Wednesday 23 July 2014

On The Road Again

Or would “All At Sea” be a better title?

Whatever the case, we are on our way again on this Odyssey to deliver the boat to Harbour Island, Gordon's Bay. The last few days were quite hectic, with Tony packing in as much of the Madagascar experience as possible.

We dived in several spots and fished on our way wherever we went. With a modicum of success. But this level of activity takes its toll and we were all quite exhausted by the time we had the boat provisioned for the voyage to Durban. Then it was time to see Tony and Marjo off before we slipped our mooring lines and were on our way.

We were so eager to go that we opted to stop at Russian Bay again to clean the water line of all the growth of the last two weeks. The marina where we were moored had a vibe that was just too depressing and the water were a bit murky. There was a muddy bottom after all.

In contrast, Russian Bay has the most beautiful beaches and a sandy bottom to drop your anchor. The water is clean and warm, making it a pleasure to hop in the water to clean the hulls.

This last indulgence quickly came to an end and half an hour later we hoisted anchor and said goodbye to this beautiful place. This time for good.

I now fully understand the inner conflict that some sailors have of casting off and leaving versus staying another day. Or perhaps even longer.

We met an American sailor who has been on an extended cruise since 2004. This cruising life grows on you.  And this area has so many beautiful places to visit that it will keep you busy for years. The sea is flat and the wind mild. The conditions are so benign that you find the local fishermen in their little sailing canoes quite far out to sea. They go about their daily toil without batting an eyelid, sailing and paddling several miles out to sea to their favourite fishing spot.

This may sound weird, but here you do get reefs quite far out to sea, where the water is about ten meters deep with some drop-off cliffs. This is where you find the game fish that these fishermen are after.

This voyage has been filled with so many activities that my blog posts had to take a second place for the time being. But now we are on a watch-keeping schedule and things have quieted down, allowing some free time for recording my experiences.

I picked up quite a few culinary skills on this trip. These include cooking prawns, something that I have never done but was on my bucket list. The basic trick to get crispy prawns is to have them completely dry, then dusted with a bit of flour before frying them in butter and oil. Easy, if you know about the dryness requirement. And these came out the best I have ever tasted.

Another quick salad idea also came up. A three bean salad, “sousboontjies” for my Afrikaans readers. Normally made from dry beans soaked overnight, then cooked to a mush, this one is a lot easier.

Start with a small onion, a slice of sweet pepper and a knob of garlic, mashed. Fry these in light oil until theonions are translucent. Then add two cans of beans, e.g. red kidney beans and baked beans and cook these slowly for ten minutes. You may add some vinegar if you want to. Definitely add some sugar, say two table spoons. Stir the pot to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan and burns. Voila! Sousboontjies! Very easy, even if it is a bit of a cheat. The cooking makes the beans more digestable. If the sauce is too thin, simply mash some of the beans with a fork and put them back in the pan. Thicken to taste.

Now as I sit here writing these words, my heart feels lighter and there is a feeling of elation. The cruise part is a wonderful experience, but the ocean crossing is what draws me. Going somewhere, seeing only blue water for days on end.

This gives an emotional freedom that one normally would not even dream about.

Tonight there is no moon yet.  The wind just died and I had to furl the jib away. The sea is flat. The milky way makes a light path on the water. For me, this is therapeutic. Meditation time on watch.

I am almost out of words.

May there be more of this!

Authored by Johan Zietsman

Last updated on 2014-07-01

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