Whether we are traveling every day, or just hanging out like we've been for the last few weeks, we develop a routine, as I'm sure most organized people would. The major components of our day consists of maintaining the boat and maintaining ourselves in the way of personal hygiene, or our sustenance. In other words, what we eat.
Part of the fun, or adventure, of what we do is making meals on what some would consider to be limited resources. I know that in the whole scheme of things, what we have here aboard Swing Set is somewhat luxurious compared to how a lot of people on this planet live, but compared to what was our well stocked kitchen back in St. Louis, this could be called camping.
I've mentioned our vast array of dry storage for canned goods and the like, and of our Norcold AC/DC refrigerator, but you must realized just how small this refrigerator is. The freezer has 3.6 cubic feet of storage and the main compartment is 7 cubic feet. I know guys that can eat 7 cubic feet of White Castles at a sitting, so you can imagine what we are dealing with.
Let's talk about power to run that Norcold for a minute. Being able to run on either alternating current, or direct current, is essential for a refrigerator on a boat, I think. The next best thing would be to have a top loader refrigerator/freezer, but we do with what we have. We have learned that when we are on the move and the main engines can spin our alternators, along with help from the wind generators, we charge up everything during the course of the day to run everything we need until we pull up anchor and head out the following day. Sitting on the hook doesn't do the same amount of charging, even with a decent wind blowing. (Bear in mind that we can't run our air conditioner off the inverter.) Now, it's been very hot around these parts for the last week and that means that the refrigerator runs more, but we're still getting away with turning it off when we go to bed. The fact that we need to run the generator a little in the morning to cook breakfast at times, or in the evening to cook dinner, the refrigerator gets help because the batteries are charging when the generator is on. One day this week we didn't run the generator at all, mainly to see if we could do it, but in general we will run it a couple of hours a day and maintain an eye on the battery voltage levels on our house bank and inverter bank. Power management is one of our chief endeavors here on Swing Set and with just a little effort we are making out just fine. Thankfully, the nights have been nice and cool, making living without A/C bearable.
So when we cook, we cook more that what we'll eat at one sitting so we can just zap something later in the microwave, something we can do with power from the inverter alone.
We have been living aboard now for two months and after the initial monster shopping spree to fill the larder, we've had three more larger trips to the grocery, the last one being a week ago. When we get to a store and can get fresh vegetables, we'll get stuff to make a salad, so naturally our meals shortly after will be something that revolves around a salad so that the lettuce doesn't go bad.
Just a word about recipes; we read lots of posts from others that live on their boats and they always want to compile a recipe book for boaters. The problem with recipes is that you have to have what's in the recipe to make it. We take the approach that we inventory what we have, then decide what we can make with it. We end up with either a culinary delight, or something we call "an adventure in dining".
This week we had broiled spare ribs along with a salad that was a hit. On this same night, being one of the very hottest of evenings, we treated ourselves to a couple of hours of air conditioning until nature took over and the outside air cooled down with the sunset. The next night we were going to finish up the spare ribs by heating them up and adding some canned asparagus, but Rosie had made some hotdogs after cooking bacon for breakfast on the previous morning, and I began to wonder what I could make with a couple of leftover hotdogs.
We had bought some burritos at Wal-Mart two weeks ago and had been using them in place of bread for our lunchtime sandwiches, so I took two of these burritos, spread some canned spaghetti sauce on them, added some shredded cheddar and mostly mozzarella cheese and topped with a sliced hotdog on each. Now, these were not the best homemade pizzas we've ever eaten, but let me tell you, we've had pizzas in St. Louis on "The Hill", the Italian neighborhood there, that were not as good as these. This is a fact.
We now had a very large can of leftover spaghetti sauce, so last night I added two cans of minced clams we got on a bargain at IGA last week, cooked up a half box of penne noodles, made some garlic rolls out of rolled up burritos, and we had a feast last night. See how it goes?
Yesterday we decided to jump in the dinghy and head back over to The Moors for breakfast, not because we didn't have breakfast stuff on the boat, but just because it's nice to break up the routine for just about anything out of the ordinary. That's what makes life interesting. Holly was left on the boat and here is Rosie with Swing Set in the background at our anchorage in Smith Bay. Behind the boat is the main channel, or Kentucky Lake. We were a little exposed in this anchorage, but the breeze was persistent coming from the south and it kept the wind generators, and us, happy nearly all day.
After a breakfast of delicious hot coffee, biscuits and gravy for Rosie, and a big plate of pancakes for me, I put this RiverBills.com sticker on our table for the picture. I'm saving the rest of our vast supply of RiverBills stickers for the most remote or interesting locations we encounter. No sense getting in a hurry to use up our supple of stickers, we're in this for the long haul. Rosie did order the waist slimming small order of biscuits and gravy, and my monstrous plate of pancakes fed both of us again this morning, and we still have enough to go around again. If you are on a budget, you can't go wrong with pancakes. Ever.
We got back to the boat and we were lounging around and we got invaded by two runabouts full of kids, so we did what's great about living on the hook and we moved. The nearby quarry normally provides us with not only family entertainment, but some generally some adults are in there too, and it wasn't long before we made some friends. I use the term "friends" lightly here, as the people we met were in need of jumper cables and they thought I would have them. "Derek", as he introduced himself, had a bad battery on his Jet Ski and was joined by three others on another Polaris PWC. We tried to charge the Jet Ski with a battery tender I've had since we sold our BMW motorcycle but as soon as I plugged the charger in, the inverter faulted and we had to start the generator. The exhaust from the generator was about to asphyxiate Derek as he was sitting on that corner of the swim platform, so when he said he had jumper cables "back at the truck", I asked as the where that may be, and he said, "across the lake".
I politely suggested that the other fella go fetch the jumper cables while we engaged ourselves in a cold Bud Light and Derek saw the wisdom in this plan, especially since it meant turning off the generator. Two beers later, here came the other three and quickly got the Jet Ski started. Derek nearly didn't want to be rescued at this point, though. I gave Derek the Battery Tender as I saw no more use for it, and we both figured a small jumper could be made from it as it had alligator clips on one end, and a cigarette lighter plug on the other.
You can see the progress Holly is making on her swimming lessons. She doesn't wear the life jacket anymore, at least until we get underway in bigger water. Holly will jump off a raft she is lounging on, but still won't make the 4 inch leap off the back of the swim platform. The other day, I mistakenly let her on the beach and when she wouldn't come and I started going after her, she beat feet for the water where her protector, Rosie was waiting, and she swam as fast as a rat out to the safety of Rosie's arms. I honestly never saw any of our dogs swim that fast.
Rosie couldn't help taking this picture because "one of us looked so damn cute" in it. Which one of us I wonder? Holly has taken to excursions around to the bow of the boat, especially when we aren't paying attention. She gets on the top step of the stairs leading to the gunnel from the cockpit and looks over at us. If we aren't looking, she gets her two front paws on the gunnel and looks again. She gives one last glance as her first back paw lifts from the step, and off she goes unless we call her on it. Usually though, she makes the circuit and shows up on the steps on the other side of the cockpit like nothing had happened. She used to do the same thing at our condo into forbidden territory.
I already mentioned our dinner last night of minced clams and pasta; after that it was time for some relaxation after a grueling day, but the anchorage we picked after leaving The Quarry had the sun punishing us. It was a hot one. We intended to get back to Green Turtle Bay on Friday afternoon anyway, so we decided to head back over to Lake Barkley to spend the evening on the hook with the trees blocking the hot setting sun. We found a nice deep quiet cove just up from the canal that separates the two lakes and slipped in, giving the two other boats already there ample room. We sat on the cockpit steps enjoying the view for about an hour and then retired to the salon to read our books, but only after Rosie offered a toast to us for the good time we are having so far. I actually went to bed before the sun went down on our longest day of the year and finished the book I was reading. I was bushed. I've read three books in the last three weeks, but in the first three weeks while we were on the move, I didn't finish one. The long days of traveling mean I read one or two pages before zonking out.
I was going to include a nice picture of the view we had this morning when we got up at 5:30, but the photo was taking too long to load up. You know, early to bed and all that, but we were helped waking up by some fishermen who came blasting between us and the houseboat anchored nearby. They thoughtfully slowed down as they just got between us, causing the biggest wake possible. They were just creeping along by the time they reached the back of the cove, so as not to disturb the fish that they didn't catch after ten minutes. My dim view of the fishermen around here is increasing at the same rate of my inability to catch any of said same fish.
As much as we are looking forward to our last weekend around here with our friends, we are really looking forward to returning to our travels upriver on Monday. Maybe we can contain ourselves enough this weekend to be able to post some pics before we cast off. Don't count on it.