Astra Blog: Galapagos to Marquesas (Part 5) 23.05.08 - 24.05.08

Jeremy & Sally Paul
Mon 26 May 2008 20:29

Astra Blog: Galapagos to Marquesas (Part 5) 23.05.08 – 24.05.08



Friday 23.05.08


While the rest of the crew members were tucked up in their bunks, George was conducting his 0200-0400 vigil from the safety of the galley. Being alone on deck at night can be perilous: he has learned that it is much safer to remain in easy reach of the biscuit tin. His normal nocturnal foraging was disrupted by an unfamiliar sound: not the crashing of an unattended sail; not the demanding beep of the auto-helm; not a quick burst from the bilge pump. Not being a ‘boat noise’ he ventured on deck to find the external cause of the disturbance of his midnight feast. The reason soon became apparent: perfectly illuminated by a gibbous moon was a large pod of rather noisy dolphins clamouring for attention.   


As George was weighed down with the tasks of co blog writing and performing calculations related to the incessant measuring of the sun’s altitude, Sally took over as ship’s baker. For some reason procuring bread flour and yeast was not straightforward in Panama so we possess both in all manner of different quantities and forms. Fortunately, bread maker extraordinaire, George’s Dad, was able to provide clarification by email and Sally’s first ever batch was an unmitigated success. 


We wiled away the afternoon in the standard way: a few games of chess, three games of Scrabble, reading, fishing and whale watching (the last two proved fruitless). And listening to music – mercifully, and almost miraculously, Lazarus (George’s ipod) seems to be functioning once more.   


Dinner saw Jeremy do little to substantiate his dubious claim of culinary incompetence. He served up a wonderful beef stew with mashed potatoes, carrots and beans. We suspect that his disingenuous protestations may have something to do with trying to keep galley-time to a minimum!


The wind still reluctant to play ball, we were forced to gybe onto starboard at 2200 to avoid going too far south. The moon having not yet risen, the sky was flooded with stars; The Plough to starboard and the Southern Cross to port confirmed our new westerly heading. Overhead, a glittery ribbon across the sky, The Milky Way competed with the dolphins and the beef stew for highlight of the day! 



Saturday 24.05.08


Pandemonium reigned across Jeremy’s early morning SSB radio net. The weather man had been on with his latest predictions and the forecast was foreboding: “There’s a storm on the way.” Storm? 10 on the Beaufort Scale? Isn’t that more than 48 knots? Clarification was sought: Is this a tropical cyclone? What wind speeds can we expect? It transpired that we should be on the look out for 15 knots of wind! After several balmy days, the prospect of this sort of ‘storm’ was very pleasing.


Sally decided that she would leapfrog George in the baking stakes; she upped the ante by making some fantastic pizzas for lunch. George retaliated by ascending to the second set of spreaders and challenging Sally to do the same. We might combine the activities and have an aerial bake-off.


To reassert her authority Sally did not hold back in the afternoon’s scrabble game, scoring 102 with a cannily placed “SQUARED”. She ended up with a score of 312, pretty good for a three player game.


The last few days had been pretty fish free so we were delighted when one of the reels began humming its familiar tune – yet another mahi mahi welcomed aboard by a swift gaffing through the head. We had been theorizing that our lack of success recently had been a result of the full moon. Clearly the moon had waned sufficiently for the fish to be interested in our lures once more. Next up, just before sundown, a rather larger specimen and the cause of much excitement: it was not a mahi mahi!


It was a good fighter and he was not going to come in without first causing what would have been a chaotic situation aboard a less well-oiled spinnaker-dropping, fish-slaying machine. A beautiful (in taste and appearance) 24lb skipjack tuna eventually yielded to our will. We calmed the fish into a state of inactivity with a deftly placed blade. Ideally we would have inserted some 300lb monofilament into the tuna’s neural canal (Tanaguchi method) in order to stop biochemical reactions which lead to a degeneration in the quality of the flesh. Not having this to hand we had to make do with cutting the fish’s head off and bleeding it into a bucket (The Astra method).


George and Ash had an impromptu sashimi party on the aft deck, not letting any of the titbits from the filleting process go to waste. Once the operation was complete we celebrated with more sashimi, this time with wasabi and soy sauces. Sally’s dinner plans of a lasagne had to go on hold and instead we had the fresh tuna, potatoes, onions and petits pois to celebrate hitting the three-quarter way point – only 741Nm left to go.    


PS Many thanks to Flore, Henry and Ben for the iPod related info. It has been hooked up to its 240V life support machine and seems to have made a full recovery. I might have to attempt one of your suggestions next time it decides to have a prolonged snooze.