Thursday, February 21, 2013

From the Galley: Chipotle Black Bean Chili

It’s cold here on the Chesapeake, so the smoky, spicy heat of the chipotle seasonings makes this chili a wonderful way to warm your spirits on a winter evening or really any time of year. This recipe can be made vegetarian by simply omitting the ground beef (and optional garnish). Let the flavors meld for an afternoon or overnight – it is the perfect make-ahead dish!

Makes 4-6 servings

Chipotle Black Bean Chili

½ pound ground beef (omit if you want a vegetarian dish)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped
4 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon Smoky Chili Powder blend (see recipe below)
1 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce*, minced (or to taste)
2 cans black beans** (I prefer Goya)
1 can diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 cup chopped cilantro, plus extra for garnish

Garnish (optional):
Grated cheddar cheese (we like extra sharp white cheddar)
Sour cream

Heat a skillet over medium heat. Brown your ground beef, then transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel to blot off any excess fat.

In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and pepper and sauté for about 5 minutes, until softened. Add the garlic and cook for about 1 minute, until softened. Add the chili powder, cumin, paprika, cinnamon, and chipotle peppers and cook, stirring for 2 minutes, or until the seasonings are well mixed and aromatic.

Add the ground beef, cans of black beans (juice and all), diced tomatoes and cider vinegar to the saucepan. Add salt to taste (if necessary, sometimes I omit the salt altogether). Reduce heat and simmer for 1 to 2 hours, allowing the flavors to meld and the chili to thicken. Add additional salt and vinegar, if needed. Stir in cilantro (if serving immediately; otherwise, wait until just before serving). Serve garnished with additional cilantro, grated cheddar cheese, and sour cream.

Serve over rice for a hearty meal, or mix with sour cream and use it as a dip served with chips!

*Chipotle chilies in adobo can pack a punch, so adjust the amount used to suite your tastes. Rarely do you need an entire can for a recipe. Rather than waste the remainder of the can, transfer it to a Tupperware container and throw it in the freezer for future use. It will keep for several months in the freezer.

**If you prefer to use dried beans, soak 2 cups of dry beans (covered by about 2 inches) overnight. Drain the beans and add them to the saucepan after adding the seasoning, along with 5 cups of water. Simmer for 1 to 1 ½ hours, or until the beans are softened. Then add your browned ground beef, diced tomatoes, etc.

Smoky Chili Powder
This mixture is easily made ahead of time. Simply mix and transfer to an airtight container until you are ready to use it. We substitute this in place of regular chili powder in many recipes to spice things up a bit!

Makes ½ cup

2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon chipotle chili powder
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 tablespoons dried oregano, crumbled
2 tablespoons garlic powder

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Interdeck v. KiwiGrip: A Tale of Two Nonskids

When we first visualized re-decking Phoenix, we wanted the end product to be a cool, white on white deck. Beyond pure aesthetics, we wanted to minimize heat penetration through the deck and into the cabins below. While this isn’t as much of an issue with Phoenix because our decks are so well insulated, we wanted to do everything possible to keep her passively cool and comfortable on bare feet.

We chose Awlgrip’s Cloud White for the gloss areas, and initially purchased Interlux’s Interdeck White for the nonskid areas. Admittedly, there are many nonskid choices out there, but at the time we chose Interdeck for a few reasons: 
  • Ease of application with a stipple brush
  • Ability to be a one person job
  • Decent online reviews and purported durability
  • Readily available at most marine stores
When the time came to do the nonskid, the first task at hand was getting out our straight edges and laying out the overall deck pattern. To give us soft, rounded edges (but not overly round), we found a Tupperware container with a nice curved corer, and used that to draw uniform round edges in each corner. Next step, taping off, washing the decks, and preparing for the job at hand.

Foredeck layout

Port side layout

Stern layout
One tricky aspect with Interdeck is the dry-to-walk-on time is pretty much the same as the maximum time to overcoat. This provides a bit of a logistical challenge when painting a large boat, especially since they recommend 1-2 coats. We decided to take a “hopscotch” approach, doing every other section of the boat on the first pass, letting those areas fully dry, then coming back and doing the remaining sections.

We used the Brushing Liquid 333 as directed, and set out stippling. The first MAJOR issue was that rather than white, the non skid was flesh toned.

Flesh-tone foredeck: Where's the white???
We had to purchase several quarts to complete the job, and unwittingly purchased cans from two different lots. When we switched to the second lot, the new areas were still not white; this time they were beige. Emails and calls to Interlux’s technical support were no help, and they simply said they had never seen such a thing happen before, and that the cans were old and they didn’t have any retains in house to conduct any internal checks; it must have been our problem.

Our "technicolor dream boat" with lot-to-lot variation
Suffice it to say we were less than thrilled, but decided to live with it for the short term. Color aside, the nonskid wasn’t super tenacious, so we knew we would have to switch to another product in a few years. All in, the Interdeck remained on Phoenix for about 2 years. It did seem to provide decent holding, but it was difficult to clean, stained, and began to flake off in areas. And did I mention that I HATED the colors that were nowhere near white???

To do the re-coating we decided to try KiwiGrip. This nonskid is water-soluble, so it’s more eco-friendly and doesn’t give you the “solvent head” experience you can get from other boat paints. We had read rave reviews about it online and got a great deal from some fellow boaters who were selling their extra, unopened cans on Craigslist. I really can’t say enough of about this product! Not only is it easy to apply, clean up, and touch up, but the colors (or in our case lack thereof) are true, and the end product looks great!

This time around, we were able to follow our existing deck pattern, and simply tape off around our existing nonskid areas. The makers of KiwiGrip say that you can go directly over your existing non-skid, but we opted to lightly sand the areas to help with adhesion. There were also a few blemishes in the deck that needed attention prior to painting. So those were ground out, and faired with epoxy.
Foredeck taped off

Blemish repair
Unlike Interdeck, you can apply KiwiGrip directly over sealed epoxy and do not need to apply an epoxy primer first. (This would have saved us a lot of money if we knew this the first time around). After a quick wash down, we were ready to go. This was super easy compared to other systems where everything had to be taken off!

While you could technically apply KiwiGrip as a one person job, and even though it’s water–based, it dries pretty quickly so it really is much easier with a helper. The consistency of KiwiGrip is like a thick yogurt; Bill started by using a notched trowel (1/4 inch) to spread the paint over a small section, and I immediately went over the area with their “loopy goopy” roller (essentially a texture roller). It may take a little practice and several passes to get the texture you like, but once you get the hang of it, it is very easy! Some people complained online that it had too much of a “popcorn” finish, but if you have a light touch when rolling, you can easily control the texture. It also helps to have a spray bottle of water handy – if the peaks get to high or you need extra working time, a few sprays is all you need to knock it down and allow for another pass or two to get the texture you desire.

In ambient temperature, KiwiGrip is touch-dry in an hour so you need to work fast. Working in direct sunlight is not recommended. High temperatures or direct sunlight can make it flash too quickly and cause some of the peaks to open up and create little “volcanoes.” If this happens, let it dry and simply dilute the material 25% with water and go over the area a second time.

KiwiGrip is also much easier to clean with a bristle brush and hasn’t stained like the Interdeck did.

Now that's a white foredeck!
Admittedly, the application wasn’t without its problems, but they can’t be blamed on the KiwiGrip. Midway through the project, we went down to the boat one morning to prep our next section, and to our horror, discovered that a neighbor’s cat had been on the boat overnight. Not only did it slide through a section of wet paint (cool temperatures delayed the drying time that day), but it then jumped up on our teak cockpit coaming caps and scampered all around our camaru cockpit grating – leaving a trail of paw prints in its wake!

The scene of the crime

One of the worst spots
After several hours and countless choice words, we were able to clean up most of the mess. Miraculously, the paint was relatively easy to get off of the coaming caps, which had been treated with Cetol. We oil the cockpit grating so it won’t be slippery, and that didn’t fare quite as well. I’d say 95% of the paint was removed, but some remains deep in the wood grain.

Best we could do -- will look better once re-oiled
The non-skid section will get touched up in the spring when the weather breaks, and although it will require a little sanding, touching up the KiwiGrip is pretty easy and repairs seamlessly blend in to the existing paint.

Paw prints aside, we are very happy with the KiwiGrip and would recommend it over Interdeck in a heartbeat!

The finished product!

Thursday, February 7, 2013


I know I’ve been very remiss in writing lately, and there is a ton to catch up on. But just because we haven’t been updating, doesn’t mean the progress has stopped! So with the cold weather upon us, it’s time to play catch up and tell you about some of the projects we recently completed.

Installing our dorade boxes has long been at the top of our list. Originally designed by Rod Stephens and named for the first boat on which they appeared in the early 1930s, dorades are a great way to increase airflow down below, especially when you are underway or in heavy weather.

Basic design of a dorade box. Air (and possibly water) flow into the cowl vent and into the dorade box. Water is (hopefully) blocked by the through-deck pipe, and then exits through a drain hole. Air is shuttled down below through the deck pipe.

We decided to go with 6, 4-inch dorade vents – 2 in each cabin, all of which Bill made out of Brazilian teak (camaru). Bill made baffled dorade boxes for the forward and main cabins.
Inside foredeck dorade box with baffles

The 2 on the main cabin were sized to maximize 4-inch cowl vents. The 2 on the foredeck are taller and larger so they can accommodate 5-inch cowlings if we want to upgrade down the road. The taller dorade also helps catch more air that could otherwise be blocked by the bullwarks and bowsprit.

Checking for placement of foredeck and main cabin dorades. Note the size difference between the two sets
Since we have less deck space to play with on our aft cabin top, Bill made straight dorade boxes (no baffles) for this location with mushroom vents underneath so we can close them off as needed.

Mushroom vent without box on top
Constructing the boxes were just part of the process – the real fun came with the installation! We used schedule 40 PVC pipe with a 4-inch ID for the through-deck pipe, and needed a 4 ½ inch hole saw to allow for the OD of the pipe. To help minimize the drill kickback with this size hole saw, Bill drilled the holes with the motor in reverse. It was a slower, yet safer way to drill through the deck (though make sure your hole saw is very sharp).

Box placement taped and pilot hole marked -- ready for drilling

No kickback here!

Deck thickness removed
Once the holes were cut, we sealed the deck with epoxy, then dry fit the pipe to check for fit.

Checking for fit
The top of the pipe was then cut with a “French green bean” cut to help keep any water out of the pipe. The finished through-deck pipe was caulked into place, and we were ready to cover the pipes with the dorade boxes.

Through deck pipe cut and caulked in place
To allow for easier removal of the boxes in the future (for maintenance, deck repairs, repainting, etc.) Bill affixed camaru strips to the deck to serve as cleats for the boxes, and screwed the boxes to the cleats. A nice bead of caulk around the base of the boxes sealed them, and they were ready for 3 coats of Cetol (Natural).

Cleated, caulked and Cetol
Since we have a ton of mud wasps here in the Chesapeake in the summer, we purchased Nicro insect screens and installed them on the inside of the cowling vents. We’ve seen many boats install them in the ceiling down below, but in most cases, the wasps simply next inside the box and/or pipe – not only creating a mess and a nuisance, but reducing (sometimes totally blocking) the much needed airflow in the process.

Screens in place at the dock. They are easily removed when underway or at anchor to increase airflow
And to finish the look, down below, we installed teak trim rings to the ceiling.

Mushroom vent in the ceiling without the trim ring

Teak trim ring

Now that they are in place, I can definitely say that they look great and you can feel some increase in airflow; though it’s still only a fraction of what you would get from a well placed hatch or opening port. If you had to choose between the two, we would recommend going with a hatch with a good sea hood rather than a dorade. But if you have the deck space or want them as part of an overall ventilation system, they are well worth the chore of installation.

We still need to make dorade guards for the two vents on the foredeck to prevent the sheet leads from catching on the cowlings, but that will be another story...