Sunday 16 September 2012

3rd Leg Day 6: A Flare Over An Oily Sea and Sticky Spicy Fish

The day again dawned sweltering hot. A portetn of things to come. The breeze that sprung up yesterday petered out to nothing during the night. We had just over seven hours' worth of sailing, saving us some diesel.

Today we motored the whole day. There was a lot of intermitttent counter currents. Rather like a snake coilining and uncoiling, writhing on the ground, with us on top. Or perhaps us floating on a gigantic saucepan of water that is just short of boiling. The water in turbulence, but not so that you get bumped around, just slewing the boat here and there. And adding to our diesel fuel consumption. Very worrying when you consider our diesel supplies.

From an artistic aspect, the sea has this oily, lazy look. The water is an indescribably blue colour and crystal clear. Towards afternoon, when the sun was before the mast, the aft deck gave some shelter against the blaze and we took some comfort there. At least you could feel some breeze there. We took turns to sit on the starboard pontoon aft deck in the shade offerered by the bimini top. The aft portion of the deck is just clear of the water and you can hang your feet in the water. The water has this tepid temperature, much like lukewarm tea. But it does provide some modicum of cooling. But more, it provides a soothing foot massage, as the boat is rocking gently in the small swell, so your feet get pulled out of the water every so often. A very calming effect, somewhat therapeutic.

Surprisingly, there is not much traffic in this vicinity. This in spite of being a relatively narrow seaway. The skipper says it is normal and that one sees a little more traffic in the Bahamas channel hugging the north coast of Cuba.

During late afternoon we saw a rocket flare against the clear sky. We diverted to render assistance. After three hours we resumed our voyage. There was no radio traffic, no response from other vessels and the sea is flat calm. We assumed some pranks from fishermen or a ship over the horizon. In any event, we found nothing. A bit perturbing experience in this neck of the woods with the threat of piracy too.

Yesterday we started the last big clean-up and did the stainless steel spit & polish thing. We also washed some of our mooring lines that got very dirty on the mooring at St Maarten. We soaked them for a few hours in fresh water and some washing powder. Then we scrubbed them using a scrubbing brush we bought for exactly this job. Then the lines were streamed in the wake for a rinse, turning them around after a few minutes. By this morning they were dry. Now they are as white as anything, causing a glare on the aft deck.

Goodness, I am sounding like a cheap TV ad!

The sea is flat calm and by this afternoon we had left behind the last of the counter currents for the next day or so. Rather, we hope so. It chewed our diesel. We get the idea that there may be lots of eddy currents from the bays on the island next to us, where the Dominican Republic and Haiti is situated. I think the island used to be called Hispaniola.

It was my turn at the galley again. We are on the last legs of the freezer's contents, so in the dying throes of the voyage all the dinners are last legs dishes. The choice of ingredients is dimishing very fast to a binary situation. Makes for interesting creativity. Today was no exception. I made sticky spicy fish with plain rice and caramel butternut. No sauce or gravy with the rice. The spice mix is from National Foods in Karachi. I obtained this from my local spice shop in Gordon's Bay. Your local spice shop catering for the Muslim community will have it.

Sticky Spicy Fish


For the fish

400g fish fillets, cubed into lsrge cubes. I used Dorado. Mahi mahi for the Caribs.

½ packet of fried fish mix.

1 teaspoon fresh chopped garlic

dollop of lemon juice

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup water

½ cup flour. I used white bread flour, as this is what I have.

Some cooking oil or ghee, as required. The recipe calls for deep oil, but we have a dearth, so I used shallow oil in a wok.

For the butternut

½ butternut, cubed

Some cinnamon bark

2-3 dessert spoons sugar


For the fish

Mix the lemon juice, salt and some of the masla mix. Marinate the fish in this for 30 minutes. Make a paste of water, ½ teaspoon of salt and the flour. Dip the fish cubes in the flour paste to cover it completely, then fry it in the oil. I put the fried cubes on a plate with a paper towel to drain the excess oil.

For the butternut

Cut the butternut into cunes after peeling it with a potato peeler. Put this in a pot withabout 1- 1½ cups of water. Add the sugar and the cinnamon bark. Simmer until the water has boiled off and the sugar has caramelised.

The rice you boil as normal.

Bon apettit!

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

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