Saturday, July 26, 2014

Sailing to Mexico First Then Hawaii

Our plans have changed as of Saturday, July 26th. Tomorrow Sunday, July 27th we are sailing to Mexico to pick-up someone who is about 150 miles off the Guadalupe Island or Isla de Guadalupe. We will need to make a stop in Ensenada, Mexico first to clear customs. Ensenada is "Ensenada is a coastal city in Mexico, the third-largest in Baja California. Lying 125 kilometres south of San Diego on the Baja California Peninsula, it is locally referred to as La Cenicienta del Pacífico, "The Cinderella of the Pacific"." Wiki

We are currently in San Diego, California at the Kona Kai Marina getting ready to set sail tomorrow.

I wasn't going to bring my passport for this trip. I was packing the morning before getting on my flight and thought, if anything happens, I might end up in Asia. Best to bring the passport... just in case." Turns out I will need this document.

After we pick-up a friend in Guadalupe Island area, we will sail them to Bahia Tortugas or Turtle Bay, Baja, Mexico.

From Turtle Bay, Mexico we will sail to Hawaii. Here is a great blog about the Turtle Bay Baja area. I will have to update my photos when we land in Hawaii. Sailing Blog Info for Bahia Tortugas.

That is the new plan as of 4PM today.

Today I'm very tired and I think it might be the San Diego heat.

As the adventure continues, I will try to update. However, once at sea, there will be no updates and no Internet.

Bula, Bula

Friday, July 18, 2014

Support for the Great Pacific Race Monterey to Hawaii 2014

One week from today I will embark on a voyage on a 57' Bowman Ketch sailing yacht from San Diego to Hawaii assisting (if needed) 13 teams of rowers out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.  Teams of 4, 2 and solo are rowing from Monterey, Californian to their final destination in Oahu, Hawaii for the Great Pacific Race.

As of July, 17th, the racers have been rowing for 38 days completely self sufficient. No help from the support yacht, making their own water, cooking their own food, sleeping on the boat, and navigating at night while rowing the whole time! We, a crew of six, leave San Diego next week to 'catch' the racers and give support or rescue, if needed. Follow the racers here at Yellowbrick. At the bottom of the page, click and drag the nav button to the left show the start of the race and the progress of the rowers. One solo rower, Elsa Hammond 29, is now rowing to Mexico and is out if the race. This woman is an inspiration. "She lasted longer than two male solo rowers — including one who had to be rescued" wrote the Monterey Herald

On a sailboat without the Interwebs, cellular service and cocktails (yes, not even wine), this will be both a spiritual and educational journey out at sea for over 5 weeks helping these rowers complete their goals and finish "the biggest, baddest human endurance challenge on the planet". At first I was talking myself out of the adventure and coming up with all kinds of kookie reasons why I shouldn't go i.e. watering my plants.  After a dinner with my brother Mike on the 4Th of July, it was decided that I would stop talking myself out of adventure and just go! Great advice Mike.

The boat is named Cloud Nine. She's a 57' Bowman Ketch that has rounded the world three times on expeditions and one of the first to completed the North West Passage while Roger Swanson was her captain. "Rare is the sailing resume that boasts 217,928 miles, three circumnavigations, multiple voyages through the Arctic and Antarctic and the first east-west crossing of the Northwest Passage by an American-flagged sailboat. Pretty impressive for a Midwestern-born pig farmer-cum-electrical engineer-cum-entrepreneur, but no one ever accused Roger Swanson, of Dunnell, Minnesota, of mediocrity. Swanson, who sadly passed away at the age of 81 on December 25, 2012 after a battle with cancer."

She's beautiful and tough!

Photo by Roger Swanson

I don't know much more than that, really. My friend Ellen introduced me to the skipper. I called the skipper. We talked.  The skipper purchased my plane ticket to San Diego and I leave next week.

At sea for 5 to 6 weeks as support to the teams racing and doing 'arts and crafts' on the boat, this means sanding and varnishing and 4 on, 8 off. Crewing on a boat of 6 -- on watch or duty for 4 hours, then 8 hours off duty to sleep, read, collect samples for the 5 Gyres.

5 Gyers' mission is to "conduct research and communicate about the global impact of plastic pollution in the world’s oceans and employ strategies to eliminate the accumulation of plastic pollution in the 5 subtropical gyres."

Each day I will dedicate time to the 5 Gyres Marine Debris Observations with a one-hour observations where I log all the trash that I see floating on the ocean surface.

Once all team finish and are safely on shore in Hawaii, Cloud Nine will rest at the Kaneohe Yacht Club. That's when the surfboards come out

For more information, cheack out New Ocean Wave's website.

Bula, Bula!!!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

How to ReUSE Plastic Bottles and Bags by Shopping in Bulk

Shopping in bulk is not always 'easy', but like Kermit the Frog said, "It's not easy being green". I keep my empty plastic/glass containers, bags, and herb bottles and reuse them at Rainbow Grocery, a worker owned coop.

Rainbow Grocery's has been in San Francisco’s Mission District since 1975 and some of it's employees have been working there for over 25 years - some history in this beautiful City.

I keep all my grains and nuts in glass mason jars. Once they are empty, I keep them in a canvas bag ready for my next shopping adventure. Shopping in bulk allows me to purchase the exact amount of a product I need for my week or for a specific recipe. I can purchase 1 cup of unsweetened coconut flakes, 2 teaspoons of cumin, 3 tablespoons of curry, 1/4 cup of brown mustard seeds, 1/2 cup of bath salts, small amount of detergent, body lotions or nut butters. The point is you do not have to purchase a full bottle of an ingredient or product when only a small amount is needed for your recipe. Shopping in bulk allows you this freedom.

In this case, I was able to purchase my quinoa plastic free by reusing my own glass mason jar. I've got the tare weight and the product number listed on the jar.

I used my empty mustard seed container to purchase whole black pepper. Cover the label and the barcode on the back of the container.

TARE weight is the weight of an empty container. By subtracting it from the gross weight, the weight of the goods carried may be determined. Read more about it here: Tare weight

I've got my empty plastic bottles washed and ready to go!

Once at the store, weigh your empty bottles on the scale. The weight of my empty reusable bottles is different for each container, so weigh them all and label them with a sticker.  The TARE weight for this bottle is 0.13 - on a sticker, write "TARE 0.13".

Find a product that best fits your budget and fill your container. You'll notice a number associated with each product. With a sticker provided, write the product number on the bottle next to the TARE weight. In this case, it's 9009. It's that easy!

I had an empty olive jar and I needed more olives. Clean out the jar and lid, get the TARE weight and post the sticker over the barcode.

After weighing the jar, find the olives you wish to buy and fill the jar.

After filling the jar, I add a sticker just above the TARE weight with the product number. This makes it easy for the checkout person to find all the information in one area.

I don't have to worry about the olive juice spilling in my bag or on my bike ride home like it would when I used the containers provided by the grocery store.

This looks much nicer in the fridge as well...

I'm going to make a soup that requires 1 cup of cannellini beans. I measure out one cup, use my own bag, tag the product number and done! In some cases when I'm purchasing herbs, I will write what's in the bag or jar. This will help with herbs that look alike.

When I run out of hand soap, I keep the plastic container and refill it with more hand soap. Seems simple, but it takes some effort. This bottle leaks when I travel with it, so I found a container that holds the same amount of liquid with a strong lid.

Get the TARE weight and cover the barcode with the sticker. Find a hand soap you enjoy and fill the bottle.

Once home, fill the 'nicer' container with the hand soap.

Here's the kicker. This soup is just as nice as any, but much more affordable at $4.01 compared to the other brand at $12.95

Being green and saving money... it's worth the effort.

Looks nice and it smells just as good as the $12.95 hand soap.

In a reusable glass jar, fill up on coconut butter or oil. I use this on my skin, in the fry pan, to brush teeth, etc.

Why do all this? Well, besides being a little kind to the environment, shopping in bulk is a great way to save money. For every bag I bring from home, I get 0.10 back at check-out. Also, knowing that I'm shopping at a local coop is a big plus.

Little Vine on Grant Street has the BEST bulk Bozzano Ranch virgin olive oil and it's a local producer out of Stockton, California. In 2006 I purchased beautiful bottle of olive oil while traveling around northern Italy. I love that I can continue to use this bottle.

Bozzano Olive Ranch offers Bulk Purchases, as well as Custom Milling and Bottling at competitive rates.

If you need more information, please watch this video on 'Rainbow Grocery's How to Shop in Bulk'. It's a little old. Currently, you get .10 cents for plastic bag you reuse.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Phuket, Thailand

Nai Harn Buddhist Monastery -- Chalong, Phuket, Thailand
Thailand for a few weeks in Dec. 2013 and a few weeks in Jan 2014.

"Many people believe that the Nai Harn monastery helps prevent the area from overdevelopment as it is said that Samnak Song Nai Harn owns a lot of the beachfront land (that can’t be sold under Thai law). When visiting, there is no specific dress code apart from avoiding too-revealing clothes such as singlets or shorts on women as it is a place of worship. Shoes must be removed when entering the building."

And, I'd like to add, watch out for the dogs. They are not friendly, but they do listen to one of the monks that cares for them. I was able to speak to the monk for about an hour. He had made one trip to the US... Texas of all places. I wish I got his name.

Rawai Beach with Ko Bon (Bon Island) in the background. Solo day on my scooter exploring the island.

Shops outside the Elephant Shrine at Phromthep Cape cover up to escape the midday sun.

If you are hungry, there are street vendors waiting to cook up a good meal.

Elephant Shrine at Phromthep Cape Up the steps from the car park is a shrine to Brahma that is surrounded by 100 wooden elephants of every size.

Elephant Shrine at Phromthep Cape - Phuket, Thailand

Stopped on the road to take a photo of the luxury resort Royal Phuket Yacht Club and the Nai Harn Bay

Finally, I didn't get lost!

After a long day on the scooter exploring the south part of the island, I need a bite to eat with a view. I found this lovely restaurant on the Nai Harn beach called Mama Seafood. Shaded by the tress and canvas umbrellas, the Thai restaurant serves fresh, local fish, produce and beer. For 180 baht (5.50 USD) I got an entree and a Chang beer all the while with my toes in the sand and an epic view of the beach at sunset.

Mama Seafood restaurant located at Nai Harn beach - epic sunset and dinner for one and my new friend. See photo below.

This guy was just taking a nap. There are a lot of wild cats and dogs running around, but people seem to feed them and take care of them.

Mama Seafood Restaurant at Nai Harn waterfront

Sun is setting and I still have a long way back to Chalong Bay by scooter. Heading back the way I came - don't want to get lost in the dark. About 45 minutes from my hotel.

Stopped at the night market in Chalong Bay area to explore the food. It's nice being on a scooter. I can stop and go as I like and parking is not an issue. Vendors, farmers and local chefs converge under the gas lamps to cook, chop, and make magic flavors.

Stopped at the night market in Chalong Bay area to explore the food

Looks like hot-dogs!

Three people on one scooter!? No problem. We were doing about 45 to 60 kilometers per hour on these little bikes. Currently at a red light so I could take a photo.

First Ticket in Chalong Bay. Got pulled over. Keys taken. Ticket given. Walk 50 meters. Pay ticket. Get keys back. Continue on my way. 500 baht spent very well...

Back at my hotel - Super Green Hotel located at 42/14 Soi Chalong Pier, A.Mueng, Phuket, 83300 Chalong. If you are at the airport, tell your driver you are going to the hotel near the roundabout on the same street as the pier in Chalong Bay. No one has GPS and my driver couldn't read english text. If you do hire a taxi at the airport, find the metered taxi or make a deal before you start your trip. I made a deal with my driver for 700 baht (that includes a 100 baht airport tax) or about 16.00 USD.

Yes, that is 7/11 - I will talk about this later. Photo taken from the bar at my hotel. Second night in Chalong Bay - now off to check-out the 'working women' and girly-boys at the local bar. Yikes!

Across from the hotel is a 7/11 convenience store. They are in vogue. Not kidding at all. You can buy a 7/11 t-shirt and most tourist are wearing them while traveling around Thailand. 7/11 was my breakfast stop while traveling around Phuket and later Chaing Mai. A steamed red bean bun for 15 baht and a coffee (strong and good) for 35 baht (1.50 USD). This breakfast was a deal too good to pass-up.

Up early from jet-lag, off for a walk along the Chalong Bay area while my travel partner slept. Searching for treasure or something that was open this early in the morning. Instead I found washed up fishing net. Sad, really.

Walked into the Phuket Cruising Yacht Club and met this Kiwi who was here on holiday before heading back in Indo to work on an oil rig - talk for a while, then continued on my walk. The people you meet along the way...

Phuket cruising yacht club, yacht services, local knowlege, dingy security, marina style, moorings, beer, happy hour, wifi, shower, ice, water, bottom cleaning, brokerage, bbq.

Don't smoke or your feet will fall off

Continued walking down the beach to final destination - Ao Chalong Yacht Club. It's the place to be on a Friday night.

On my scooter ready to roll off on adventure in Phuket, Thailand... more dangerous than driving in Italy.

Gas station on the side of the road - one bottle of gas please!

Heartbreaking to see these beautiful animals chained by their foot unable to walk around and in direct sunlight. These elephants were swaying back and forth in frustration and fear. Please do not ride the elephants while you are on holiday. This is not the life they should live... in chains.

My travel mate and I headed to Wat Chalong - I was driver on the scooter and she was a bit of a backseat driver. Note to self, get your own scooter in the future. It way too dangerous to have someone yelling at you while you are trying to avoid head-ons with cars overtaking in your lane. Wat Chalong is located in the northern part of Tambol Chalong on Chao Fa West Road. The name 'Chalong' means 'festival' in Thai. It's nice to stop by and see this, but after a while all the Wat's look the same. Same, same.

Stopped by the Karon Beach for an hour to hang-out and relax. It's 200 baht per chair at the public beach. We had a fresh coconut for 50 baht and a beer (I need it after the near miss in Patong Beach).

Very strange jelly like things (thousands of them) floating around the waters at Karon Beach, Phuket Thailand

At the end of our day and after nearly getting hit head-on twice in Patong Phuket area, we stopped back at Mama Seafood restaurant for a lovely dinner and sunset.

Mama's Seafood Restaurant - 180 bath for this and a beer.

Very beautiful beach front restaurant

Next day got up at 6AM and headed to the Big Buddha in the middle of Phuket. The two of us on the scooter as we struggled up the very steep road to the massive white buddha. Wasn't sure the thing had the guts to get us up there, but we made it in one piece. Big Buddha sits on top of the Nakkerd Hills between Chalong and Kata and at 45 metres high it is easily seen from any location.

I wasn't in proper clothing, but free skirts and wraps are provided for us Westerners who are "inconsiderately dressed".

If you have the time, stop along the windy (windier) and windy road down from Big Buddha. There are several cafes along the way with epic views, relaxing atmosphere, strong Thai coffee and a bite to eat. It's more expensive to stop here, but the views are worth the extra 50 to 70 baht. The ride down this steep hill is sketchy so mind the sharp turns and go slow.

My travel mate and I were to meet the rest of our boat crew at 13:00 at the lighthouse in Chalong Bay. Here we waited for the skipper of our boat and our next adventure sailing the Andaman Sea.

Off on a boat!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Volcano, Amador County, California

My family has a house about 20 minutes away from Volcano, California. As kids we would drive down here and explore all the old mining equipment and shop at the hippie jewelry shops. During a Thanksgiving trip up to the house this last year, we decided, after years of not visiting the area, to take a hike around and explore the National Natural Landmark at Black Chasm Caverns.

Not much open on Black Friday. To be more specific, nothing was open and no one was out and about in downtown Volcano; a census designated place (CDP). Take your time walking through the city, it's a 5 minute walk from start to end. However, for such a small town, there is so much history and is considered the “gem of the Gold Country”.

Mildred Hoover’s commented in her authoritative book, Historic Spots in California, “Volcano is the Sleepy Hollow of the West. One can look for goblins in the ghost rocks or headless horseman to come galloping from the steep wooded mountain road.”

Old Abe was cast in bronze by Cyrus Alger & Co. in Boston in 1837 and now resides at the intersection of Main and Consolation Street in downtown Volcano.

This 800lb cannon held by the Valcano Blues was only fired once during the civil war.

"Old Abe" was fired down main street causing windows to break in the shops that had not been warned or who were sympathetic to the south. Go Valcano Blues!!

"Hydraulic mining operations (high pressure water jets to wash gravel away from mountainsides), begun in 1855, brought thousands of fortune seekers to form a town of 17 hotels, a library, a theater, and courts of quick justice."

A rusty mining trolley, pushed or pulled by men and animals, sits just outside the famous St. George Hotel.

"The historical "Mother Lode" belts the county entirely across, extending north into El Dorado and south into Calaveras, and in Amador are found the most important and most numerous leads upon it."

Cobblestone sidewalks in downtown Volcano

Platform base of Bandstand is reconstruction of original portable bandstand built around 1856.

Portable bandstand in Volcano and me.

Cool, old 7UP sign on the main market

Jug & Rose Baking Company gets 5 star rating on

Historic downtown Volcano and Jug and Rose Baking Company.

Main Street Volcano, California 2014

Volcano Jail, built 1857

The jail is virtually escape proof, and the story goes that its first prisoners were the men who constructed it.

The Masonic Lodge, built in 1856 by Samuel Hayes and James Adams

Later that day we took a guided tour of the Black Chasm Caverns, designated a national natural landmark in 1976 because of it's rare helictite formations.

Due to low light and my iPhone, my photos do not do this type of formation justice. You must see this in person.

a wide variety of formations including stalactites, stalagmites, flowstones and the vast arrays of rare helictite crystals, for which Black Chasm Cavern is justly famous.

Although small, Volcano is a town of many "firsts":
1854 First theater group in California
1854 First debating society in California
1854 First circulating library in California
1855 First private schools in California
1855 First private law school in California
1856 First legal hanging in Amador County
1860 First astronomical observatory in California
1978 First solar still in California,_California

Volcano (No. 29 California Historical Landmark)

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Thai Crab and Mango Salad with Lime Pineapple Jalapeño Mint Dressing

Thai Crab Salad with Lime Pineapple dressing

Dungeness Crab fresh out of the Pacific Ocean in a Thai style salad. Fresh mango, cucumber, basil, cilantro, mint, avocado, carrots, green onions, and mixed greens. For the dressing I blended pineapple, jalapeño, mint and lime.

No oils, no dairy, no gluten. Paleo. Local.

Thai Crab-and-Green-Mango Salad


- 2 or 3 fresh whole Dungeness Crabs
- 2 mangos
- 1 or 2 cucumber
- 1/2 cup basil
- 1/4 cup cilantro
- 1/2 cup mint
- 3 scallions, green parts only
- 3 carrots, finely julienned
- 1/2 pineapple cut and blended
- 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
- Mixed greens or 2 bunches of watercress
- Sriracha
- 1/2 cup fish sauce

Thai Crab-and-Green-Mango Salad

Start with the carrots since they will need to marinate for about an hour. Chop or julienne. Mix the fish sause and sriracha in a bowl and add carrots. Set aside and get to the dressing next.

How to cook and clean fresh crab

In a VitaMix blend the pineapple, 2 tablespoons of fresh mint and the fresh lime juice. Place this mix into a bowl and add the scallions (green onions) and fish sauce.

Thai Crab-and-Green-Mango Salad

Place this in the fridge to settle.

Thai Crab-and-Green-Mango Salad

After cooking your crab for about 10 minutes, clean it. If you need instructions on how to do this, please check out How to Cook and Clean a Crab.

Thai Crab-and-Green-Mango Salad

Chop the greens and the mango and mix in a very large bowl.

Thai Crab-and-Green-Mango Salad

Now you can drain the carrots from their bath and place them in the bowl of mixed greens. NOTE: Toss the carrot bath mix. You do not need or want that in your salad.

Drizzle the pineapple dressing on the mixed greens and toss until evenly distributed.

Thai Crab-and-Green-Mango Salad

Do not add the crab to this large mixing bowl. Plate the mixed greens and top with fresh crab.

Thai Crab-and-Green-Mango Salad

Garnish with the avocado and left over cucumber and serve cold.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

How To Cook and Clean Fresh Dungeness Crab

How to cook and clean fresh crab

First you should have a current fishing license and know the legal areas to crab. Second, you should keep the male crabs and toss back all female crabs so they can reproduce more crabs for next season.

Note: Dungeness crabs (Cancer magister) may not be taken from, or possessed if taken from, San Francisco and San Pablo bays at any time. For complete regulation information, see the California Ocean Sport Fishing Regulations booklet.

How to cook and clean fresh crab

If you look at a crab’s underside, there’s a 'flap' or apron with a distinct shape. Male crabs have a narrow, long apron and female crabs have a wide, triangle apron.

How to cook and clean fresh crab

After boiling or steaming your crab (typically boil for 7 to 10 minutes per crab), turn crab over and use your thumb to pull the apron away from the body.

How to cook and clean fresh crab

Place both thumbs into the apron area to pull apart the carapace from the body. The carapace detaches completely from the body, but watch out for the yellow guts. They sometimes fly all over the place.

How to cook and clean fresh crab

Here you see the yellow guts in the carapace. Rinse the yellow guts off the body. I don't keep the carapace.

How to cook and clean fresh crab

Cleaning a crab is very time consuming -- about an hour for 2 crabs

How to cook and clean fresh crab

Remove the gills from around both sides of the body

How to cook and clean fresh crab

Decision time: Do you want to crack the body in half down the middle and server as is OR do you want the crab meat without the shell...?

How to cook and clean fresh crab

Two crabs ready for anything!

How to cook and clean fresh crab

I'm going to remove all the crab meat from the shell to make a salad. Remove the legs first and place them somewhere safe while you clean the body.

How to cook and clean fresh crab

Crack the crab leg shell with a hammer or crab cracker. I've not mastered this process yet, but a good hammer and some chopsticks are very useful in a pinch. Toss the shell and keep the meat.

How to cook and clean fresh crab

Now I have my crab meat ready for a salad, crab cakes, crab omelette or by itself with butter.

How to cook and clean fresh crab

Thai Crab mango, carrots, cucumber Salad mixed with lime-pineapple-jalapeño-mint dressing.

Or and omelette like the one below?

How to cook and clean fresh crab

Crab Omelette with ginger, green onions, corn, eggs, basil, avocado, and red onions with a side of brown rice, ginger and mint.