Cooking at sea should be an Olympic sport – it’s very skilled, even for the simplest of meals! The constant rocking from side to side often means you are wedging and bracing yourself against the motion of the boat before you even start trying to juggle kettles, frying pans and handle pans of boiling water at precarious angles. The cooker is gimballed which means the top in theory should stay horizontal despite the angle of the boat and items on top should stay where you leave them – in practice at sea this doesn’t always happen! You cannot leave ingredients on the worktop even for a second, it will fly across to other side of the boat with the roll of the next wave, ending up in a sticky, broken mess.
We don’t have a strict Galley duty – whoever is up will prepare a meal – sometimes that’s Grace rather than an adult, she’s well practised at safely using the gas cooker and is happy to prepare things like scrambled egg and toast or egg and soldiers or noodles for herself and her sisters independently – (after writing this, the said competent ten year old left a jug of uncooked scrambled egg on the galley work top unattended, it of cause went flying and made a huge sticky mess everywhere – perhaps a little more supervision is necessary!!) There is a well stocked and accessible to children snack cupboard which they graze from during the day and nets hanging full of fruit that has been bought under ripe that will hopefully last the first half of this passage.
We have a small fridge on board and no freezer – so the meat we bought in Cape Verde was frozen to hopefully defrost gradually over the first week, we have salad too in the fridge which won’t last long out here in the warm temperatures – so that’s lunch everyday until it’s gone. We are very hopeful to catch some fish but have a very poor track record so far this trip – I though we’d be eating way more fresh fish and not buying so much meat this year but we just don’t seem to be able to catch anything significant.
Under the floorboards in the bilge of the boat is stacked can upon can and packet upon packet of canned, jarred and dried food – our supply’s for when the fresh stuff runs out. There is everything from tinned fruit and veg, to tinned meat and fish. I know at some point on this passage I am going to have to get quite creative with what I can produce from bilge pot luck! We have a small mountain of flour on board – if nothing else once the fresh oranges, apples, papaya and bananas have been consumed by my three little fruit locusts probably by day five, I know they will eat freshly baked bread, pancakes and the tinned peaches every day without complaint till we get there! I’ll deal with the vitamin deficiency on the other side!
Whoop for Wahoo!Thirteen days at sea and Six days into the fresh food having run out, everyone was getting a little sick of tinned bilge surprise and a little grumpy with it. So it was excellent timing that Will managed to land his first Wahoo of the trip. As the reel on the back of the boat started paying out rapidly the girls all yelled for their Dad, ‘fish,fish,fish!!!’ I motored the boat in astern to try and slow us down. William took the rod out of its holder and stated to play the fish, reeling it in gradually. It was strong and a real fighter, this fish did not want to be our dinner. The rod bent as the fish ducked and dived trying to shake itself off the hook. As it was reeled in closer to the surface we could start to see a glimpse of its beautiful colours – greens, blues and yellows. It thrashed from side to side, taking the odd surprising dive down trying desperately to get free, having realised its mistake in taking the lure far too late. As it broke the surface on the end of the line the girls were all yelling ‘don’t loose it daddy!!’ – no pressure! And finally it was aboard, still thrashing about and being pinned down by William. It’s always a little sad I think and the fish dies and those beautiful bright vivid colours fade and take on a much lesser hue.The girls all sat and watched, transfixed as William started to gut it and cut its head off and chop it into steaks – not at all squeamish, just accepting that is was part of having fish for supper. They were pretty annoyed when the head was chucked overboard before they felt they’d had enough time to examine it and they were surprised at the size and quantity of the gizzards having only seen much smaller fish gutted before. They were very surprised when a whole flying fish emerged when the head was cut off and even asked if we could eat that too! – curious not squeamish. It was simply pan fried and served with rice, a squeeze of lemon and a shake of soy sauce and it was delicious – a green salad and a glass of white wine would have been really nice, but the salad ran out long ago and we don’t drink when at sea so that will have to wait till were shore side! That wahoo gave us 18 good fat steaks and will feed us until we reach our landfall. We only fish when we have run out of other fresh food and we don’t fish again until that one has been eaten, that’s our general rule. It was worth the wait – everyone devoured it and there was a celebration that we weren’t having tinned hot dogs for supper!