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Aannsha’s Blog #29 – Up in the air with coffee, planes and lightning!

Firstly, a quick update on Barry’s hand. It’s healing amazingly well and all that’s evident of that very nasty puncture wound that we talked about in last week’s blogs is a dry scab, less than 1cm in size. Thank you to everyone who expressed concern, your support was very much appreciated.

Morning coffee

Handpresso coffee gets me up in the morning

I was so caught up telling you about Barry’s accident that I didn’t get around to mentioning my new coffee machine that arrived last week! If you’ve watched last week’s video, you’ll already have seen it in action, but I couldn’t let another blog go by without giving it a bit of a rave. You see, it’s awesome.

Until I bought my Handpresso manual espresso machine, I was using a coffee plunger for my daily caffeine fix, and occasionally having a rare but enjoyable café-purchased coffee and the sporadic, quick but lacklustre instant cup at home.

We’re on a budget, so takeaway coffees are a restricted pleasure, but I was doing okay with the plunger coffee – not bad when made with Lavazza – but still not quite the same as a barista brewed beverage. Instant coffee is really a poor stopgap for when I’m out of ground beans. So when I managed to break the glass jug portion of the plunger, I swore a bit (well, a lot), but with the full understanding that it was bound to happen sometime on a yacht. (I can hear Barry’s pragmatic “I told you so” utterance even as I type).

Choosing the right machine

What would I replace it with though? I didn’t think another plunger would be sensible, as I’ve just said. Because we’re on a boat and won’t be attached to shore power all that often, an electric espresso machine would also be out of the question.

Racking my brains for an alternative, I vaguely remembered seeing some sort of hand pump coffee machine in Glass, my fabulous local coffee house and surf gallery, when I worked in Maroochydore, Australia. I used to love having breakfast there, the food and coffee are awesome, and the young staff are an absolute delight. I’d highly recommend popping in if you’re in Cotton Tree.

After a little research, Auntie Google showed me a small variety of portable espresso machines that used hand pumping to achieve the needed pressure to force 50mls of water through pressed ground coffee, via a filter, into a cup.

After looking at the available options, I eventually settled on the Handpresso brand. Their machines have an elegant design, and come as hand pump or auto electric driven. The hand press machines achieve a very good 16 bar of pressure compared with other machines on the market which only reach 8 bars of pressure. Having done a barista course several years ago, I do know that an ideal pressure is 9 bars, but this is a consistent 9 bars through an industrial machine. With a hand pumped machine, the pressure is released fairly quickly. So although you pump the Handpresso to 16 bars, when you press the button to extract the coffee the pressure drops quickly to around 9 bars and then slowly decreases as the water filters through. What you end up with is a great espresso with decent crema on the top. Add the same amount of milk and you have a Cortado – a Spanish invention, which I’m happy to say I discovered in Javea.

Handpresso pump

As a rule, I’m not one to spend heaps of moolah on myself, but as coffee is one of my little pleasures in life and I want a machine that will do an excellent job in the harsh salty environment my decision was not financially driven. However, when I plumped for the Handpresso, I noticed they had a special offer which included the hand pump, plus the carry case, four unbreakable espresso cups, a vaccum flask with temperature guage and all important tamper. All this plus a little travel case for three 3 extra coffee baskets, and I’m all set to have a decent coffee when we go hiking up mountains and on deserted beaches that we visit on our journeys! The beauty about this machine is that it also takes Italian style round paper coffee bags in the event I don’t want to fiddle around with tamping ground coffee into the baskets. If I’m going to use something disposable, I’d rather opt for paper than the pods which are made of a combination of plastic and aluminium.

I received this special offer for 149 Euros (AUD231) reduced from 233 Euros (AUD361) and now that I’ve seen the elegant design and felt the quality of the product for myself, I am exceedingly happy with my purchase.

Oh look at that, its 11am. Time for coffee lol.

Sunday’s spectacular air show

Air show

To mark the 75th anniversary of the Air Force Academy at Santiago de la Ribera, King Felipe VI of Spain (who trained there) and other officials watched the air action over the Mar Menor waters from the academy base sports club, on Sunday 11th June.

Baz and I also watched the spectacular events with many holidaymakers and locals (and one very excited little Spanish boy), from the grassy sand dunes in between the salt flats at Mar Menor and the beach alongside the Mediterranean, adjacent to the marina where our yacht is berthed.

I think regardless of viewing platforms, all viewers couldn’t help but be impressed! There were aerobatics from the Spanish air force helicopter team, P-3 Orions, Harrier AV-8Bs, a KC-135 Stratotanker, F-18 Hornets, Tigre, and CV-22 Osprey. The Italian air force aerobatics team, Frecce Tricolori, amazed us with their red, green and yellow coloured smoke displays.

State-of-the-art planes developed from legends


We saw a few historic planes, which seemed incredibly unhurried after the Eurofighter had boomed its presence into the skies with a loud roar long before we saw it. As we watched the vintage biplanes make their stately way over the Mar Menor, Baz and I remarked how technically brilliant they were for their time, and that the fast manoeuvrability available to planes today is built on the backs of those old-fashioned carriers and their pioneering solo pilots: legends such as Edward 'Mick' Mannock and Manfred von Richthofen aka 'The Red Baron'.

The enjoyable four and a half hour air show concluded with some spectacular flying by the Patrulla Aguila, the Spanish air force aerobatics team. As I type this, Barry is editing the footage of the show, which will be in this week’s YouTube video.

Base Camp Jones

Barry and I had a great day, reclined on our new beach chairs, cameras in hand, occasionally jumping up to film planes that flew close overhead. We had a simple base camp set up and were glad we ‘slip slap slopped’ as they say in Australia – as in ‘slip on a tee shirt, slap on a hat and slop on sunscreen’! But we realised as our snacks and warm drinks got covered in sand, that if we’re going to sit on beaches more often, (that’s less of “if” and more of “as”) then we need a more sophisticated set up. You know, like umbrella, small table, cooler bags, kitchen sink…

Ah the beauty of setting up a new lifestyle in a different country: more things to buy! However, that’s a job for next week. I’ll report on that in my next blog.

Lightning illuminates the night sky

On Saturday evening before the air show, we heard the patter of raindrops landing on the deck above us. Pretty soon, we had good, heavy rain bringing a welcome relief to the rising heat. The rain was soon joined by bright flashes of lightning, so Baz and I raced up on deck to watch the light show. Of course, as soon as we turned on my mobile phone (which is the best camera for capturing night time shots), the lightning developed camera shyness. Despite Nature’s coquettish reluctance however, we did capture a couple of great bursts that lit up the inky black sky with jagged arcs, and gave the clouds a fluorescent appearance for a split second.

The next morning we expected to find clean decks after the rain had washed away evidence of footprints from the workmen the previous week. You can imagine our surprise when we discovered that the rain had instead, dumped half of the sand from the Sahara Desert onto our boat! It took us a good hour and a half to spray and brush it all clean. The superfine sand had even managed to work its way through the thick bimini canvas, leaving a 30cm orangey stripe on the underside, and even the ‘protected’ table on deck bore a blotchy pattern of orange splodges!

As we contemplated cleaning the boat over breakfast, we witnessed every café owner starting their day by hooking into the berth water taps and giving their outside seating areas, tables and chairs a thorough scrubbing. It’s a good job water is included in the cost of the marina fees, as boat owners along the café frontage would find their water bills spiking at the end of that week!

Lighting up the mast

Up the cherry picker

This week was also our turn to pull up alongside the dock where a cherry picker was temporarily parked. This machine, which I used to think was just for picking cherries (I know, I’m embarrassed, but that’s how my mind works) was a great way for the electrician to install the new masthead light. This comprised of an LED for making way at night plus a 12V halogen light for floodlighting the deck at night.

The Nav lights were also repositioned and rewired onto the pulpit, which was re-shaped and now allows ample space for the large semi-circular bar on top of the new Mantus anchor. Hopefully this modification will prevent any more nasty accidents such as the one Baz had last week when his hand got trapped between the anchor, the pulpit and a bolt sticking out underneath the pulpit.

One other job arising from that incident, is to make labels for the windlass buttons; one for ‘up’ and one for ‘down’. That way, if either of us suddenly has to release the anchor, we’ll immediately know which button to hit.

Well, that’s the news from this week!

Until next time, a friendly cheers from me as I sip a coffee. Have a great week!


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