Monday 17 September 2012

3rd Leg Day 10: The Big Cleanup, Last Puri And A RAS Exercise

RAS is an acronym for Replenishment At Sea. We did that today. We hailed a passing ship by the name of Carib Trader on the VHF radio and enquired about the weather. It transpired that we could expect some twenty to thirty knots of wind in the next sixteen to twenty hours. Not something to sneeze at.

The captain of the small container vessel then enquired after our well being and, after some short negotiations, gave us sixty liters of diesel fuel. Then the fun started. Our puny little catamaran is not up to the speeds that freight ships can do, so the captain of the freight ship hove to, allowing us to catch up. A line was passed to us,almost tethering the vessels, but not quite. Something to avoid. Two drums of diesel were then passed via the line, us hauling fiercely to take up the slack. The empty drums were passed to the ship in similar fashion, working the other direction. An interesting exercise. Luckily the sea was quite calm and flat, so the exercise was completed under safe conditions. No fingers pinched or thumbs amputated.

A very kind gesture from a fellow seafarer and we thank them for it.

We gave them our empty diesel drums in return.

The extra diesel now enables us to motor at 2500 rpm instead of 1600 rpm. So we are making way at 3.8 knots over the ground instead of just over one knot. I have to write the word “one” in letters to make it sound faster.. We are going at 5.2 knots through the water, but have a counter current yet again. Of just under 1.5 knots. No wonder we are running out of diesel.

Last Puri

Or is it khubz, perhaps? Today I made the last bread of the voyage. Literally. All the flour has now been consumed. I did not even bother to treat the sourdough nicely. I just fed it some rye flour and a little water after taking it out of the refrigerator, then left it in the cupboard for nine hours to wake up.

The oven has been decommissioned, so the bread had to be baked or fried in a pan. I chose to make a thin flat-bread, Even the flour mixture was sort of pot luck. I used all that was left over. I saved a cup or so for after the rise, that I may have some reserve in case the dough was hungry. It turned out that it was and it sucked up all the rest of the flour.

I fried the bread in a little cooking oil in the wok. Somewhere along the way I ran out of oil, so I popped in about half a pound of butter (250g). Call it Ziets' fast ghee. This lasted only just until the last slice was fried.

The bread had a delicious sour taste, along with the characteristic taste of rye. It is easy to make and no oven is required. And no bread knife required either. Incidentally, we forgot to bring a bread knife. Chalk up another score for flat-bread made on the hob.

This recipe is an adaptation of the one for khubz from Classic Sourdoughs, Revised by Ed and Jane Wood. It conforms also to an Indian style of making bread, hence the name Puri.


2 cups white bread flour

2 cups rye flour

½ cup brown bread flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup sourdough proof

1-2 cups water


Mix all the dry ingredients thoroughly. Then add the sourdough proof and mix through. Add some water. I used about half a cup in addition to the sourdough proof. It may have been too much, as the dough swallowed at lot of flour during kneading. Take it easy on the water and keep some flour in reserve.

Keep on mixing until the dough gets too firm to mix with a spoon, then turn out onto the kneading board and knead until the dough gets satiny. Cover the dough against drying out and leave to rise for around eight to twelve hours. Check for the doubling in volume, that is your key. Then turn out the dough on a floured kneading board and knead it back to the original volume. Leave to rest for at least an hour.

Pat and roll the dough into a long cylinder of about 50 mm (2 inches) thick. Cut the cylinder into two if it gets too long to roll on your kneading board.

Heat some oil in a wok or frying pan. Cut a small disk from the cylinder of dough, oil your hands and pat the disk into a ball. Roll it out to a 100-120 mm (4-5 inch) disk and fry it for a minute on neither side. The flatbread should go a nice golden colour. Remove it from the oil and drain on a paper towel. Repeat the process until all the dough has been used.

It is useful to do one at a time. It gives you time to prepare the next flatbread while its predecessor is frying in the pan. A nice one person production line.

These things are exceedingly hot when they come out of the oil, so watch your step with splashing and dripping of oil. I have some extra blisters now.

Bon appetit!

We had some interesting scenery on our way today. We passed a channel marker light standing on the northern side of the Bahama Channel. The interesting part is that it appears to stand all alone in the middle of the ocean, as much of the surrounding reefs are just submerged. So you see this lonely light on a small rock in the middle of nowhere.

We also saw some American warships as they passed us on their way. The narrow channel makes for interesting viewing. Also, an interesting life, as we are small fry and need to keep out of the way of the big ships. There is a separation scheme running here to prevent collisions  A collision in this neck of the woods could spell a disaster to the sensitive coral ecosystem around here. So we tread carefully and stay on the safe side of the channels. We have had enough interesting times already.

Today was also the day of the big cleaning exercise. We plan to make our landfall at Fort Lauderdale tomorrow, so this is it. No more leeway, literally. Everything has to be spotless. Dawid and I get to do the outside, while the skipper does the inside. Everything got removed from the cupboards and was stashed in boxes or plastic bags outside to get access to the cupboards for the cleaning. If you have ever moved house, this is what it looks like. And everything has to go into our bags or get dumped on arrival. Binary choice, no less.

And now the motions come out on just how attached we got to certain things and habits. I had to use the saloon table and our cutting board to knead and roll out the dough for the bread. The normal working surfaces used to be covered with some protective plastic, which now has been removed. So the working surfaces of old are now also decommissioned, just like the oven. And our living space is severely cramped, even extending to our cabins. All your personal stuff that used to live in the saloon for the last two months are now living quite comfortably next to you on your bed. And all of it have to go into your bags. It is now that we all learn to kick habits, make salvage or jettison decisions and stand by them. Perhaps a good psychological exercise for all of us. And perhaps also for those at home, except they will have to do it by proxy. Or perhaps a garage sale. Or a big spring cleaning. It is spring in South Africa after all.

This blog also linked to Yeastspotting!

Authored by Johan Zietsman
Last updated on 2013-01-18

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