Gadgets for the galley, or a very small kitchen!

I have put a lot of effort in keeping junk (and weight) out of our yacht, and so we have spent a lot of time making sure that all of our galley gear is highly functional, and preferably multi-purpose, as well as space saving. Like most things we write about, there isn’t a lot of difference between efficiency on board, or efficiency in the small kitchen in the city unit we have recently moved into, after letting out our large waterfront home! Here are a few things I cannot live without……

Biome Lunch Box

These lunchboxes change the way I eat at work, and are perfect for inshore racing lunches, or semi-prepared Friday night meals on the yacht after a busy commute to get to the marina.

Consisting of three sections, one large enough for two sandwiches, they also come with a small and medium size container. They are so flexible. In the simplest form, you can put a sandwich in one side, and leave the items that make them soggy (such as tomatoes) in the smaller section, for adding at the last minute. But I usually use this section for a salad, and put the dressing into one of the smaller containers for the last minute add. Then in the smaller sections, add some olives or strawberries as a snack.

On a Thursday night, I can pre-marinate some meat, and put the dressing or marinade in the smaller containers, or herbs in the smaller section.

The greatest change that it has made for us, is that I am always prepared the night before. I spend a lot of my work time in the car, and Lucas is in concerts or on-air. But when our workday begins, it is just a matter of taking our meals out of the fridge and into a bag, and off we go. Mine is red (Apriori) and Lucas is green (Toccata)!

Stacking bowls, colander and measuring cups

Joseph Joseph has this off the shelf solution which gives you everything you need, but it all stacks in one place. The purple and orange spoons start from a teaspoon and go up to a cup, then you have a small bowl, a stainless steel mesh sieve, a colander, and a large mixing bowl. And it all stacks into one space. We have had it a year, and it appears to be extremely good quality. The sieve hasn’t rusted, even though it has lived on the yacht for a year!

Aldi collapsible containers

Some of the items that I have outlined are rather expensive, but I consider that all represent value for money. These fabulous containers, sourced from Aldi, represent incredible value, and we use them all the time. They win out as when they are empty, the can be collapsed down and take up little room.

Tupperware bakeware

This is a winner on the yacht with no rusting and light weight; if it slips off the stove and is dropped it will not shatter. It comes in two sizes, and the lid can be used as a shallow baking dish as well. For storing, the lid slots upside down into the base, taking up minimal room.

Joseph Joseph Chopping board

This is one of my favourites. The board itself is on a slight angle, with a ridge around the side. My pet hate when cutting up food with a lot of liquid, such as tomatoes or roast meat (at home, but especially on the yacht) is that the liquid runs everywhere. This neatly contains it so it can be poured down the sink. Turn it over, and it also has a meat grate.

Compact food processor

We have experimented with hand drawn food processors, but have found them difficult to clean and unreliable. We have a small multifunction food processor that fits into a plastic container, which we run off the inverter and swap from apartment to yacht. It gives us a lot more scope for our cooking, and I couldn’t live without it.

Joseph Joseph washing up caddy

These keep everything nice and clean. We have a washing up brush with liquid in attached to the bulkhead, with another caddy with the scourer and hand wash. I have some “Thank you” sanitiser restrained by saddles and shockcord if you are on the run and don’t want to use the galley water.

Sink Colander – again, Joseph Joseph

This flat colander fits directly into the sink, and it is really handy to put in if you are washing up, as it collects all of the food scraps and stops them clogging up your drains!

Soda Stream

I love water, and the Soda Stream has a number of benefits. Besides being cheaper than buying soda water, it means we eliminate single use water bottles. The added benefit on the yacht is that it seems to take away the “Tank water” taste. Don’t understand why. We have one at the house and one in the yacht; unlike many of the fairly extravagant purchases on this post, we bought both of ours second hand for about $30 combined. Jump on Facebook marketplace or Gumtree or equivalent wherever you might live.

Sheathed knives

Knives on boats are really dangerous; I don’t like them to be unsheathed if we are anywhere except the marina. And as you plunge your hand into the drawer and the boat lunges, you don’t want to be cut by a sharp knife! These were purchased very inexpensively via Peters of Kensington.

Paper towel dispenser

We are always looking for ways to use “wasted space” in the yacht. With two saddles, a little bit of shock cord and a shackle we lost the pin for, we now have a use for this wasted bit of space.

And a bit of fun…..

If I can’t drink out of crystal, then these fine, stemless champagne flutes are the next best thing. And they fit into a winch handle pocket – so you are sure not to spill a drop! We don’t allow glass on the yacht in case of breakages, so these are made of a hard plastic, making them very durable.

The Simplest (and best) Picnic BBQ

We often get asked to go to picnic BBQ’s, and quite frankly, all the fuss and taking dirty dishes home annoys me! But this simple combination takes away all of the fuss and you have a delicious lunch!

We recently spent a week house sitting on Coochie Mudlo Island. We did a lot of sailing on Toccata and we had a BBQ on the beach just by our house, which is where we tried it out!

INGREDIENTS:

  • A nice camembert or brie, in a box
  • A few sprigs of rosemary or thyme
  • A head of garlic
  • Four small or two large fillets of garfish, per person
  • Four slices of bread, per person
  • Butter

METHOD:

Before you leave for the picnic, butter the bread, and wrap the garlic in foil with a little olive oil and black pepper. Remove the cheese from the box, remove all of the packaging. Use a knife to put six wholes in the top, and stuff with rosemary or thyme. Then put it back in the box. I then pack it all in our Biome lunchboxes. Now you are organised!

Start the BBQ and get it hot. Cooking times (working backwards for when you would like to eat) are approximately as follows:

  • 30 minutes – put garlic on the BBQ.
  • 15 minutes – put cheese box on the BBQ.
  • 5 minutes – put some butter on the BBQ and fry the garfish in it. Put the bread butter side down and brown, then flip.
  • 0 minutes – Remove the garlic from the foil. Cut across the top of the head and squeeze it out. Spread on two of the pieces of toast (per person) then cut the toast into soldiers, to dip into the molten cheese. With the other two pieces of toast, make a sandwich with the garfish.

Open the Rosé or Riesling and enjoy the lack of washing up!

Happy Friday! Have a great weekend.

Taking the emotion out of buying a boat…..

For most of us, buying a yacht will be the second biggest purchase of our lives, next to our home that we live in. But given the gravity of the purchase, I find so many people I know have bought yachts with their hearts rather than their heads, and in the worst case, ended up with a totally inappropriate yacht, or more often, just paying a lot more than they needed to.

I had a small yacht and a trailer sailor in my late teens, but they were “stepping stones” rather than “forever” yachts. At 26 I bought my “forever” yacht, but it only lasted four years before I was looking for something new. But the process of buying and selling yachts is both painful and expensive, as is the process of getting a new yacht up to your standard. I was determined not to make the same mistake again.

My career has been in commercial banking and my decision making tool of choice is MS Excel. I don’t believe there has been a problem I can’t solve with a spreadsheet. While I joke, I think writing the results of the following questions down crystalises your decision making process. It also is vital if there are two of you making the purchase, so you know where each other stand and what they are looking to get out of this transaction. It’s a bit like pre-marriage counseling.

And writing down the plan enabled me to critically evaluate all of the boats that I went to look at. My original plan regarded two cabins as a not-negotiable, as I planned on having guests aboard. When I found a boat that kicked it out of the ballpark for all of my criteria except that it had only one cabin, then I went back to my decision making tool. I decided that, better than expected performance, handling, and pricepoint, was worth trading away what I originally decided was a not negotiable. But the point is I had a decision- making framework to judge each boat.

For my current boat, I established a folder full of sleaves with loose leaf printouts of excel spreadsheets, covering all of the below. Every time I looked at a potential boat I would scribble all of them, then think, and assess. The yacht I bought 13 years ago is the yacht that I will stop sailing when I am in a wheelchair. I got it right.

What are you going to use the boat for?

This sounds ridiculously simplistic, but particularly when it is a couple buying a boat, this seems to rarely be discussed prior to purchase. I have seen people buy a yacht with the intention of offshore racing, yet when they buy the boat, it never even gets used for a SAGS race. So I question, did they buy the best boat for the purpose? Another friend of mine started looking at big, multi chine steel cruising boats to live aboard. She ended up buying a racy Sayer design, which she went on to compete the Solo Tranz Tasman, match racing me for nine and half days, the whole way across the ditch! A fantastic result. I think she will keep that yacht forever too.

At the risk of my corporate background sounding like spin, before buying a boat I think it is a good time to take a hard look at yourself and your relationship. What is my skill level, and how easily can I develop it? Is my partner wiling to endure the long term challenges of living aboard? Are we committed to racing, or is that something I will do on my own and leave my partner behind? How will we manage the deliveries home after an offshore yacht race? Can we afford to keep buying racing sails and paying for the breakages? And if we can afford it, then what are we giving up in lieu? (overseas holidays and early retirement etc).

When it comes to decisions about boats and partners, your first thought may not be the best. One of my female friends was looking at a yacht and was keen on racing. I guided her towards a Lidgard 28; a beautiful fast yacht, but with no double berth and only sitting headroom. Her husband hadn’t sailed, and due to not being able to swim was unlikely to be converted. She instead purchased a significantly roomier Spacesailer 27, and he regularly joins them in the marina at the end of a passage (via car), and has been spending more and more time on the boat bay sailing and at anchor. She made the right decision.

So my decisioning criteria when it comes to use of the boat is based around the following questions. And give some serious thought about whether your next boat is a stepping stone boat, or a forever boat. I consider each in respect to the short, medium and long term, and what will it look like when retired from work?

Racing (occasional or regular):

  • How many days aboard a year will we spend?
  • WAGS and SAGS with no spinnaker
  • Inshore/Club racing with spinnaker
  • Coastal Racing
  • Crossing oceans
  • If crewed racing, where will your crew come from?
  • Who will do the deliveries? How will this be managed?

Cruising:

  • How many days a year will you sleep aboard?
  • Day sailing/picnicking
  • Overnight in sheltered waters
  • Crossing oceans
  • Will we spend time (extended or otherwise) living aboard?
  • Who will be your crew? Do we need crew?

I think the above is fairly straight forward, but I would emphasise the crewing aspect. Many years ago I decided I would sail everywhere single handed, and as such I am not beholden to anyone. I met my partner and that has now converted to short handed. We all know that getting together crew is a challenge, and marinas are full of boats that do not get used due to lack of crew. I think it’s important to have a realistic view of this before buying the boat.

If you are working as an employee, it is important to consider how you will spend your holidays. I only get four weeks a year. Lucas gets five weeks, plus RDO’s due to his shift work. We have an agreement. One year is focused on big trips in the boat, the next we go to Europe to visit his family and only do weekends on the boat.

What’s your style?

The parameters of this heading are endless, but I will try to explain with the words of the great Australian designer, Joe Adams. Joe designed a lot of solid high volume cruising boats. When I was 13 I read an article in a sailing magazine where Joe was interviewed about his new “racing” design, the Adams 13. Ultra lightweight and narrow, he instantly rebutted saying it was a boat he had designed for himself and his wife to go cruising; it was not a racing boat. His idea was lightweight, less use of motor, smaller motor, less diesel, smaller sails, smaller winches, less cost and less drama. The faster you go, the more storms you can outrun.

When I bought my second to last yacht, it was a heavy, ex IOR half tonner of 30 feet. With a distorted waterline, heavy displacement and a pinched in transom, it was lovely upwind but a handful down, and realistically, not that fast or nice to sail.

Our current boat is 40 feet, with the same displacement as the last one. She is a surfboard. She is light on the helm and a pleasure to sail. We can reef deeply and she is a doddle to sail but doesn’t lose any speed. In light airs we don’t have to use the motor, and carry a lot less diesel. However she does slam a lot more to windward, especially under autopilot, but we get there quicker.

If I were in a cyclone, I would still pick my current boat. She surfs free of problems, straight and true. And we have a better chance of not being there in the first place.

At the end of the day its personal preference, but I think you need to come to an educated conclusion on where you sit beforeyou start looking at boats. 

List of equipment and the budget

Once you have decided what you will use the boat for, then you can figure what gear you need to make it happen. If you are racing, this is simple as the races you have chosen to compete in will have a Yachting Australia Category that you will need to comply with. In my folder for my current yacht I had printed out all of the Notices of Races and checked them methodically that the boat I was buying was appropriate for the current requirements.

When it comes to racing or cruising, then storms or crew injuries do not differentiate. When we cruise, I have always made sure that our yacht is equipped to the appropriate racing category for the journey we are undertaking. Is a cruising yacht caught in the same storm as a racing yacht less likely to sink? Of course not. Are the crew less likely to need first aid? No. The Yachting Australia safety categories are comprehensive and not difficult to comply with. As a cruising yachtsman, I can gain leverage from all of the research that has come after yacht racing disasters.

Once decided the Category the boat will be equipped to, you can compile a list of equipment and a budget. When comparing two boats, perhaps of the same design but equipped differently, it will be easy to see how much the upgrades will cost, and which is the best value.

Just refitted, or just needing refit?

The reality is that if you have two yachts of the same model, and one has had a complete refit, and the other hasn’t, they will be listed for the same price. But a full refit is basically the value of the yacht.

After completing your list of equipment, extend it to essential gear like sails, motor and sterngear, standing and running rigging. We recently had a stainless steel rudder stock fail, which was an expensive fix. My insurance company declined the claim, saying that a stainless steel rudder stock has a 20 year lifespan, and ours was 32 years old. Make sure you are comparing the boats in detail, and again update your budget.

What can you afford?

When I bought this boat I made a pact with myself that I would never winge about the cost. A commitment I have generally kept. 

If it’s your first boat, expect the running costs to be double what you first thought. If you are going from 30 feet to 40 feet, expect your running costs to double.

Complete a maintenance budget. Start with the things that are known and fixed, such as marina fees, insurance and registration.  The engine will need servicing. Get a quote from your local yard for antifouling, which will need to be completed at least every 18 months. Standing rigging needs to be replaced every ten years, according to most insurance companies. How long sails last depends on the fabric you choose and how you look after them and use them. 

Then make an allowance for the unknowns. Breakages, electrical and plumbing issues. Don’t be optimistic, and refer back to your list of equipment and your estimated replacement schedule.

Are we going to fit?

One of the biggest mistakes I made in purchasing my penultimate yacht was I didn’t lie in the bunks. The spec sheet said there was a double, I saw the bunk and moved on. It wasn’t until I tried to sleep aboard with my partner, I realized it was just too small. Builders specifications are often optimistic. But this was a deal breaker. We wanted to live aboard but we didn’t have a berth big enough to be comfortable. Sounds simple, but how many people lie in every bunk of the boat before buying? (Don’t forget to take your partner on this journey too).

The decision making process:

My partner and I use the above decision making framework regularly, when we are faced with any major decision in life. We call it a “Board meeting”. It generally involves going out to dinner, a bottle of wine and our Mac laptop with an excel spreadsheet. We usually make the right decisions.

The Apriori Racing Story….

After trucking up and down the Queensland coast, and frolicking off to Lord Howe Island in my old Defiance, I (Trev) wanted to go faster.

Apriori, (Nee Farr Horizons) was a clapped out Farr 11.6 I paid a fortune for before the GFC when boats were really expensive.

I had two investment properties at the time, so I relinquished the lease on my flat, and packed up my aging Daihatsu Charade, filled with an inflatable dinghy, an outboard, flares, liferaft and my work suits, shirts and ties, and drove to Sydney to sail her home, single handed.

I judge my racing performance against one of my best friends and racing rival, Jen Tooth (nee Fitzgibbon) on the formidable Soothsayer. I have raced against her in WAGS, in club racing, in Brisbane to Gladstones, and the Solo Trans Tasman. Like me, when she bought her yacht she was financially stretched and lived aboard to make ends meet. And fulfilled all of her dreams.

Apriori has been retrofitted from a charter yacht to a double handed racing yacht. The details of which you can read here.