April 14 Update
April 14, ship’s time (April 15 local Kiribati time). 3am.
We’re bobbing along gently in a light breeze this morning, much as we have been doing the last few days. With only a few knots of wind, often coming from dead ahead, we’ve been mostly motor-sailing lately. Occasionally we’ve raised the staysail or unfurled the yankee when the wind picked up hopefully or favorably for a few hours, only to strike them again soon after. Yesterday though we had over an hour of beautiful fast sailing during the morning 6-12 watch. The wind suddenly picked up to 16 knots, Sea Dragon heeled over, and we danced and grinned as she sped along. With the engine off we could also do engine checks, add some oil, and just generally give her a break. Now again though, in these slight seas under power, conditions are perfect for non-slanted baking and starboard watch took full advantage – we (on port watch) woke up at 2am to chocolate cake and fresh bread!
About bread. We’ve had some learning experiences on that score in the past 24 hours. Sea Dragon has a bread machine on board, which is excellent. It’s easy, contained, and doesn’t heat up the ship like the oven does (trust me, we really don’t need any excess heat at the moment with the average temperature below decks being up near 90F). We’ve had some excellent loaves since we ran out of non-moldy bread, including a delicious zucchini bread with one of our last non-exploded zucchinis yesterday. However, new folks ventured into the bread world today and apparently we didn’t pass along the message about where to find the yeast… It seemed to be no problem, as yeast was found in the cupboards and bread was made. However, when the bake was done and opened up we found that the lovely fluffy loaf that had been anticipated was instead a baked, dense, lump of dough. Thinly sliced and toasted, topped with honey or nutella this bread variety wasn’t bad. It tasted good and hit the spot, but wasn’t really what we’d expected. Starboard watch tried again overnight and what had initially been blamed on the machine setting couldn’t have been true as the new loaf turned out exactly the same! Just after 2am the mystery was solved. Without knowing that the yeast was stored in the fridge the most recent bread bakers had found something with yeast on the label and without thinking further accidentally used nothing other than nutritional yeast as the leavening agent. Alas, that was destined not to work. Tired minds struck again. Tomorrow we will have a tour of yeasts and what they’re used for – for now we will continue with our dense thin slices slathered in something yummy and have yet another thing to laugh about!
Did anyone notice that I mentioned exploding zucchinis? Midnight last night had us suddenly realizing that our last few meals hadn’t contained any zucchinis, but we were all sure there had been a couple left. Suspicious, as our fresh vegetables have been going off at an alarming rate in this heat. Earlier in the day we dealt with melted carrots, moldy pumpkin, and rotten pears, and now Emily and Nicole headed below for some investigating. Sure enough, in the back of a crate with the eggs they found our forgotten veggies. Three were saved with urgent calls for use, but the rest were melted away or had whole ends missing as though they had just spontaneously blasted part of themselves away.
It’s things like this that make us laugh and giggle, it’s the stories we tell at watch handovers. The whiteboard warns us of risk of vegetable explosions when making dinner (much safer to wear a snorkel mask when doing meal prep, clearly), and everyone appreciates the absurdity of laughing endlessly over muck and slime and unrisen bread and we listen to music and watch the sunset and lament the lack of wind as we sweat from every part of our body and try to manifest wildlife by drawing animals on the whiteboard (it worked, we saw a turtle in the middle of the Pacific yesterday). At night we get some respite from the heat. We pull back the bimini and marvel at the stars (the big dipper is upside down down here and the moon lays on its side, like a big glowing watermelon slice), we watch for flashes of bioluminescence and disco jellyfish, and north we go, trying to sleep despite the heat, and enjoying being together floating on the ocean on our trusty boat home.