Monthly Archives: January 2019

What an Albatross ate moves us to reduce single use plastic


The stomach contents of a young Albatross Chick

At the Lisbon Volvo Ocean Race stop over last year, on one of the stands we saw the contents of the stomach of a dead Albatross chick from the Southern Ocean.  Look closely it is quite grim. The fact that there will be more plastic in the sea by 2050 than fish fills me with horror.

So last winter we decided reduce our consumption of single use plastic at home. We tried to reduce it is much as possible but we wanted to understand our single use plastic footprint. So for a couple of months we collected all our plastic and returned it to the supermarkets at the end of each month. The banner picture is all the plastic used for one month. Despite taking numerous steps we found it equated to a shocking 15 Kg of plastic a year. It would have been much more without these steps so we still have more to do but it was a good start.
So whilst sailing in 2018 we focused on what we had learnt from home to reduce our consumption of single use plastic:

Stopped buying Bottled water
Bottled Water – we drink a lot of water onboard and we now have 12 2 litre bottles that we refill from marina tap water. In the past we have bought bottle water. So not only do we save water but we save carting water from the supermarket and the quality of the water in the Baltic Countries is very good.
Sodastream – With a sodastream onboard we no longer buy sparkling water. A gas bottle would last us about 3-4 weeks and we had a spare bottle onboard. We were able to exchange bottles in Finland and Sweden but not in Estonia or Latvia. We may have been able to buy a bottle in Tallinn – but couldn’t in any other coastal cities.

Reduced the use of cling film

silicon lidsSilicon lids – these lids create a seal and reduce the amount of cling film. You get 2 types one that provides an airtight seal and the other type that is just a lid. We have found the former more useful.
Silicon Vegetable sealers – these seal the ends of cut vegetables. Good for cucumber, onions, avocados etc and take up less room in the fridge than plastic boxes. We use food huggers.

Reduced the use of plastic bags
Stackable airtight plastic boxes – we increased the number of these – but we needed to get stackable ones to prevent a tupperware mountain.
Vegetable bags – I made some thin cotton bags which we take shopping so that we don’t need plastic bags to weigh out vegetable.
Bags for Life (non hessian ones) – we never accept a plastic bag – we either use a rucksack or a bag for life. We have the non hessian bags for life as they take up less room and don’t attract mildew on a boat.
Reduction in the use of Ziploc bags – a few years ago we used to go through handfuls of Ziploc bags. They still have their uses but we now wash them out and reuse them.

Reduced use when on shore through BYO (Bring Your Own)
Keep cups and water bottles – before leaving the boat we take our keep cups (refillable tea/coffee cups) and refillable water bottles with us.
Plastic straws –we never ask for a plastic straw in a drink. But found they came in some drinks. So we found if you want to prevent ones being used you need to tell them when ordering a drink not refuse it when it arrives – it is too late at that point.

Making from scratch
Making dips – We make hummus and tzatziki from scratch. It saves quite a few plastic pots. It also tastes much nicer.

New for 2019
This year we are going to totally stop the use of cling film on the boat. We have bought some Bee’s wax wraps – we have started using them at home instead of cling film. They are cotton coated in beeswax. They are moldable with the heat of your hand but can be washed in cold water.

Refillable wine boxes In order to reduce weight of glass on board and space, last year we moved to wine boxes. But of course these have non recyclable foil/ plastic bladders. Whilst we were in Latvia we found refillable plastic bladders – so we will give these ago. We will let you know what happens.

Problem areas – the galley and heads still produce a fair amount of plastic. This is what we need to focus on next. So do let us know any tips or suggestions.


How to Make a Fender Board

If you value your GRP or wood, then a fender board is a must for a UK circumnavigation. On many occasions you will need to use it when mooring against a wall, pilings or when refuelling. Many of the cheapest refuelling points are designed primarily for fishing boats that are a little more robust. They are easy to make, but the key is not to make them too heavy, as they become difficult to hold and manoeuvre. Ours for our first boat Ituna ( 38ft) was made from pre treated timber, sanded to remove the rough edges. The dimensions were: 0.9in (2.2cm) thick, 5.4in (13.8cm) wide and 5ft 7in (1.6m) long.



The board hangs horizontally via 2 thin (10mm) ropes. The key is to ensure that one side is free from these ropes, it is this side that faces a wall. This will ensure that the rope will not get chaffed through by rough walls., We have two short lengths of 0.16in (4mm) cord which are permanently attached to the fender board, which makes it really easy to tie it to the boat to store it along the gunwales. If you have to moor against piles, it is very difficult to judge where the board needs to be located. Hang three fenders vertically, where the distance between each one is not less than the board. This gives you the chance to move the board relatively quickly to the right spot.

Timing of Engine Checks

Often people do engine checks just before starting up the engine prior to leaving. If you discover a problem then there is very often little you can do to fix in time for your departure. Result – you end up being delayed. If you do the engine checks as soon as you arrive in a port you can often get things fixed so that your departure is not delayed. This is particularly important on a UK circumnavigation as you will need to keep your schedule as much as possible. Clearly you can’t do checks such as oil checks as soon as you arrive – but you can do most.

The best cure for seasickness is to stand under a tree, but if that isn’t an option….

When the sea state goes from smooth to slight, Mags generally starts to be “stomach aware” – the first stage of seasickness. For those fellow sufferers, you will be please to know that you do get your sea legs. Mags managed the entire trip round Britain without being seasick, though there was the odd time she did feel grim. When going round Britain we used Sturgeon and Scopoderm patches, the latter has the advantage of working even when you cant keep anything down. But with these she did feel drowsy. However, since then Mags sailing has been transformed with the Cattle Prodder as I call it or Relief Band to give it is full name. A drug free solution – what is not to like!

However, you still need to be sensible and here are Mags’ top tips to reduce the likelihood of seasickness:

Minimise the amount of time spent performing tasks down below:

  • Prepare lunch in advance before leaving the harbour
    Use food flasks, which can be filled with hot food if sailing overnight and it is likely to be rough
  • Prior to a trip we would fill a flask with boiling water. Our flask dispenses water a push button top. It is safety too, when you are heeling you don’t need to defy gravity when filling a cup, as you can take the cup to the flask and not the flask or kettle to the cup. This is very useful even if you don’t suffer from sea sickness.

Keep warm

Perhaps the most important – pick your battles: if you know it is going to be rough stay in harbour. With any extended trip you have more time that your average 2 week holiday Cruiser. But do ensure you are planning to allow for time for non sailing days.

Keep a packet of ginger biscuits to nibble on when you become stomach aware

Have a spare battery for the cattle prodder ready to hand

Keep drinking

Regular medicines: If you are taking medicines make you sure you take them as prescribed so have them handy

Set up your boat – part of the rational of putting the chart plotter in the cockpit by the companion way with both our boats was to enable Mags to ensure that we were safe even if she was not prepared to venture down below

Get horizontal: When venturing down below get horizontal as soon as possible.

But remember….
The first fear with seasickness is you are going to die – the second fear is you aren’t.

Lentil and Bean Chilli

Serves 8-10 but it is ideal to use in batch cooking and we then divide it up so that we can have it on different nights. It is perfect for after a long passage when you can just heat it up when you arrive and you cant be bothered to make anything.  It keeps for about 5 days in the fridge. Mags makes it when we are in harbour and we are on electricity so that way we can use the induction hob. It is popular with both our vegetarian and non vegetarian friends alike. We like a milder chilli – a friend of ours calls it a cooli – if you are similar then then follow the quantities in brackets.

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 large red bell peppers, deseeded and finely diced
  • 2 tsp dried chilli flakes (1 tsp)
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 3 cardamom pods – crushed
  • 300g puy lentils – but you can use green or red
  • 2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes
  • 750ml water
  • 2 x 400g cans red kidney beans
  • 4 tbsp. tomato ketchup
  • 4 tbsp. tomato paste

Pick a pan that will be able to fit everything in it and which has a lid. Fry off the onions, garlic and peppers in the pan in the oil until soft – about 10 mins. Add all the spices (chilli, coriander, cardamom) and stir. Add the lentils and stir.

Add the beans, tomatoes, water, ketchup and tomato paste and bring to the boil, then cover and simmer for 45 mins. Stir it frequently – if it looks too liquid – then cook with the lid partially uncovered.


Sundowner invite – what to take?

Part of the fun of cruising is meeting other fellow yachties and hearing their stories and top tips for good places to visit. Whether it is on their boat, yours or ashore – it is a great, relaxing time of day. Whilst the name is indicative of the time of day to start sipping your favourite tipple… as the sun is setting over the yard arm….well unless you are in the Baltic and it will still be broad day light at 10pm….

When we were sailing around Britain, we always made a point of inviting other sailors, moored near to us, over for drinks. We had some great evenings and made some good friends. However, according to one seasoned sailor we met, it was, surprisingly rare to be invited over for drinks. On several occasions we pooled our food with neighbouring boats and had a slap up feast. We also invited local people on board for a drink if they were interested in our boat. Twice we were then invited back for a meal at their home. Further away from our shores inviting others onboard is far more normal amongst long term cruisers.

dsc09692So you have been invited onboard what do you bring? Well the standard present is a bottle of wine or some cans of beer. But you can make it more interesting with some easy to make canapés or a dip. Also now that we have moved to boxed wine – it is a little more difficult if we have run out of bottles of wine. So we now bring either a plate of canapés or a jar of Carra High Seas Hummus. We have made up labels to make them unique. We save all our jars onboard and repurpose them.

Here you can find our favourite canapés and dips, recipes are linked:

  • Caramelised onion or smoked salmon on blinis with crème fresh. You can make the caramelised onion in bulk and keep it in a jar ready for the next sundowners. With a high sugar content it keeps well.
  • Cucumber islands
  • Hummus or Tzatziki and a bowl of carrots/cucumber/peppers or crisps.bottle
  • Friends Gordon and Irene (SV Fereale) who when we met them in 2006, had been full time liveaboards for over 10 years brought a bottle of their Chateau Bilge – a wine bottle with their own label replacing the original label.

Are there any rules?

  • It is polite to take your shoes off if going down below
  • Don’t stand on cockpit cushion with your shoes.
  • Don’t over stay your welcome!

If you are hosting then here are some here are some other drink options:

Yet another phrase I had assumed the wrong origin…

Sundowner and sun over the yard arm have nothing to do with sunset. The original meaning of sundowner was a bully on a ship and sun over the yard arm referred to “elevenses” when the sun in the northern hemisphere was over the foreyard and the officers would slip down for their first drink of the day.

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