Blink and We’ll Miss It

14th  August

32 35N, 047 08W.

I thought there was supposed to be a solar eclipse today in this part of
the world.  I must have got it wrong; if not it sure hasn’t happened yet
and it’s two in the afternoon.  Perhaps I’m being impatient.  Perhaps I
just got it wrong.  Incredible how we miss Google.  Probably more than
most of the people we know …..

Even without Google right now life is very very sweet.  I’m back on my
favourite watch; 4am; which means I get to watch the sun come up (and how
I know I haven’t missed this eclipse thing).  As we are constantly
changing time zones it’s now getting light early again; around 5, so it’s
a lovely time to be awake.  As we’ve also totally changed direction in the
six days since I was on this watch, it’s great to see the sun rise over
our starboard back instead of port, which is where it was less than a week
ago.  It’s a completely beautiful sunrise; and I get some good photos of
the Genie asleep in the hammock against the backdrop of the roseate dawn …
Ah those hammocks!  Bliss!  They finally went up just a few days ago; the
fulfillment of 10 years of dreaming about them; and they are every bit as
good as I had hoped they would be.  I’m in one now; laptop and all …
finding inspiration, as the GC says, it’s easy!

We are totally becalmed in the infamous doldrums; but having virtuously
conserved our fuel so far the GC has pulled down all sails except the main
and turned on both engines.  We are in for this for today and tomorrow it
would appear so we are settling down to enjoy it to the max.
The sea is like a blue silk scarf.  If you had ever told me that the
Atlantic could be so still and lake like; I would have scoffed.  Even this
morning, when it was already flat and still, there was still discernable
swell and the surface of the water looked like nothing more than a massive
expanse of flint knapped stone … if you’ve ever seen that surface,
multiply it by infinity; the sea looked like pieces of glass or obsidian;
in it’s rest it still looked like you shouldn’t dice with it.  Now; a few
hours later, it’s so soft and smooth it’s hard to believe it’s real.  We
are surrounded by cumulo-cirrus clouds and have sailed through a rain
shower (can you believe it, our first since La Mede, two months ago?) and
can see other showers here and there over in the distance, softer grey
against the blue sea and the horizon.  A small piece of rainbow lights up
one cloud.

The odd flying fish skips away and we’ve managed to salvage a couple of
floating fenders; the last one ‘Made in Canada’ … we are really close.
Actually this morning we passed the latitude of Bermuda; but are 900 miles
to the East so won’t quite be dropping in.

This idyll (which would have been hideous without our faithful engines;
it’s also 35 degrees!) won’t last beyond these two days.  Once we get out
of this area we should hit 20 knots of south west winds which will have us
screaming for SPM.  In the meantime we are making the most of the dry deck
and the fact that we can open all the hatches; everything is drying out;
bilges have been vacuumed; the boys are waterproofing around the outside
of the galley with Sikkaflex to make sure we stay drier inside and we even
washed the galley floor with FRESH WATER …   ohhhhhhh how nice that feels
underfoot.  Not a gumboot on a foot; what joy.  It’s hard to think that in
just a few days we will have to be rugged up for 18 to 20 degrees – the
last few days have been the warmest of our journey by a long shot.  For
the moment though we are all in swimmers; even the GC … a red letter day
indeed.

Can’t let an entry go by without talking about food.  Today we ate our
last tomato from La Ciotat.  That’s right, tomatoes I bought a month ago
from the market.  I also still have two zucchini and an eggplant as well
as a couple bunches of carrots; all from those markets.  By contrast;
almost every single vegetable that I bought at the supermarket in La Linea
was rotten within days without refrigeration.  Such a stark demonstration
of how absolutely rubbish the food chain of the so called ‘developed
world’  really is.  The freshness and ‘keepability’ of veggies from a
market that are really fresh and have never been refrigerated is just
staggering.  Yes, I kept them really carefully, in a net in a cool place
in the hull; wrapped individually in paper (and the carrots wrapped in
foil packets with the ends open, weird I know but recommended by the Boat
Galley lady and she seems to know her stuff; it certainly works) But
still.  A month.  That’s pretty serious keeping.

Talking about the Boat Galley lady, I owe her an apology.  Don’t know if
you remember that I said that the souring cream trick didn’t work?  I was
wrong.  I decided to try it again (she has never ever let me down on
anything else so … maybe I just needed to use more vinegar?  Indeed,
that’s the trick.  Two teaspoons of vinegar in normal pouring cream
produces perfect sour cream.  Now if that isn’t a life hack I could have
done with over the last 20 years or so I don’t know what is.  All those
hours wasted in Oman driving from supermarket to supermarket looking for
bloody sour cream!  And then having to buy it in like a litre container
because that’s all that’s available, and at the price of platinum … all
because tacos were on the menu that night.

FFS; people, I will NEVER buy sour cream again; and neither should you bother.  Crème fraiche maybe; commercial sour cream?  Never.  Two teaspoons of ordinary common or garden jellyfish-sting curing white vinegar in 200 ml of plain cream.  Try it.
Yesterday being Sunday and therefore Chicken Day, we had roast chicken for
lunch.  Go on, ask me how; given I have no freezer and we left port ten
days ago … Seriously though the range and quality of cryovacced stuff with
the most incredible use by dates available in the Spanish supermarkets
have really done us well.  Combined with a salad of potato; apple; celery;
radish and shallot (with my Caesar salad dressing!) was a proper Sunday
lunch.  We had declared a fish free day so dinner was another veggie bake.

We need a rest from all the protein sometimes.

Tonight it’s back to the Fish of the Day challenge.  It’s time for Omani
Fish Curry!

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