Oh I Do Like to be Beside the Seaside

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12th August

27 35N, 044 04 W

I suddenly realised that it might be interesting for people to see where
we actually are!  So feed those coordindates into Google and you should
have a good idea of where we were at the time of writing anyway.  It’s a
lot of blue!  And no ships or other boats around; we are not exactly on
the beaten track at present.  According to the GC, it’s a route that would
only be taken by boats going from the States to South Africa …. I’m
guessing not a priority one track.

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The GC continues to make the boat ever more comfortable.  He’s been
brewing a plan to make a ceiling for the galley to make it windproof; and
over the last few days we brought out some suitable odds and sods we
salvaged in La Ciotat – a canopy of some sort, with other associated bits,
all in perfect condition – and sorted out how we could sew the bits
together to make a cover that would fit inside the bimini and over the
galley area stretching to the stove at the helm (that gas sometimes really
struggles in the wind).  A few days sewing by the redoutable Betrave and
Genie (with a great deal of input from the GC and only about a meter from
me) with a hand sewing machine he picked up in La Linea and lo and behold,
we have a pretty wind proof little cubby in there now!  Yesterday he
extended the cover to wrap around the dining table and lo and behold we
could all eat there last night, the first time in ages.  It’s actually
quite hot at present – warmer than it’s been so far on the trip – so it’s
actually quite hot now inside the galley but we will be very grateful for
that in just a few days I can tell.

Last night he was musing that we could have the covers made professionally
– I’ve suggested a liberal use of that see through plastic stuff they use
in cafes for outdoor seating – prompting Betrave to ask if he ever
considered that this boat would return to charter work!  A scary thought …
he’s talking about doing the Pacific next; maybe we need to start looking
into the North West Passage!

All that aside; we have now been at sea for a full week with the prospect
of ‘only’ a week to ten days more.  It’s funny how life goes on in our
little bubble.  Huge excitement yesterday as we caught our first Atlantic
tuna!  A beauty of around 8 kilos.  Will keep us well fed for a few days;
already the Great Tuna Challenge has been issued by the crew.  Last night
it was fish tacos; tonight it will be tuna Paella.  Then we’ll see.
Qantab fish curry by the time we are done … though I have to say I’m
holding out now for a nice mahi mahi – then the challenge will be on for
biriani!

It’s hard to say how it feels to be here.  I thought I would be more
scared or more involved in the surroundings; but since indeed we have had
such amazing sailing conditions – light winds and flat seas – it’s easy
just to get on with stuff.  The GC’s projects fulfil their purpose in
keeping the crew (and him!) busy and productive; I burble around cooking
and writing and reading … apparently we will suffer the effects of this
anticyclone for the next few days but as we bless that gennaker and are
still making an average of 10 knots it seems that life is pretty good.
We’ve been living on board for nearly two months now – since La Mede – so
I guess it’s pretty comfortable.  The GC is also happy as he’s done his
fuel assessment again and we have only used around 300 litres so far – as
much as we used to get from La Ciotat to La Linea! – so have a huge
margin.  He uses one engine at a time in these light winds to help the
sails but the torque is so low that consumption is excellent.  And we have
spent probably five full days under sail alone; which counts for a lot
too.

We use these flat days well.  Yesterday was laundry day; I felt like an
extra in Deadwood – got the pressure cooker boiling and stirred away in
shifts – so many times have I been grateful for being brought up in India;
so much that I just seem to ‘know’ – like how long to boil stuff like
socks for lmfao … that did for all but the GC’s jeans which went in the
big bucket.  We used more water than I think we’ve used the entire trip;
but finally got a gleam of approval when the GC said that after all, all
that water was just making us heavy …. We’ve also managed to ferret out
the last of the suicided flying fish which had managed to wedge itself
into a huge hank of rope under one of the seats.  Mmmmmm nice.  Hopefully
this will get rid of the lingering smell of rotting fish that assaults me
every time I enter or leave the cabin …. And which had sent me sniffing
around inside to make sure it wasn’t something coming from within!
The sudden announcement that we may have less than two weeks rather than
more than three has had a couple of excellent spinoffs.  For one, no more
rationing of anything – at this rate I will not only have more than enough
to do whatever I want in the days remaining but have plenty to stock the
St Pierre larder when we get there.  For two; we have a large stock of
satellite time already paid for and so the master is loosening the reins
on emails!  Will be lovely to get the news; though I have to say that
being loose of current events (and the daily horror show of US politics)
has a lot going for it.

Gardening
I don’t think I’ve mentioned them before but I have a small coterie of
green friends in the galley; starting with Hector (a very luxuriant basil
plant that I bought in La Ciotat when we first arrived) who was joined by
his twin, Achilles a few days before we left (I know, I know, but we were
in the Med, you know, I had Homer on my mind…).  They occupy a box of
their own next door to three plants whom I adore as well but who are not
demanding enough to require naming – a mint, a chive which has been
flowering happily since Las Palmas (I adore those little purple things)
and a thyme plant that I bought in Las Palmas.  I share the load between
all of them – Betrave keeps asking for pesto, but she’s a greedy thing –
and they seem to thrive on the ocean wave.  The GC asked me if I was going
to plant them in SPM but of course they will live in the kitchen.  I’ve
also decided to sprout a few radishes to add interest to our salads as we
are now beyond any lettuce or other soft green until we get to the other
side.  They add immeasurably to our meals.  I tried hard to find a parsley
plant, to no avail.  Alas, I’m now reduced to using dried.  Sigh, it’s not
the same.

Books
Ah now here’s a funny thing.  All those lists of ‘books I would take to a
desert island’ were totally useless as of course a) I wasn’t planning on
going on a long sailing trip and b) when I discovered we were, I was in
bloody France, where you have almost NO HOPE of finding anything in
English – which you might in Holland or even Germany.  Fortunately I’ve
been rescued by the most unexpected of finds.  Firstly, in the kitchen in
La Mede was a library / book exchange of several hundred books – of which
a few were in English!  Score!  From there I acquired White Swans – which
I’ve wanted to read for years – and an anthology of spy stores, Le Carre
and the like.  Then in Ceyreste (of all places!) we found a book exchange
– a cupboard in the main square – which gave me a book (in French) on
healing herbs and how to use them.  Gibraltar provided a couple of
cookbooks I’ve mentioned earlier as well as some classical reading
including Machiavelli and a book on French verbs … doesn’t seem to have
changed the fact that my most used French word still appears to be merde …
Somehow in all that I managed to pick up a Robert Ludlum thriller so while
the reading isn’t perfect it’s been pretty ideal if you know what I mean.
Random … the most interesting book of course is one that I bought at
Frankfurt Airport; called Silk Roads by the scholar it’s very well worth a
read for an economic assessment of history and the impact of the Silk
Roads; particularly interesting in the current climate where we clearly
see the rise of China and the increasing wealth of nations such as
Khazakstan and Uzbekistan; contrasting with the fall of the American
empire and a good analysis of both the breakup of the British Empire and
the chaotic post WW2 foreign ‘policy’ that made the mess of the Middle
East that it is today.
Lots to think of between loaves.

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