Monday, 1 June 2015

Opposing forces

All's well on board. Covers the essentials. Will we want to remember the details?

A few frames from this morning might jog the memory.

At 0800 (we have adjusted our watches to "local" time at 101 W), Enki is bounding along in the bright light of a new day, a new month. She's got a taste for going fast, showing 8 plus knots on the dial for more than 12 hours now. We've found the SE trades all right, and we've also found the south equatorial current, we assume. We're not that clever. This isn't Enki's normal cruising speed but we'll take the current, and we'll take the 20 knot breeze for as long as it lasts. The swell's running at 2 metres, and pushing our girl around. We'd like to take the waves at a better angle, but we prefer to go in the right direction, and manage the lurching and rolling and kicking and slapping. Imagine your floor as a water bed set to storm mode. That's our living space. Your body is never still, even when you're sitting, and preparing food in the galley is a serious workout.

So, first frame. I have just woken up, having put two hours sleep in the bank. Alex is wired. He's been awake since 0530. He is furling in the genoa, hard. There's a squall a few miles to our east threatening to spoil our al fresco breakfast plans. He puts on his full Musto suit. I go down below, still not fully alert, and rifle around in stores. This is our first morning without fresh fruit to liven up our grits. The pineapples are finished, bananas, pears, pawpaw, passionfruit all gone. Bring on the canned peaches.

The squall passes in front of us, a non-starter. Alex unfurls the genoa, and fires up the generator again. We have to put two hours of charge into the batteries to make up for what we used last night. It's the autopilot which is the glutton for power. He wishes (for the umpteenth time) that we had a water-towed generator (like Sea Cloud's Watt'n'Sea) which "would make 4 or 5 amps an hour all night". There's always something...

He turns on the watermaker too. We can make water only when we run the generator. We like having full water tanks. Just in case.

We have a bread deficit too. Last night we got distracted at about the time I would normally have been mixing up the dough. A fish took our lure. It was a big fish, of course. We made a decent attempt to bring it in, but it got away. Like the four before it. Next time. So I have no bread to bake, and we need bread, more than we need fish actually. I'm bored with bread-making today. I decide to try pizza dough.

For inspiration, I pull out Jim Lahey's My Bread book. I carry a few cookbooks on board, mostly to keep my spirits up. I decide to make potato pizza. I've never done that before, and doing something I've never done before in the kitchen is my idea of a good time.

The potatoes I bought at the Panama market were a bad lot. I should have known better than to buy potatoes from a man who kept them in the dark. My new sport is to throw the rotten potatoes out the port. I peel a couple, and slice them thinly with the mandolin on my horrible flat grater (ease of storage upstages ease of use on a boat). I put them in a bowl of salted water, as Jim asks me to do, and push them to the lee side of the bench against the wall while I deal with what's in the sink.

The boat lurches. It makes a nonsense of everything non-slip on my bench top. The bowl with its rubberised bottom tips over, and salty, starchy water pours into the under-bench lockers where I keep spices and oils etc. I haul the bottles out, sponge out the lockers. They'll stay damp. The air in the boat is damp. It's also hot, and I'm exhausted before the pizza has got anywhere near the oven. I'd rather be sailing.

Above decks, the sun is out. It's 1030. Alex goes up front to tighten the genoa halyard. I don't take my eyes off him. On his way back to the cockpit, he picks up flying fish off the teak. Five of them this morning. There are lots of flying fish in these waters. Squadrons of the funny little fellows flying low and fast. Pity their sense of direction doesn't allow them to swerve when an unidentified sailing object passes by.

And now, at 1200, Alex is asleep. My eyes are scratchy but I don't sleep easily during the day. He's got an edge over me in that regard (and in several others, I know). My pizza dough needs attending to. Enki can look after herself while I try to outwit the forces of gravity down below. She's got oceanic physics figured pretty well.

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