Cooking aboard, trip logs

Trip log: Levington to Titchmarsh

A smooth launch, a leisurely sail and a sunny sheltered marina made an auspicious beginning to the sailing season. The Easter break marks the first trip of this season for Aurora and we chose Suffolk again this year. It can be very cold at this time and not everyone wants to be on the boat full time in the spring, so the attraction of Suffolk is the proximity of grandparents to provide an alternative to sailing.


We launched from Suffolk Yacht Harbour, which is unusual in that their slipway has a wire which is used to lower boats down the slip. This may be unfamiliar to many, but we nearly always have to launch Aurora from a rope, so we got on well with this arrangement. I travelled with Aimee and rigged the boat yesterday. It was “blowing old boots” yesterday, so today was quite a contrast with light winds and much sun. 

The launch was easy, but there was quite a bit of faffing to do to get the trailer safely stashed away. Consequently, we did not sail off till midday.

The wind was blowing almost straight down the Orwell and Aimee and I took it easy as we were carried out on a light air and a strong ebbing tide. We took the opportunity to check all the sails were properly rigged, that the furling worked properly and, where nevcessary, to adjust the rigging. 

This season, I have decided to use the genoa instead of the yankee. The latter is quite a bit smaller and more manageable, but when the breeze picks up, it soon needs to be furled. On the other hand, there seem to have been many occasions when conditions are very light for the yankee. Thus it seems as if the genoa would provide more power on very light days and yet seldom be a hindrance, compared to the smaller yankee. 

 And so it proved today, at least. The wind was light and variable, swinging from fetch to run. On one occasion, Mr Honda was brought to life and a few puffs provided some excitement, but overall our progress was rather slow. Still, it was a nice day, and the combination of sun and sailing downwind was most pleasant.

We watched Felxistowe docks and saw large container ships come and go. We watched the beach huts of Harwich drift past and saw the hidden entrance to Hamford water open up as if by magic as we followed the buoys. By this time the wind had died almost completely, so we motored slowly up Twizzle Creek to Titchmarsh marina.

Titchmarsh marina
Titchmarsh marina

This marina is well tucked in behind the seaside resorts of Walton and Frinton. With the tide out, the boats appear as if they are sunken into the marsh. An embankment surrounds the marina and provides shelter, so after a (longish) walk to Walton, we enjoyed tea in the cockpit. As the sun drew near to the tops of the reeds and the almost full Easter moon rose, the chill in the air sent us down in the cabin. 

 I was pleased with our evening meal- Moroccan lamb cooked in the thermal cooker (Aimee’s choice). It was easy to prepare; tinned tomatoes, butter beans and linguine added to lamb, garlic onion and herbs. Aimee garnished hers with feta, but I passed on that. 

 Distance: 10.1 nm, avg speed 2.8kts


Baltic, Cooking aboard, trip logs

Baltic Blog: North to Lönnskär

Friday 1st August
 Trev and I were the only takers for an overnight trip today. There were lots of suggestions for where we should go, but I decided to use the SW breeze to take us North to “Chocco” (Tjockö). After a bit of faffing (airing damp stuff, victualling and washing), Trev and I left Svartlöga. The wind was very nearly due South actually and we whizz end downwind, gybing over to the North-going channel between Svartlöga and Rödloga. The breeze built and built and we went from all three sails, to main and staysail and then, as our course was dead downwind, staysail only. even then we were travelling at an average of 4.5kt. There was a bit of trepidation when we crossed the E-W channel and a huge passenger ferry was beaming out of the East towards Norrtalje. Having avoided the shipping, we snuck into a narrow channel and passed some civilisation- a bar and restaurant, a marina, kayak hire, fish shop. Since we needed none of these (possibly the former, but did I mention that I did some victualling before departure?).
 After some exciting gybing through channels between small islands, we arrived at our target- a small natural anchorage, with excellent shelter from the southerly breeze. It took us a couple of goes, but we soon had Aurora with her bowsprit over the rock, one bow warp tied to a large rock and the other to a fallen tree.
 Trev and I perfected the disembarking procedure and went for a walk on the new island. The terrain is rather different here, as it has steeper and higher rocks. It also has more soil and therefore dense pine forest. This latter meant two things- firstly, there was not much of a view and secondly, there was a profusion of blueberries to be picked. This was serendipity in action, as I had not long mentioned to Trev how I would like some fruit and there was none aboard!
 After admiring some of the local boats in the deeper moorings, we retired to Aurora for some beer and nuts as an aperitif before our hot meal from the thermal cooker. Washing up done and bread for the morning made, we enjoyed a coffee in the cockpit as the sky turned from blue to orange with no sound but the breeze in the pines and the lapping of the water.
 Total distance 16nm, avg speed 3.5kts
 Here’s our overall route:

And here’s where we tucked into:

Cooking aboard

Boat Bread

Boat bread
The thermal cooker has been a great success on this trip. We are away from shops and fresh produce much of the time. I love fresh bread and was determined to bring that bit of civilisation with us.
 I had experimented at home with the “no knead” bread recipe from Mr D and it worked well. So, I brought pre-weighed ingredients with me and can easily knock out a loaf; 10 mins to make, an hour to prove, 15 mins to cook and 4 hours in the thermal cooker. The only modification I have made to the recipe is to grease the tin with olive oil, as we have no fridge for butter.
 I made this loaf last night after we had washed up the thermal cooker from our lamb and chorizo casserole. Still hot after 10 hours!


Cooking aboard

Lamb and chorizo casserole

We had some lovely Worcestershire lamb left over from the roast and I thought this might combine well with chorizo.

A red pepper, onion and garlic clove were finely chopped and fried off and the very rare roast lamb added. When the lamb was browned, I added half a chorizo, thinly sliced and two bay leaves.

The dish was completed with a can of chopped tomatoes and a can of washed kidney beans. I also added a sprig of dried mint.

This was simmered for a further 10 minutes, a top pan of rice prepared and both pans left in the thermal cooker outer for about 4 hours.

A successful dish- slow cooking the lamb made it very tender and the spicy note of the chorizo, along with the subtle Ming flavour gave this dish it’s own character.

Cooking aboard

Sausage Carbonara

This one-pot meal is a variation on meatball carbonara, based on a recipe for the thermal cooker recipe book. Whilst I don’t usually use jarred sauces, the convenience is very valuable aboard.

I used some local suffolk pork sausages and browned them in a little olive oil. A bonus of the thermal cooker is that they don’t spatter because the pan is deep; usually I avoid frying on board.

Remove the sausages to a bowl and fry off an onion, 2 cloves of garlic, a green pepper and a carrot, all chopped quite small.

Return the sausages to the pan, add a 500ml carbonara cook-in sauce and then 500ml of water, rinsing the jar out. Add a good handful of chopped fresh parsley and a chicken stock cube. Finally add about 200g of spiral pasta (I just guessed and estimated half a 500g bag). Bring the lot up to boil for about 5 mins and then put the pan in the thermal cooker.


Cooking aboard, trip logs

Back to the Deben

Tue 22nd April

With the children enjoying some time with grandma and grandad, I wanted to take Niki to see the Deben. This river has a reputation as one of the most beautiful in Suffolk. I decided to sail Aurora first to Felixstowe ferry, which is just inside the mouth of the river, and then sail the whole navigable length to Woodbridge the next day.

We set out from Levington just after lunch, timing our journey to reach Woodbridge Haven, just outside the shallow mouth of the Deben, at the optimum time, HW-2.

Unfortunately this meant not just a beat out of the Orwell, but also against the rising tide. As we had resolved to sail (rather than motor), it took us about two hours against a blustery breeze. However there is always something interesting to see in Felixstowe docks and the time passed agreeably enough.

By the time we reached the mouth of the river, the wind had abated and swung to the SW. The sun came out and we had a lovely run, shaking out the reef and switching from staysail to yankee.

Quite soon, we were entering the Deben with almost 2kt of tide under us and, even though it was not far from HW, there was less than 1m of water under the plate as we crossed the shallow part between the shingle banks.

Felixstowe Ferry looked lovely in the peaceful Afternoon sun and we quickly picked up a mooring in the shelter of the town.

Dinner tonight was chilli beef with mushrooms, served with rice. Not my finest culinary hour (I forgot several ingredients), but hot and filling.


Whilst that was finishing in the thermal cooker, I had a chance to try out my mark 1b kite-cam rig, in a steady breeze and golden light.


With a sunny day in prospect tomorrow, we look set to see the river Deben at its Spring best.

14.4nm; avg spd 3.5kts


Cooking aboard

Lamb and Mushroom dhansak

Friday 18th April 2014

Tonight’s feast afloat was a dhansak, made from my own spice mix, with fresh coriander, a big red chilli, creamed coconut, onion, green pepper, diced lamb and some chestnut mushrooms. Sauce thickened with corn flour before serving, because I forgot to bring some lentils. Served with basmati rice and sweet mango chutney. A much appreciated treat after a day’s sailing, though only 9/10 because it needed lemon or lime juice.