I am not crafty.
I wear a few "hats" ( flighty actress, salty sailor) but none that I personally have sewn or knit or crocheted.
I am not AT ALL inclined when it comes to matters of glue or string or twine or things that require instructions...
I once made Jon a sweater-very early on in our marriage-that was so terribly misshapen and deformed, it could have fit Quasimodo better than it fit poor, loving, Jon-who wore it, out of duty, even though it was nearly as heavy as the sheep it came from and looked like it was knit with tree branches rather than knitting needles.
-that sweater met it's end when our 135 pound Bullmastiff  tried to mate with it as it lay in an ungainly heap on our bedroom floor.

Since we have been in La Paz, I have undertaken the somewhat "crafty" venture of home-canning.
I did not anticipate that it would be a craft-type event-or i would have thought twice before getting involved.
But I did not think. I forged ahead...without so much as a quick glance at the internet.
I ran out and bought a pressure cooker, here in La Paz.
I assumed that making jars of food would be more of a "cooking"  kind of groove.
I bought lots of lovely berries for jam and peppers for pickling and meats and chickens for hot packing...

Then, I went back to our rented hotel room (the one with two hot burners and lots of fresh water and a nice big table for chopping and jarring)
where my mother and children waited for me. 
I had imagined we would laugh and talk, while chopping veggies, and something wonderful would simmer away on the stove and all the while, row after row of neat little glass jars would appear, filled with goodies for us to dine on while thousands of miles off shore.

That's what i THOUGHT would happen.
The reality...was a little less sublime.

It involved doubt and vexation and a sleepless night of worry.

First of all, canning is NOT exactly cooking. 
It's more like science class-where everything has to be sterile and perfect and there's all kids of timing and numbers and pressures involved.
Okay. I can do sterile. I laid out clean towels and boiled everything.

But the real rub started with buying a pressure cooker in a foreign country.
It means, you have to be able to READ DIRECTIONS in another language.
Something I am pretty hopeless with in even in my native tongue.
And then there's the finicky business about EXACT recipes.
Which I did not have, because the recipes I had on the boat, all told me to refer my pressure CANNER for appropriate cooking times.

So,  I turned to the internet...
where I was indoctrinated into the culture of FEAR that lurks around every corner on a google search.
It began with just how TERRIFIED I should be of canning.
How I was flirting with imminent doom and the possibility that while feeding my family a pickled green bean,  
I might actually kill them.


It haunted me.
Every website I went to-incidentally, a HUGE number of people who write about home canning also seem to think that the world is gonna end and Jesus will come in a big, shiny Cadillac- warned of death and more death and lawsuits.  Even the FDA has rewritten the same old canning that grandma used to do...into something you need a PHD for.

I looked at my new Mexican pressure cooker with dread and deep distrust.
It was impossible to decipher the instructions, they were in Spanish-and METRIC-to boot.
Poor, old, ignorant, American me.

What to do?

I turned to my fellow cruisers for help.

"The internet says I can't use a PRESSURE COOKER it has to be a PRESSURE CANNER!" I cried  over the VHF.
"BAH!" said the Fleet.
"We've been canning for years, in our pressure cookers!"

Okay. This was good news.

"Will we die if I get the times wrong?" 
"No" said the fleet. 
"...just cook the shit out of it again when you reheat it".

Okay. I can do that, too. 

Thank god for my fearless fellow sailors.
Botulism? They laugh. Ha! You should see what we're sailing across!

So...Then it turned back into" cooking" and gradually it made a little more sense and so I chopped and heated and filled sterilized jars until the wee hours every morning while Jon took on equally life-dependent projects of making our boat ready to cross a very large ocean.

And here we are, two weeks into La Paz...

The kids got certified for their PADI tickets.
Kai rocked his open water and Hunter got her "bubbler" cause she's not old enough to get certified in open water-but she got to use her little yellow 40 lbs tank in the pool.

Pura Vida is back in the water, with a brand spankin' new bottom job and some spiffy new, red, self-ablating paint on her hull.
Jon has checked off the last thing (on the one-hundred-thing long) list of items that needed to be fixed or replaced or refurbished while we are here. 
He also invented ( with the help of a fellow cruiser) a nifty new hydro-generator for us-out of an old prop and some rope and a long pice of stainless steel tubing, wired into an old solar charge controller...

And I have restocked every single usable space on this boat with a six month supply ( for four people) of food, paper products, toiletries, medical supplies, schooling, art and music supplies and a few new bathing suits for everyone...
Oh yeah, and about a hundred "cans" of jams, jellies, fruits, chutneys, pickles, meats and poultry...

Look who's crafty, now, huh?
Grinding out blisters...
New bottom paint!


We miss you Nana

Boat chores
Hard working lad...


  1. Delightful blog. Funny, witty, crafty and pickelly. You're ready for anything clearly. Love to the work party.

  2. Hey there - it was nice to run into you guys yesterday - this blog post made me laugh - I wrote one not about canning, but just about learning to use our pressure cooker ( - I'm impressed with the canning you did - wow! I'm going to have to tackle that too at some point. We'll see you on the other side!

  3. Wow! All that canning with a two-burner stove in a hotel flat. Now, that is persistence and perseverance! This is a very enjoyable blog and reminds me of when our family lived aboard and cruised back in the 70's. Definitely looking forward to more... All the best to you and your family!