Ships stores

The first mate was on the “bread making” watch on Friday so as the sun came up she made some dough to rise. Bread making has become second nature. It might not be the best texture as kneading in a bowl on a rocking galley work surface is not that efficient. All bread whether intended for flat breads or cooking as a loaf in the thermal cooker is now made onboard to the same recipe now (sorry Mr Hollywood, I’ve read your book and love your recipes but resources are limited after so many months sailing). Three half cups (the electronic scales have long been passed over in favour of low tech measuring cups) of strong white flour with a pinch of salt and a slug of olive oil forked through. Then pour in 125ml of warm water with two teaspoons of dried yeast and one of sugar dissolved in it. Mix with a fork to combine then knead using a dash of olive oil to keep the dough from sticking to the bowl or hands. Leave to rise til doubled in size then knock back and cook as desired. I sometimes add herbs or cumin seeds to the dough before cooking depending on the intended use, desiccated coconut is great folded into the middle of a loaf with a little sugar too if you want a teabread.

There is just one 3kg bag of strong white flour left from the stores bought in Panama, I am looking forward to being able to buy fresh stocks especially wholemeal and plain flour in Cairns, white bread is so boring. At present everything that needs flour from fish for frying to welsh cakes to thickening soups to flat breads is being done with strong white!
The choices of tinned veg are also dwindling though we did stock up a bit in both Fiji and Vanuatu; tomatoes, peas and carrots (the Panamanian Reys own brand are not particularly nice ones either), green beans, mushrooms, sweet corn and beetroot remain plus a tin of rather yucky spinach. The packs of Chinese dried fungus bought in Panama have been a hit; drop them in any soup, stew or curry for some added bite, though some bits rehydrate to enormous sizes! Less successful has been the emergency soya protein which seems to generate huge amounts of wind regardless of how long it’s soaked or cooked. The remaining packs may overtime rival the fabled FB pie that still lurks in the bilge well past its eat by date.

In the coolbox there is the last of the white cabbage from Fiji, two cucumbers and a couple of over ripe Vanuatu tomatoes. Two onions, some garlic and ginger, a pamplemousse and a handful of limes complete Temptress’ supply of fresh veggies. All except perhaps the cabbage will be eaten by the time we reach Cairns early next week.

Elsewhere in our stores the treat of a single jar of artichoke hearts awaits for a special pasta lunch or supper (we still have kilos of pasta, rather overdid in provisioning there). Amazingly there are a few tins of olives and two jars of potatoes from Lanzarote onboard! The last Sainsbury’s Basics tinned potatoes is ear marked for a tuna “hash” before we complete the trip. And of course there is still that out of date Fray Bentos pie (as it’s too hot to use the oven it may make it back to N Europe if AQIS don’t confiscate it) plus plenty of tins of canned meat and fish of one sort or another. We won’t starve even if we don’t shop for another month however our diet may be a little unbalanced. 

We’ve had little or no cheese for weeks, so are eagerly looking forward to being able to afford some. The cheapest cheddar in Vanuatu was more expensive than the local fillet steak! There are a handful of eggs left, two packs of butter and several of powdered milk for yoghurt making however the last litre of the UHT milk is being eked out in teas and coffees. All dairy is likely to be confiscated though I hope our NZ butter and packs of EasiYo yoghurt culture will be allowed to remain.
The cured tuna is proving to be a hit – slightly salty, fishy with a hint of the Chinese five spice powder. As long as AQIS don’t confiscate it it should be a great sundowner nibble, thinly sliced and dipped in soy sauce or wasabi. For now we are adding a little as a garnish to our lunches. And we will need to stock up on both salt and sugar in order to produce some more.

Our thoughts now turn to provisioning for the cruise up through Indonesia where we expect there to be few supermarkets except in the large towns and even then very little “western” food like crisps, olives, dairy products, pickles, cereals etc. The supermarkets of Fiji and Vanuatu were quite surprising in that regard with plenty of variety of snacks, yoghurt, biscuits and tinned food even tonic water in large bottles. Fiji’s large Indian community meant we could find mango, lime and other chutneys for the first time since the Caribbean. More surprisingly was that a lot of the items acquired in our supermarket stock up in Vanuatu were actually produced in Fiji including bags of stoneless dates, crisps, powdered milk, tonic water and canned meat. 

Much of our Indonesia trip will be short sails between remote anchorages, the country is huge; it is apparently the worlds 4th largest population and the chain of islands stretches some 2500 nautical miles from Papua New Guinea and the Torres Strait in the south northwards to Singapore and Malaysia. The population is a mix of religious, tribal and ethnic groups so almost every island has its own unique culture. We expect fresh vegetables, fruit, fish and eggs to be available in the little village markets we discover along the way as well as staples like rice and flour in the local shops but no bread and probably only chicken on the hoof as it were. Apart from the obvious places like Bali there are few large towns enroute so we are already looking forward to this next (culinary) adventure.
Ships log Friday 9 September: noon position 16 16.92S 152 27.15E 930nm