Settling In: December 14 2009
Amazingly, the sunshine was holding. Spectacular sunny days were spent in t-shirts but evenings required "winter" coats...Mother Nature seems to like all four seasons packed into a single day on Corfu. Autumn back home is usually filled with football for us. Unfortunately, football is not a possibility here...even on satellite...and we miss it. A reasonable substitute has become rugby on the large, pull-down screen at Stav's Bar...full of passion and excitement. Strong team spirit was on display during the Scotland vs. Australia rugby match (Nov 21). Down to the wire...Scotland held Australia at the goal line for four minutes before they scored...but missed the kick after. Scotland beat Australia for the first time in 27 years...by one point! Large contingents from both sides kept the whooping and hollering going for quite awhile. Very exciting stuff and a great start to an evening of karaoke and celebration of friend Adrian's birthday...baby pictures and balloons added a bit of extra cheer to Navigator's Bar compliments of his big sister (tee, hee, hee).
Days continued to click along with much progress on Martin and Tracy's house and the calendar edging ever closer to our splash date. We completed the final out-of-water projects on Barefeet; glued on the exterior sea strainers, oiled the sea cocks with olive oil, cleaned tape adhesive from the hull and painted STP Oil treatment on the props. Right on schedule the crane arrived for our lift back into the water (Nov 25). It all went smoothly and Barefeet still floats! Yippee! The engines purred liked kittens after their transmission work by Grizza and Spider...thanks guys (ph 6936833642). Off we went to slip P11 and 12. Gosh is it great to be on the water again...more than two months on the hard has really made us appreciate our water based life. Tied up and secure by 1pm...and time to think about Thanksgiving (tomorrow). Opting for a large celebration this year we hosted a Thanksgiving feast for 12...okay, all invitees were Brits or Welsh so the "rules" about food were a bit relaxed but we did our best to show them a traditional Thanksgiving dinner (Nov 26). They truly had no idea what to expect. One friend even said, "Maybe I'll go online and cheat to see what to expect. Nah, I'll wait and be surprised."
Although provisions are plentiful in Greece there were still a few items that simply could not be found...no yams, no canned pumpkin and no cranberry sauce. We improvised with canned sweet potato puree for the pumpkin (last can in our pantry...ignore the rust), fresh (white) sweet potato for the yams and we opened our last can of cranberry sauce (purchased in...Florida). On the plus side, we had four spit roasted chickens from chicken George's (the local Grill House) instead of turkey...simplifying our musical chairs oven use. A run to the supermarket and liquor store had us ready...oops...quickly grab the six pack of beer that just fell into the water before it sinks. Calls and emails from home were wonderful and helped set the mood. We did a divide and conquer strategy regarding food prep and cleaning...Barefeet was shiny and ready to entertain. Thanksgiving is definitely the day that we feel furthest from home but all felt familiar as our friends arrived and the food was laid out...with a quick description of each item; roasted chicken, mashed potatoes with feta and caramelized onions, sweet potato casserole (thanks Ann), spinach gratin, peas, cranberry relish...and the pies...apple, pumpkin and pecan. Everyone did their best to be American by eating beyond the point of being "full," leaning back, taking a break and beginning again. Well done limeys and dragons!
Sweet Potato Casserole: 3-4 pounds sweet potatoes (orange OR white), peeled; 2 eggs; 1 1/4 cup brown sugar; 3/4 cup butter, melted; 1 teaspoon salt; 1 teaspoon cinnamon; 3 teaspoons orange juice concentrate; 1 cup pecans (or more, enough to top casserole). Boil sweet potatoes until fork tender (approx 25 minutes). Mash and set aside. In small bowl mix 2 eggs, 3/4 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup melted butter, salt, cinnamon and orange concentrate. Add liquid to mashed potatoes and mix thoroughly. Place into an 8x11" pan. Top with pecans, 1/2 cup brown sugar and 1/4 cup melted butter. Bake at 375 degrees F for 30 minutes.
Back in the water and our climate control has been sorted out...we use our new heater combined with the dehumidifier (built into the air conditioner/heater of Barefeet)...no condensation drips onto our pillows and we are warm and toasty (Nov 28). And the full enclosure makes for a nice transition from wet to dry...kinda like a mud room at home. Oh, and the quick hop from dock to transom steps is infinitely preferable to the ladder. Thank goodness we are back in the water! Our evenings of DVD movie viewing have gotten an infusion of new titles thanks to shared movie libraries from our friends. A particular favorite at the moment is a BBC TV series called "Gavin & Stacey." British boy meets Welsh girl...right up our alley...and easy to get translations for the thickly accented jokes. It is hilarious!
Chilly evenings are a welcome novelty after the tropics. It is fun to make chili, roasts and all sorts of winter comfort foods. Local bars get into the act, too. Navigator's Bar has a Monday night jacket potato night. Encouraged to help ourselves to a potato and slather it with our choice of garlic butter, herb butter and/or mayo with spices Erin headed for the fireplace. I looked around...more encouragement to help myself since I looked a bit confused...but I finally had to ask, "Where are the potatoes?" "In the fire..." pretty much in unison from the entire bar. Silly Yank. Sure enough...there was a pile of foil wrapped potatoes at the edge of the fire. It was a fun bar snack...jacket means with the skin on. The tradition is a nod to Britain's Guy Fawkes Night (Bonfire Night annually held on November 5). The night commemorates the failed plot by Guy Fawkes to blow up Parliament with the King and all members of Parliament in attendance...Gunpowder Plot of 1605. An effigy of Fawkes is burned and often accompanied by fireworks in the sky and potatoes roasting in the coals.
But don't worry, we are still cruisers despite a largely land based life at the moment. For example...you know you're a cruiser when...one of the four speed dial numbers on your cell phone is a diesel engine mechanic...hhhmmmm. Access to parts and supplies means that we continue to work on Barefeet. We have replenished our medicine chest (antibiotics, Imodium, etc.), increased boat project inventory (blue gloves, wire wheel attachment for the drill, etc.), completed generator maintenance and spare parts inventory and repaired both hot water tanks (replacing a thermostat on one and a heating element on the other). Our comprehensive list of To Do's will have us ready for a Spring departure...tackled slowly over the next few months...no dramas please.
The pantry has also been replenished with a delivery of spices from Australia (3 month delivery time...and an opened jar...ah, Greek customs...oh well). We favor the chicken tikka masala curry blend from Mudgeeraba Spices...delicious (www.mudgeerabaspices.com.au). We invited Jill and Warren over for a trial run and, thankfully, Chris has not lost his culinary touch (Dec 9). Jill and Warren sailed around the world twice on an ex-RNLI life boat named Swn Y Mor...WITHOUT GPS (www.swnymor.com). Wow, we were humbled. It was fun to chat about familiar places and weather experiences but an impromptu call from Erin's Mom interjected, "Don't get any ideas about going around again, guys." Our days have taken on a nice bit of continuity as we enjoy the holiday decorations and look forward to some Christmas cheer.