shows by example how easily you can eliminate stress, become more independent, raise your children in a safer environment (while spending more time with them, instilling values not based on the mighty dollar) and avoid the traps of commercialism. Because we live and sail simply, we have been wandering for 11 years with no intention of stopping. This is not a trip for us; it is our life, and I hope to share our success with stories of laughter and tears, as well as how-to tips and DIY projects for preparing, sailing and making a boat a home, so that others can join us.

The Cake of Creative Ingredients

May 30, 2016

It has been a few years since we have "left civilization" in one form or another, and apparently I am out of practice. We loaded up the bilges with food, we stocked the warm box formerly known as a fridge with as many perishables as wouldn't perish in 85-degree "room temperature," and headed across the Gulf Stream. But I misjudged several preparations. The birthday presents I ordered online for Dave arrived at St. Brendan's Isle the afternoon our final mail package was sent to us in the morning. I had waited as long as I could to order mail. One more day and he would have had something to open on his birthday, but then we would have missed our weather window to cross the Stream. Cruising is a series of compromises, and we chose getting to the Bahamas over his getting birthday presents. But what I hadn't expected was to not even have the ingredients to bake him a birthday cake.

Wee Cay

Three weeks after we arrived in the Bahamas, we had yet to go to a grocery store and were out of butter and eggs, along with a dozen other items that are less important for this story. We were hanging out in Frazier's Hog, off a little cay we named Wee Cay because it was too small to be named on the chart. Dave's birthday was quickly approaching, and we needed to fill up the water tank anyway so that I could do laundry, so we figured we'd sail to Chub Cay Marina to stock up on water and food. We sailed to the marina, and as he filled the water tank, I walked to the "store" (such as it is) to buy butter and eggs at the very least (and as a long shot, maybe some cream cheese). I was already feeling like a bit of a failure for screwing up the timing on his presents, the least I could do was bake Dave his favorite: spice cake with cream cheese frosting. That the store didn't have cream cheese did not surprise me in the least. I knew how to work around that. But when I was told the ship wouldn't be in for a few days and that they had no butter OR eggs, I was speechless. (No small feat, to render ME speechless!) now what?

Our sail back to Wee Cay was upwind and upcurrent, and once we got to Frazier's Hog a cloud prevented our seeing the water depth, so we had to poke back to "our" spot. There was no time to contemplate my inability to bake a killer cake for my captain's birthday until we anchored. I love to bake. I pride myself of being able to create something out of nothing. After a few minutes of brainstorming, I had an idea.

Birthday boy

The cream cheese frosting recipe rather obviously calls for cream cheese. But we haven't bought cream cheese (or sour cream or any soft cheese) since Dave started making our yogurt. Instead, we put a little homemade yogurt in a coffee filter inside a small strainer and leave it to drain off the whey into the bowl beneath it. Depending on how much whey we allow to drain off, we either get sour cream or cream cheese or a soft cheese for a cheese spread. Since cream cheese is thicker, it takes longer to drain off enough whey, so I left it on the counter for several hours while I baked a spice cake. Without butter or eggs.

When Dave makes bean burgers (one of the "tips" in Simply Sailing

The next missing ingredient was butter. I have read a lot of butter substitutes, but the problem for those of us living without refrigeration is that if your butter is gone (or has gone bad), chances are good that you'll not have any of the alternatives, either. But what we did have was coconut oil. Used one to one in place of butter, I was hoping it would be an adequate substitute in the spice cake.

The day of reckoning arrived with its annual frequency, and I watched closely as Dave took his first bite of what I dubbed Creative Cake. He swore (and I confirmed) that it was delectable. The coconut oil imparted no flavor, the flax seed worked its egg-like magic, and the drained yogurt was decidedly cream cheese-esque in the frosting. Overall, a resounding success. Now, if only I could have created presents out of nothing.

It isn't always blue skies and sandy beaches. MONDAY we'll share one of those "do what has to be done" moments that are our payment for enjoying this lifestyle.


Connie McBride's work has been published in Good Old Boat, Sail Magazine, Small Craft Advisor, Cruising World, All at Sea, and Blue Water Sailing. As a full-time liveaboard cruiser for over 15 years, she has written several books and in her spare time, well, who has spare time?

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