Sunday 10 November 2013

Day 31: Hamburgers After A Month At Sea

We are now almost on the equator, having crossed the 1º south latitude line. However, we shall only cross the equator sometime tomorrow, as we are sailing more west than north.

My navigation studies are beginning to cast a light on my open ocean dead reckoning woes. In fact, just today I came across a statistical technique to compensate for some of the inaccuracies in the dead reckoning calculations.

The technique uses a method of calculating the differences between the dead reckoning and fix of the previous day or period, then use that as a sort of per definition "leeway" to adjust the subsequent dead reckoning position. You still end up with an error, but now it is smaller than at first.

This for dead reckoning. There is also an iterative method where one obtains a fix starting from an assumed position, i.e. the dead reckoning position. Then use the fix so obtained as an updated dead reckoning assumed position for a next iteration. This method will also converge mathematically and provide a more precise fix, according to the author. I shall certainly make use of this technique.

The text book also sets out a method to obtain UTC from such observations to set your navigation clock to the correct time. The book is Emergency Navigation, Second Edition by David Burch. I have an electronic copy. The book is well worth reading for anyone planning a long distance voyage and planning to cross oceans.

As an interesting aside, the author of the book proposes that a backup sextant should be part of the emergency navigation equipment. He then continues by suggesting a cheap plastic sextant by brand name. Which, incidentally, is the exact instrument that I am using as my main navigational instrument. It seems ironic, but my results are quite accurate and precise due to the rigorous procedure I follow and the multiple readings that I take. This procedure averages out most of the operator induced and instrument errors.

Chalk up one for perseverance.

After studying the methods in this book and dutifully applying them, my navigational error went from double figures yesterday to a single mile today. The calmer sea also helped, but it pays to understand the type and origin of the errors in the data are that you are dealing with.

The tropical weather has now turned upon us with a fury. I sit almost in a puddle of sweat, in spite of the open windows in the saloon an the breeze blowing through. It has become very humid during the afternoon.

Today we have been at sea for just over a month. Five weeks, to be more accurate. The crew decided it was time for a hamburger. Hamburger Friday, so to speak.

So we made hamburgers for dinner. Complete with the requisite juicy sauces. In this case it was a tomato relish made from a can of tomatoes, and a cheesy mushroom sauce. The mushroom sauce was areal home-grown version using rehydrated dried shitake mushrooms in a home made white sauce. The sauce was augmented with some grated cheese.

A wonderful dinner. The skipper and I each had two, for which we were rewarded on short notice with that overindulgence bloated feeling. Luckily the sea is still a bit bumpy, so the food soon settled and the feeling went away.

We used freshly baked rolls for the hamburgers. Baked today from one of my standard mixed flour recipes.

Hamburger Rolls Ingredients

2 cups stone ground unbleached brown bread flour

2 ½ cups stone ground unbleached white bread flour

2 dessert spoons sugar

3 dessert spoons milk powder. Not coffee creamer, please. Pretty please.

1 ½ teaspoons salt

1 dessert spoon vegetable fat or shortening

1-2 cups water

10 gram (1 sachet) instant yeast

some cooking oil for patting the dough.


Mix all the dry ingredients thoroughly. Mix in half of the water, then add a little at a time until the dough has the right consistency. It should be quite soft and pliable, but not sticky and runny. Allow the dough to rest and the gluten to form. Five minutes should do it. Now add the vegetable fat or shortening and mix thoroughly. Turn the dough out on a kneading board and continue by folding and pressing the dough flat. Continue this for ten minutes. The dough should become satiny and nice and elastic.

Pat the dough with some oil against drying out, cover and leave to rise for 1 – 1 ½ hours. The dough should double in volume during this time. Turn the dough out on a floured kneading board and knead down to the original volume. Allow to rise for another hour or until doubled in volume again.

Turn it out on a floured kneading board an commence to shape the dough into the final shape. Here we divided the dough into twelve balls and left them to rise while the oven heated up. We have an ambient temperature of over 30ºC, so the rising went fast.

Bake the rolls at 190ºC/ 350ºF for twenty minutes. We have a small oven on board, so the baking was done in two batches. Turn the rolls out on a cooling rack and allow to cool for at least twenty minutes. The rolls cool faster than a loaf because they are thinner than a loaf.

And remember to use real butter.

Please. Again.

These rolls came out quite soft, with a well developed spongy crumb and a few large fermentation holes. As dinner rolls should be. Or hamburger rolls.

Bon appetit!



This post also linked to Yeastspotting!


Authored by Johan Zietsman


Last updated on 2013-10-25

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