Pre-heat the Oven

Posted in: Featured on Saturday, May 23rd, 2015

These are no longer depressing words to find at the start of delicious recipes!

If all goes to plan I will soon have my very own oven. I understand if you don’t jump for joy but excuse me while I do.

For the last three years aboard Tygress we’ve had only a two burner Lido Junior gas stove and grill to play with, I mean slave over, in the galley. And as you know we’ve managed quite well but it has been limiting. We packed probably more recipe books than we needed when we first moved aboard without realising just how many of them relied on having an oven. There have been many occasions when Ben and I have felt the urge to shake up our menu options and try masterchefing something new. We’d fish out the recipe books full of enthusiasm, it didn’t help we’d usually be doing this hungry, and we’d come across deliciously tempting recipes only to read further and find the dreaded phrase ‘pre-heat the oven’. After a while of pre-heating a magical oven we didn’t have books were slammed shut and stuffed back in the cupboard. “Steak and mash” Ben would ask? “Yep, you do the steak, I’ll do the mash”. No one ever gets sick of my amazing mashed potatoes, cream, butter, cheese and when i’m getting a little bit fancy, whipped with an electric beater into fluffy clouds of deliciousness…okay so maybe my waistline gets a little sick of them! But seriously folks they’re great.

Now, with the very exciting prospect of having my own oven again I’ve have fun compiling a top five list of the things i’m going to cook in it.

1. Lasagne 

Who doesn’t love a home cooked lasagne. I’ve only made one once before and yes it is a lot of work and mess, but when you slice down through that golden cheesy, crusty top layer to find the delicious mince and bechamel filling all the mess and effort seem like nothing. Served with a crisp salad, or a side of more lasagne it’s one of my favourite meals.


2. Bread

Why bother when I can walk up the road and buy a loaf? Well because I won’t always be able to walk up the road to buy a loaf and there is something deeply satisfying about the smell of bread baking. Homemade bread is an event for the senses unlike the thin white aerated impostor on the shop shelves. Home made bread gets sliced thick while still warm with butter melting dreamily into it. It gets eaten on it’s own because it doesn’t need anything else.  And I know I can work some cheese into the recipe, ooo and maybe some bacon on top! Cheesy bacon bread anyone?


3. Chips

Handmade, homemade, individually hand cut and all the frozen types too, basically any type of chip you can put in an oven will be going into mine (except maybe those hipster zucchini or kale chips, way to ruin chips guys!). Mmmm I can smell them cooking now.  There’ll be chicken salt, onion and garlic salt and regular salt. There’ll be aioli and tomato sauce. There’ll be me suffering from indigestion after eating too many chips. Totally worth it!


 4. Roast Lamb, beef and chicken

Ben loves to cook a good roast and the only way he’s been able to do that on board is in our little magma bbq in the cockpit. It gets the job done but it’s difficult to judge temperature and cooking times and just a pain to find roasts and trays the right size. So one of our first dinners aboard our new home will no doubt be a roast of some kind. What a luxury to be able to take it out the oven and put it on the bench, without having to worry about getting it out the bbq or losing it over the side in the process. Or having to navigate the companionway with a hot roast and no hands.

Roast Lamb image

5. Baked goodies of every kind

I was never a huge baker before boat life but more and more over the years i’ve really missed being able bake a cake, or some biscuits or some quadruple choc muffins.


If you’re lucky enough to have an oven, what is your favourite thing to cook in it? Do you have any oven based recipes you’d like to share?


Boat Shopping Sucks

Posted in: Buying on Saturday, May 16th, 2015

A strong statement I know, but it’s true.

For me personally I find it very hard. It’s an emotional and at times heart breaking roller coaster.

Hours are spent online pouring over hundreds of photos and listings.

A shortlist of practical options develops alongside a much longer wishlist of dream boats (commonly referred to as boat porn). There are so many things to consider. I like some boats, Ben prefers others, and occasionally we both like the same one and it gets added to the shortlist.

The boats listed with brokers benefit hugely from professional photos taken by brokers with their magic cameras, that add space and light. First time boat buys beware, the space and light isn’t always there! The privately listed boats suffer from very average photos taken by owners with their very normal cameras that make spaces look smaller and pokier than they are.  Photos like these make it hard to figure out the layout of the boat and struggle to raise enthusiasm levels. Don’t get me wrong, boat interiors are very hard to photograph and I would not like to rely on my skills when Tygress goes up for sale! You have to look past the quality of the photos and find the real quality of the boat. Read the listing carefully, request more photos if needed, get as much information as you can. Its so important to inspect any boat that catches your eye.

For me the inspection process is the most exciting and also the hardest part. It’s the part of the process when you get to step onto the boats you like and get a feel for them. It’s when the emotions really kick in.

Marina Boardwalk Vintage

We live aboard our boat so the boat shopping process for us is twofold. We want to buy a boat that will allow us to reach our sailing dreams, it has to be able to get us to the places we want to go, and we also want to buy a boat that is going to be good to live aboard. A boat with the right mix can be hard to find and it can be heartbreaking to find a boat with great live aboard qualities that we have to walk away from because of practical considerations.  Part of this twofold process involves picturing our life aboard each new boat to see if it would work for us. I imagine cooking in the galley, sleeping in the cosy berth, and spending lazy days in the cockpit reading. It doesn’t take long to get attached to the life imagined and the boat you imagine living it in. Heartbreak follows when you have to walk away.

So far this search there have been boats that have been a great price, that have had so much space and great live aboard qualities (read; a large, unbelievably comfortable leather settee) but that have simply had too much work to do (read: rust, rust and more rust). Which explains the great price part.

We have found others that have everything we could want in both live aboard and practical categories but that upon some deep thought, were really to big of a jump in size for our current experience levels. But oh how we loved the huge saloon settee that could seat 6-7 comfortably, we loved the roomy and fully enclosed cockpit, and we were seriously impressed with her 1000 litre water tanks and massive deck storage lockers! Sadly though, at over 41′ she was just too much boat for us and her ongoing expenses were daunting.

There was a boat we had discounted online as her interior didn’t appeal to us, I make no apologies that interior aesthetics are a big deal for me, so the lime green galley and 70’s tiles in the head were off putting. But we looked at her on a whim during a day of inspections and she had been weirdly tempting. Yes the lime green galley colour was bad but the space itself was quite functional and offered a good size pantry, which would mean no more rifling through multiple storage lockers wondering where’d i’d shoved the sugar last (Note to self: stop shoving things in random places!). And yes the tiles in the head were no less deeply retro in person than they had been in the pictures but the head itself was much nicer and roomier than we expected. Although she was priced attractively and a good size for us to handle, in the end it was the work still required that made her unsuitable. Our next boat will be ‘no work required’.

Which is why we put in an offer on a boat that is truly just ‘provision and go’. Our boat search, short lived as it was, is happily over.



A Day on La Rose

Posted in: Featured on Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

It was one of those perfect Moreton Bay days, with clear blue skies, mild temperatures and just enough wind to make raising a sail worth the effort.

We weren’t going to waste it.

Our friend and neighbour John invited us out for a sail on his boat ‘La Rose’, a beautiful Nantucket. It didn’t feel great leaving Tygress in her berth but a day on the bay on any boat is not something you pass up, besides she had Fluffy for company.

The breeze didn’t pick up until after lunch so in the morning we motored out of the channel and turned the bow towards St Helena Island. Most liveaboards don’t own a boat built for speed, we own what are generally referred to as cruising yachts, slower but built for comfort. Built for the journey as much as the destination. So what followed was a very peaceful and delightfully slow trip past Green Island in the direction of St Helena.


The chart for the area we sailed.

The chart for the area we sailed. Green and St Helena Islands are up the top right corner and our home port is bottom middle.


Ben and I had never been so close to St Helena, it was exciting to watch the indistinct horizon form into sights we could clearly identify. Through binoculars and the camera lens we could make out the ruins on the island. For 60 years onwards from 1867 St Helena was the site of colonial Queensland’s major prison, although the last prisoner left in 1933 thanks to the islands national park status the ruins are still there to see and explore through guided tours.  We were happy enough sailing past and enjoying the view from a distance.


St Helena and it's prison ruins.

St Helena and it’s prison ruins.


Entranced by the view we almost ran out of water, so we turned around and headed for a lunch stop at Green Island. Safely and expertly anchored I offered to prepare a lunch of roast chook on bread rolls. Simple fare yes, but what a place to prepare it, at a table with 360 water views and almost complete quiet. We weren’t that far from shore but the silence, when jet ski’s or motorboats aren’t roaring past that is, is almost perfect.  We ate, we talked and we waited for the wind.


Green Island off the portside, we had it almost to ourselves.

Green Island off the portside, we had it almost to ourselves.


Not long after lunch it came, not much, but enough wind came for us to set out and raise the sails.  Most motor boat owners will never understand the joy of turning off the engine and moving under the silent power of sail. For them it’s all ‘powerrrr’ and speed. But for sailors, the power of the wind is ancient, it’s free and it speaks to their soul.


Not much wind but we weren't in a hurry

Not much wind but we weren’t in a hurry

We were probably going even slower than we were under power but we didn’t care, we had no where to be other than in the moment. We headed toward King Island talking about boats, enjoying patches of silence and then back to boats again. John has lived aboard for almost 15 years, he has owned a few different boats and has many stories to tell. He has the kind of salty mind that unsalted, inexperienced sailors like to pick through for any pearls of wisdom, experience and ‘what not to do’s’ that they can glean. And if you like boats then spending an afternoon on one, talking about them with a fellow boatie is heaven afloat.

To top off our wonderful day on the bay John popped over to our boat, after an extremely frantic tidy up, and we spent a few hours drinking and trawling through boatsales.com and yachthub.com for our next boat! Life is good!


Captain John of La Rose and me.

Captain John of La Rose and me.