Sunday, 16 November 2014

Galley Gear Review: Nice Nesting Pots and Pans

"You see your dreams come true, this I promise you..."
                                                             -Rick Ross

 No matter how big the boat, every boat is too small.

 Especially the galley.

 When it comes to boat galleys, to paraphrase James T. Kirk...

 Space is the final frontier.

  NextBoat*'s galley has more storage capacity than Whiskeyjack's  galley, but "more storage capacity" is a relative term.  That is like saying that your humble scribbler here is taller than the average 9 year old child.

 That doesn't make me a giant.

  Ergo, maximizing space is paramount.  The more stuff you can fit into the existing space, the more comfortable your life in aforementioned space.

  Hence my interest in a set of nesting cookware.

   Every year at the boat show I look for a deal on cookware. I like the quality of the Magma set...

                                                                                                        -image courtesy of  Magma

...but I don't like the inventory-  there are four pots, but only one pan, in the 10 piece set.  Those of you who have read any of the Two-Burner Tastiness recipes understand that I'd rather have two pans, and one less pot, but that isn't an option.

   So, my search continued.

   Until early this summer.

    Wandering through the camping department of my local Canadian Tire, last June, I made an impulse buy.

    (why am I not surprised? - ed.) 

    I had just picked up the bottle of lamp oil I needed,  and on the shelf right beside the lamp oil was the camp cooking gear.  There were the usual speckled enamel suspects, the stuff that looks rustic and rugged, right up until the moment you actually use it, but in the midst of the sea of stamped-in-China-great outdoors-nostalgia-ware  was a  SALE ! tag, under a carton of cookware that looked...different.

   So I bought it.

  Yeah, I'd never heard of "Lagostina" either.

No, those not-shrimp, not-prawns, not-crawfish, not-lobster things?  Those are LaNgostinOs.

Which can be cooked in a Lagostina pot.

 Here's the deal:   Lagostina is an Italian firm that has been manufacturing stainless steel cookware for decades.  Their "Campeggio" line is their, as the name implies, line of camping cookware, but while it is compact in size, it is not compact on quality.
    These pots and pans are constructed of 18/10 stainless, with three ply (stainless steel/ aluminum/ stainless steel) bottoms for even heating. fold down the handle on the large stock pot and ...

    Keep going and in rapid succession you get...

Two, count 'em, TWO pans...

...Two stock pots...

...Two lids that fit both pots and pans....

  ... and a grip-anywhere, go-anywhere insulated pot/pan handle that is both ambidextrous and has hooks for removing hot pot lids, like when you are steaming Langostinos.

Both pots are graduated, which is a nice touch...

  ...for measuring the exact amount of liquid for boiling langstinos

   Also included is a mesh carrying bag... that was promptly repurposed forother uses aboard.

   After 5 months of use, both SWMBO and I can confirm,  we LOVE this stuff.

   All pieces heat evenly, the bottoms don't warp when warm, the handle is substantial, the construction is solid,  the non-stick is real non-stick, and, mosti importantly...

  ... These were the ONLY pots and pans we have used for the last 5 months, and we haven't needed to buy more.  Cooking for 2-4 on a 2 burner  stove?  This is all you will likely ever need.  It is all we have needed.

     Here's an example:

      Cracker crusted pork chops, "Booker T"  mashed potatoes and peaches and cream corn- two burners, three pots, from one nesting cookware set.

Oh, and a bottle of Ramblin' Road DPA

      Surprisingly, although less than half the price of the smaller one-pan Magma nesting set, the Lagostina cookware comes with a 10 year warranty, compared to the Magma's I year warranty.  I am impressed. Retail price at our local Canadian Tire Store  was $119.99 cdn.

      The only challenge is where to find it outside of the Canada.

     Or Italy.
     If anyone wants a set, let me know.   I'll pick it up for you and ship it out- for actual cost.

Thanks for checking in, and please,
"Talk the Dock!"



Monday, 10 November 2014


"So, when crowds disappear and only silence is here..."

Labour Day marks the beginning of the end of the season.

Bright and early Tuesday morning,  L-Day +1, boats start coming out of the water, and the metaphorical countdown clock start ticking.

After the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend the ticking gets louder and the tempo picks up as the shrubbery shows it's true colours:

By mid-October, this place is a ghost town:

  As we enter the last week of October, there are only a double handful of boats still hull wet.  Among the few and the proud is Whiskeyjack, as new owner Phil carries on the tradition of not hauling out until you absolutely damn well have to.

  Taking a cruise through the marina in our new/used tender (more on that later),  I notice a pattern- some of the most interesting boats in the marina stay in the water later....

  "Why,"  we are occasionally asked, " keep your boat in the water into October? October can be cold and miserable and rainy and unpredictable."

...  and, this year, it certainly was all of that.

But it was also all of this:

    It's worth sticking around.

And thank you, loyal readers, for sticking around as well.

Remember, "Talk the dock!"

Friday, 10 October 2014

Back in the Saddle Again

"Come on!  I'm waiting...."

     I'm back.

    Now, where was I?

    For those  wondering about my absence from this (occasionally) ongoing saga lately, I've been on a honeymoon, and enjoying almost every minute of it.

    No, not that kind of honeymoon.

    The honeymoon phase of new old boat ownership, when every experience is new and fresh and nothing expensive has broken, failed, or fallen off.  The honeymoon has lasted far longer than I expected it would, especially considering that we did absolutely everything wrong when we purchased her. (more on that later.)

   SWMBO and I have just been thoroughly enjoying NextBoat, buying other new old boats, (more on that later,) I've been racing two nights a week,  (more on that later, too,) volunteering the other nights of  the week and life just got in the way.

   There has just been so little spare time, and so much activity, that I found myself bunged up with reverse writers block.

     It wasn't that I didn't know what to write about.  

    Exactly the opposite, in fact.

    I simply had too many topics, and the plenitude of material caused my mojo to lock up.

    But, with the end of racing season (yeah, more on that later), I have been able to half-assed organize a hazy scribble plan.

    It's been a weird season.  The water level is well up, which is good,but the weather was...  unreliable.  

   Which is bad.  
    Spring felt like winter, July felt like April, I think we had a new month, Augtober, and we swam in the lake at the end of September for the first time in memory.

    And some days it felt like we were in the Marina of Despair, with this foreboding flock  ruling the roost atop the light at the Marina mouth: 

    But, we got some solid time on the water,  got some time off the Dock, had some great sunsets, met some great new friends, and I sold a story to Good Old Boat.

    More on that later.

    October is shaping up to be a month with some sailing promise.  

    Hopefully, the Dock will hold together for another few weeks.  We've had higher sustained winds, more often this season than usual, and the prevailing winds out of the West and Southwest blowing against a tall boat on a slip running East/West  have taken it's toll on the Dock cleats and the decking underneath:

      We've picked up some new gear, got some updates on old gear, and low-buck projects past, present and future.

      Check back soon.  Please?

      As always, thanks  for reading, and don't forget to

     "Talk the Dock!"



Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Low-Buck Projectapalooza

  "Yes, I'm workin' all the time..."

The stages of New/Old Boat ownership:

       Stage 1. Admiration stage- admire how much roomier (or prettier or shinier or faster or just plain better your New/Old Boat is than your Old/Old Boat.)

                Stage 2. Installation stage- Start installing stuff.  Begins approximately 7 minutes after the onset of Stage 1.

Stage 2 never, ever stops.
If you have bought the right boat, the first stage never stops, either.

Having lived with and aboard NextBoat for almost 3 months, much Low-Buckness, and some Mid-Buckness, has ensued.

For those of you still following along, (thanks!) you know the story.  For those who just stumbled into this meandering morass of a blog, here’s the short version: 
We owned a boat, wanted a slightly bigger boat, found a bigger boat, bought a bigger boat, sold the slightly smaller boat…

Now we are pouring money and time and effort into the slightly bigger boat. 

And enjoying every minute of it.

The upside of NextBoat is that she had been well maintained by two previous owners.  The downside is that there were few upgrades, and some gear that we consider necessities  was missing entirely.  Like, oh….

A compass.

Didn’t have one. 

Apparently, never had one since new- the binnacle was as smooth and unblemished as a baby’s transom.

We'll come back to that later.

So, after peering into the purse  and seeing the present paucity of pennies, (prolonging our  perpetual pondering of whether we are presently poverty stricken or penurious,)  providence presently allowed us to press the button on a plenitude of purchases, provided by the profits of this profligate’s penmanship.

In other words, I got paid for some scribbles.  Cool. 

So, with cash in hand, we got all Bugs Bunny and Road Runner on the boat.

(Okay, come on, I can’t be the only one who remembers the theme to the “Bugs Bunny and Road Runner Hour”?  Come on, sing it with me, “….On with the show, this is it…”)
*turns the Obscure Weirdness dial down to 7*

A flurry of mouseclicks and credit card approvals and straight-up hand-to- hand cash transfers later, we had a whole bunch of new stuff to stuff aboard our new ride.

SWMBO is a ginger, and with a redhead’s propensity to burst into flames upon exposure to sunlight, she immediately noted that NextBoat lacked cockpit canvas of any sort.  A shadeless boat with a redhead aboard is an unhappy boat for all aboard.  Luckily, a beaten and battered and unused-by-the-previous-owners dodger was included in the purchase.

 It needed help. 
 Canadian Canvas Works underpromised and overdelivered,  restitching the entire top in less than 48 hours. 
The skipper of Cyclone sold us a languishing bimini from his currently-for-sale S2 8.0A, and with a little cutting and sweating we soon had a comfortable cockpit.

The stove that came with the boat had to go.  Kenyon Homestrand pressurized alcohol stoves may have worked just fine when new, but 30+ years later….
…  not so much.

The scary quotient, however,  had increased considerably.

After following the less-than-simple lighting instructions, ( Pump tank of flammable fuel, tunr burner valve to introduce flammmable fuel to burner, close burner valve, light flammable fuel,  let it burn out, then reopen valve and relight ) we inevitably faced a *WOOF* of ignition, resulting in burners with flames that had only one setting- Total Conflagration.

Seriously, the few attempts at using this DeathBlaster stove to create Two Burner Tastiness resulted in singed entrees trailing the faint odor of burnt eyebrows.

    A quick click to got us a great deal on a Cookmate non-pressurized alcohol stove.  Under $250, including shipping.

  Installation took less than a half hour, and the result is incredibly satisfactory.

 Great temperature control, easy to light,  and the  burner capacity is measured in weeks, not hours. 6 weeks of regular use have borne out the value of this investment. 

Further, we have upped the culinary ante by permanently installing the Kuuma Stow-n Go propane grille we bought during our first season aboard Whiskeyjack, but rarely used.

We have used this grille more this season than in the past 6 seasons combined.

Which means we are using more propane.

Which presents another challenge:  Storage.

The one drawback to this center cockpit layout is that it eliminates all cockpit storage- no lockers, or lazarettes or cubbies on deck at all.  I had no desire to store 1 lb.  propane cylinders in the cabin, so a solution was required.

A quick trip to Home Hardware  netted  2 feet of 6" PVC pipe, an end cap, a cleanout, and a couple of hose clamps.  Less than $25 later, we were able to store 3 propane bottles on deck safely.

   So, back to that no-compass thing:  The existing cockpit instrumentation on NextBoat consisted of an inoperable Lowrance depth gauge.

That’s it.

A  quick trip to Dovercraft Marine  netted us a Humminbird 160 fishfinder  for $80.  Some headscratching on where to locate the transducer and how to route the cables  and roughly an hour or so of sweating and drilling and and wiring later, we not only had depth display, but water temperature as well.

Back to that absence- of -cockpit- storage issue:
 I picked up a couple of these mesh map pockets a half decade ago, and finally got around to using one!  Very handy for books, sunscreen, sunglasses, all the stuff that would otherwise end up in the way.

With depth out of the way, time to deal with the compass issue.  I opted to go with a small handheld compass as a backup to a small Lowrance chartplotter at the helm, from Radioworld.

   I LOVE these things.  Lowrance "Gold" plotters include a 2 gig Navionics chart card,  and the plotter we had on Whiskeyjack never let us down.  The seated helm position on NextBoat makes the 4"ish screen size practical,  and, though small,  the screen is easy to read, the controls are intuitive and the menus easy to understand. The included mount swivels and tilts, making it viewable from anywhere in the cockpit....

...even if you are a slacker teenager, as Jordan demonstrates:

  $250 well spent.

  $3 worth of 1/4" line and an hour or so of time dressed up the wheel...

All of this new electrical gear requires improved electrical charging management-  Two $99 40 watt solar panel/ 7 amp charge controller kits from Canadian Tire were installed to charge the battery bank.  When docked, or flat water motoring, the panels live on the bimini-

 When the wind picks up, they migrate to the aft deck.  An upcoming project is to sew pockets into the bimini to secure these lightweight panels up there full time.

   Down below, hammocks were hung and bungies were strung and non-skid mats were laid to keep everything that has a place, in it's place.

The settee-berth did not have a table, although there was one installed at some point in the past:

A while back some of the stuff that James was clearing out of his boat shed ended up in my boat shed.  Among the assortment of stuff was a table base and post.  a little  plywood and edgebanding later, we now have a salon table:

   We managed to bend the shank on the anchor that came with NextBoat, and decided this was an opportunity to reduce weight on the bow and make anchoring a less strenuous task for the crew on the foredeck, by replacing the current steel anchor with an aluminum Fortress anchor....

...which requires assembly.

slightly larger flukes, slightly longer shank, half the weight of the previous anchor should make anchor launching and retrieving easier.

  We'll let you know how it goes.

Last but not least, a quick little project with a big "why didn't they do this from the factory?"  factor:
There are no clutches on the cabin top, and the only cleats are horn cleats...

 which leave much to be desired when it comes to tying off halyards.  You get a couple of wraps on the winch to get a full pull on the mainsail halyard, only to lose tension when you try to secure the halyard around the cleat, leaving you with a baggy sail.

  We installed a cam cleat ahead of the horn cleat. No more baggy sails for us!

We also ran the mainsail reefing line to the coachroof, enabling us to reef the main without having to leave the cockpit.

Finally, we made life easier for the mutts.  We carpeted the companionway ladder, to make it easier for them to climb/descend.

Ellie demonstrates that she now has ample room to run around.
Lots more projects ahead, lots more work to do, but, she's getting there.
 She is becoming a home.

"Talk the Dock!"