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Melissa & Dave - Adventures at Sea

Index of Interesting Blog Posts

Most Amazing

 A Lone Humpback Whale    

 Panama Canal Crossing

 Isla Talon


 French pastries delivered?!

 El Salvadorian chicken boat

 America's Cup Races

 French Canal Boat


Emotional or Funny

 Reaching the Canal

 We can't catch a thing

 Flying the Dingy

 Snakes on a boat Part 1

 Snakes on a boat Part 2

 Melissa can't fly a Spinnaker

 Embarrassing laundromat trip


 Helping the Mexican bureaucracy

 Squid attack!


Best Land Side Trips

 Caiman Capture!

 Swimming in the Amazon River

 Arches National Park

 Machu Picchu

 Best Zip Line

 Paying our first bribe

 Seeing our first wild monkeys

 Evening in Tlaquepaque

 Melissa attacked by monkeys

 Most beautiful cities in the world

 Oaxaca market day

 Monte Alban ruins

 El Salvadorian wedding

 Copan ruins

Scary Stuff

 A bump in the night

 Remind me why Greece is fun?

 Tried to kill the boat owner

 Getting caught in a fishing line

 Apsaras tries to sink herself

 Dark and stormy night at sea

 Fire aboard the boat!

 A scary marina entrance

 Michoacan Mexico Unrest

 Engine trouble at sea at night

 Automatic weapons fire?

 Frogman Mike


The MacGyver Stories

 Debugging the starter problems

 Outwitting the Panama Canal

 Bringing back the icemaker

 Fixing Saltydog's autopilot

 Saltydog gets a new navigation system

 Towing a boat across the bay

 SSB Seminar

 Stabbed by a broken beer bottle in Mexico

 Autopilot failure in Alaska

 Removing the washer/dryer

 Where is that leak anyway?

 The day Dave wanted to sell the boat

Rescue Stories

 Paddleboard Rescue

 Rescue on the Amazon River

 Fuel transfer at sea

 Aground & Rescue of Joint Decision

 Day 1 and Day 2 of fixing the generator




Current Journey - RSS Feed at http://svapsaras.com/entries.atom

Zip Stitches - a new edition to the med kit

As you all know, I've blogged quite a bit about our medical kit and preparation for medical issues while underway.  We found a new edition that we think is a "must have".  One of the items we originally packed up was a stitch kit in case someone was wounded.  Though the idea of sewing someone up was a bit daunting.  Enter a new piece of technology based on zip ties.  Its called a Zip Stitch.

It comes in a variety of sizes, but the idea is generally the same - tape with a "stitch" in the middle.  You apply the "stitches" much like a band aid - with adhesive.  Then you pull on the zip ties to close the wound.  


Great video about how to do it here: 

You can buy them on ebay:  Large, Medium, Small.

Gluten Free Cinnamon Rolls and French Bread!

With COVID isolating us at home, I've been cooking up a storm.  Steeled by my success with the sourdough bread, I've now baked sour dough cinnamon rolls and french bread to varying degrees of success.  I'm documenting what I did so I can remember later.  :-)

Cinnamon Rolls


3 1/2 cups Manini's GF Bread Flour
1/2 cup sour dough starter
1 Tbsp Coconut Sugar
1/2 tsp Sea Salt
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 C coconut milk
1/4 C water

3/4 C Coconut Sugar
3 Tbsp Cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt

1/2 C Fake Cream Cheese
2 Tbsp fake butter
2 tsp coconut milk
1/2 C powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Mix dry ingredients for dough.  Add coconut milk and mix with spatula.  Add starter and continue to mix.  Add water a little at a time until dough is holding together but very sticky.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise ~6 hours.

On your kitchen counter, place a piece of parchment paper.  Transfer dough to paper and flatten with hands to 9 x 15" rectangle.  Mix filling and spread across dough.  Using parchment paper, roll dough along long side so you end up with a 15" long roll.  Cut roll into 8 to 10 equal slices.  Place each slice onto cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  Place damp towel over cookie sheet.  Leave to rise in oven with light turned on over night.

In the morning remove cookie sheet from oven, heat to 375 C and bake for 22 to 25 minutes until the edges are barely starting to turn golden.  Do not over bake as they will get crumbly and dry.

When baked, mix glaze and drizzle over rolls.  Eat!



French Bread



3 cup Manini's GF Bread Flour
1 tsp. salt
1 cup sourdough starter
3/4 cup warm coconut milk
1 Tbsp. honey/agave syrup
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 jumbo egg, beaten

Mix flour and salt.  Mix in sourdough starter, milk, honey, oil, and beaten egg. Beat the batter in a stand mixer and beat with the paddle attachment for 5 minutes.

Generously butter a baking sheet. Divide dough into two parts. Prepare a small bowl of water for moistening your hands as needed in working with the sticky dough. Use your hands to scoop half of dough and form it into a 14-inch log. It should end up 2 to 3 inches wide and a little over 1 inch high. Repeat with the second half of the dough.

Use a sharp knife to cut diagonal slashes on the log every 1-1/2 inches. Place a damp towel over dough very gently and let rise in oven with light on overnight.

Preheat oven to 425°F. When hot, place bread in oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until internal temperature reads at least 190°F.

Remove from oven and transfer to cooling rack after a few minutes. Allow to cool at least 10 minutes before serving.

A Very Very Messy Job

Once upon a time Dave fixed a leak in the exhaust hose.  You might remember that Apsaras tried to sink herself when she had a hole in her exhaust hose.  Alas, she sprung a leak again.  Dave has been alternatively fighting it and trying to ignore it for a while now.  Mostly its harmless.  Dumps water into the bilge which the bilge pumps then pump overboard.  Alas....

The "trunks" in the aft of the boat store all kinds of gear.  Its a semi-dry environment back there.  We expect stuff to get damp.  But its a huge area where gear can be stored.  The bilge overflows into those trunks.  One of the items stored back there was the steel container Dave uses to store old engine oil that he pumps out when he changes the engine oil.  He stores it and then gets rid of it when we get the opportunity.  Alas water and steel don't really do well together and the steel container rusted through and through.  Thereby dumping all its contents into the aft compartments and coating all the gear stored there in.


Double Yuck.

Here's what it looked like:


It was gonna be a messy ugly job to clean it out.  So we called Jim to help.  Figuring that if Dave sat in the aft compartment having someone on the dock to hand stuff off to would make the job at least a small bit less horrible.  The guys unloaded the compartment of all the gear.  Which then had to all get cleaned.  Jim took the electrical cords home with him to work on as the guys were about beat by this point.  (Go Jim!)

Once unloaded they had to pump out all the oily water into buckets because we didn't want to pump all that oil into the lake.  And then the compartment had to be scrubbed.  And scrubbed some more.

And finally.  The aft is probably cleaner than its ever been.  And yet the exhaust has not yet been fixed.  A job for another day.  Always another boat job!


Gluten Free Sourdough Bread



  • 3 C Maninis Old Fashioned Bread Flour
  • 1½ cups water
  • 1 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 1½ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 cup of active starter (see notes below)
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

I made starter following these instructions - but instead used 100% Maninis Old Fashioned Bread flour - same as I used to bake the bread.  It takes a week - so plan ahead!


  1. Measure water, add salt and sugar to the water and let dissolve.

  2. Sift flour into a large glass mixing bowl.

  3. Mix in water and avocado oil using a spatula.  Ensure dough is well-mixed, use your hands if necessary. It is not necessary to knead a gluten free bread.

  4. Set dough aside for 1-2 hours or can keep in the fridge for a day or so or overnight. If putting in the fridge, allow time for it to come to room temperature before the next step.

  5. Once dough is set, stir in well-fed, active starter and cider vinegar and using spatula, mix together until well-combined and you have a somewhat firm dough that already feels like it has a little bounce.

  6. Transfer your dough to a towel-lined bowl or bread-proofing basket. Cover and place in a warm spot in your home and let dough rise for 4-6 hours or overnight. It should rise about 1 inch.

  7. When ready to bake, place your pizza stone and empty 9" dutch oven into the oven and preheat to 450 degrees. Allow the pizza stone and empty dutch oven to heat for 30-40 minutes.

  8. Cut a piece a parchment paper as shown in photo.  Its a circle as large as the bottom of your dutch oven with tabs on the sides so that you can hold it by the parchment when you lower it into the dutch oven.

  9. Carefully turn your dough over, flat side down and place on parchment. With a sharp knife, score the top of your bread about ¼-inch thick in a slight 'S' curve.

  10. Remove dutch oven from the oven and *extremely* carefully, lower your dough into the dutch oven.

  11. Cover and put in the oven and bake for 25 minutes.

  12. At the 25 minute mark, remove lid and bake for another 25 minutes.

  13. Remove bread from dutch oven and place back in the oven directly on the pizza stone or if not using, right on the wire rack and bake for another 10 minutes.

  14. Remove and place on cooling rack for 2-3 hours until bread has cooled substantially. Cutting in too soon can result in too much moisture loss or potentially, a collapse of your bread.

  15. Will keep on your counter for 3 days, or slice and store in the fridge or freezer.

Covid Haircut

What with the lockdown, Dave can't get a haircut.  No problemo as Melissa used to give him a buzz cut all the time when we were on our 2 year venture.  So we grabbed the clippers off the boat.  Though MacGuyver had to sharpen the blades as they had gotten rusty in the past few years.  Here's the before and after.  Not too bad.


How many starters is that?

Anyone who follows this blog religiously (yeah, I know, that's Dave and my Dad when he was still with us), knows that Apsaras loves to destroy starters.  A few weeks ago we were going to head over to the fuel dock and fill up.  Alas we couldn't get the boat started.  Now we knew this was coming as Dave had to futz with the starter a fair bit when we were up in Canada last fall.  The starter would crank, but only slowly, and only on a full battery voltage.  Dave has been avoiding changing out the starter because its a giant pain.  The first time he replaced it - it took two days in Vancouver and involved a set of keys dropped in the ocean, a blow torch, and cutting a hole in the master bathroom tub.  And MacGuyver still had to call a mechanic for help (this was the worst day of Dave's life!).  Then a mere 4 months later the starter went out again and Dave had to replace it - again.  Though later we determined that probably that starter hadn't gone bad but we were fighting a bad installation that was causing a voltage drop between the cockpit starter switch and the starter itself. 

So understandably MacGuyver had been avoiding this job as long as possible because well, he just didn't want to spend a day sitting in the tiny tub with his arms through the small access port on the back side of the engine compartment trying to get the starter bolts off yet again.  But since the boat is now disabled completely - he's got little choice.

It took a day to get the bolts to turn and get the starter to come lose.  And about two hours the next day to get the new starter installed.  Yes, Melissa had one already in the spares inventory.  And yes, that depleted inventory has now been replaced.

Here is what the starter looked like when Dave finally got it out:

No wonder it was not working.  It was horribly corroded.  Turns out that the exhaust system anti-siphon valve sometimes burps some water onto the starter.  Well, now that doesn't explain why Apsaras chews up starters!  Dave plans to build a catch basin of some kind to prevent sea water from getting on the starter going forward.  Another project for the project list.

And for those of you who are counting... this is starter number 4 since we owned the boat.

Day 11 - Home again, home again, giddy jig

We awoke to a gorgeous day.  Dave says it will start raining tomorrow, so good day to go home.  Melissa spent the morning doing 13 Trip Advisor reviews of all the restaurants we visited on this trip.  Dave is still playing with his new drone toy.  He made a couple of great videos - one of our favorite restaurant Mercedes, and the other one of one of the boats at anchor in the bay.

We asked for a late check out (3pm) because our flight wasn't until 6pm.  The Airbnb host happily agreed.  Alas at about noon the maid showed up to start cleaning and we hadn't even begun packing yet.  So after we got all packed, we stripped the beds, took out the trash, and generally cleaned as much as we could to minimize the work they would have remaining when they returned.  We also left them some food, and the Spanish keyboard Dave bought when his computer needed repair a few days ago.

Our flight was reportedly 30 minutes delayed.  The plane was late coming from Seattle.  Apparently Alaska Air published an apology for the recent delays (we were 2 hours late out of Seattle the day we left) because they didn't have enough baggage handlers in Seattle.  Very odd as its not like the holiday rush was a new thing this year.  So we hung at an airport bar for a while before heading to the gate at the time we were told the flight would board.  Only to find that we were the last in line to get aboard.  Dave says that "a melissa" must have been in charge and hustled them all to hurry up and get back on time.  It was a very bumpy flight all the way home.  Only for a few minutes two or three times did the seat belt sign get turned off.

We arrived home and Melissa was asleep long before midnight when the fireworks went off to celebrate the new year.  zzzzzz.

Great vacation!

Day 10 – Whole lotta nothing

Breakfast at the condo.  Then some video games and Dave flew his copter.  Melissa went for a massage and pedicure.  Then dinner at Tuna Blanca.  Ok, we don’t know why, but every single night out the restaurant has put us at the best table on the beach with a view of the sunset.  We speculated as to why this is.  Maybe because we have grey hair and people figure we are good tippers?  Because we dress up?  Because we arrive early and they know they can turn the table again?  Whatever the reason, we sure enjoyed the sunsets!

As we were sitting at Tuna Blanca there on the beach the usual Mexican vendors came by to try and sell us trinkets, blankets, jewelry, and cigars.  We never bite.  That is till a guy came by with a funny T-Shirt that made Melissa laugh.  She decides to buy it.  The vendor says 700 pesos ($35 USD).  Dave says "200 pesos" ($10 USD).  The vendor shakes his head, no "$500 pesos lowest".  Melissa laughs and hands him back the shirt.  The vendor wanders off.  Under his breath Dave whispers, "one one-thousand, two one-thousand, three one-thousand".  Melissa cracks up.  Sure enough not a minute later he is back and willing to take 250 pesos.  Sold!

Mmmmm.  Short rib and mashed potatoes!

Day 9 – You can’t go back. Or maybe you can.

As we had been talking about trying to use our gift certificate for Los Arroyos Verdes, we decided to go back there and hang out at the pool.  Years ago (2013) we were there twice – once on Christmas day for a lovely day by their fabulous pool.  The second time was for a disastrous new years eve dinner.  We paid (if memory serves) about $200 each ($400 total) for the fancy affair which we expected to be next to the gorgeous pool.  We were promised steak and lobster dinner.  Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate and the hotel was forced to move the party indoors to a building on the far side of their property – with no kitchen.  They then brought in home sized BBQ’s and tried to cook the dinner on them.  Without proper lights they burned everyone’s dinner.  As in charcoal briquettes for the steak and lobsters.  Inedible.  Meanwhile the rain caused the roof to collapse and water poured through – which the staff shored up with pipes while we wondered if the remaining roof was going to fall on our heads.  And there was not enough wait staff so you had to wait endlessly for drinks.  We ordered a bottle of wine three times before it finally showed up.  And when we went to pay the bill there were drinks on it from another table as they had been using first names to keep track and “David” is not exactly uncommon.  We wrote them an email with feedback about the evening and how they might improve upon it in the future.  They thanked us and gave us a gift certificate for a free night stay at the hotel and a bottle of champagne.  As it has been many years, we figured we were not likely to ever use the free night stay.  But we would be happy to trade the nights stay (worth about $200) for a couple of day passes at the pool (worth $25) and the free bottle of wine.  In the end, after much back and forth, the hotel agreed.  In the end we got the free day passes but no drinks.  And while it might sound petty – the lack of “fairness” in all of this irks us a bit.  Unlikely we will ever return.

From there we headed to dinner in La Cruz – one of our favorite haunts from 2013 – a restaurant called Masala.  We thought it had closed several years ago, but were told that its just open in the high season during the winter.  So we figured we would give it a try.  Yummo!  The food was as fabulous as we remembered!

The sangria is a good as Melissa makes.


Caesar salad - top notch.  Wish I could reproduce the dressing.

Grilled veggie salad with blue cheese gratin dressing.

Duck with hibiscus sauce. 


Filet over homemade raviolis.

Day 8 – Labor of Love

Melissa awoke before Dave and caught up on email.  She then started blogging.  She hadn’t yet done any blogging – so she had 7 days to catch up on – along with all the associated picture and video processing.  Which took about 5 hours.  Meanwhile Dave played with the software for his drone.  It does all kinds of cool stuff like wind calculations while in flight.  After that we hung out at the condo as it was overcast and rainy pretty much all day.  Then we went down to La Pescadora for dinner.  Melissa had the dry ribs and Dave (shocker!) had a hamburger.

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