Day 40 - Act III - your skipper is distressingly sane while the rest of the world, we all know, is crazy.
Last night we got to within 20 miles of Vitoria. A small city by Brazil standards with approx. 350,000 souls. An indicator of being close, were insects fatally attracted to the glow of my computer screen. I killed them. It reminds me why being away on the ocean is so attractive. No bugs. No infections, bacteria or in my case allergies….
In other words its very healthy. So on this 40th day at sea I will update on my diet, the other part of being healthy. And the third pillar is physical activity - here our Skipper is demanding. There is no shortage of grinding and pulling ropes on this ship - in fact I have rarely worked as hard physically in my short life to date.
Indeed I could be at risk of dying from health. And, as to the mysterious non-definable extra psychological pillar, its simply a fact that your skipper is distressingly sane while the rest of the world, we all know, is crazy.
And tempting as it might have been to land at Vitoria ( my guess is that an early settler could not spell and lost a " C " somewhere) the Residents Association voted against. When Googled, the fact that the local Police have been on strike recently, murders are up - and citizens are protesting about crime - swung the decision to head back straight offshore away again from so-called civilization.
Last night off Vitoria, whose lights glowed in the dark with no moon, was nerve wrecking. Between all the oil rigs and service vessels and fishing boats,without AIS, an extra demanding watch was necessary. To fight sleep, each 30 minutes or so, I set the alarm to stay alert.
Brazil and its enormous coastline seems to go on forever. As do the oil rigs, as we worked our way up along the coast into the headwinds. Our target and magical turning point is at Recife on the North East corner. From there veer to port, picking up the bottom end of the North East and Easterly Trade Winds - and blast our way to the Equator and home….
So enough about oil rigs. The incredible Offshore Wells, remote and away from public view, were highlighted in the last log. Not being aware of them, it was as if we found oil all on our own. Except that Joan Mulloy of Team Ireland Ocean Racing - reported to our Skipper that she in fact knew all about them. She had toiled as a sub-contractor doing computer analysis designing pipelines running between drillship and seabed - which she never saw - all from an industrial estate in Galway's Ballybritfor the Brazilian conglomerate Petrobras!
By reference, Joan has aspiration to do the Vendee, has the talent and ability. She deserves our support. This year she is campaigning a Figaro in France based in Lorient - with a regatta in Les Sables d'Olonne over St Patrick's weekend, where I plan to finish " unofficially " the Venedee. For 2018, Joan will be an Ambassador for Irish seafood.
And while Joan is busy being a seafood Ambassador, to some people's surprise, I do not fish while sailing. Instead it's a diet of freeze-dried astronaut type food. Essentially most fish small enough to catch are on ocean shelves close to land. Out in the deep, there is no place for them to feed and besides, generally we go too fast. To boot, cooking facilities on board do not exist other than the ability to boil water. By contrast, my life adventure has been attempting to "boil the ocean"
Anyway, clearly to survive, stay functional and keep my sanity, a regular stable diet on board is a challenge after 40 says at sea, So its down to basics. With all the fresh food long gone, followed by the sweet things - and treats - now gone.
For food preparation, In New Zealand I took a trip to Invercargill. Its at the very bottom of the South Island. Here there is an Irish pub and Back Country Cuisine are based there. A great pub called Waxies, which has a very professional manager, Hamish Baird. Oddly, it is owned by a local government Trust and has joined Irish Pubs Global network.
Back Country manufacture uniquely convenient food dishes. They are designed specially for outdoor adventurers for nourishment and to sustain.Having heard about this extraordinary company, popular with adventurers for their light weight tasty food, I though it important to visit and see the products first hand.
Following a tour of the factory I went through the menu and ordered up three months supply. Meal preparation is ultra simple. I power boil just enough water, slice open the foil packet, mix it up, allow it to sit for 10 minutes and that's it. The technology is interesting with massive ovens that extract all the moisture individually from the ingredients. They are designed in such a way that when the moisture returns you have a perfect meal.
And while all food suppliers must have a use-by-date, in theory these meals can last for ever if kept perfectly sealed. I wager that, had Back Country food been available for Irishman Ernst Shackelton's visits to the Antarctica, he would have had a supply. In addition to finding some perfectly preserved bottles of whiskey under his Antarctic Cabin, they might well have found a Back Country supply ready to eat !
The only other staple in my diet is a sachet of porridge every morning and a meal of Revive Active ingredients. They are a Galway company who produce a range of natural food supplements and are to be highly recommended. Even when not on the ocean, I supplement my diet with their products - which I only discovered by chance and started as I got older - and have never been as healthy!!
Mind you, my culinary skills and not being particular over diet and what I eat are minimalist. Like an ability to roll up and sleep anywhere, my stomach is fairly tough and resilient. So much so that, in a fit of understandable anger, a while back, my then young bride wife fed me pet food without telling me.
It was pre-mobile days. And once upon a time in Ireland when the wait list for phone lines was more like a dream list for our new box starter home in remote sub-urban Dublin. Anyway, instead of going straight home for dinner, after work I met an old friend, Derek, for a pint of Plain or two - leaving my bride at home hanging..
Some time later that evening, eventually leaving the pub, I invited Derek to come to our new home for dinner. I had not realized at the time that my commander-in-chief was waiting diligently with a romantic meal for two. So what could she do? When I got home, all smiles, she fed Derek my dinner, had hers and me the pet foot in the middle of the rice…
You could have cut the tension in the air with a knife. So in a vain attempt to make-up, I quickly finished dinner. And, dug an even larger grave for myself, by complimented her on the meal, and asked for more ! My unfortunate new bride, though very well justified in sending me this message which backfired,had to keep it a secret until Derek had gone…
Fast forward to today on board our boat, fortunately the Resident's Association have a no pet policy, excluding of course Adolf our monkey, Paddy our Leprechaun and our little bear.
So sailing into the dark night, to conclude today's log discussing diet, oil rigs again and having a Pint after work, I quote from Patrick Kavanagh:
" When money's tight and hard to get
and your horse has also ran
When all you have is a heap of debt
A PINT OF PLAIN IS YOUR ONLY MAN"