Week 3 into isolation and I realise that this is both like and completely opposite to cruising.
I am in Sydney in a one bedroom apartment alone, the two rooms are both less than 4m squared but I do have a small balcony and an ocean view. While I can go outside to exercise or to shop I am mostly in this small space. Very similar to an extended time away from a port.
There is however easy access to the shops and to fresh food. I have a small freezer and a reasonable size fridge. Very different to life on board, particularly when travelling.
Company is mainly at a distance or from the birds – now that is just about the same.
Rinse the lentils thoroughly and place in saucepan on a medium heat. Once lentils have started to soften (around 10 mins at a rolling boil) add in the tin of tomatoes, tomato paste, two teaspoons of Worcester sauce, one flat teaspoon of hot English mustard and a heaped teaspoon of Italian herbs. Simmer for 15 mins and turn off heat.
Serve over pasta with a sprinkle of parmesan.
This sauce improves overnight so I will often make up a batch to do several meals. It works well for lasagne and as a tomato base for pizza.
2018 brought change. Most of the story isn’t relevant here but one piece is, and that is that I have a new galley. April I saw the boat for the first time, May was sea trials and surveys and 6 June she was mine.
I arrived on board fresh from a flight Sydney to Hobart at 10.30 on a winter morning, excited and nervous. I was planning to spend the next four days and nights getting to know my new home. I looked around, faced the galley and realised that all that I had on board was 6 wine glasses and 6 mugs.
I turned around and headed for the shops immediately. First I had to find the shops – I didn’t know Hobart then – and on the way I was making a mental shopping list. Tea, coffee, sugar, milk, kettle, blankets, sheets, pillows, frying pan, saucepan, cheese, beans, wine…
The first shop I found was an Indian spice shop so, of course, I bought red lentils, mungbean lentils and packs of spices. Then I found a department store and a supermarket and bought those things that were actually on my list. Back to the boat and I started to feather my new nest.
Preparing for an 8 month cruise from Panama to New Zealand involves a lot of planning and a lot of food shopping.
April to November = 244 days = 732 meals for two, plus snacks and entertaining.
I had kept a food diary for the four weeks between Margarita and Bonaire. We were sailing between the small offshore islands of Venezuela which were uninhabited other than small fishing camps and so this was an opportunity to test my provisioning skills.
I analysed the meals by ingredients and came up with the quantities of all of the staples we would need to see us through – then added contingency. It made an overwhelming list, 25 tins of tomato, 12 kg of flour, 5 jars of English mustard, 48 loo rolls.
Neither Colon or Panama City were safe places to walk around in 2002 but jumping in a taxi to the supermarket was reasonable and so that is what we did. On the way into town we would share a taxi with friends but we each needed our own taxi back to the Flamenco anchorage. Loading the taxi we didn’t need to give directions “gringos with groceries” only had one destination.
When we started cruising I made the classic mistake of anxiously provisioning for our first trip as if we would not see another shop for the next six months. It didn’t take long for us to realise that where there are people there is generally food for sale. However, some food are more ubiquitous than others.
Soy sauce, and Worcester sauce (aka Worcestershire sauce and salsa Inglesa) seemed to be available in even the most remote islands. On the other hand peanut butter, cheese and English mustard are tradeable in many places and, if they are to your taste, stock up on the Marmite and Vegemite.
As we sailed into Colon harbour the Pacific crossing sharpened to a reality.
The anchorage lies to one side of the main channel into the Panama Canal with a steady stream of ships passing by 24 hours a day. Ashore in the Panama Canal Yacht Club there is an undercurrent of anxiety and anticipation. Everyone leans in to share plans and vital information.
“What are you feeding your transit crew? Make sure you have bottled water, some of the pilots won’t drink tank water.”
“I’m doing pizza, can’t go wrong with pizza.”
“Can I get Marmite here?”
“Do you want to share a taxi to the supermarket tomorrow?”
“We can get one together there but I think we will need one each to bring stuff back.”
Transiting the Panama Canal in a small boat in 2002 meant supplying a crew of five plus paying for an official Pilot to guide us through. The crew were one at each ‘corner’ of the boat to throw, catch and secure lines plus the Captain to steer. The pilot’s role was to direct us up through the locks from Colon to Gatun Lake, across the lake and then down the locks to Panama City and the Pacific Ocean. The transit starts at first light, around 5.30 am, with luck and good progress you can make the trip by sundown, around 6.00 pm. For half of the sailors, including Whimsey, the trip takes two days and includes a night anchored in the lake.
Catering breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks seemed to take on epic proportions and an element of competition. I decided on kedgeree for lunch and pasta for dinner, we provisioned with plenty of fruit, crisps and other snacks as well as cans of fizzy drinks. Space in the fridge was at a premium – note, cooked rice cannot be stored unrefrigerated. The batch made in advance fed the fish and the fresh batch was probably the best rice I have ever made.
Boil the eggs , place in cold water, bring to the boil and simmer for at least 10 minutes. Remove from pan and cool quickly in cold water.
Cook the rice. For Basmati rice place one cup of rice and two cups of cold water into the saucepan along with the lentils. Bring to the boil, cover with lid and turn heat down to lowest setting for 10 minutes.
Peel and chop eggs roughly.
Open and drain fish.
Add curry powder to butter and make a paste, mix into the cooked rice and add eggs and fish. Mix in the chopped parsley.
Kedgeree can be served immediately or kept warm in the oven, take care that it does not dry out. Can be refrigerated and served cold or reheated the next day.
Peel and chop garlic. Pour a tablespoon of olive oil into the pan and add garlic. Add to a medium heat.
Open and drain the potatoes – halve or quarter if required. Add to pan. Open and drain chickpeas and add to pan, stir thoroughly. Add in coconut milk, a heaped teaspoon of peanut butter, curry powder and chili. Add water if additional liquid is required. Stir thoroughly and cover until it reaches a rolling boil then reduce heat and simmer for 10 to 15 mins.
Serve with plain boiled or steamed rice in a bowl.