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Draw near me hardies and harken to the tail of an art many are forgetting in this modern age of electronic gadgets and cell phones linked directly to FaceBook, those of us who still remember it call it seamanship.
... more ranting here »

I know I have ranted about the lack of seamanship found in the modern yachting community many times before. But, my friends it is the single most important thing I can share with you. Basic seamanship was developed over thousands of years as a way of going to sea - and getting back - in relative safety. Ignore its few simple rules at your own peril. Remember the old sailors were lazy to the man, so if they went to the trouble of doing something a certain way it was for a very good reason.

It simply makes me want to cry every time I see a boat come in toss the hook drop the dingy and everyone on board races to shore as if they had been months at sea with only rice and fish on board, either that or they are all hard core smokers who ran out a few days ago. That is just not the way it should go. When you first set an anchor it may, or may not, be truly well and properly set. It could just be wedged on a stone or bit of coral. I would love to know how many boats are washed ashore every year and how many of those were abandoned by their crews when it happened.

It is standard procedure on Vega that when at anchor we always have someone on board 24 / 7 and the first night in a new anchorage we keep a full anchor watch all night just as if we were at sea. The logic being that one never knows the local conditions, currents when the tide changes, and a whole host of other possibilities that can pop up in a new place. More than once this has saved us from winding up on the beach, rocks, coral, lost at sea and / or all of the above. If you really care about your boat you do not leave it in a strange place unattended. And, yes it can be pretty hard on Meggi and I when we are alone on Vega and want to go for a dinner out or just a bit of an airing. When you arrive in a new anchorage and everyone wants to race ashore like castaways who have at last found land then draw straws, toss dice, flip coins, but someone must stay with the boat and go ashore next time. It is just good seamanship. After all it is your boat and it should mean enough to you to risk a few complaining looks and some muttering. In fact it should be easy enough for your crew to understand why you are doing it.

Just another thought it is a good idea to always have a second anchor ready to drop in an instant should something go amiss. Everyone on board should know how to drop that reserve hook - just in case. The time to let go the reserve is not when you are hard against the rocks, but well well before you get that far. I tell my crew that when in doubt drop it. We can always pull it again if it is not needed. But, if it is needed they could well have saved the boat.

From the bosun's locker

Here is a very simply trick that can save you days and days of hard work as well as lots of money. Ready?
OK, here it is. »

From the bosun's locker

Do not let things like varnish and paint get to the point you have to strip them off. Sounds simple does it not? Well think about it. If you let your varnish go until it is pealing and flaking off then there is only one cure- loads of hard work and expense. If you touch it up with a light sanding and a good coat before it goes off then the work is much easier and a lot cheaper. If you see a nick in the vanish then touch it up before the wood goes gray. That way you do not need to do all that sanding etc, just a small brush and a few minutes to touch up that spot. The guy who is too busy to spend a few minutes touching up will wind up spending days - that's right days - redoing the whole thing later on. Look at it as bar time. If a total strip down takes 4-5 days or 15 - 20 hours of work, what with scraping, sanding, time between coats and all - and costs you a bomb in scrapers, sand paper, varnish, thinner, brushes and the like when a touch up costs you about 5 minutes, a small brush ( assuming you do not wash out your brushes), and a few drops of varnish. That means the difference is roughly 14.55 hours of bar time saved and at least enough money saved to buy a brick or two of beer. I think even a motor boat sailor can understand that math.

Vega's new dinghy

Even the most up to date Pirates, such as yacht equipment suppliers and marina owners usually employ a vocabulary of archaic nautical terms. Read a brief explanation of what some of those terms actually mean. »

Archaic nautical terms revisited

For example the term "Harr" when used at the start of a sentence by an old time pirate usually meant the equivalent of our modern day " well" or even "Duh". When employed at the end of a sentence it was more emphatic, with meanings such as "will you get off that plank or must I stick you?" or "Surely you didn't forget which island we hide the treasure on". When used by a modern pirate "Harr" at the end of a phrase is more likely to mean, "the marina fees went up again" or " What do you mean I must visit 7 more offices to check out"?

This ancient word is also employed as a stand-alone expression. Its meanings range from "I think I've had one rum too many" or "any minute now I'll use a hammer on this (censored) thing", to the indication of a private thought such as "why wont this silly prat just stamp my papers and be done with it". More recently it has been used when paying a bar bill, cranking a winch, and when constipation strikes. The latter cases usually being accompanied by a gnashing of teeth and strange often-painful expressions on the speakers face.

timor leste

Supplies and midwives kits for Dr. Dan

Dr. Dan Murphy runs the Bario Pite free clinic in Dili and sees an average of 400 cases a day, everyday. Dan is one of the most dedicated men I have ever known. The sign on his clinic says, "No rest until all are healthy". Dan's clinic is supported purely by donations from small groups and private individuals. To say he exists on a shoe string would be a pretty accurate description, if it is a small thin string.
Read more about how Vega is helping »

Last year we helped Dan with a small load of medical supplies and gathered a list from him for this year. At the time his list looked pretty impressive. Happily we were able to provide much of what was on his list. In fact I think he was rather surprised that a little "mom and pop" charity like Vega was able to do so much. Thanks to Joanne Har, Moduspec, Jotun Paints (Singapore and Malaysia), Viking RFD singapore, our friend Dr. Thana of Singapore, and Arnie and Luice Koortens just to name a few we were able to provide him with not only the 50 midwives kits he requested with almost everything needed in them, but also 3 complete quality desk top computers from ModuSpec and even kitchen supplies like plates, cups, and spoons for the clinic. One of the most important items, and one that Dan really appreciated, was a large autoclave sterilization unit kindly donated by Dr. C. Y. Lee in Singapore. Have a look at the pictures here and see what you think.


Students from the French school in Singapore provide assistance to Dr. Dan's clinic

While we were busy this past season gathering educational and medical supplies the Students at the French school in Singapore were also busy with their own effort to gather educational and medical supplies.
Have a look here at the results »

Some of those supplies went to Dr Dan's clinic and were very much appreciated. Among them were several sets of crutches. An item often over looked, but very important to those in need. Have a look at these pictures that show the entire chain from loading onto Vega to seeing an old woman being able to get out of bed for the first time in months thanks to those same supplies. This is a pretty good example of what a small group or club can do to help others if they try. We will be posting more images of their educational supplies arriving to the small isolated mountain and island schools we assist in the next newsletter. Just a short epilogue to that story, the student who conceived and managed this project, Mateus le Blanc, was recently featured along with his project on France's largest TV channel TV5.


HOPE

orphanage

Hope is a small orphanage in the mountains of Ermera that started as a home for children who had lost their parents during East Timors struggle for independence.
More about our visit»

Now Hope Orphanage still supports many of those original children as well as a few new additions that have arrived over the years. Last year we were ask to assist them if possible and so this year we were happy to deliver eating utensils, plates, and cups, as well as educational and sports equipment for the children. The educational materials and badminton equipment were thanks to Arnie and Luce Koortens and the football equipment was donated by FAS -The Singapore Football Association.

jakarta-May

Shopping for an entire metal work shop is not as easy as you might think.

While in Jakarta one of our tasks was to purchase and then deliver an entire metal working shop on behalf of Leo Nagtegaal to be donated to the Bakhita Program in Ermerra East Timor. Leo volunteered to help them establish this first stage of their vocational training center, something that is badly needed in East Timor.
Read the entire article here. »

Shopping for an entire metal work shop is not as easy as you might think

East Timor suffers from an almost total lack of vocational training facilities. Youth that want to learn a viable practicable profession are at a loss to find a place to learn. This year thanks to Leo Nagtegaal the Bakhita project in Eraulo, Ermera district will be starting up a new vocational training center with three main goals. One - to provide training for youth in viable crafts that can be readily turned into profitable employment. The second is to provide the rural Ermera community with metal working services that do not currently exist - at a cost so that the center can be at least partly self supporting, the third is to explore the possibilities of establishing light manufacturing of items needed by the local community so that youth who successfully complete training can find local employment for their skills. The Bakhita program had already taken the first steps in establishing this center by building the first buildings that would be needed and targeting metal work as the section they would like to start up first. Their biggest problem was where to find the tools and equipment to get started. In response to that need Leo Nagtegaal donated an entire professional level metal workshop to get this ambitious project up and running, but that was just the beginning of what has proven to be a long yet rewarding adventure for us on Vega and our friends at the Bakhita Vocational Training Center.

Thanks to Leo's extensive engineering experience we were able to establish what tools, equipment, and expendables would be needed so that the center could provide meaningful training on relevant equipment. Then came the hard work of locating, comparing prices, sourcing, deciding what would last and what was junk, and at last purchasing all that was needed. It may sound simple but everything from wielding machines to grinding disks and a load of simple and not so simple things had to be found and purchased. We did our purchasing in Jakarta where the prices were the best and where we have several good contacts who were , if not over joyed - at least, willing to help us chop down our seemingly endless lists. A very special thanks goes out to our friend Adri, from Depoteknik,in Jakarta,who used all of his skills and experience in the professional tool business not only to get us the best tools at the best prices, but also to find many things we never would have found by ourselves.

Once we had found and purchased everything - well almost everything - Adri's lorry delivered it to the boat where the not so obvious challenge of stowing an entire shop on board had to be over come. Out came the salon table and in went several stainless steel eye pads then we filled almost the entire salon area with the larger tools. The two industrial wielding machines had to be slowly lowered on tackle through the main hatch then manhandled by several pretty strong volunteers into place in the salon. Meggi did her usual magic at creating 15 square meters of useable stowage space from only about 10 square meters of real space. Then it was a challenge how to find space for all the smaller things like 40 kgs of various sized wielding rods or delicate calipers, wire brushes, and measuring equipment. Some how she did it and when all was safely stowed it was hard to tell that so much had really come on board..

2 metric tons of fertilizer may not sound like much but try lugging it on board and storing it

Have a look here »

Thanks to Yara Fertilizer we had 2 tons of top of the line vegetable fertilizer in 1 kg packages ready and waiting for us to load in Jakarta. thats 83 boxes of 24.5 kgs each. The picture shows slightly less than half of it. We did not want to over load Jusli's pier so had to load it on board in installments. Getting it on board was just the beginning we then had to find storage space for it until we could deliver it to East Timor and then up into the mountains where it was needed. This was all part of the effort we are making to help the poorest rural farmers get their farms back up and running again. Have a look at the pictures here


Seeds for Farmers

One of the best ways we can assist the rural farmers is with the proper seeds to diversify and / or improve their crops.
Read the entire article here »

Seeds for Farmers

Thanks to several friends such as Kurnia For Hope in Malaysia and Ben Potter we were able to purchase top of the line vegetable seeds and deliver them to the farmers we are assisting. The seeds we purchased were all in response to a list sent to us by the farmers themselves through the Bakhita Center. I must admit there were some pretty worrying moments looking for the proper place to purchase seeds while we were in Jakarta. Thanks to our friend and shipmate Pedro Mesquita the problem was solved and in the end the seeds purchased. Pedro spent a lot of time in Jakarta traffic searching out the best suppliers until at last he returned triumphant with several boxes of top quality seed stock.

timor leste » Map of East Timor bakhita

Ermera & the Bakhita vocational training center

... more about »
View more images »

Ermera and the Bakhita vocational training center

Once in Dili the office of President Jose Ramos Horta was kind enough to assist with all the import paper work for the equipment and within a few days we were ready to off load. Offloading on anchor is not nearly as easy as loading from a pier. Our little work boat is a wonder and has successfully transported almost 800 kgs before, but those big wielding machines had us worried until once again our friends from the East Timor Maritime Police came to the rescue with their big semi ridged boats and easily offloaded not only the entire work shop for us but also 1 metric ton of fertilizer and a lot of other things we had for schools and clinics in Ermerra.

Several hours of bad mountain roads later we offloaded the equipment into the workshop building in Bakhita. The lads there were over joyed and started looking through and sorting things right away. In fact with in the hour someone realized they had yet to make a lockable door for the shop so the equipment was duly connected and used to construct its first project - a door for the workshop was wielded by the teacher and one of the the first students. They agreed it was not the most beautiful door ever made, but it was a start and could be locked. We were promised a much better one when we come back next year.


A1 Services in Dili volunteer to assist Bakhita Vocational students

... more about »

A1 is beyond any doubt the most professional and experienced service center in East Timor they also have a first class machine shop and wielding facility. Their expertise ranges from exotic wielding to full engine or generator rebuilds done to factory standards. A1 has agreed to provide the students from Bakhita who have successfully completed their first stages of training with 2-3 months of on the job practical training and to pay them an honest salary while they are continuing their studies at the shop. Far from trying to exploit a cheap source of labor A1 wants to cultivate these young budding professionals with an eye to employing the best of them full time. This great partnership will mean that not only will the youth of Ermera have an opportunity to learn the basics of a viable profession and then go on to refine those skills with practical etraining along side experienced professionals, but also have the incentive of a very good job opportunity encouraging them to excel.


Yara fertilizer for Bacau

Bacau has a very good vocational training center and a great way of feeding the students as well as creating jobs for the community.
Read the entire article here »

Several of the orphanages, clinics, and schools in East Timor help support their food demands from their kitchen gardens. We on Vega have been assisting those programs with seeds and other important agricultural inputs. One of these projects is the Fatumaca school and vocational training center in Bacau. Most of the schools food needs are provided by a unique system of community based agriculture where the center provides the inputs, along with technical advice, and the community provides the labor to grow various crops. After the harvest the center receives 30% of the crop and the community the remaining 70%. This year they received an important shipment of 700 kgs of top of the line fertilizer donated by Yara Fertilizer along with part of their wish list of seeds donated by Kurnia for Hope, and our friend Ben Potter. This is an excellent system that not only provides food for the school and local clinic but also directly assists the local farming economy through proper inputs, seeds, and technical training. You will be hearing more about this system as we intend to export it to other programs we are supporting.


Seeds and fertilizer for the farmers in Ermera

Well at last we were able to deliver the promised seeds and fertilizer to the farmer's group we are supporting in Eraulo, Ermera, East Timor.
... more about »
View images »

Last year at the top of the request list for Ermera was the restart a farm kits consisting of seeds, fertilizer, tools, and wheel barrows. We tried our best to fill that list and did manage, thanks to Yara Fertilizer, Ben Potter, and Kurnia for Hope, to get the seeds and fertilizer, but we were sadly lacking in the tool department. Simple tools like madocks, shovels, rakes, etc that we could not find a sponsor for. For the wheel barrows our friend Leo Nagtegaal made an interesting contribution. As a part of the new vocational training center metal workshop he provided 20 good solid wheel sets for wheel barrows and money to purchase the materials to build those wheel barrows. Now the farmers who received seeds and fertilizer are watching the metal workshop closely waiting for the first locally designed wheel barrows to come out of the shop. This is a very important program for the community of Ermerra. Productive farms are the very foundation of an economy so every one we can get back to producing is another step forward in the development of the community. As we were leaving our friends ask us to please try and bring more seeds again next year and some of the farming tools if possible. We promised them we would try even harder for next year.

The Captain’s Log

The captain's log

ell I did promise in the last issue to return to our bimonthly rhythm, something that is not at all easy when we are here in the islands where most places have no internet connections at all.

But, before I go any further here are special thanks to the office of President Jose Ramos Horta of East Timor for all of his and their guidance and assistance by inviting us to East Timor and making our deliveries so much easier and effective

Li Jean Chia

And a very big and heart felt hug to Li-Jean Chia who almost single handedly saved us this year at the Boat Asia show in Singapore. Jean's effervescent energy and wide ranging talents were an amazing help
...read more »

Without her this year would simply not be as big a success as it is working out to be. We are a little "Mom and Pop" charity which means Meggi and I wind up doing just about everything from begging for the supplies we need to make our deliveries to scrubbing the bilges. Jean's help was like adding two more of us to the roster. Do not be surprised if we Shanghai her next year and turn her into a real sea going Vegabond.

This is a time of year when we are very busy making our deliveries. A time when we find out how successful we were over the past 6 months at gathering the supplies for our famous lists. No more hoping tomorrow will bring what is needed. These next few months are long miles sailing, worrying nights in bad anchorages, or making big circles when the there is no anchorage at all, trying to keep on top of the boat maintenance, and in general plain hard work. Then again we do manage to have some fun sailing and meeting / helping new people.

We left Singapore on the 17th of May with calm weather and lots of sunshine. After clearing out at the Western Anchorage we headed south for Jakarta with Rolf and Kira as crew. 5 days of mostly calms and motoring later we tied up at one of our favorite places - The Jet Ski Cafe on Pantai Mutiara Island ...read more about the place »

The Jet Ski Cafe on Pantai Muntiara Island.

The Jet Ski Cafe is owned by Pak Jusli, who is simply one of life's adventurers. Several years ago he and several friends rode their jet skis from Jakarta to Singapore, another trip saw them off to America where they found a couple of Harley's and set off for several thousand miles of true "Easy Rider" cruising - not once, but several times. While we were there this trip they were getting ready for a ride around Sulawesi Island. His cafe is also the home of the Harley Davidson Motorcycle Club of Pantai Mutiara, one of Indonesia's most active Harley clubs. On any given Saturday or Sunday you will find an amazing collection of Harley's ranging from full choppers to "Rocket-ship" Road bikes complete with air con, GPS, and the lot ! Jusli kindly allows us to use his private pier while we are in Jakarta, which makes our lives so much easier.

This years arrival in Jakarta was made much easier by our friends at SSM Shipping Co. who have their own in house shipping agents. Read more »

SSM Shipping Co.

It is amazing how easy Indonesian paper work can be when you have real professionals managing it for you. A big thanks to Ridwan Tanidjay and Erwin Trisnawijaya who so successfully cleared the masses of paperwork on our behalf. We even have official de-ratting and health certificates now. Something we never had before.

24 hours after leaving Jakarta the monsoon set in

Well it had to happen sooner or later and 24 hours after leaving Jakarta with our old friend Andy Woodward as well as Laura Tomasi and Pedro Mesquita along as crew (Pedro works in the office of the president of East Timor and is an avid sailor) the monsoon came around and set hard against us. Luckily we had full fuel tanks because the strong winds and seas knocked us back from +/- 6 knots to less than 3 knots, (sometimes as low as 1.5 knots).
Read the results here »

24 hours after leaving Jakarta the monsoon set in against us

Fortunately I had foreseen this possibility and we had brought down the main square sail yard and lowered the main sail gaff to the housed position before leaving Jakarta. That reduced our windage quite a lot as well as reducing the roll from that nasty cross sea. That yard is simply too heavy, being made of local woods rather than light weight pine or spruce, but it is all we have so we must live with it for now.

For the next 6 days we slogged along burning the same fuel we normally would to go 6 knots but only making between 2 and 3 knots. There was one day when we only managed to log 66 miles in 24 hours. For the whole length of Java Island we struggled along against the winds and seas. It was rough on us all and very frustrating , but we managed to keep our spirits up with the knowledge that we were carrying between 8 and 10 tons of badly needed supplies along with Pedro and Lauras culinary delights. After all no one ever said it would be easy. Down below was jammed with boxes and equipment to the point that Laura - being the newest to the crew - was either sleeping on deck or on the salon sofa behind the two big wielding machines. But as the old expression goes, "This too will pass" and at last we turned the corner around Java and entered the Bali sea. 24 hours later the winds began to subside and the sea went down so that on arrival at Medang Island just off the North West of Sumbawa Island the sky was clear and the winds much calmer.


Pulau Medang

Medang Island and our first deliveries of the year

Pulau Medang is a small island just off the North West coast of Sumbawa Island, Indonesia. With a population of around 2,000 this peaceful little island boasts 2 schools and one nurse, whose clinic is the front room of her house.
Read here to learn more about our stopover and how we were able to assist both the school and the clinic »
View some images »

For the past 2 years we had been considering Pulau Medang as a possible stopover along our route. This year we were able to stop there and add it to our growing list of the places we assist. Medang is exactly the type of small island we prefer to assist and we were pleased to find that the people are friendly and hard working. The school needed just about everything from chalk to computers so we pitched in and donated a modest load of educational supplies mostly provided by Jotun (Singapore), Moduspec, and Arie and Luce Koortens. I think the pictures speak for themselves. Have a look here. We collected a modest list for next year from the school and then went around to visit with the island nurse. Mitha is the islands total medical service. Her clinic is the front room of her house. She has almost nothing for equipment and no medications. When we ask if there was anything she urgently needed she gave us a very modest list that included a fetal heart beat monitor, a blood pressure cuff, and a basic resuscitation set - all of which we had on board. She also ask for bandages, syringes, and natal clips. The next morning we took her one of the Midwives kits we had on board as well as an extra helping of bandages and the resuscitation kit. It was most satisfying to see the look on her face when she opened the midwives kit. I know even though she was grinning from ear to ear I saw tears in her eyes. Have a look at the pictures. After collecting her modest list for next year - that includes a basic incubator and a few other items - we returned to the boat, hauled anchor, and set off for Dili, East Timor.


It seems that Medang marked a turning point in the weather for us. Often the winds were in our favor allowing us to sail or motor sail saving fuel and of coarse not having to listen to the noise of the engine. We took the Northern route this time along the "top" of the islands and within the East porting counter current that sets in this time of year. The scenery was spectacular with hardly a day going by without a smoking volcano or signs of recent eruptions. At night more than once we could see the deep red glow of a volcanic crater. This was truly the heart of Indonesia's famous Ring of Fire.
To learn more »

Exploration and the problem with C-Maps

Along the way we had targeted several other small islands that we would like to add to our route, but although we could pass close to them and inspect their villages our C-Maps gave little or no detail about their coasts or depths around the islands. More than once we cursed the fact we had not been able to afford the large scale Indonesian charts of these lovely islands when we were in Jakarta and / or that the detailed electronic charts are so expensive they are only really available to the very rich. More than once we circled a lovely little island where we could clearly see a village, but had no idea at all about the depths, rocks, or reefs that might be hiding just below the surface. We did manage to discount some of the islands we had selected as not being inhabited or in one case as being an active volcano in the process of erupting. We have not given up and hope to be able to somehow manage to get the charts we need along our route or at the latest when we return to Jakarta in September.


Supplies for the East Timor enclave of Oecussi

... read more » ••••••••••••••• View some images »

Supplies for the East Timor enclave of Oecussi

The small East Timor enclave of Oecussi presents all sorts of problems for development. It is surrounded by another country, isolated from its parent country, and a very rugged landscape that does not lend itself well to farming or infrastructure development. That said the people are trying their best to make a go of a very difficult situation. On our way to Dili this year we stopped over in Oecussi and delivered several packages of school and farming supplies. Among the most notable programs we found was that of Raymond Gaspar who single handedly runs an orphanage high up in the mountains for children who lost their parents in the troubles. They exist mainly on what they can grow in their gardens. We were happy to assist not only with educational supplies and a laptop computer donated by Jotun Paints of Singapore for the small school, but also sports equipment provided by the Singapore Football Association, several boxes of fertilizer for the garden provided by Yara Fertilizer Co and most importantly with proper hot dry weather vegetable seeds, provided by Kurnia for Hope in Malaysia and our friend Ben Potter and his wife, these seeds will not only grow better being tailored for the colder high mountain climates, but also help diversify their diet with more variety.


Arrival in Dili

and our deliveries there

... read more »

Images by Timothy Stats

Arrival in Dili and our deliveries there

Oecussi is just an easy overnight sail from Dili but it is amazing how the geology changes along the route. The island goes from rugged steep mountains to soft rounded ones that are completely different and look to be much older. Dili must rank among the worlds easiest ports to enter. Just stay between the red and green markers and it is hard to go wrong. Once inside anchor at the bottom of the port a few hundred meters off of the sea wall. The bottom is silt and does not provide the best holding ground so take care and be warned. The winds will almost always come from the North East and if it is going to blow will start around 11AM and last to about 4PM when they usually start to drop off. By 6 PM it is usually pretty calm and the nights are usually dead calm so no worries there. East Timor is our biggest stop over with several important programs that we are supporting with supplies.


Meggis culinary delights

This months culinary delight comes from our friend and shipmate Pedro Mesquita whose authentic Portuguese specialities were enjoyed by the whole crew on our way from Jakarta to East Timor. Pedro works in the office of East Timor's President Jose Ramos Horta, but managed to take some time off to sail with us from Jakarta to Dili.
The recipe »

Caldeirada de Peixe

Salted cod fish called bacalao or bacalhau were brought to Timor Leste by the Portuguese who used them as provisions on long trips and in their cooking at home. In fact, the Portuguese took it wherever they traveled as did the Spanish (I guess this was just in case the local fish weren't biting). Bacalao in one form or another can be found all over the Mediterranean from Turkey to Morocco, to the Caribbean, South and Central America and East Timor. You can probably map the 17th century global economy by documenting the presence of salt cod around the world but I won't bother doing that, I just like to eat it.

Having traded a big fresh fish from one of the local fishermen, I decided to prepare caldeirada de peixe or "Portuguese fish stew". Although this stew is not made with salt cod, my memories of bacalao put me in the right mindset to cook something new using what I had on board.

For the preparation of this meal I used only one pot, the pressure cooker. I love one pot meals - it makes washing up much easier afterwards. First I browned a sliced onion, a red pepper and a couple of minced garlic cloves in virgin olive oil. Next I added a layer of potatoes, chopped tomatoes and slices of fish, I continued building up layer over layer until the pot was 2/3 full. The recipe called for piri-piri sauce which I didn't have so I improvised with some cayenne, turmeric, salt and pepper.

Next was the secret ingredient, ground nutmeg. Nutmeg isn't a spice I use very often so I was surprised at how well it went with the fish and potatoes. I put in just enough for the "What's in this?" factor, but the stew could have stood a pinch more. Fish broth or clam juice would have been perfect but all I had to work with was chicken broth so in went a couple of cups of that instead. The addition of a cup of white wine sealed the deal. The pot was closed and allowed to cook gently for about 30 minutes or so.

The end result turned out quite good, the whole crew seemed to enjoy the dinner - they must have there were no leftovers. The fish was flaky and the broth was rich, flavorful and just slightly spicy hot. The ground nutmeg, however, really pulled this dish together. It could have been even better if I had all the proper ingredients on hand. Next time I'll make sure I do. I hope you enjoy the recipe.

PEDRO

This one's a definite keeper! (Meggi)