I used to get all up on my high horse about boaters that thought they needed to have a microwave oven onboard. I mean, c’mon, Joshua Slocum didn’t need a microwave did he? Nor did Bernard Moitessier, the Pardeys, or any other of a number of iconic sailors from my mass of sailing and cruising books. What the hell are they good for? You can’t use them when you’re on battery power which should be most of the time. They just take up space that could better be used for something more worthy.
Bet you’ve already guessed where this is going.
On a number of occasions over the last couple years that we’ve been living on Siempre Sabado, Lulu has mentioned in passing that a microwave would sure be handy right about now. This is usually when we’re trying to figure out how to reheat some leftovers. We could try to reheat them in the oven but what a waste of propane that is. Heat the whole oven up to reheat a couple of servings of macaroni and cheese? I don’t think so. I’ve tried just putting the leftovers in a greased pan on the stove and that sort of works but, if the leftovers are in a loaf form (like a slab of lasagna) the center never gets warm before the pan has become a sticky mess. Works OK if you break up the slab but that takes away from the aesthetic of the food as far as I’m concerned. We’ve had some luck by using a steamer basket in a saucepan. Put the leftovers on the steamer and a little water in the bottom of the pan. It takes awhile but eventually everything is pretty much heated through without burning in the saucepan. But have you ever tried cleaning melted cheese and noodle orts from the holes in the collapsible leaves in a steamer? Not fun.
Besides my prejudice against the “un-saltiness” of a microwave, where the hell would we put it? This tiny boat is already pretty darn full. We don’t have room for no stinking microwave.
But what if we did?
Sure would make reheating stuff a snap. And, whenever we’re tied to a dock, which we are about a third of the year, we have all the 120 VAC power we could ask for. And then there’s microwave popcorn. Now, nuked popcorn is definitely NOT my favorite. However, because regular popcorn is kind of a hassle, we don’t have it very often. When we do, the deal is that Lulu makes the popcorn and then I wash the pan up before we go to bed since the smell of leftover popcorn in the morning sort of turns her stomach. Well, having to wash a big ol’ greasy pot kind of takes the joy out of a bowl of popcorn so we only have it when we really want it. Compared to that, microwave popcorn tastes pretty darn good.
But still, where would we put it?
This is where small boat creativity and a “of course we can” attitude comes into its own. Lulu doesn’t ask for much and she would certainly go on living without a microwave without too much complaint for many years to come. But, if this is all it’d take to make her happy, maybe I could try to think a little outside the box. And, of course, there is that microwave popcorn to think about. So I started looking around.
There’s a bookcase mounted up above the stove which, I suppose I could take down. We could find somewhere to put the books and hang the microwave up there. Be kind of a hassle but it is doable. Or maybe relocate the SSB radio. No, wait, the opening there isn’t tall enough. We could maybe try to relocate the books in the shelf alongside Lulu’s seat at the settee. The space would be big enough but there are a lot of books to find a new home for. In a pinch, we could probably dismantle the stereo and mount the separate components elsewhere. There is definitely some wasted space there. Maybe.
We decided to go to the store, see how big the microwaves were and then see what we could figure out.
Our first stop was Mega Foods which, like most of the supermercados around here carries a lot more than groceries. The smallest microwave, about 0.7 cu.ft., looked like it could fit. It was nine hundred and some pesos which was like seventy-some dollars. Enough that we decided to look around a little more.
Next stop was Wal*Mart. Here we found a GE that was the same small size for around eighty dollars. Next to it was a Daewoo for closer to sixty dollars. Same size. We decided to get the Daewoo.
Once we got back to the boat, the fitting began. I had been keeping my ace-in-the-hole to myself until I saw how things looked. Turned out that the far and away easiest place to put the new horno de microonda was on top of our clothes locker, which is right next to the galley. There’s a 120 V plug-in right there and, although we had stuff to move, it was all relatively small and easily dividable. The old “divide and conquer” approach. Moved Lulu’s Ukulele a little, removed a never-used kerosene lamp, relocated a bunch of books and voilá.
Believe it or not, there was stuff filling pretty much every square inch of space that the microwave is now filling. And it all went someplace else. It’s sort of weird how this happens. Sort of like how Lulu can always get everything that needs to be refrigerated into the fridge, even though it was already full when she started.
I don’t feel too bad about finally caving and getting a microwave. It’ll save a lot of propane when we’re tied to the dock and, when we’re at anchor, since we end up running our generator every couple of days to supplement the solar charging, we can use the microwave even at anchor. At least every couple of days.
So, of course we had to celebrate our new purchase.
Dinner tonight was a joint effort. I made Chorizo-Stuffed Poblano Peppers and Lulu made a vegetable mixture. Lately, instead of just steaming the vegetables and then loading on the butter, salt and pepper (not that there’s anything wrong with that), she’s started sautéing the vegetables in olive oil along with mushrooms and onions. The onions get caramelized and sweet and the mushrooms lend that nice earthiness. So good.