting that voltage back to the battery. So I had to check out the entire charging system, wire by wire, until I found out what was causing the voltage drop. Turns out, the ampmeter was the culprit this time, and once I took that out of the loop, the charging voltage at the battery was within 1/2 of a volt of what the alternator was putting out. That is reasonable, as there are several connections and components between the alternator and batteries, but it does look like I will need to get a new ampmeter and then I definitely need to install an inline volt meter.

After fixing the charging system, I figured it was time to bake a bit more bread. About 1/3 of the way into the preparation phase I got a call from Dolly, a friend of Gabi's from the marina, and she wanted to know if I needed anything from Walmart. Not wanting to turn down a ride to the store, I put the bread on hold, and dinghied over to the marina. A week ago, Sven and I pretty much gave everyone the impression I was with them, and that pretty well gave me the run of the marina. Now that they were gone, I needed to make arragements on my own. So I took the dinghy in, tied up, and asked the dock master if they had a daily dinghy fee. His response was, "naaa, I'm not going to sweat the small stuff." Fortunate for me, but totally not what I had been expecting, and not what I had grown used to here in Florida. So off I went to go grocery shopping, something I had not done in over 2 months. I still have a great supply of food on board, but I was low on some cleaning supplies, out of butter and eggs, low on coffee, and I felt the need for some different crackers and a bit of other stuff to replenish the larder. I had a good time with Dolly, she is retired, a transplant to Florida (again, another Pennsylvanian) and kind of does her humanitarian thing helping out folks at the marina. I was extremely grateful for the lift, and could not thank her enough.

Once I got back we loaded the dinghy, and I set off to finish baking the bread. I tried a new recipe this time, the old one never rose quite the way I wanted, and so it was time to drop it and try another. And this new one is great. Nice, big loaves, the texture is a bit heavy, but a good yeasty flavor and a slice that holds up well and stays together. I was really pleased with how it turned out.

Later in the evening I got a call from Sven, they were in Port Canaveral, their sail went very well, making 76 miles in just under 10 hours, the winds were favorable but very high (topping 32 kts he said) and the seas were over 4 feet. (that makes them truly 8 feet from bottom of trough to top of next crest) He said Julia got a bit sick, but otherwise it was a very good sail, and he was very pleased with his boat. They wanted to get down to Canaveral last night so they could see the space shuttle launch this morning, at 0430. I set my alarm, as I wanted to see it too. I woke at the prearranged time, looked outside, watched and waited, and no shuttle. I turned on the internet - yes I have net on the boat again - and found that launch was delayed because of cloud cover, rescheduled for Monday.

So after being a bit chilled on deck, it was in the low 40's this morning, (poor me) and I got a bit colder than I am now used to. So down below I went, and fired up the stove, time to make coffee. I do not have a coffee pot aboard Arden, and I really don't have the kitchen space for one, but a friend of mine suggested back when I was in Solomons that I get a coffee press. When I got to Manteo one of the first things we did was find one, and I really like how it makes coffee. Very rich, smooth coffee, simple to make, and no grounds in your cup - ever. The funny thing is, Sven and Gabi were making instant coffee aboard their boat, until Gabi saw a coffee press-exactly like mine- in a local shop, and now they are making coffee like I do. I suppose I should elaborate on how a coffee press works. It is basicly a carafe, with a lid and a wire mesh plunger that fits the inside of the glass very tightly. You put in your coffee grounds, add boiling water, and stir. Put the top on, that houses the plunger, and after a few minutes, push the plunger down, effectively straining the coffee. The grounds get trapped at the bottom, and you have a nice rich brew.

The wind is picking up outside, looks like it is going to be a great day to lounge about on the boat, read, and generally relax, and then of course dinghy in to catch the Superbowl. Not a bad way to spend the day, but tomorrow the job hunt resumes.

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