Sunday, March 29, 2009


Last night we sat at the breakfast nook playing cribbage in the dim light of a hand-crank lantern and a few tealight candles. No the power wasn't out nor were we intentionally being romantic. We were participating in Earth Hour, a worldwide hour of lights-out to raise awareness of energy consumption and sustainability.

About 30 minutes in, Chip said, "We kind of have this no-electricity thing down, don't we?"

It's true, and we have hurricanes to thank for that. Since we've lived together in the Outer Banks we've survived countless hurricanes. Okay, they're not countless, but I'm lazy. When you live in hurricane alley, you learn pretty quickly how to prepare, especially when you have kids in the house. The skills we've honed over the years will serve us well onboard.

Provisioning for a week without shopping or refrigeration is not unlike preparing for a long passage. Our first attempts were object lessons in what to do -- or not. When replenishing the hurricane bin after the first two years, it was apparent that no matter how hungry we were, nobody was going to eat canned green beans or bamboo shoots. Neither was the canned Koolaid a hit.

What we did eat will become the staples we keep aboard the boat: canned and dried chick peas, cannellini beans and dried lentils. We'll happily consume pasta, and dried grains and make delicious meals using canned tomatoes, roasted red peppers, corn, green chiles and refried beans.

On our very first morning without power in 1998, we stared bleary-eyed at a healthy stash of whole coffee beans and an electric grinder. We've since purchased a hand grinder, but necessity taught us that a rolling pin does a decent job of "grinding" the beans.

And creativity in the face of necessity might be the best lesson yet. Our culinary skills have been practiced over a hibachi, a propane camping stove and once, over the gel cans meant to keep food warm in a chafing dish! For light we've used ordinary candles, lanterns and flashlights but have also employed cell phones, light sticks and shakeable flashlights (you shake them to recharge).

After Hurricane Isabel in 2003, on the third night without power, we sat around the kitchen table with friends, drinking wine and laughing in the candlelight. At some point, someone noted: "Hey the power's back on."

We had a moment of silence and a collective shoulder-shrug before pouring more wine and continuing powerless the rest of the evening.

--installed the zipper pulls on the bimini. Amazing how much easier they are to install when you have the right size. :-\
--got a lot of writing and online research done while recuperating.
--found a boat-writers' association. They sponsor a nautical-themed writing contest every year. Their winners list contains very familiar and very intimidating names, including some of my favorites like Captain Fatty.

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