Tuesday 31 July 2012

Day Three: Endless Summer and Sourdough

Day three dawned on a magnificent blue ocean, hardly any swell and an open sky. Not a cloud in sight. The barometer showed 1020 hPa, a high pressure. The wind was on our bow, so we are motoring. We are just west of Port Nolloth, a small harbour on the west coast of the Namaqualand region of South Africa. What a change from the misty drab grey skies of Cape Town when we left.

Our sprout growing experiment seems to be bearing fruit, literally. All the seeds have sprouted. Now we wait for them to grow a bit bit bigger before we shall consume them. Perhaps with two minute noodles and some canned tuna. Perhaps we may even catch a tuna, we have the lines out. Then we can have fresh tuna mayonnaise and sprouts with the noodles. Or perhaps just sashimi with soy sauce and wasabi. Till it runs out of our ears. Whatever the case, it is really reassuring to know that we can have fresh vegetables every day.

I also started a rye sponge to bake bread in the morning. This looks likely to be another success. The rye sourdough that I brought from home appears to be quite happy to sit in the bottom of the cupboard where it is relatively cool. It has slowed down on fermentation, but hasn't gone into hybernation, so to speak. I shall keep a beady eye on its health and put it in the fridge when we get into the tropics. Our ambient temperature on board is around 18ºC/64ºF. This relatively low temperature may work wonders for yeast development, slowing down the growth of lactobacilli so that the balance of yeast to lactobacilli will be good. I fed the remaining sourdough yeast with rye flour and am expecting it to grow the wild rye yeast aggressively.

The bread sponge starter was made with half a cup of rye flour and some water added to the sourdough. This I made into a soft paste. Now we wait.

The weather is so fine that I am contemplating starting navigation lessons for the rest of the crew. I use the word contemplating, because all of us are still settling into the routine on board. The calm sea does wonders to help this along. All of us are getting proper sleep and rest and the routine on board is developing a nice calm rhythm.

Last night on watch duty was good. Twelve to three in the morning. One gets forced into a de facto meditation situation, which detoxifies the mind and spirit. There is hardly any traffic, the wind is light, the sea is calm and the skies clear. The milky way casts a light path on the water, both sides of the boat. Every now and then some chokka (squid) casts a light as the boat passes, rather like a camera flash going off. On my first Atlantic crossing I did not know what it was and was a bit scared the first time I saw it. Now it is a welcoming back gesture from the sea. All the old familiar experiences folding about you like a glove.

T E Lawrence ( Yes, the Lawrence of Arabia) writes in Seven Pillars of Wisdom that the Bedouins believe in God through their experience of the desert. They don't go to church or do the Western style thing of worship. To them, God is evident in everything around them and there is no need for worship in a building, so to speak. Their God lies in their experience of their world through their eyes, ears, touch and feel. I get the idea that things at sea go pretty much in the same vein. No need to dress up and worship in a church. There is much of God about us. If you don't believe in God, think Karma. And the voyage is somewhat of a sacrifice in itself. Yes, you take all the food and drink and fuel that you think you need. But you are cut off from the world in other senses and have to fend for yourself. Especially in looking after the boat. For if you don't, dire things will happen at all sorts of inconvenient times and places. And your dependency on the world around you is pretty obvious from the moment you leave harbour. If the sea is not calm, you will sleep fitfully if at all. And your endurance may be tested to the limit. Not something that you will experience around your methinks.

So here we sit, enjoying the sun, albeit in a somewhat cool breeze. We are listening to Maria callas and Ella Fitzgerald and Tom Jones. And more. A balm to the soul, with the motor droning quietly away at its labours of pushing us along.

This blog post also linked to Yeastspotting!

Authored by Johan Zietsman
Last updated on 2012-12-12

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