Monday, October 21, 2019

Hopping Down the Oregon & California Coast, part 1

(Obviously I’m behind in posts again! These next few posts will be an attempt to catch us up to present day!)

After leaving Newport, Kyrie pointed her bows south again, hoping to make it to Brookings or Crescent City as another weather front was approaching. The weather came up a bit sooner than anticipated, so we ducked into Port Orford as it was supposed to provide nice protection from the Northerly blow that was running up our tails.

That turned out to be an interesting stop. As we pulled in around 6am, we got a crab pot line caught in our prop. Thankfully there was a little wind, so we raised the sails and sailed onto anchor. Later on that morning, about 20 minutes in the dinghy and the offending rope was removed with thankfully no damage to the engine, transmission, or outdrive. We moved Kyrie a little further into the harbor before the real blow started up.

About noon we met a couple guys on S/V Rainbird who warned us that the wind really howls through the area we were anchored in a northerly, and they suggested we move over by them. After an hour or two, we decided they were right - the wind was gusting well above 40 and we were jerking pretty hard on the anchor chain.

So - we moved a little outside of the harbor in the lee of a large bluff that would protect us better from the wind. It did help a bunch, but we were still getting steady winds over 30 with gusts to 45 or more, even in this more protected area, so it made for a loud night, and too much chop to put the dinghy in and go ashore.

The next 4 days were rinse-and-repeat for us--fairly calm mornings with the wind coming up in the afternoons. We were really glad to be in a semi-protected area but the swell did wrap around the point and kept us bouncing around pretty good for 3 straight days. We were able to get ashore twice during our stay in Port Orford, and it was a cute little town. It has one very noticeable oddity--no official harbor, even though they have a fishing fleet. Instead, all the fishing boats are outfitted with extra-strong chainplates at their bow and stern. To enter the “harbor,” a boat approaches the pier and attaches cables from a crane to those chainplates. Then it’s up, up, and away, onto the pier and then on a boat trailer. Each trailer has a parking spot, complete with power hook-ups. It was a fascinating operation to watch. Unfortunately, the whole situation made it complicated for us to go ashore. We ended up tying the dinghy to a ladder and the whole family, Megan included, climbed up to the pier!

By the morning of the 5th day, we were going stir crazy and noticed a sailboat heading south on the outside of us, so we asked them for a weather report. The end result of the conversation was that it was good enough, and at 3pm we were on our way motoring south again.

It was a very lumpy motor through the night with virtually no wind, so the next afternoon we pulled into Eureka, California, to catch up on sleep.

Eureka was the break we needed. We pulled into a slip and slept the sleep of the dead for 12 hours as we really hadn't gotten a single good night sleep since leaving Newport. We were able to get some laundry and shopping done--there was a farmer’s market in Old Town, as well as a Costco and a couple other grocery stores within walking distance.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Sourdough on Cruising Boats

As we travel, one of the things we have done is offer sourdough starter to fellow cruisers as we encounter them. It has been curious to note how many times people are afraid of sourdough or unsure what to do with it if they have it. The most prevailing belief is that sourdough has to be used everyday, or a portion has to be thrown out, which is simply untrue. In our opinion, sourdough is an amazing addition to your cruising boat and should be included in every boat's galley.  It is cheap, nutritious, and fun. In fact, our kids refer to it as the pet they can eat!

Our experience with keeping sourdough started with Joe's grandparents.  They would make a lovely batch of fresh sourdough pancakes every time we visited, and both us and the kids loved them.  Shortly after moving aboard on Kyrie we took home a little batch of starter from them and have been enjoying it now for nearly 4 years of living aboard and cruising.  It has meshed perfectly well with our cruising lifestyle, and has been extremely easy to maintain and keep.

**Understanding Sourdough**

Sourdough is simply a mix of flour (both wheat or standard all purpose work well), water, and wild yeast.  The wild yeast eats some of the sugars in the flour, creating lactic acid and carbon dioxide in the process, in turn giving sourdough its sour tang, and creating bubbles to raise your bread or baked goods.

Sourdough will change depending on where you are in the world.  It is a wild colony of yeast, after all.  Sourdough in San Francisco will inherently taste different from sourdough in Seattle, for instance.  As you move your home around, it is fascinating to note how your sourdough will change.

Freshly recharged sourdough after
making pancakes this morning.
We only added water and flour.
Every time you use some of your starter, you add fresh water and some flour to the previous mix until roughly the consistency of pancake batter, and let it sit on your counter for a couple days until good and bubbly.  In cool climates, you can just leave it on the counter if you're going to use it at least twice a week, or if you're not going to use it for a while, put it into the fridge.  Note that ours has lived on the counter on Kyrie, cruising Alaska and the Pacific Northwest for the last 3 years with no issues, except two cases of a bit of mold after we forgot about it for 3 weeks.  See below for the fix for that issue.

In addition, you can use wheat flour, white flour, or even potato flakes for your sourdough.  Experiment!  We found half white flour and half potato flakes made a particularly interesting sourdough!

It is best to start with an existing sourdough starter from a friend or family member, but starter cultures can also be bought on ebay or amazon.  You can even start your own by mixing water, flour, a pinch of sugar and a bit of bread yeast and letting it sit on the counter in a non-sealed container for a couple weeks to let the natural yeasts in your environment take over.  Note for the first few months, this new sourdough can be a little unstable and will require watching and careful tending to get your healthy, stable crew of wild yeast to take over.  The longer you let the starter sit between uses, the more sour it will get, so if you like it nice and strong, let it sit a little longer!

**A Home for Your Sourdough**

Normally, in a home environment a crock with a lid is used for sourdough, but this is just too fragile on a boat.  For our sourdough, we use a plastic container with a "steam vent" lid similar to this one.

Note the steam vent lid is important as the starter needs to breathe, but the small hole helps to prevent flies from getting to your sourdough.  If you overfill your container, it also keeps the lid from blowing off as the sourdough kicks!

**Sourdough Health Benefits**

First things first, sourdough is a fermented food, so much like raw sauerkraut, pickles, kombucha, and yogurt, it is fermented with lactobacillus cultures. Those cultures are probiotics, those much-touted good gut bacteria. The cultures don't survive the baking process, but they do create lactic acid. What good is lactic acid? Plenty! Lactic acid helps decrease the amount of phytic acid in bread, which interferes with absorption of certain nutrients. Break down that phytic acid and voila! More nutrients are suddenly available to be digested and absorbed by our bodies. That wild natural yeast also helps the bread last longer without the addition of any sort of preservatives. Not to mention, in my opinion, few breads taste better than a good sourdough. Try it out for yourself if you haven't done so already.

**Sourdough Recipes**

Basic Sourdough Pancakes

2 cups sourdough starter
2 eggs
1 Tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda

Mix all ingredients except baking soda in a bowl - do not overmix.  Add a little water or flour to get the consistency desired for lighter, thicker pancakes or thinner pancakes as desired.  Just before cooking add the baking soda and cook on lightly buttered non-stick skillet, flipping once.  Serve with butter, maple syrup or honey, and peanut butter.

Optional mix-ins are berries (blueberries and raspberries are both amazing), thinly sliced bananas, chocolate chips, and anything else your heart desires.  Note a double batch of the above recipe feeds our family of 5 perfectly.

Sourdough Bread (adapted from the "basic white bread" recipe from The Boat Galley Cookbook)

1 cup warm water (100-115 degrees F)
1 teaspoon regular yeast
1/4 cup of sourdough starter
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 cups white flour, or more as needed.

Mix the water, yeast, starter, and sugar together and let sit at least 10 min. in a warm spot to proof (look for bubbles on top).  Add salt, oil and 2 cups of flour to that mix and mix thoroughly.  Add more flour as needed to form a stiff dough.  Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic.  Put a small amount of oil in a bowl and toss the dough to ensure it is lightly covered in oil.  Cover the bowl with a tea towel.  Let the dough rise in a warm spot until doubled in volume (1-3 hours).  Punch down, let rise until doubled again.  Then place in your favorite greased pan.  Place in cold oven, turn oven on to 350 degrees F and set timer for roughly 55 minutes (may vary by how quickly your oven comes to temperature)  Start checking bread for doneness at around 45 minutes.  When fully baked, remove from pan to cool on counter and serve.

**The longer the bread is allowed to rise the more sourdough flavor will develop.  It is especially good if you allow it to rise overnight in the fridge, then finish rising in a warm spot.

We love our Lekue pan for bread. It makes the above recipe in one batch, with only one dirty dish.  It can be found on Amazon or sites.  Lekue Breadmaker on Amazon

**Common Sourdough Problems & Fixes**

1.  Sourdough overflows your container
Don't overfill your container!  Leave an inch or two after mixing up your starter for expansion as the sourdough "kicks".  It isn't a bad idea to put your container on top of a plate the first few times you mix it up to contain it if it overflows a bit.
2.  Mold grows on your sourdough
This one is extremely easy.  With a clean spoon, carefully scrape off the mold on top of the batch.  Take one or two clean spoonfuls from the center of the batch and place in a clean bowl.  Dump out the remainder of your old sourdough and wash the container thoroughly.  Add the sourdough you retained to inoculate the new batch with the wild yeast, and let sit on the counter for a couple days - you're good to go!
3. Flies or maggots on your sourdough
This is the most disgusting one that can happen if you don't keep a good lid on your sourdough.  If it happens and the maggots are only on the surface, you can dig down to the bottom as in #2, and restart your batch.  If it's too far gone, you might need to dump the batch and start over.  To help if you fear this, read the last paragraph in this section.
4. "Dead" sourdough
Most likely this won't happen to you, but even if it does appear to die, just simply pour off half the batch of starter, add fresh flour and clean water and let it sit on the counter for a week.  If you see bubbles, you are good!  Also note if you chlorinate your water tanks be sure to filter the water you are using through a carbon filter for the sourdough as too much chlorine can easily kill your starter!

If you aren't going to be using your sourdough for a while, you can take a piece of saran wrap, spread a bit of your starter on it and let it dry.  Keep this powder in a ziplock bag in your freezer for up to a year to innoculate a new batch!

From all of us on the Kyrie crew, we hope this has been a little educational. Sourdough is not something to be feared--it's to be used and enjoyed! If you have a favorite recipe using sourdough, could you please include it in the comments section? We'd love to hear about your experience with these wild little creatures. For a little bit of history on yeast and some fun, watch Alton Brown's "Dr. Strangeloaf" video with his yeast puppets.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

A much needed break on land

There's the Yaquina Bay
bridge. Nearly naptime!
     We ended up staying a week and a half in the Newport area. We had the rare benefit of a rental car, so we were able to thoroughly explore and enjoy ourselves, seeing new places and spending time with family.
      Kyrie rolled into our spot at the South Beach Marina at about 7:00 in the morning after a 43 hour run from Neah Bay, WA and first thing to do was get a much needed nap! After we slept for a couple of hours, my dad came down to visit us and take me to go pick up our rental car. When I remarked that it had been three months since I last drove a car, Dad asked me if I needed to get my learner's permit again. I thought that might not be a bad idea!
Family selfie at Cape
Perpetua during an
impromptu road trip on
Hwy. 101.
       Half an hour later, we had rented a Ford Fusion for our time in Newport. That was a fun car. It fit all five of us comfortably and allowed us to travel considerably faster than we have been traveling the past few months (aside from the bus rides in Port Townsend). My sister Amy was down for the weekend from Astoria for work and she brought my nephew Landon with her, so we all got to spend time with the two of them. I hadn't seen either of them since our grandmother's memorial service, when Landon was about eight months old, and Joe and the kids had never met Landon before. The kids all had a ball together! Megan enjoyed not being the youngest for once and the big kids had fun playing with a little one again. In addition to spending time with my family, we also drove inland twice to Joe's grandparents, as well as his brother Pat and his two kids. The second time was part of a road trip that took in all three cousins. First stop was a meetup at the Tillamook Creamery with Amy, her husband David, and Landon. We got to watch the huge blocks of cheese traveling through the production line, as well as enjoy samples of the cheese. Love those cheese curds! Then, with our local guides, we went for a stop at the Tillamook County Smoker, and then onto the Blue Heron creamery. Blue Heron was a major hit with all their animals, samples, and really good brie!  
Landon introduce Rachael and
Megan to the Cheese Van. 
The Kyrie crew, plus my sister,
brother-in-law, and nephew at
Blue Heron creamery in Tillamook.
More cousins!
        After a tearful goodbye, we headed inland, back to Newberg to visit Joe's grandparents again as the first visit was just too short.  Due to being delayed by a nasty storm system, we thought we should take advantage of the opportunity for both a short road trip (who knows when we'll be able to do that again?) and seeing that side of the family once again. Joe got to enjoy driving on twisty, windy roads, I got to play DJ for the music, and the kids got to experience being packed in the back seat of a car and traveling somewhere! The Kyrie kids also were able to say they had seen all their cousins in one day! Perhaps no great feat, considering they only have three first cousins, but it was a first for them.
The girls couldn't believe how
much milk a baby calf drinks!
         The weather was cooperating at last, so after driving back to Newport, we had one more evening with my parents, returned the rental car, and prepared Kyrie for another run down the Oregon coast. The morning started with Mom and Dad coming down to the dock with mochas and farewell hugs. They took a bunch of photos as we pulled away from the dock, as well as some of Kyrie leaving from Newport's South Jetty. It was definitely hard to say yet another goodbye....

Monday, September 23, 2019

Swell! Open ocean again and arriving in Newport

**Here is the second in the series I'm working on, starting on September 8.**

      We stayed two nights in Port Angeles, getting our breath back after such a long time at the dock and working on Kyrie. We had a few little things to take care of, like adjusting the turnbuckles on the rigging--they were too tight--and changing up our flag halyards. Joe also filled our fuel jugs up and we enjoyed the Port Angeles Farmers' Market on Saturday. Sunday morning, it was time to depart. Much to our delight, it looked like the weather would cooperate and allow to us to leave Neah Bay Monday morning to start our trek down to Newport. At first it looked like we could be stuck there for about four days, but weather systems being fickle as they are, this one changed on us, allowing an earlier departure. Yay!
         However, we still had to get to Neah Bay. It was a long slog. The wind of course was against us, but the current was with us. So, we were whipping along at 6.5-7 knots, but the wind stacked up the waves, so we had to tack along the Strait. Then the fog rolled in and the radar had to be used again. Not a very exciting day, but we managed to get into Neah Bay around 5:00. Unfortunately it was too late in the day to explore the town. I had wanted to see the museum in Neah Bay, but no such luck. Through the fog, we could see some of the town and a couple of other sailboats anchored out not far from us.
           It was still foggy the next morning, but clearing a little bit. The weather report called for fog around Cape Flattery, but clearing later in the day, so it was time to go. Anchor up and back into the Strait one last time... That was a very long day, although pretty uneventful. There was hardly any wind and it was foggy a fair bit. We had prepared ourselves for a long trip--the nav computer said our travel time to Newport would be about 45 hours--and most of that first day was adjusting to being at sea again. Poor Megan got seasick for a while at first, but after a few "eruptions" and a nap, she emerged her usual cheerful self.
            That first night was weird. It was foggy again and no wind, so we definitely couldn't sail. We were 25-30 miles off the coast, so there was hardly any traffic that showed up on AIS. It was a little eerie, knowing we were five hours from the beach and most likely no landing point. At one point, I could see the glow of a big yacht traveling just inland from us, as well as the sodium lights from a fishing boat later on, but that was all. Yup, definitely eerie to have that all alone feeling, especially when it's the middle of the night and the rest of your crew is sound asleep! I made the most of it, listening to music on my phone and having my own private dance party while sitting in the helm seat!
Our first tuna caught
on Kyrie--hopefully
the first of many!
             The second day was a lot better. The skies cleared, the sun came out and we could actually see land. Joe and I were tired, but we got naps and Levi even took an hour's helm watch so we could relax. Joe decided we were far enough out and rigged up our handline, hoping to catch something. After about two hours, he noticed something was on it and hauled in a definite prize--an albacore tuna! It was probably about 15-20 pounds and everyone was excited! The girls watched while Joe cleaned it and got to feel for themselves that tuna are warm-blooded. Certainly a strange sensation! Fried tuna for brunch that morning was delicious! We also had a feathered hitchhiker that day--a pine siskin must have been blown out to sea and landed on our deck. It hopped laps around the deck for close to an hour, finding bugs to eat. Evidently it felt stronger after that hour because it took off. I hope the little creature made it safely back to shore....
Our feathery hitchhiker.
               One more night's run. It wasn't nearly as foggy, but we had moved closer to shore, so there were plenty of fishing boats to watch out for. We passed a fleet that must have been fishing for squid because the area was lit up like a football stadium! 5:00 am saw us about three miles off the Newport jetty. As there was no way Joe wanted to approach a strange harbor in the dark, he killed the motor, but left all our running lights on and drifted for about an hour. I actually woke up when the motor stopped since it sounded so different. Once it was closer to sunrise, Joe fired the motor back up and turned our bows toward the entrance buoys. Just as Kyrie neared the opening of the jetties, we had to detour slightly--a giant gray whale had decided the Yaquina Bay entrance was a perfect spot to sleep! After veering around it, we were able to enter the jetties and carefully pass the dredge that was hard at work. 7:00 am saw us managing to get tied up in a convenient slip and crashing for a two-hour nap, promising to call the harbor office when we woke up and moving if we really had to. We had arrived at last!

There's the Yaquina Bay bridge. What a
welcome sight after a 45-hour run!