Tuesday 4 September 2012

2nd Leg Day 12: Hand Steering and A Raisin Sourdough Loaf

 Yes, the vagaries of electronic engineering and software stability struck yet again. At a most inopportune time on this occasion. The autohelm lost its mind completely this afternoon. In weather that can only be described as uncomfortable. Large choppy swells, the odd one some four meters high. A wind of around 20 knots, gusting 25, cloudy and rainy weather with squalls to boot.

Of course, the day did not start this way, it just developed into this situation. The day dawned on cloudy skies with squalls. We did not see the sun come up this morning. It was actually tolerable, given that it is quite warm out here. Even the sea water is warm. Then the weather took a turn for the worse and we had a rough time for a while, being tossed about in the saloon.

I was kept quite busy during my watch, trimming the sails and making steering adjustments, especially during the last half hour. Small course adjustments on the autopilot are required to keep the sail from gybing. We had the wind directly behind us, which makes it very difficult to steer in choppy seas. The swells cause the boat to yaw, which in turn causes a gybe if you are not careful. We had lots of squalls approaching, the result of which is that we motored the rest of the day, as the wind strength and direction varies significantly during squalls and makes sailing nigh impossible in the direction we need to go.

Then, around the middle of the day, the autohelm lost its memory and all the control settings. For the second time. On the first occasion, we had calmer seas and could get a modicum of control back by performing a factory reset tot he equipment. Alas, this did not work this time around. We did not contact the factory, as we had already exhausted their expertise on the first occasion of failure. After trying all sorts of resets and different settings, including using the advice obtained on the previous occasion, Renier decided to switch off the equipment completely. Thenceforth we were again back in the time before GPS equipment and autopilots. This time it was worse. We had to steer the boat by hand in these heavy seas. Not something to look forward to.

I had a quiet time after my spell of watch duty in the morning, before the fun and games started. I used this to attend to my baking efforts. The dough that I started last night had risen beautifully during the night. Now it was time to knead it down, let it rest, then shape and bake it. I managed all of my work on this on short order and let the dough rise for another two hours.

Oats and Raisin Sourdough Loaf

Adapted from a recipe in Classic Sourdoughs Revised by Ed Wood and Jean Wood


For the starter sponge:

½ to 1 cup sourdough

1 cup rye flour

½ cup water

For the rest of the loaf:

2 cups white bread flour (or AP flour, if you live in the USA)

1 cup rolled oats

2 dessert spoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon salt

¼ cup milk

½ cup raisins

¾ cup water


For the starter sponge, mix the ingredients and let it proof for 8-12 hours.

For the rest of the loaf, mix all the dry ingredients, keeping 1 cup of flour aside. Add the milk, water and sourdough proof. Mix in a large bowl, adding the rest of the flour a littlle at a time. Continue to add flour until the dough gets too toughy to mix with a spoon, then turn out onto a well floured surface and knead for ten minutes. The dough should now be left to rise for 8-12 hours or until it has at least doubled in size. Make sure to cover it lest it dries out. Turn it out of the container onto a floured surface and leave to rest for half an hour. Then knead it down and leave to rest for another two hours. Pat into shape and bake as per your favourite baking regime.

I used the following baking process:

The oven was set to 190ºC/400ºF, the loaf put in and the oven lit. Forty minutes later the oven was turned off and kept closed for another twenty minutes. The loaf was then removed to a rack to cool down. Then half of it was promptly consumed.

Promptly in this case means about fifteen minutes.

It was also my turn at galley duty today. I made a beef mince stirfy with scallop noodles and vegetables. A very simple dish, using one pot for cooking the noodles, and a wok.

Beef mince stirfy with scallop noodles and vegetables


400g lean beef mince

1 onion, chopped

1 medium size Thai chili, chopped

1 teaspoon chopped garlic

dash of soy sauce

For the stirfry vegetables

Slice of cabbbage, chopped, making up two and a half to three cups

1 onion, coarsely chopped

2 carrots, julienned

1 cup fresh sprouts. I used some fenugreek and mung bean sprouts

Some frozen stirfy vegetables

½ cup frozen peas

1 ½ cup scallop noodles, cooked. You can use any type. I used these because then you can eat the dish with a fork or a spoon. Something to consider when aboard a small yacht in stormy seas.


Fry the onion, garlic and chili in a dollop of oil in the wok. Add the beef mince when the onion is glassy and starts to turn brown. Fry the beef mince until it is brown, then garnish with a dash of soy sauce. Then remove it from the wok and keep to one side.

Oil the wok lightly and add the rest of the vegetables. Stir fry this until the carrots are al dente, then add the meat back to the dish. Mix thoroughly, add the cooked scallop noodles and check for salt. Then dish up.

Extremely simple and tasty to boot.

This blog also linked to Yeastspotting!

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

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