Eating on passage: Mexico to Colombia

Passage Mexico to Colombia – Feb 21-27, 2014

I remember starting this blog with the motto “cooking while cruising”, and must confess that every posts so far have been written while in a Mexican port. Not much sailing happened in the past year or so. But that’s all about to change, with our resuming our cruising schedule for 2014. First leg was a couple of weeks ago, a 7 day passage to Cartagena, Colombia.

The sailing story can be read on my other blog, what follows is all about what we eat at sea. But first, a little about how and why we eat the way we do.

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After 25 years of cruising, we have developed a passage routine based on every crew members’ likes and dislikes, capabilities and whatever provisions are available locally. I know from experience that some things are certain to happen:

  1. The kids and I will be sea sick for at least the first 2 days, which means we will not eat and we will sleep a lot. Medication may help with the quizziness, but sure makes you drowsy.
  2. As a result, Terry, who fortunately has an iron stomach, will be on triple watch, and left to fend for himself in the galley. He may be lucky to have Marc and I relieve him for a few hours during the day, just as well he doesn’t need as many hours sleep as the rest of us.
  3. No matter what the weather forecasts say, conditions at sea will be worse than predicted.
  4. We will NOT catch as much fish as we hope, the days of catching yellowfin tunas as big as Marc (6ft tall) are GONE! It is a fact that there are not as many fish in the sea as there used to.
  5. Unless caught in a storm (it has happened before), things will improve after 3 days: the crew will recover, the sunrises and sunsets will be gorgeous, we’ll be playing scrabble and enjoying gourmet meals all the way, whether the fish are biting or not!IMG_2046

That’s how we adopted these few food “rules” while on passage:

  1. We make sure we have lots of left overs for the first 2 days, as there will be no cooking done, not even a cook to ask! That’s probably the reason why we always have a food fest on the boat before departure.
  2. Bend the rules a little, allow the crew to have their favourite food: chocolates, energy bars, lollies, salami, soft drinks…whatever keeps people happy and satisfied. There is no point offering baby carrots to a hungry and tired skipper who craves for Tim Tam biscuits and a beer!
  3. Plan for the worst, keep things simple! Sandwiches, hearty salads, pasta, oven roasts…Plain is best, stay away from curries and Mexican food, as they don’t repeat nicely. Likewise, deep frying, BBQ, or smoothie making can all wait until the boat is safely anchored.
  4. Have plenty of staples like ham, tinned fish, eggs, frozen meat (if possible), fresh fruits and vegetables… Work out daily menus, with flexible meals in case you do catch a fish. Breakfasts in particular are interchangeable, and always involve cereals, yoghurt and fresh fruits. Bread, frozen croissants and pancakes are special treats for when the weather is kind and we can have a more substantial start to the day.P1040123
  5. Once sea sickness is over, meal times become a ritual where we chat about the day: while breakfast and lunch are casual, with people eating out of a bowl at whatever time they wish, we all enjoy a sundowner on the flybridge and dinner is a sitdown affair when the kids set the table, and we all sit together (while keeping an eye on the radar from the distance!).

Here is how it went down.

Day 1

Rough day. Sad to leave, emotionally drained, and seasick. We have wind and current against us, boat is bouncing up and down. Kids and I are out of action.

Lunch/dinner: leftovers from the farewell party (zucchini slice, bbq chicken wings, open sandwiches with sweet potato spread and brownies). Easy on the cook!

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Day 2

Winds eased during the night, but still heading to windward. It sucks! It reminds me of our trip to Vanuatu 15 years ago (going to windward in 40 knots winds for 11 days) when I swore we would never sail to windward again!!

The kids and I are still sick. They spend their days outside, I sleep a lot. So far Terry has fend off attack of the munchies at night with sweet snacks and coffee. He seems happy.

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Lunch: wraps with left over salad and chicken

Anne and I caught a small fish today. We think it is either a jack or a snapper. Terry cut it in 4 small fillets, I cooked it in butter and served with roasted potatoes and capsicum.

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Day 3

The seas are calmer today, wind dropped a little. We were entertained by a pod of dolphins, 10 of them played in the bow wake for a good 30 minutes, one of them even put on a jumping show.

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Everyone is feeling much better. I am back to work and my first job is to check condition of our fresh produce: we’ve ran out of leftovers, time to use the green stuff, in order of “ripeness”. Also made a loaf of bread, it filled the boat with a delicious aroma!

Lunch: coleslaw, corn chips and salami.

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Dinner: roasted asparagus, tomato sandwich (homemade bread!) and omelette

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Day 4

Great night, wind dropped to below 10 knots, the current is finally in our favour pushing us south with an extra knot.

We’re 195 nm due west of Jamaica. Forecasts are for the winds to pick up later today, so I am making the most of the conditions baking muffins and prepping lunch. And indeed the day became more bumpy not only with breezes of 15 knots but also several squalls! Painful!

Produce check: very ripe bananas (will go in the muffins), bean sprouts are on their last legs, too many capsicums.

Lunch: green salad and baby frankfurts. Marc “volunteers” to finish the avocado and makes a pretty good guacamole.

Dinner: rice and stir fry tofu ( tofu I forgot I had in the back of the fridge, with loads of beans sprouts and capsicums, I am improvising until we catch another fish!)

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Day 5

No change, winds still east 15 knots, can’t wait until we reach the waypoint where we can turn south to Cartagena.

The kids are fine: I can tell they are normal now, because they both are laying on the lounge inside watching TV, instead of taking fresh air on the flybridge. They are even eating again!

We finally turned south in the afternoon, the motion is much smoother and I we’ve mproved our boat speed, flying at 8.5 knots! Hooked a big sailfish/marlin, he fought and cut the line with his bill. Also caught a small bonito just before dinner, in fact so small we threw it back. So there are fish in the sea, we’re just not landing them.

Lunch: sausages, couscous and grilled zucchini with chimichurri sauce (lavish with parsley, may as well, it won’t last!)

Dinner: fried rice with left over stir-fry vegies, zucchini and sausages (hoisin sauce brought everything together nicely)

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Day 6

Winds increased during the night, had to reduce the sails. Still making good speed of 8.5-9 knots. 36 hours to go! Only problem now is messy seas, and though we’re not seasick any more, it’s fairly uncomfortable.

Hooked 2 good size bonitos, Anne had time to snap a picture of one of them before they both got off! Just as well, as they’re smelly fish and bleed a lot, and no one was volunteering for the filleting!

Lunch: left over fried rice for Marc, cheese and crackers for the rest of us.

Dinner: spaghetti with bacon, sausages, zucchini and tomatoes ( I still have tons of zucchinis, maybe I’ll make a cake with them tomorrow)

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Day 7

After days of winds and seas stronger than predicted, everything died 20nm from the coast. Just like that. Plenty of time to have a decent lunch (jicama snacks and cheese and salad wrap) and reflect on this “forced” detox week. We’re all in good health and a couple of kilos lighter. Marc needs not worry about scurvy any longer and Anne can finally open the bag of popcorn she’s been dreaming about for the past 4 days. We still have a lot of fresh produce, Terry’s beer supply suffered a little, while my wine remains untouched. I’ll share a bottle of bubbly with him, he certainly deserves it!

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