Sunday 16 September 2012

3rd Leg Day 3: Headwinds, Counter Currents and Fish Curry

We battled through the night against the wind and against the currents. I have not experienced anything like this before.

We passed into the North Atlantic Ocean again via The Narrows late yesterday afternoon, en route to Puerto Rico. We came close to the island, then encountered a head wind tht forced us to furl away the sail completely and motor along. Suddenly we were moving at one knot. I checked the engine revs, checked behind us in the wake for anything that maight have caught on the rudders and dragging along. Then I put the engine in idle and out of gear. Then we were moving sideways at a knot. Quite disconcerting in the middle of the night. The engine revs were put up to a decent nick and then we managed to move along at just over two knots. And so we motored laboriously for most of the day.

The verdict was a heavy current out of the North Atlantic into the Puerto Rico Basin. This current dominated our day until after lunch. Our daily run came to the princely total of ninety nautical miles. I write it in words to make it sound a bit further. Dismal and enervating, but there you have it. The words “head winds” and “counter currents” take on a whole new meaning. Being in sight of the land doesn't help much either. You start off on your watch looking at a lighthouse on land. Then, at the end of your next watch nine hours later, you are still seeing the same lighthouse. Not funny.

The day was quite nice otherwise. Discussing the heat of the day seems a bit bland, as it is still very hot. We still have to check the engine fuel filters for water, as well as the coolant, every three hours. And we still get water in the fuel. Fiddlesticks!

The weather seems to be clearing a bit and the wind is veering into the north-east sector of the compass, which suits us to a T. We may just be able to raise the mainsail in a few hours' time if the wind veers some more. It has been freshening all through the day, which is also good. Perchance we may be able to sail at over six knots again.

Our bit of excitement came from a naval exercise by the US Navy. We had to motor around the exercise area. Also we were entertained by the US Coast Guard and their frequent bulletins on VHF channel 16, giving the co-ordinates of the exercise area for us civilians to stay clear.

Today was my turn at the galley again. The choices of meals are beginning to be very narrow, verging on almost binary. As in take it or leave it. This shows the voyage is drawing to an end.

We still have some fish, so it was fish curry and rice.

Last Legs Fish Curry


400 g fish fillets, cubed. I used Dorado, also known as Mahi Mahi around these parts.

1 onion, chopped

2 small Jamaican hot pepper chilis, chopped. I got these in St Maarten, as ours from Cape Town had started fermenting and had to be ditched.

1 dessert spoon masala powder

½ teaspoon cumin powder

½ teaspoon whole coriander seeds

1 star aniseed

¼ teaspoon aniseed seeds

¼ teaspoon fenugreek seeds

1 small stick cinnamon bark

½ cup lentils. Brown or black lentils are good. This is for some bulk in the fish part of the dish.

1 envelope coconut powder

some salt

1 teaspoon gharum masala

½ cup frozen garden peas

dollop of cooking oil

1 dessert spoon butter

1¼ cup rice

½ teaspoon saffron essence


Cook the rice in enough water to just absorb all of it. Add a ½ teaspoon of saffron essence and some salt as requied.

Start with a dry frying pan, Fry the whole spices until the flavour comes out, then add a dollop of cooking oil and the butter. Heat the oil and butter to medium hot, then add the onion and the chopped chilis. Fry the onion until it is glassy, the add the dry powder spices. Keep the gharum masala for later. Fry for a minute, then add the fish. Fry the fish until it is nice and brown, then remove from the pan. Add the coconut powder, dissolved in half a cup of water, and the lentils. Simmer these until the lentils are almost done, then add the fish back to get the flavours mixed properly.

Lastly, add the garden peas and the gharum masala and simmer for another five minutes, before turning off the heat.

Let the dish rest for a few minutes before dishing up.

Bon appetit!

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

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