Wind, Rain & Quinoa…..

Dear F&F,
June 14, 2009

When I took over for Mike at midnight we had good wind strength from a good direction & it was fairly easy to fly the spinnaker. Those lovely conditions lasted for 1 hour of my 4 hour watch. At hour 2 the wind dwindles to below spinnaker flying parameters. I should have gone & woken up Scott to help me lower the sails & start motoring. But I wanted to let the Captain get his beauty rest. Plus I kept hoping & wishing & waiting for the wind to freshen again. It never did. We had gibed yesterday to head more north where the weather reports say there is more wind. On starboard gibe (wind coming over my right side) I had to sail really high to keep any shape to the spinnaker at all. So I limped along the rest of my shift trying to make the tablecloth behave and the boat as quiet as possible for the sleeping crew. I was making 4 knots VMG (speed in the direction we want to go), so it\’s not like I was taking us backwards. As expected, when Scott got up to relieve me, we furled both the chute & the main & motored towards the barn.

I slept pretty well from 4:30-6:30 a.m. I awoke to being rained on. Scott was clueless with the headset on with his morning net, the interior of the boat getting soaked from all open hatches. We did the Chinese fire drill & I crawled back to my cave. The rain only lasted 5 minutes. With the help of 4 Calms Forte (homeopathic sleep aid), I was able to drift off again & woke up hungry at 10:15 a.m.

I decided to make quinoa for breakfast. Alberta had told me in no uncertain terms that it MUST BE RINSED before cooking. She said it was bad for you if you don\’t. Well, heck I just didn\’t imagine I\’d be eating enough quinoa from my one small package to make a hoot of difference. I figured it was some Sonoma County organic-minded warning & doubted the Costa Ricans (where it was purchased) washed their quinoa before cooking it. She had told me it was 1 part grain to 2 parts water, which is the same as rice, so I decided to try it in the pressure cooker. Nine minutes later it appeared just right, maybe a bit less yellow & more brown than what I\’d had at Alberta\’s house. I took a big spoonful of the steaming grain & crunched down on DIRT! You have to wash the quinoa because it is loaded with DIRT!!! Yuck. Just like unwashed spinach. Gritty, sandy, even a few pebbles. I pulled out my frying pan splatter cover which is the closest thing to a fine mesh strainer I have. I thought perhaps I could wash it after the fact. No bueno. I don\’t know how the heck one ever gets all the dirt out of quinoa. I just laughed. I laughed so hard at myself I couldn\’t stop giggling. I tossed the whole mess overboard for King Neptune to enjoy. It was worth the exercise just for the entertainment value. A mesh strainer is now on my shopping list. But it will take a lot of careful washing. How do you get rid of the big chunks of dirt & pebbles? Praise be to David & Alberta for cooking up dirt-free & perfect quinoa for breakfast many days a week. We have enough oatmeal & eggs so will continue serving the usual breakfast fare.

I still had to eat something, so I scrambled a couple eggs & re-toasted already cooked bacon. Burned the bacon a bit. Just not my day for the galley… Mike was still motoring his whole watch but shortly after I took over the wind piped up. From a good direction. So we hoisted the main & spinnaker & had a glorious 30 minutes of sailing. I was doomed the minute I put on sunscreen. It was the first day I\’d put it on. But it was overcast & I knew the sun angle was not yet shading me under the bimini, so I put on long light pants & screened my face, neck & arms. Sure enough, it starts to rain. Not the 5 minutes of drizzle we\’ve had a couple times before, it is really raining. Nice change but at the same time the wind goes wonky. We motor a while. Then I think the wind is strong enough to at least fly the genoa. Scott helps me pull that out. But the wind is too light & I\’m having to point too high & the boat is really rocking & rolling in the beam sea. We drive ourselves crazy sailing slow in the wrong direction for another hour, then start the motor again.

We passed a big milestone on my watch: 499 miles to go & counting down. To celebrate I brought out the hidden Magnum bars. They are every bit as good as Haagen Dazs, dark chocolate outside & rich vanilla ice cream inside. I also made another batch of yogurt. I hope it turns out alright. The temperature was right, but I didn\’t blend in my starter in well enough. Have to find a good way to make sure it is thoroughly mixed.

We turned on the radar to watch the rain squalls. It is still raining lightly & completely overcast. Scott could not hear the other 2 boats in our neck of the woods at the scheduled radio check in time. So we don\’t know what kind of weather they have. It is helpful to hear their reports since one boat is behind us to the north of us & the other behind us to the south (where our \”new\” wind will come from).

We have 2 loads of wet laundry draped inside the house since we can\’t hang it outside. I\’ll be off watch from 4:00-8:00 p.m. so put out a can of beans & can of corn for the boys to heat up with some tortillas. Mike told me the guest room \”pantry\” was smelling a bit ripe. Upon investigation I found 3 potatoes that had gone mush. I plan to cook the rest tomorrow. Thank you Maria for reminding me that tomatoes need sun to turn red. I have 4 green ones out on the counter now. We\’ll see. Last night\’s garlic shrimp, broccoli & rice was a big hit & the guys enjoyed the leftovers for lunch.

Despite the squalls, fluky wind & lumpy seas I am happy today. Wouldn\’t you know that just as we get there I am finally getting the hang of this offshore passage business! I think the 5 hours sleep I had really helped my disposition. I am staying on top of the seasickness by wearing the half patch & a bit of stugeron 45 minutes before doing email. I sure hope our diesel holds up as much as we may need to still motor.

Cindy at Sea
Day #15