Thursday
Aug282014

Why Merlin is different?

Merlin was built with a lot of cruising, sailing and racing thinking. Our boat builder cruised for 10 years with his family on a smaller boat. He knew what was important, what was practical, what works or doesn’t. Greg had to add his sailing touch, mainly on the deck.

So here are few of Merlin’s hidden wonders which make our life on board simple and enjoyable:

Pot drawer

It is not because you live on a boat that you should leave behind your love for cooking which implies pots, pans, a pressure cooker, baking trays and much more. All of these found a home on board in a very spacious large drawer on wheels.

A secret cellar

We have a long drawer under the saloon table where we store our good bottles of wine (limited number though). There they are lying flat, ageing slowly and easily accessible for sundowners.

Magic boxes

Because we bought everything new, we have the manuals for all the equipment, instruments and special gear installed on board. While cruising the expensive internet connection doesn’t allow for downloading the manual to find a solution to an electrical bug or a mechanical problem, so the box of manuals was great to have. Not always the most inspiring reading but worth keeping them in a dry and secure spot.

Bed ventilation

Foam mattresses on top of lockers or wooden boards are nearly the norm on boats. Usually this doesn’t allow much ventilation, which in the tropics could be prone to fungal surprises. Our mattresses in the two front cabins are on top of a slat base that allows a good air circulation and no moisture build up.

Tin shelf

Our “shop”, also called pantry by others, has an easy access (not in a locker under big cushions). Three shelves have the height for the tins; others have the height for big plastic boxes where we store our flour, pasta, rice etc. At the bottom of the shop, we have big open boxes for vegies like potatoes, onions etc. Simple and practical so I can easily ask the kids to go “shopping” for me.

Bad odours

Our main heads are electric, which proved to be a very valuable way of flushing especially with kids. We also have a powerful extractor fan which does some amazing magic, fundamental when you are 5 living in a small space!

Chart table

It is hard to find a proper chart table in a new boat. Electronic charts are a way of navigating but it is always nice to have a paper backup. Personally, I love plotting my position when I do a long crossing. It gives me the impression of going forward in a scenery which could look alike every day. Our chart table is a proper desk offering lots of working space but can also store many charts.

Drying rack

What do you do with your plates once they are cleaned? They could drip dry in your sink for a while annoying everybody with their knocking noise. Greg insisted on having a drying rack (did he know while building that he would end up doing most of the dishes?). I enjoy it every day too as it frees up the galley space.

Next our sailing wonders...

Friday
Aug152014

So what happened?

We’ve been quite busy these last two weeks and wanted to have done more but our week-ends are just too short.

Felix had his birthday party last week end. Watching this group of 11 kids (3 were ours) having fun on the dock and the deck made me think again about the benefits of travelling the world. I am so grateful that our sailing trip didn’t give us only memories of amazing landscapes. Felix’s friends came from 7 different countries (Thailand, India, Sri Lanka, Papa New Guinea etc) and these kids didn’t care at all. Multiculturism is just normal for them. We could learn so much from this young generation.

They had fun building and then racing their wooden cars.

Clea was practising, for the last few weeks, a song she composed as she wanted to participate to the “Shine” competition at school (a talent competition). She didn’t want to rehearse in front of us but was fine to sing in front of 100 other kids. Apparently she did well, was happy and is thinking of a new song for the next round.

Following her wish to have a pet, she made a trap on our neignour's boat, in the hope of catching a bird. Alas, none were caught.

She also joined me on a radio program dedicated to some of our favourite cartoons. She nearly chewed on the microphone but had fun trying to explain why she likes "TomTom et Nana". The podcast is available till Sat 16th (select French as usual) otherwise you could hear her (and me) from next week on Global Digital.

Felix went on a new music audition for a school entry. His fingers were shaking and he had to change his reed 4 times before he had played. It is such a good stress management exercise and he starts learning a few tricks.

This morning Victor started a new challenge to raise money to help kids living in poverty areas overseas. This year he decided to leave all electronic items on the side for 40hours. You could help him reach his fundraising goal, if you wish, by clicking here.

How about Greg and myself? We try to manage our work-family life balance as best as possible. It might be unbalanced from time to time: too much work for Greg and too much family taxing for me. It is then we all listen to Mother Nature’s call. We went on Wednesday (Public Holiday here) for another great walk in the rain forest, feeling we could be lost in a chapter of Bilbo the Hobbit. Huge trees, amazing birds’ songs and even a sneaky snake.  We finished our 11km walk running under the rain but were rewarded by bright rainbows.

Tuesday
Aug052014

Good times

This week-end, Clea and her friend played ping pong in the cockpit. Who said a boat was too small? The summit of their laughing session was reached when the ball flew to the water. Are the points for the one sending the ball into the river or for the one fishing it out?

Victor found his hole in a wall: perfect spot for him. (NB some wall climbing was required to reach the hole)

Felix celebrated his 12th birthday today. Big smiles, happy faces and happy times.

Monday
Jul212014

A walk in prehistoric time

Nature was calling again. So we packed a picnic and went discovering Lamington National Park, an UNESCO World Heritage-listed site. We all needed a good dose of fresh and clean  forest oxygen. We found it while walking in this lush rainforest surrounded by amazing ancient trees.

Sunday
Jul202014

Manger du poisson : un important dilemme

Nouvelle emission radio. A ecouter en podcaste pendant une semaine: http://www.4eb.org.au/ondemand (selectionner "french" - attendre jusqu'a 37 min). Voici le script:

De nos jours, on entend bien souvent qu’il faut manger plus de poisson.

Voic tout d’abord quelques raisons qui devraient vous encourager a rendre visite a votre poissonnier plus souvent ou tout simplement a aller a la peche.

Quelques faits:

1-      Le poisson apporte des Omega 3

Ah, ces fameux Omega 3 dont on entend tant parler. Il s’agit des bonnes graisses dont notre corps a besoin. Ces Omega-3 limitent les risques de maladie cardiovasculaire et a long terme de mortalité cardiovasculaire.

Une etude a ainsi montre que des personnes de 65 ans et plus ayant des niveaux d'omega-3  élevés dans leur sang vivent en moyenne 2,2 ans de plus que ceux qui ont des taux plutot bas de ces acides gras

D’autres etudes ont egalement montre que les bienfaits de ces Omega-3, associes a ceux des Omega-6 (deux graisses dites “essentielles”), agissaient aussi contre les cancers et d’autres maladies, telles que la polyarthrite rhumatoïde, le psoriasis, la degenerescence maculaire ou encore la maladie d'Alzheimer.

2-      Le poisson apporte de la vitamine D

La vitamine D est une vitamine produite grace au soleil. Meme en habitant dans un pays ensoleille comme l’Australie, il y a tout de meme de tres nombreux cas de deficience en vitamine D. Cette vitamine est essentielle au métabolisme du calcium. Manger des produits de la mer tels que des huitres et des poissons, notamment du saumon, du hareng, du bar, de la limande, des sardines ou des maquereaux, contribuent ainsi à renforcer l'ossification et donc à lutter contre le rachitisme et l'ostéoporose.

3-      Le poisson  apporte des proteines

Tous les produits de la mer représentent une excellente source de proteines, qui plus est sont des proteines de bonne qualité. Le thon, la raie et les anchois sont parmi les espèces les plus riches en proteines. A nouveau ces proteines sont ici associees aux bonnes graisses (les fameux Omega 3 dont je viens de parler) comparees aux graisses venant des viandes.

 4-      Le poisson est riche en phosphore

Les poissons se situent parmi les meilleurs aliments riches en phosphore. Le phosphore est élément indispensable au bon fonctionnement de nos neurones et donc de notre cerveau.

Ca, ce sont les cotes positifs d’une alimentation riche en poisson.

Malheureusement, les poissons, en particulier ceux qui se situent en haut de la chaîne alimentaire – donc souvent les plus gros poissons - peuvent aussi être contaminés par divers polluants. Le mercure, ou plus justement du methylmercure, est l’un de ces contanimants que l’on rerouve souvent. À haute dose, le méthylmercure est toxique pour le système nerveux central de l'homme, la peau, le systeme digestif, les systemes cardiovasculaire et respiratoire, le systeme immunitaire et enfin le systeme  hormonal.

Je vous rassure tout de meme, ces doses nefastes de mercure ne sont, en general, pas atteintes rapidement. Il faudrait manger de fortes quantites de poissons pour commencer a voir les effets nuisibles.

Toutefois, il faut etre vigilant. Je ne sais pas si vous avez vu a la tele il y a quelques semaines ce reportage sur les requins fait par Madisson, une jeune Australienne toute devouee a la sauvegarde des requins. Elle a demontre qu’une portion de “Flake”, poisson tres courament commercialise ici en Australie et qui est en fait du requin, pouvait contenir jusqu’a plus de 600 fois la dose de mercure accepte par les autorites sanitaires. A nouveau, vigilance qu’en a la consommation des gros predateurs.

Dans une de mes rubriques precedentes, je vous ai deja parle de la pollution due aux microplastiques, ces petites particules de plastiques (< 5mm) que l’on a par exemple dans les produits cosmetiques et qui, apres utilisation et rincage, se retrouvent ensuite dans les cours d’eau et les oceans. Et bien, ces microparticules se retrouvent egalement non seulement dans le systeme digestif mais aussi la chere des poissons et les fruits de mer. Une etude recente a ainsi montre qu’une portion de moule, soit environ 300g, contenait environ 300 microparticules de plastique. Les effets nefastes du plastique dans les moules ou les poisons pour ceux qui les mangent ne sont pas encore clairs. Mais l’idee de macher du plastique sans le savoir n’est pas tres rejouisante.

Enfin, une toute derniere notion a prendre en consideration lorsque l’on mange du poisson ou des fruits de mer. Il s’agit d’une notion a l’echelle environnementale. En effet, certaines pecheries ont ete tellement exploitees qu’elles ne sont plus du tout viables, c’est-a-dire que les populations de poissons n’arrivent plus a se renouveller et la disparition de  l’espece devient sous-jacente et parfois imminente. Ayant deja detruit de nombreux stocks de poissons, l’homme va chercher de nouvelles especes, notamment de plus en plus en profondeurs, et detruisant ainsi de nouveau stocks de poissons plus sensibles. Avant d’acheter du poisson Il est donc imperatif de se renseigner pour savoir si la pecherie est stable ou en danger. Un nouveau guide vient par exemple de sortir pour les poissons d’Australie (Australian Marine Conservation Society). Il existe des equivalents un peu partout qui permettent ainsi d’orienter le consommateur vers les poissons recommandes a la consommation  sans danger pour l’environnement (voir aussi www.bloomassociation.org)

Donc, manger du poisson oui bien sur (2-3 fois par semaine), mais pas n’importe lequel!