Pirates, parrots and porridge
Finally! The day we on Invest Africa have been waiting for... International Speak Like a Pirate Day..we can finally express ourselves in our true language...arrrrghh! Cap'n “Dark Heart” Ricarcdo greeted us at UTC zero hundred in the full regalia...and we also in true pirate stylee started our 24 hour period of what the crew like to call “Stealth” but what we pirates know is our normal living in the shadows.
So never you fear all of you back on shore following our progress...we have not disappeared… It's all part of our grand scheme to seize the bullion at that land far away they call “Rio”.
We've had another busy day...fellow pirates have been hoisted up the mast; ropes have been mended; sails have been changed and a passing heavy rain storm has allowed even us hardened mariners the opportunity to take an impromptu shower up on desk…quite a sight! The heat is really building now with the off watch down below during the day being particularly sweltering...and we know we have far more to go when we reach the Equator and the dreaded Doldrums! Still everyone continues to work hard to push the boat hard and capitalise on the gains we have made over the past few days…we pirates don't like to lose ya know.....arghhhhh.
The day started halfway through the 10pm-2am watch. It was a beautiful evening: the almost full moon provided enough light to make it look like early morning; every now and then it got a bit darker when a thin cloud drifted in front of the moon. The boat was speeding along at double figures in the warm wind and seeing the Invest Africa on the fully filled medium weight spinnaker in the moonlight made one feel proud of the boat and of what we are busy with. The practice we all had on helming in such conditions the past number of days paid of, and the sail never collapsed or flogged during the evening.
Communication between the helm, trimmer, grinder and easer was quick, clear and effective to ensure the boat maintains good speed in conditions where waves move it around constantly and the wind has a little change in direction up its leave every now and then.
As for the past weeks it was just us in the big ocean, with no other boats of lights in sight. The only signs of other life were the little schools of flying-fish which broke the surface every now and then, flying several metres over the water and then dive back into the water. Maybe one should rather call them swarms of flying fish, at least during the time that they are in the air. Unfortunately, every now and then, one gets a bit carried away and land on the deck, or even worse, fly right into Percy, the plastic parrot which enjoys a ride around the world on the back of the boat, causing a puncture. This is the only reason we can think of for finding Percy hanging all floppy on the back of the boat this morning. Helen was quick to sort that out.
The pleasant evening on the deck was in a sharp contrast with the conditions below deck. Everyday, as we head further south, there is a steady increase in the temperature and humidity. Although it has reach somewhat uncomfortable levels already, the best way to treat it at the moment is to pay not too much attention....the real warm weather is yet to come! And after all, things are all relative. After sweating for some hours in the engine room, still like a little sauna after the engine was run to charge the batteries, to do some work on the generator, it actually felt quite pleasant in the other areas below deck! The increase in temperature is also reflected in the increase of water consumption.
When the water maker is running well, one can see the inlet hose expanding slowly as the pressure builds up, and then quickly decrease to normal size as the water is pressured with a hissing sound through the water maker membrane.
With a small stretch of the imagination it almost looks like a slow heart beating. To fill one of the water tanks takes about half a day. There is always a bit of a relief if all goes well and the tank is full.
We were greeted by another beautiful sunrise and much lighter winds. Trimming the medium weight became now more of a fine tuning process. The calmer conditions gave us the opportunity to do some work on the unused spinnaker halyard. During the course of the morning we also had a perfect example of a squall coming through. It started off with a thin, pitch black line of the horizon below some heavy clouds. Every thing was prepared to dropped the spinnaker quickly if required. Skipper Rich, still partly dressed as a pirate, was at the helm and talked us though what was happening.
The black line on the horizon became bigger and came closer. The wind picked up suddenly. The plan was to use this wind, if possible, to outrun the squall.
This was achieved, but we still got quite a bit of rain on deck. This was put to good use in the form of fresh water showers by quite a few of the crew. The rest of the day we passed a few more squalls, also using the radar to make sure we avoid them best as possible.
I thought I will write something about the food we are eating. For this blog, I will tell a bit about the variety of meals we have every day. The menu repeats every 8 days. Combine this with the mother watch (the people responsible for preparing the food) which rotates every 10 days, and one has a situation where the same meal always gets prepared by someone else.
This inevitably leads to the most remarkable outcomes to the same recipe; and I am not even talking about the possibility of adding left over ingredients from a previous day, or making substitutions when some ingredient is missing. To illustrate this interesting phenomenon I will limit myself to different variations one sees in the humble porridge, cooked very morning, but never two days in a row by the same person.
First of all, the porridge can be made using water, milk or half milk and half water. Whatever liquid is used, the consistency can roughly be classified as runny, semi-runny, semi-stiff and stiff. Each of these variations is then also available in with lumps or without. And there you have it, 24 different possible variations of porridge, and we have not even talked about condiments like sugar, honey, syrup etc. You can only imagine what interesting variations we have seen so far on the Cottage Pie, Thai Chicken Curry, Chilli Con Carne, Mushroom and Chorizo Risotto, Salmon Couscous and White and Brown breads to name but a few.