Saturday, May 26, 2018

Boat Bread!

Fresh out of the oven! Yum!

I've finally found the perfect recipe for bread. Seriously, this stuff is SO good we hardly buy bread anymore. Besides, few things are as good as fresh, hot bread right out of the oven!

Believe me, I've gone through my share of recipes. A lot of recipes. This one is super easy and does not require much attention at all. You can simply toss the ingredients together and put it in the oven. We've also used it to make pizza crust, rolls, cinnamon rolls.... it is very easy to modify to suit your tastes. It's what we always bring to cruiser's potlucks and we get asked for the recipe so often, I decided to just post it on the blog. =)


Ingredients:

1 package yeast (or 2 tsp yeast)
2.5 cups hot water
1/4 cup sugar
6 cups flour
1/4 cup oil (whichever type you prefer/ I use olive oil, but only because that is what I have in the galley)
1 T salt

1 egg (egg wash: crack an egg into a cup or small dish. Use a pastry brush or whatever similar tool you have in the galley and mix the egg a little. No pastry brush: Use a spoon or something to create a light coating of the egg wash on the loaf. You will brush this onto the loaf before baking).

1 small handful of flour to sprinkle on a clean surface for shaping the loaf.
optional: parchment paper

Steps:
1. In a large mixing bowl: add the yeast, sugar, and water. Stir until dissolved.
2. Add 3 cups flour and mix. (I hold the bowl with one hand use my other hand to mix the dough, as it is faster and easier than using a spoon).
3. Add in 3 more cups flour, oil, salt, and mix.
4. Cover with a clean towel and let rise.
**In a rush? Sometimes, (mostly because I need it fast) I have simply mixed it all together, shaped it into two loaves, and baked it right then, without waiting for it to rise. It tastes just fine.

5. Set aside and wait for it to rise (maybe 20-30 min or so, depending on the temp of your galley--or set it in the sunshine on the deck), give it a stir with your hand to mix it down a bit.

6. Sprinkle some flour on a clean surface (I use parchment paper for fast and easy clean up).
7. Take 1/2 of the dough out of the bowl and shape into a loaf. Transfer to your baking sheet (I line mine with parchment paper for easier clean up)
8. Cut 3 slashes in the top surface of the loaf.
9. Brush the top with an egg wash, if desired.
10. Bake at 325 for about 25 minutes or until the top is golden and you have that delicious fresh bread smell coming from your oven.
11. Repeat for the other 1/2 of the dough.

Other ideas for this dough:
1. roll it out thin for pizza crust (we do this a lot) or make empanadas/calzones
2. form into dinner rolls
3. add various things to it: olives, jalapeno and cheddar, cinnamon and sugar, etc. Whatever floats your boat. =)
4. Only need one loaf? Put the other half into a ziplock bag and place in the fridge. It will get a more sour/yeasty taste the longer it sits. It is fine for up to one week this way.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Crete


We left Santorini for Crete around 7:30am. It was an all day downwind sail, flying the spinnaker and just lounging around on the trampoline. The water was like glass as we scooted along, and we had the pleasure of dolphins paying a visit. 



We arrived to Spinalonga lagoon around 5:30pm and dropped the hook in a nice calm bay, across from the town of Elounda. We didn’t know it at the time, but that would become our home base over the next few weeks.

There wasn’t much wind the following day, but we needed to provision and pick up parts in Agios Nikolaos. We were told that it had the best grocery store and deliveries come right to the boat. 



This was about an hour motor-sail away. We tied up to the transient dock and set off to explore the town. After packing away our provisions, we took the kids to play at the beach. Jared and I sat in a cafe and enjoyed a coffee, our toes in the sand, while the kids ran and splashed in the sea. We returned to our home base in the lagoon and settled in for schoolwork, getting the washing done, and an overall clean up of the boat.



Over the next week, we explored the lagoon, town of Elounda (there is a large chandlery there), and spending time on various beaches. Our favorite was what we named Sea Turtle beach (Almyros beach). There is a salt water marsh and a river that runs out to the sea. This place had a fine sandy beach that was shallow halfway out to the boat, water toys, and a pool nearby the beach bar. We spent quite a few afternoons here. 
Beach bonfire with s'mores.

Spinalonga is famous for first being a Venetian fortress turned leper colony. At a time when leprosy was an epidemic, patients were moved to the island in an attempt to control the disease. The ill were separated from family and friends for the rest of their lives, so it was not a happy place. Supplies were received through donations, though there was a small bit of farming, by those who were healthy enough to work the soil. A preacher and doctor lived on the opposite side of the island and made visits as necessary. While Mother Nature has taken over, many of the structures still exist and one can imagine what it must have been like to live here.

Hermes parked on the island; exploring the former fortress-turned-leper colony.

We spent a long morning exploring this place, and found it full of interesting history. In addition to the structures, old fortress ruminants, there is a museum consisting of a few small buildings. 
A short dinghy ride from RoundAbout, we left Hermes (our dinghy—named after the Greek messenger god—we are after all in Greece, and Hermes takes us everywhere) on the beach, paid the fee (kids were free, and it was 4 euro for adults), and set off exploring. We were fortunate to have arrived before all of the day tripper boats, as we had the place to ourselves for most of our visit. 

For awhile now, I have been searching for a sewing machine. In addition to mending, I wanted to get one robust enough to make repairs to thick fabric, should we ever need to repair a sail. I found a store in Heraklion, about 1.5 hour’s bus ride away. Zach and I got up early one morning to catch the bus and made our way to the big city. The sewing store was about a 30 minute’s walk from the bus station. We stopped at Starbucks for a cold drink and stocked up on ground coffee for our press (we haven’t been too fond of the coffee in Greece—we’ve tried quite a few). 
Exploring a bit of Heraklion, Crete.

We arrived at the shop and were greeted by the shop owner’s daughter. I already knew the exact machine I wanted (a Pfaff 160s, which can sew through thick layers and has a variety of options). She was happy to sit with me while I tried it out and loaded me up with lots of free accessories for the machine. About 2 hours later, we found ourselves back in the city center at a fabric shop to score some meters of fabric for a few projects I had in mind and made the return trip on the bus.


The fun really began when we met up with another sailing family, No Plans Just Options. They sailed all night to get to the lagoon and we hit it off right away! Such a sweet and awesome family! The kids jumped in the water to swim, kayak, and play legos. They needed provisions and we needed fuel, so we invited them to sail with us to Agios Nikolaos. Many happy days were spent together. We toured the Palace of Knossos, taught them how to make s’mores, had a beach bonfire and cookout, watched movies, and just had a blast! Then came the time when we had to head north and they needed to go east to Turkey. We enjoyed spending time with this family and hope to reunite on our path west or in the Caribbean (miss you guys!). 
Crews of Roundabout and No Plans Just Options




Overall, we really enjoyed our time on Crete and in Spinalonga lagoon. There were fire pits on the beach near the boat, so we had a few beach bonfires with s’mores and bbq dinners. In the evenings, we would listen to the sheep and goats returning to their pasture, led by the nice shepherd, with whom we met on several occasions. There were quite a few newborn lambs, which were so adorable to watch, as they clambered around the rocks and played amongst the bushes. A spectacular show was to be had at night, when we could see the bioluminescence sparkle in the water. Definitely, one of our favorite places!
Torpedo ray the kids found in the lagoon. They thought it was injured, due to the way it was swimming loop-de-loops. A marine scientist friend said it was feeding and not to touch it, as it has electric organs!

Friday, May 18, 2018

A Fleet of Kid Boats!

Cave exploration with 4 other kid boats!

I really have been working on updating the blog, but haven't posted for a a couple of reasons.

1. We now have 5 kid boats together and are having just too much fun! If you have kids, you know just how important it is for them to have other kids around. We've sort of all adjusted our plans so all the kids can play as much as possible.

2. Wifi is not existent where we are (using cell signal to post this, so apologies for lack of photos). I am heading in to an internet cafe, so you've got a few new blog posts coming your way in the next day or so!

All the kids swimming around the boat, playing on and inside...


In a nutshell: over the past few weeks, we have left Crete for Astipalea, Amorgos, Mykonos, Delos, Rhenia, Paros, AntiParos....whew! We have been moving! =)

In the meantime, if you are curious about what we've been up to, hop on over to our blog's facebook page. It is updated daily.

Thanks for following along! Check back in a day or so for the usual detailed posts! ~Stef

The kids swim from boat to boat. Such fun times!




Friday, May 4, 2018

Santorini: the Island of Vampires and Volcanoes

Looking out over the caldera.

When you think of Greece, you probably think of Santorini. It is by far the most photographed island in the Cyclades and has millions of visitors each year. Away from the colorful villages, the landscape is rocky with scattered farms nestled in. The volcanic soil is very rich and the island boasts lots of wonderful produce, tomatoes and wine grapes being the most famous. There is an old tomato museum next to the Vlichada marina, which would be worth a visit (it was closed when we went by).

Santorini, or Thira, has quite the history. About 3,500 years ago, an immense explosion ripped the island apart, leaving behind the main island of Thira, and the smaller islands; Thirasia, Nea Kameni, and Palea Kameni. There are two hot springs off of these smaller two islets (we loved swimming in them!), as part of the volcanic activity underneath.  Another claim to faim? Plato's theory was this was home to the lost city of Atlantis.

The ancient city of Akrotiri (near Red Beach) has been partially excavated and is open for tours (we highly recommend going). Unlike Pompeii, no bodies have been found, indicating the residents had warning. There are very well preserved frescos and pottery, still with their vibrant colors.

Walking towards the entrance of the Akrotiri museum and archeological site.
Legend also claims Santorini is home to vampires. During ancient times, people who were thought to be vampires were brought to Santorini for the vampire slayers to deal with. We didn't find much in terms of this history while visiting, but it sure does peak ones curiosity.

Probably the most photographed church on Santorini.

For a sailboat, it isn’t the easiest island to visit. There is only one marina for visiting yachts, but not much space (definitely call ahead) and it is super shallow. Only a catamaran can fit inside, or a monohull with an extremely small draft. There are some mooring buoys inside the caldera, but they are mostly for fishing boats or the day charter boats. A couple of anchorages exist on the south side of the island, however, not tenable in south winds.

Sailing along the south-western coast of Thira towards Vlichada. Do you see why they named it Red Beach?

 Another option for a sailing crew is to consider leaving your boat at a neighboring island and ferrying over; but you then accrue extra costs of the ferry, hotel, and food. With five of us, it can add up quickly. We also couldn’t leave Sunny.

We decided to try our luck and headed over to Vlichada Marina, on the south side of the island. A friend of ours, who is a summer captain on Santorini, helped connect us with the harbormaster, Antonis. We called ahead to ask about staying there for a few days and he replied that there was plenty of space and depth.
Navigating the reefs off Folegandros.

We left Kythnos around 5:30 am and arrived to Vlichada (also spelled Vlikada) around 5pm. We wanted to make sure we arrived with plenty of light left, as the pilot book said the buoys marking the shallow reef areas may not always be present. With Jared at the helm, the kids and I kept watch at the bow. Fortunately, there was not a single problem entering the marina and the charts were pretty spot on. One note for those considering going: in the pilot book it says look for the blue hotel—it is now painted yellow. There is a conspicuous blue taverna nearby, though.

Our draft is 1.3 and the shallowest we saw was 1.4, near the entrance. Initially, we were placed on the outer dock right near the entrance. That was ok at first,  but with the constant coming and going of vessels, it got a bit uncomfortable. Some people really speed in and out of there! We asked to be moved further inside and liked that spot much better (it was all the way up and in the corner). It paid off, as we had one day of high SE winds, so we had much better protection.

Beautiful black sand beach with lots of pumice stone.

There isn't much in the vicinity of the marina, save for a very small market (snack foods, mostly) and a taverna. Further up the road are a few more tavernas and the bus stop. We really liked utilizing the bus, as it cost 1.80 euro per person (kids under 6 are free) and they came about every 30 minutes.

They were nice and clean charter buses, perfect for getting around the island. We used a taxi a couple of times for provisioning and when we were outside of the bus route. That was 25 euro one way! There is a nice black sand beach nearby though, so we took advantage and had a few beach excursions.
The kids loved riding the bus!



Thira is the main town and has lots to offer. We had to go there for the port authority stamp in our transit log anyway, so we wandered around the rest of the day. Once you get to the pathway next to the cliff, the views are simply out of this world! It is worth a visit, just to look down at the caldera and see the expanse of the explosion. The sailboats and cruise ships look like toys!

Isn't this bookstore amazing?! Books are one of our weaknesses...


Another cool shop to explore. Everything is hand-made by the artists in residence. We were given our Greek names here. =)
Like many other places over the world, people place locks to pledge their love. Here, is another pathway we took along the rim of the caldera.

Lots of churches with those famous blue roofs.

The following day, we went to Oia. Everyone we spoke to said to come here for the sunset.
It is very similar to Thira, but has more of those views you see in photos online. The multi-colored villas, sweeping views, and ancient castle ruins are just incredible.


The stairways were all different sizes and the villas changed colors with each step. It's like being Alice in Wonderland.

Whitewashing seems to be a never-ending process.  Octopus drying in the sun at Amouldi, Oia.
Food is part of the adventure! 

Still reading their books from the Atlatntis! Akrotiri, near Red Beach.

On our last day there, we sailed from Vlichada into the caldera. What an experience! One feels quite small while staring up in awe at the towering cliffs above. We picked up a mooring near one of the two hot springs and went for a little swim. The highest temp we saw near the boat was 73 degrees. We took the dinghy further into the hot springs, through a narrow channel and guessed the temperature increased into the 80s. Ash floated in the water and made it look eery.



Then, we moved over to Thirassia Bay and took a friend's mooring buoy (he skippers for a day charter company) and spent a lovely night. The views were just beautiful, especially at night. It looked as if the island's rim was on fire, or wore a sparkling jeweled crown.



For tons more photos, check out our facebook page.

We are working on editing our video for this post and will update as soon as it is ready! =)














Saturday, April 21, 2018

The Island of Aegina

Temple of Apollo. Aegina, Greece

Aegina is a triangular island, about a 3 hour sail from the mainland (specifically Piraeus). The main port is the Port of Aegina on the western side of the island, and is very busy with the nearby ferry terminal and visiting yachts. Throughout the day, the musical bells ring from the church down the street (scroll down for the video, and you can hear those bells for yourself).
Our favorite gelato place in Aegina!

Aegina is known mostly for growing pistachios. There are a lot of shops near the port, where you can find just about everything you need. If not, items can be ordered and picked up from one of the ferries.

We stayed here for a couple of weeks while waiting on upholstery work and a few parts via the ferry. The port is a very short walk to the ferry terminal, which made it a convenient home base. A little ways beyond the ferry area is the Temple of Apollo and museum. We highly recommend a visit, if you are in the area. With only 1 euro admission fee, it was a great place for a field trip and to soak up some of the history.



Our little explorers.
The pathway from the museum to the temple winds through a lovely meadow. The wild flowers were in full bloom and we couldn't help but be captivated by their beauty.



We colored eggs for Easter while in the port and learned all about the Greek traditions surrounding the holiday. We celebrated Easter here and then sailed on towards Kythnos to join in on the Greek Orthodox Easter celebrations the following week.




Explore Aegina with us in our latest video:


The Island of Poros

A mermaid fountain near the port of Poros, Greece.
Exploring behind the scenes.

Poros is about a 2 hour sail from Aegina and 5 hour sail from the mainland Piraeus). It is a very quaint little town with lots to offer. From the great views up near the clock tower to the winding and meandering pathways of the back streets, you will for sure enjoy your stay here.
Wisteria covers part of a building in Poros, Greece.


We have stopped by Poros a few times and have enjoyed it. Especially since we can see how the town is outside of the crowded sailing season, where boats are often rafted 3-4 deep from the quay.

They keep us young at heart! 
View from the top near the clock tower.
In addition to docking at the quay, there are a few anchorages nearby. We have stayed at both the quay and a couple of the southern anchorages. There is great holding there in sand.

Near the marina office at the public quay is a fantastic gelato place. In the opposite direction from the marina office, beyond the school (and you will notice a wooden dock instead of concrete), you will find two large grocery stores (one is just for household goods, like cleaning products, linens, etc., while the other is all food items). Both of these stores have better prices for provisioning, than the little markets near all the little tavernas and touristy areas.


We last visited Poros at the end of March, as we were working our way back towards Aegina from Hydra. We thought we'd take a couple more days to go hiking around the island and explore the less-known parts. We met up with a nice family who was vacationing from Athens. The kids explored tidepools and a playground together, and even made up some obstacle course races! The mom was super sweet and brought ice cream and cookie straws for the kids! What a treat!



On our second day there, the wind clock around and was blowing all of the boats against the dock in quite a violent manner. We were actually on our way back to the boat from getting gelato, when we noticed quite the chop in the little bay. We hastened our pace and when we arrived, we made the quick decision to untie and get out of there. No sooner had we pulled in the lines, other boats were trying to pick up their anchors and causing quite the congestion. While Zach was helping to pull in the fenders, one dropped into the water. We couldn't stick around to rescue it, but fortunately, a cafe manager ran across the street and picked it up for us. By now, we were really bashing around with the waves. I thought I would go and pull in the rest of the fenders before we lost anymore, but it was so hard to walk on deck and Jared yelled for me to just sit where I was and hold on, lest I fall overboard.

This is where things got a bit crazy...
We drove backwards out of the fray and motored over to a southern anchorage to wait out the blow. It was actually much more comfortable here and save for one other boat who came in after us, we had the bay to ourselves. Whew, what an experience!


The following morning, we hauled anchor and set off for Aegina to meet our upholstery guy, who had finally finished all of our projects!
Video will be posted soon!