Odyssey Logs

Atlantic Odyssey 2: Day 15


LAHAINA has arrived in Martinique! ROXY is expected on Saturday.


LAHAINA in Martinique

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Food & Fishing

Trying to hang on to a Mahi Mahi on a wildly tipping boat

Trying to hang on to a Mahi Mahi on a wildly tipping boat

Yesterday at dawn we disturbed a small group of flying fish, perhaps sleeping in the water, they sped away from our bow wave to land 100 meters away. Do they sleep in the water? Do they sleep at all? Who knows, there is no Google here, so we can only speculate. Then last night a couple more landed on the deck, one came right into the cockpit, just like in the stories of Knox Johnson, Moitessier, Slocum and the rest.

Adam and I fried them up, having heard stories of how bony they are, there was no problem, the flesh came away from the bone beautifully, and they really are a most delicious little fish, like a large sardine and incredibly tasty. To have a snack like that almost leap into the frying pan is a great treat to one who has spent as long trying to catch fish as I have.

Now that we have got away from the initial rolly seas with some confused swells, the confusion of our Satellite phone sending wrong positions, making it look like we were “ze crazy eenglish, zigging and zagging all over ze ocean”, things have settled down. Today winds have dropped, the sky is clear, temperatures much warmer, and the seas gradually calmer and very blue. With the lessening wind our boat speed has dropped to 4-5 knots at present, but we are forecast an increase sometime tonight, and continue making progress with 1100 miles to go.

There was a big celebration yesterday as we passed the half way mark, photos on the bow, Sam letting off the fog horn, cheering and congratulations, but also the thought that after 11 days on board we are still only half way to Martinique, fresh mangos and baguette, and a very long way from Land. For example we haven’t seen another vessel for over 10 days, though we know from the daily reports that our friends in the rally are within 120 or so miles, we may as well be alone in the vast Ocean from what we can see from day to day. In fact it is so quiet that some of the most challenging aspects of Ocean sailing seem to be getting to sleep at night time, and then staying awake during the day. After a long night on watch, and with another day of looking at the waves, like a never ending groundhog day in prospect, it could be difficult propping the eyes open.

At times like this it would be possible for things to become a little tedious, were it not for food and fishing to keep us motivated.

And it’s the case that the food has been truly excellent, mainly due to Anna’s dedication to serve up fresh dishes for as long as possible on the voyage. She has embarked on a culinary tour-de-force for the crew, baking cakes, muffins and fresh bread, and last night four flavours of pizza including blue cheese, chorizo, and sun dried tomato. I mentioned before that produce is consumed in gluts as it ripens, and hopefully before it can go off. But bucking that trend yesterday’s excellent avocado and tomato salad with sweet chilli sauce is one of Anna’s specialities, and relied on a couple of avocados being carefully placed among the ripe bananas, in order to ripen them at the right moment. This having been achieved they were chopped and added to the salad. This whole process demonstrates a fantastic fore-planning and resourcefulness and a kind of low down food-cunning, though I must confess to a certain level of nervousness on finding the woman to whom I recently became married, manipulating the lifecycle and passing of a fellow organism to this extent.

So at last the fishing has begun to contribute to the food stocks on board Penny Lane. The Mahi mahi (Dorado) that escaped from our hook the first day was followed by a successful landing the day after: this one made it as far as the pot, and was frankly delicious. Another couple got away before being landed, but we do know now that they find our little yellow squid somewhat alluring. Then last night we had the landing of the flying fish, and those really are a treat, and we now feel that our initial slowness in hunting and gathering has been overcome.

But what should perhaps have been our moment of crowning glory, the capture and consumption of the mighty Dorado, has in fact become one of the most divisive issues of the voyage. Like a civil war it polarises family members, friends and crew mates. Tempers flare and deep seated attitudes are tested and challenged. The core issue under contention is whether or not freshly caught Dorado should be served up with, or without Curry sauce.
On the one hand the ayes contend at all fish should be served up with Curry sauce, and ideally a thick layer of crispy batter. Whether it is a Harry Ramsdens Haddock or a mud-flavoured Monkfish, all fish should be with chips, salt, vinegar and ideally also rolled up in today’s newspaper.

The opposing camp contend that while that might be good for some fetid Flamborough flounder, even a necessity for the safe consumption of something bred and raised in oil-sodden north sea mud, the same rules should not be applied to the glorious and exotic Dorado. This fish can’t be found in the Humber estuary or off the coast of Aberdeen, but in the clear tropical waters of the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. The delicious Dorado is not to be served up in Brummie chip shops, but caught and eaten fresh in mid-Ocean. This exotic creature revels in multiple names – “Dorado”, “Mahi Mahi”, “Dolphin Fish” – all the same thing, showing its colourful crest it leaps in showers of yellow, blue silver and green at the end of the line until landed on the deck of a fast moving yacht. The mighty Mahi mahi should be eaten in as natural a state as possible, cooked lightly in butter, served up with a dash of lemon, maybe a few herbs, but no more. To curry Poseidon’s pelagic prince seems to this camp as the ultimate sacrilege, the dumbing down of one of the natural and culinary wonders of the Ocean.

So the battle lines are drawn, positions have been taken and no one is budging. This issue looks to run and run and divide the crew perhaps for years to come. Maybe it is one of those issues destined never to be solved, as long as there are Dorado in the Ocean, and Chip shops on the seafront at Scarborough. We’ll let you know if we make any further progress towards a solution.

Happy Sailing,


Same weather, same wind, same poor speed as the last few days. 220 Miles still to go this noon.

German An Bord alles wie gehabt. In der Nacht hatten wir kurzzeitig besseren Wind, jetzt gehts wieder ziemlich langsam dahin. Wir rechnen mit der Ankunft am Sonntag. Haben heute Früh das erste Mal selbst Brot gebacken, es ist derzeit noch im Rohr, werden später sehen wie es geworden ist.

Immer mehr Vögel besuchen uns, ein an großer weißer mit langer Schwanzfeder wollte am Masttop landen, hat aber nur ganz kurz geklappt, die Rollbewegungen da oben sind doch ziemlich schnell. Diese Art Vogel haben wir schon einmal, ziemlich in der Mitte des Atlantiks gesehen, diesmal war es ein Pärchen..

Cheers, die Themi Crew!


French J15 Une journée pas comme les autres…..

Elle a bien commencé, avec un beau lever de soleil, quelques nuages et un
vent correct qui nous a permis d’avancer sous voiles en ciseaux, vent
arrière. Le vent s’atténuant, nous décidons d’envoyer le spi. Pas pour
longtemps, car très vite, de gros cumulus blancs apparaissent, se
transformant vite en énormes nuages noirs chargés de pluie. Ce n’est pas un
grain mais plusieurs grains qui nous menacent. Après réduction des voiles,
nous passons l’après-midi à essayer de limiter les « douches ». Fort
heureusement, le vent ne monte pas à plus de 25 nœuds, sans rafales sous
les nuages. Nous décidons quand même d’affaler la GV quand nous voyons
arriver une impressionnante trombe soulevant l’eau sur son passage avec sa
colonne d’aspiration qui remonte sous un épais nuage noir, très étendu et

Photo de la trombe, moteur, on essaie de s’éloigner et on attend que ça

Après le passage du « monstre », plus de vent, 5 nœuds. Pourtant il reste
encore des grains derrière ?

Comme la mer est quasiment plate, nous décidons de remettre les lignes à
l’eau. C’est alors que le cliquetis du frein du Penn Senator se fait
entendre (on ne peut pas le rater !!!!). Excitation à bord, enfin un
poisson qui mord !! L’honneur est sauf, nous remontons à bord une belle
coryphène de 85 cm, combative mais vite estourbie par le rhum dans les
ouïes. Je ne sais pas s’il existe plus beau poisson : peau jaune (limite
fluo) et bleu-verte, irisée avec des points turquoises et une dorsale bleu
nuit. Malheureusement, elle perd très vite ses couleurs au sortir de l’eau.

Au soleil couchant, nous allons à l’avant changer le tangon de côté pour la
nuit. Un gros cétacé, dos foncé et nageoires blanches, nage devant le
bateau, précédant l’étrave comme les dauphins, sauf qu’il n’a pas la même
taille, il fait environ 5 à 6 m. L’eau étant calme et claire, nous le
voyons bien, c’est encore un petit rorqual. Il reste un moment à jouer avec
nôtre bateau, d’arrière en avant. Puis, comme pour nous dire au revoir,
vient frôler la coque tribord où nous sommes, se tourne élégamment et
lentement sur le dos montrant son ventre blanc et très gracieusement
plonge tête en arrière vers les profondeurs, sa queue venant affleurer la
surface de l’eau sans éclaboussures…. Magique.

Première partie de nuit au moteur. On a croisé un cargo en route collision
(il s’est dérouté, nous aussi un peu) Luc a sauvé la vie à un poisson
volant échoué dans le cockpit.
135 milles parcourus.


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