December 2010 Cruising Tips

Waiting to Inhale A decade ago, while thumbing through a cooking magazine, a photo of a bicycle pump caught my eye. It turned out to be a vacuum pump that could do the same thing as a big, boxy kitchen vacuum sealer costing more than $100. But it was small, hand-operated and cost just $20. I researched the Pump-N-Seal food saver online and then ordered one. It has been an
Author:
Publish date:

Waiting to Inhale

A decade ago, while thumbing through a cooking magazine, a photo of a bicycle pump caught my eye. It turned out to be a vacuum pump that could do the same thing as a big, boxy kitchen vacuum sealer costing more than $100. But it was small, hand-operated and cost just $20. I researched the Pump-N-Seal food saver online and then ordered one. It has been an inspired addition to our cruising galley.

SAIP-101200-ODct-04_SI

Here’s how it works. First, use a push-pin (one is supplied with the pump) to puncture the center of the lid of any sealing jar; empty pickle jars are ideal. Next, cover the hole with a tiny Band-Aid-like seal (also supplied) to create a multi-use check valve. Positioning the suction-cup base of the pump over the tab, you push down on the spring-loaded plunger a few times to pump the air out of the closed jar. Simple as that.

Before the Pump-N-Seal, opening a container of nuts onboard committed us to gorging on them before they went stale. Now we eat or serve just what we like. As long as they’re stored in a metal-lid jar, we can simply close the lid and pump the air out when putting them away. Our boat spends hurricane season on the hard in the tropics, and we often leave “opened” cans of nuts in the galley while we’re away. We return to find them as fresh as ever.

Coffee lovers can also benefit by storing their ground coffee in a vacuum-sealed jar. Likewise, expensive spices maintain their potency when stored in a vacuum. Vacuum-packing flour, beans and pasta protects them from weevils and other insects. It protects meats and poultry from freezer burn, and keeps crackers, cookies and chips nice and crisp.

The Pump-N-Seal also comes with a skinny tube attachment that lets you create a vacuum in ziplock storage bags, so there are no additional supply costs even for bagged items. The price today is up to around $30 (pump-n-seal.com), but the value of the food saved has also increased. The Pump-N-Seal requires no power and takes up little storage space, making it as convenient to use as a saltshaker. After 10 years in our galley, it still gets two thumbs up. -Don Casey

Hatch Screens

If you cruise where there are mosquitoes, you need to get serious about keeping them out of the boat. On our boat the hatches had wire-mesh screens that were too porous to be effective, and two of these were directly over our bed, so we knew we needed something better. Specifically, we needed an effective screen that wouldn’t interfere if we had to shut the hatches quickly in a sudden downpour. We also wanted devices that would stay put in a breeze when we were anchored and would be easy to stow when it was time for us to head to sea.

SAIP-101200-ODct-03_SI

All our hatches open to a 45-degree angle, so we figured a set of wedge-shaped “tents” of screening would do the job nicely. We bought some mosquito netting (originally part of a hammock) and measured and cut the material so each tent fit rather loosely. We made the two seams that come down from the upper corner of each tent using sewn-on tape.

After that we sewed a sausage-like hem of marine canvas around the bottom of the netting to hold each tent in place once it was draped over the hatch. Using a funnel, we filled the hem with clean sand we had rinsed in fresh water.

It took us about an hour to make each hatch net, and they have worked out very well. The ventilation is first rate, the tents look smart, and they have done an excellent job of keeping insects out of our lives. -J. Duncan Gould

Related

arc18-3981

Stories from the Cruisers of the ARC

Each December, the docks at Rodney Bay Marina in St. Lucia are abuzz as the fleet of the ARC—the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers—arrives to much fanfare. No matter what time of day or night, the staff of the World Cruising Club, organizers of the 33-year-old rally, are there to ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell. Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.com A sign from outside the box  Rev counters on modern engines are driven electronically from a terminal on the alternator. If all is well, as soon as the engine fires up the revs will read true. If, ...read more

emSelf-tacking-jib

Ask Sail: Are Self-trackers Worth It?

Q: I’m seeing more and more self-tacking jibs out on the water (and in the pages of SAIL) these days. I can’t help thinking these boats are all hopelessly underpowered, especially off the wind, when compared to boats with even slightly overlapping headsails. But I could be ...read more

01-LEAD-hose-leak-CREDIT-BoatUS

Know how: Is Your Bilge Pump up to the Job?

Without much reflection, I recently replaced my broken bilge pump with a slightly larger model. After all, I thought, surely an 800 gallon-per-hour (gph) pump will outperform the previous 500gph unit? Well, yes, but that’s no reason to feel much safer, as I soon discovered. The ...read more

190314-viddy

St. Maarten Heineken Regatta: A Source of Hope

The tagline for the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta is "serious sailing, serious fun." However, for the inhabitants of St. Maarten, the event is more than just a festival of great music and some of the best sailing around. Local blogger Angie Soeffker explains the impact the race ...read more

SPOTX-1500x1500_front

Gear: SPOT-X Satellite

Hits the SPOT The SPOT-X two-way satellite messenger is an economical way of staying connected to the outside world via text or e-mail when you’re at sea. As well as the messaging service, it has a distress function that not only alerts authorities if you’re in trouble, but lets ...read more

_8105684

A Kid’s Take on the Northwest Passage

Going North—and West Crack! Crunch! I woke with a start to the sound of ice scraping the hull of our 60ft sailboat, Dogbark. In a drowsy daze, I hobbled out of the small cabin I was sharing with my little sister. As I emerged into the cockpit, I swiveled my head, searching for ...read more