Everyone has a tattoo in the Marquesas. On their faces, hands, limbs, and I am sure all over their body. They are beautiful, unique
“Without tattoos you were worth less than a pig,” a Swiss anthropologist doing research in Hiva Oa told me.
Tattoos mark life events and define who you are, what you can do, and what you have been through. When girls became old enough to help their mothers in the kitchen, for instance, they got a tattoo on a finger of their right hand. Without that tattoo the girl isn’t allowed to handle food.
A tattoo on the face usually marks momentous events, protection from an accident, the death of a family member, the birth of a child, or the like. Even in the West people may get a tattoo to commemorate a major life event.
Today, the tattoo culture is not as strict as it once was. People don’t need tattoos to handle food. Not every girl gets a tattoo marking her first period. Not everyone we saw had a tattoo, but the culture remains and tattoos are respected and honored.
Every island has its own specific tattoos, even islands only a mile apart has its own distinct tattoos. Thus, if you know what you are looking for, you can identify exactly where a person is from.
I know several cruisers who have gotten tattooed in the Marquesas to celebrate their long crossing. As beautiful as Polynesian tattoos are, I decided not to get one. Especially after talking with my fellow crew members.
In Japan, Toshi San told me, tattoos are the mark of someone in the Yakuza, the Japanese Mob. Even if you are a foreigner, having a tattoo can get you banned from entering certain establishments. In most onsens, the popular hot springs of Japan, you are not allowed to enter if you have a tattoo. Even a little star on the ankle will get you kicked out of an onsen. It is incredible how what gives a person status in one country will strip you of respect in another.
Food however, is something that brings people and cultures together. Different cultures have their takes on food, but seeing different approaches and sampling new things is half the fun of travel.
I adore fish. Some people are squeamish about raw fish, but I can’t get enough of sashimi, which is what most people think of when they think of raw fish, but Japan is far from the only culture with a raw fish dish integral to their cuisine. There is ceviche in South America, carpaccio in Italy, or the Scandinavian gravlax, just to name a few.
French Polynesia’s version is called Poisson Cru au Lait Coco, literally translated raw fish with coconut milk. This delicious dish is pretty close to ceviche with coconut milk. There are variations of this dish throughout the South Pacific. This recipe is loosely based on one Sandra, our contact in the Marquesas, gave me.
Poseidon’s Poisson Cru au Lait Coco
Juice from 10 limes (about 1 ½ cups juice)
2 lbs. fresh fish (tuna is best but mahi mahi will do)
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 cucumber, julienned
1 t salt
½ t pepper
1 T Maggi Seasoning
1 c coconut milk
Cut fish into bite-sized cubes about ½”—1”
Pour lime juice over the fish, the juice should just cover the fish
Cover and refrigerate 1 hour
Mix in onions and season with salt, pepper, and Maggi
Refrigerate 24 hours giving the citric acid time to cook the fish
10 minutes before serving stir in cucumber and mix in coconut milk
Serve in cabbage leaves
The tantalizing aroma of tropical wood, sweet flowers, rich earth… land came wafting over the waves. The fragrance drew us in, filling our nostrils; more pungent the closer we got. It smelled like paradise. It is amazing how being away from land and all its smells heightens your senses, and 27 days at sea our noses were starved for the smell of growing things.
That morning sailing into the Marquesas the scent was incredible. I am sure that some of it must have been missing the smells of land, but nothing could parallel that fragrance… if I could make a perfume to rival that smell I would make millions.
When the sharp green cliffs jutting sharply out of the deep blue ocean finally came into view I nearly wept. The French Polynesian islands were stunning. Gauguin hadn’t done it justice.
As we jubilantly sailed into Hiva Oa harbor, marveling at the stunning landscape more than ready to check in and disembark. The harbor had 6 or 7 other boats in it and was well-protected by the steep slopes that rose sharply to three sides.
With sinking hearts we realized that it was a Sunday. We couldn’t check in. We couldn’t leave the boat, and even if we wanted to, not that it mattered because nothing was open. But after almost a month at sea I was a little stir crazy.
As soon as we anchored Sato San and Toshi San helped me put the paddleboard in the water and I went for a little excursion. I paddled up to a few boats anchored near us and said hi, and then I saw it.
A little black pony standing in the surf! I paddle boarded faster, determined to make it to the beach. I wasn’t *supposed* to go to shore before we were checked in, but it was a pony. Surely there were exceptions in those cases, right?
I paddled to shore, and a bit before I got there, a young man joined the pony and started washing him in the surf. I hesitated a moment, but paddled into shore.
“Bonjour!” I called using almost the extent of my abominable French. I did take two years of French at University. Unfortunately now my French is on par with my woefully lacking Japanese. My Marquesan is even worse.
The pony’s owner, James, was a tall Marquesan around 15 and though his English was worse than my French he let me pet his pony and invited me for a ride. Large for a pony, the sleek black horse was about 14 hands, just short enough that I could get on without a mounting block even from a rocky beach.
He led me along the beach with a rope around the sleek black pony’s neck and then somehow asked if I knew how to ride. When I told him that I did, he adroitly fashioned a rope bridle for my steed and gave me the reigns.
I took the little mount for a little trot up a hill through lush vegetation and into a little meadow at the top. I hadn’t ridden in a while and am not used to riding bareback in the first place so I slowed his jouncy little trot to something I would be sure not to get shaken off. He was a willing mount, well cared-for, and I was delighted to be on a horse again.
I was glowing when I made it back to Umineko. This was unquestionably the best welcome I had had to any country.
Unfortunately, the options for dinner or food had narrowed significantly. On the up side quarantine wouldn’t be able to take any vegetables from us. On the down side, we were all but out of fresh food. I had used the last of our potatoes in a curry a few days earlier. The difficulty for provisioning for a long passage… you don’t want to get too much food because in many countries customs confiscates fresh food and meats.
I’d done pretty well, but we had a modest dinner of pasta with Japanese seasoning packets. Each one comes with 2-3 individual servings and usually dried seaweed or some dried seasoning to stir in. In Japan these individual seasoning packets for pasta are common. They are incredibly easy too, just make the pasta and each person sprinkles whatever packet they want over their pasta. They are perfect for sailing especially if you have crew members with individual preferences.
Some people like to get huge economy-sized pasta sauce or other provisions, but I find that often I won’t use all of the sauce up before it starts to go off so I really do like the individual packet approach, at least for some things. There are a ton of flavors and this way each person can have whatever flavor of pasta they want. No mixing in eggs, milk, heating pasta sauce, sautéing onions and garlic to make it tastier. No muss, no fuss. Not the most healthy food but a real lifesaver when you don’t have a lot of provisions.
We would have to wait until Monday to get some fresh veggies, fish, and other provisions. And French baguettes… I couldn’t wait for the baguettes…
On long passages the days can blur together in the routine (okay, this is a good passage we’re talking about here). Sounds boring, but it isn’t bad. There is always something to do and days slide by almost without notice. Still, it’s nice to shake a little spice of celebration in there. Umineko was lucky; of the 4 crew, 2 of us had March birthdays, so we had sea celebrations to plan to break the passage up.
I don’t usually do much for my birthday. Traveling so much it usually gets forgotten or I’m just not with close friends and it doesn’t matter. I figured this one would be the same. Sure, I make cakes for other people on their birthdays but I didn’t really want to make one for myself. That just seemed gratuitous.
When my birthday came, I wasn’t expecting anything… and almost cried at Sato San’s kindness. Somehow, on the 45 foot boat he managed to bake me a special Japanese cake called Dorayaki without my knowing! I could hardly believe it when he brought it out… there was even a candle for me to blow out!
Dorayaki is a sweet layer cake filled with anko, brown sugary adzuki bean paste. No one had baked me a birthday cake since I was a little girl. I was so touched at Sato San’s delicious creation.
I’m not sure he had ever baked a cake before in his life, but it was scrumptious. Japanese desserts are not nearly as sweet as Western ones, and dorayaki is no exception. The layer “cakes” are more like a slightly sweeter version of Western pancakes. The filling though, anko, is sweet. My friend’s son calls it “Chinese chocolate,” and I have heard other Americans say it’s too sweet for them. To me it is sweet and delicious but not too sweet. I know, I know, we don’t usually think of beans in desserts but believe me. Anko is yummy.
This isn’t my recipe, but I found a wonderful Dorayaki Recipe on Japanese cooking 101. Even better (when you have enough bandwidth), they have cooking videos of how to make each recipe. I highly recommend trying this tasty recipe when you have a chance.
A few weeks later it was Toshi San’s birthday… the Umineko boys had thrown me a fantastic birthday. I had to make sure Toshi got a fun one too. Or at least a tasty treat on his birthday.
I did my best to keep it a surprise and bake and decorate while Toshi San slept. Decorating pies, by the way, is not the easiest thing. I’m not quite sure I did as good a job as Sato San had with clandestine baking, but I did my best.
Apple pie was one of Toshi San’s favorites, so I had made a point of buying some in Panama and reserving a few for his birthday pie, secreting them in my cabin.
Most people think of apple pie with milk, and *sigh* ice cream, at least I do. Alas the nearest ice cream parlor was still well over a thousand nautical miles away and ice cream is one of those things almost impossible to keep on a boat. The boys poo pooed the idea of apple pie and milk. Ordinarily we didn’t drink on passage, but today was a birthday celebration. Beer was in order. And so it was… we served apple pie and beer for Toshi San’s birthday crossing the Pacific.
Apples are a wonderful fruit to keep at sea. They last for literally months. Just keep them wrapped up in a dark, dry, and cool (ish) place there’s one on board. Since apples grow in cold climates they’re hard to find in the tropics, but they definitely last. There are people who use canned apples in pie, and admittedly cooking on a yacht I have cut corners that I never thought I would, but I draw the line at canned apples. To me making apple pie out of a can is nothing short of sacrilegious.
Admirals Apple Pie
- 3 c flour
- 1 c cold butter
- 1 t salt
- 3 T rum
- 2 T cold water
- Put flour and salt in bowl.
- Cut your (cold) butter into table-spoon-sized chunks and stir into flour
- Use hands to mix butter and flour until butter forms pea-sized lumps
- Mix in rum 1 T at a time
- Mix in water squeezing, until dough forms a cohesive ball
- Divide ball in half, roll into circle and line pie tin
- Roll other half of dough into thin circle
- 5 apples, cored and sliced (I prefer granny smith)
- ¾ c sugar
- 1 T cinnamon
- 1 t nutmeg
- 2 T lemon juice
- Preheat oven to 175 C (350 F)
- In large bowl place apple slices
- Mix in remaining ingredients except butter
- Spoon filling into crust-lined tin
- Lay remaining dough over pie tin
- Pinch edges closed
- Poke vent slits into pie crust with knife
- Cover edges of pie with tin foil to prevent them from getting too brown
- Place in oven for 45 minutes
- Remove tin foil
- Bake an additional 15 minutes until pie juices just start oozing out of vent slits and crust is a golden brown
- Allow to cool for at least ½ an hour… if you can wait that long
“flot flot flot… flot flot flot…”
I was trying to get some sleep before my watch when I heard it. Damn, another flying fish flew in the hatch, I thought. I’ll just get it when I get up. I promptly rolled over and went to sleep.
My alarm went off at 3:45 a.m. and I dressed for watch. Just before going up, I went to the head (toilet) in my room to brush my teeth.
“Oh!” I cried, as I turned on the light. A pigeon-sized dark-grey bird sat on the floor looking up at me. I went outside and brought Mori San, who was just going off watch, in to see. He must be one of the little dark birds we had seen flitting over the waves almost our entire 4,000 nautical mile passage.
I say he because everyone on the boat was convinced that any bird visiting the girl’s cabin had to be male. I pointedly ignored Zeus comments.
I had wondered how on earth these birds managed to make it so terribly far from land without rest. We were thousands of miles away from any land. Maybe that was the reason the little guy made his way into my cabin. He just needed a break. With a long curving beak and clear dark eyes I wondered what kind of bird my new friend was. I did want to make sure he was okay. It was night, but he seemed far too sedate to be entirely healthy.
I took a towel out of the bathroom cupboard and covered the bird, and scooped him into my arms. He weighed less than air as I carried him outside. He didn’t struggle or put up the least bit of resistance to my moving him. I was worried. Had he hurt himself on his way inside Umineko? Was he sick? Wild animals tended to avoid humans like the plague unless they are sick.
Setting him on a bench I filled a small bowl with fresh water and placed it in front of our visitor. He didn’t pay a bit of attention to it** nor did the flying fish I offered have any effect.
After 10 minutes he got down off of the bench and moved into the saloon. He tucked in behind the table and made his way into the darkest shadowy corner he could find, away from the red light in the saloon.
“Maybe just needs to rest,” Toshi San suggested. “He wants to go somewhere that’s quiet.”
At 5:45 the faintest hints of light brushed the Eastern horizon. Dawn was on its way. I went inside with the towel. I didn’t want dawn to come and the bird to start flying around the boat. It was vital to get him out when it was still dark.
He wasn’t in the saloon. He wasn’t on the port side, I peered down the dark steps to the starboard side. There he was, a darker pool in a darker shadow resting at the bottom of the two stairs. Directly in front of Mori San’s berth. I breathed a sigh of relief that Mori San hadn’t needed to use the head and accidently stepped on our guest.
This time when I draped the red towel over him he struggled. I smiled as he tried to stretch his wings and placed him on the back of the port side bench. After a few minutes he hopped down to the bench, and then thought better of it. My heart soared as he flapped his way back up to the ledge. A few minutes more and he disappeared into the dissipating night. He had just needed a place to rest.
Finding a bird in your cabin is fun, always provided you don’t step on it. On the flip side spent the next day cleaning up er… presents our friend had left.
I love breakfast burritos. They are healthy, tasty, and meet the requirements of sailing food: Easy and portable. Even better, they don’t require complicated ingredients. If you have leftover rice or beans from the night before they’re a fantastic way to use up ingredients.
Breakwater Breakfast Burritos
- 4 tortillas
- 4 eggs
- 4 slices of cheese (or 8 small slices)
- 2 c rice
- 2 c black eyed peas (soaked and cooked)
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 T taco seasoning
- Crack egg into nonstick skillet over medium heat
- Immediately lay tortilla over egg squish around so that tortilla is coated in egg
- Allow to cook 2 minutes and flip onto plate
- Fry garlic in oil for 2 minutes
- Spoon rice and black eyed peas into pan
- Mix in taco seasoning
- Put tortilla in clean skillet over medium heat, egg-side up
- Lay cheese on top
- Spoon ¼ of mixture onto each of the tortillas
- Wrap and serve with salsa
*When handling wild animals always wrap them in a towel. This is safer for both of you.
- Wild animals don’t know what is happening to them. More often than not they are terrified of the person holding them and the towel protects you and curbs their movement.
- It is terrible to get human scent on the animal. Often others of its kind will shun it after that
- It is some protection from disease
**In retrospect he probably didn’t know what fresh water was! Sea birds have internal desalination systems so that they can just drink sea water. There have been numerous times at sea I wished I were built like that.
You’re crewing on a Japanese-owned boat? You much catch a ton of fish!
Well, not so much. Not a one in the Bahamas. We did catch a ton of barracuda in Cuba, but we’d thrown all of them back. It may have been open water but we had absolutely no desire to mess with ciguatera, the fish-borne illness that’s featured in various places on the spectrum from wish-you-were-dead to actually deadly. We had caught a king fish and a few little things in harbors, but fish seemed to be keeping clear of Umineko.
Toshi San cleaning bonito
But our luck seemed to be changing on our long passage. We caught our first big(ish) fish. And a tasty one too, a bonito, and perfect for a Japanese boat. Japanese cooking uses bonito, or katsuo, flakes and stock in a whole lot of their dishes. I just had never tasted a fresh one.
When Toshi San, our resident fish expert, deftly cleaned our catch I found out the 10 pound catch had red meat. I’m not sure why I’d been expecting it to have white, but the dark red meat looked good. For this catch we had a real Japanese feast, curtsey of Toshi San, or as I like to call him, my sakane sensai (fish sensai).
He showed me how to trim all of the edges off of the fillets, leaving only the “beautiful” meat, for sashimi and chirashi sushi. We waste all of the scraps? I asked him, horrified. Not at all, he replied, putting them in a small pan.
He chopped up some fresh ginger and arranged it over the fish. Then he poured a little mirin, a little soy sauce, a few spoonfuls of sugar, and enough water to cover the fish.
“I’ve been cooking fish since I was a child,” he told me. I never measure anything. I don’t have to!”
The dish was delicious but as I’m still not up to judging how much of what goes in I won’t put the recipe up. I’ll just have to experiment a bit more.
For the “beautiful dishes,” we made easy sushi rice, cooking the rice, folding in a sushi powder packet, and then training a fan on it: The modern take on hand-fanned sushi.
Then we thickly sliced the most beautiful fish rolls, each piece about 1” thick. He explained to me that dark meat was generally sliced more thickly in Japan.
He sliced the meat and arranged the pieces one after the other in elegant lines on a plate. Each one fit together perfectly. Next he chopped 3 cloves of garlic and spread it over the bonito. Finally he sprinkled finely chopped spring onions over the top, wrapped it in plastic film, and refrigerated it until dinner time.
I was in charge of arranging the toppings for the chirashi sushi. With the three dishes we had a glorious bonito feast that day.
Blue Water Bonito Sashimi
Blue Water Bonito Sushi
- 3 cloves chopped garlic
- Spring onion
A scream of stark terror pierced the night.
“What happened!?” Toshi San was quick to ask.
I tried to forget the memory of the cold, slimy form wriggling between my toes.
You don’t expect to step on a flying fish in the hallway to your cabin. The hatch hadn’t been open more than a crack, but somehow the creature had found its way in. They were everywhere.
Like gifts from the sea gods, heaps of flying fish graced our trampoline and deck every morning. We had so many, Sato San started noting how many fish we’d gotten on the daily log. Each line had date, Position, how many miles we had left of the total, position, temperature, and number of flying fish noted.
Daily Log Board
On every other yacht I’d sailed flying fish were thrown over the side. The ones who crashed harder were cursed for smearing the deck with their scales (a nightmare to scrub off once you were in port). Umineko was different. Once, I threw one over the side and Sato San gasped in horror. We can eat those!
I had never even considered it, but he explained to me he really wanted flying fish for breakfast the next day. Yup, you heard right. Breakfast. Sure, fish for breakfast may sound strange to Westerners. I was certainly surprised. But I am almost always up for trying new things. After all, why crew on a Japanese boat if you don’t want to expand your culinary expertise and horizons?
And there it was. Flying fish were on the menu. But making one type of fish dish is boring. I had to diversify. Soon it became a challenge. What different types of flying fish could I make?
After about a week of flying fish for breakfast Sato San was still gung-ho about the whole thing, but other crew members (whom shall remain nameless) were pleading for a Western breakfast. Flying fish are quite tasty prepared the right way, but no matter how many variations you make no matter how hard you try they don’t do very well in American-style pancakes.
You cruisers may have never thought about frying up your flying fish, but I highly recommend it. Fish you don’t even have to hook? Why not? The Umineko boys were all about the bigger the fish the better. I have a different take on things. The small ones take less work. Like a lot less.
When a flying fish gets to a certain size they grow scales and you can’t eat the bones. I’m not a huge fan of or expert at descaling and filleting fish. It’s even more annoying when there are a ton of flying fish to clean. But the captain liked them. I got pretty skilled at it, though I still was much happier when the little ones offered themselves up for our breakfast.
As they are a bit of a chore to clean maybe not cooking them every day they appear on the deck, but I definitely recommend giving them a try once or twice. As I mentioned, I tried quite a few takes on flying fish, but this was one of my favorite recipes.
Fair Winds Flying Fish Donburi
- Rice, cooked
- Pickled veggies (we use pickled daikon(takuan), kimchee, and whatever other pickles we have)
- Flying fish, cleaned
- 2 T butter
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 T soy sauce
- 1 T mirin (you can substitute 1 T water and 2 t sugar)
- Heat butter in pan over medium heat
- Fry garlic for 1 minute
- Add flying fish, skin-side down and cook 2-3 minutes (depending on size)
- Flip fish and cook another minute
- Add soy sauce and mirin and cook one more minute
- Serve over rice with pickles
A flight of something thwacked into our path as we were dinghying across the Bahamian waters.
“What do you think that was?” the captain asked me.
“Flying fish,” I replied. What else could it be?
“Calamari!” the captain replied, grinning and holding up a small squid.
I had never even heard of flying squid before a sail around the Bahamas several years prior, or since. Until the passage from Panama, that is. The first day after we passed the Galapagos flying fish started appearing on our trampoline. Gifts from the sea gods, of course. The first day there were a few flying fish and one little squid.
Cook them for breakfast, Sato San urged. The flying fish were alright, but the squid was scrumptious.
“There’ll be 10 squid this morning,” I said to Toshi San on watch that night. I didn’t really believe it, but to my delight there was a flock of flying squid on the trampoline as the sun came up. Not quite 10, but enough for a tasty snack.
That morning for breakfast I served them as a side dish to our usual rice breakfast. They were delectable, perfectly done. And what a wonderful addition of fresh food to the provisions! Unlike catching monstrous tuna or mahi mahi you aren’t eating it for weeks either.
We didn’t have as many flying squid gifts on the trampoline, but they really are delicious. I highly recommend frying them up if you find them on your deck or trampoline on passage. You do have to take out the little plastic-y tube
Falling off Flying Squid
- ½ lb squid, about 10
- 2 T soy
- 1 T cooking sake
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 T butter
- Clean the squid, they always have a little plastic-y tube inside but they are usually small enough not to have a beak or anything else that needs removal. Place in small bowl
- Sprinkle cooking sake over squid (it removes any possible odor)
- In small frying pan heat butter over medium heat
- Fry garlic 1-2 minutes
- Add soy
- Cook squid 30 seconds on each side, they will plump up a little bit and translucent flesh will turn opaque
- Put over rice
If you’re going to keep the squid until lunch you might want to refrigerate it.
The sailing world is fraught with myths, legends, and tradition. That it is bad luck have a woman on a boat may have fallen by the wayside (for some at least), but others remain. In name at least. Some, like the equator crossing tradition can be a fun way to break up a long passage.
To cross the equator you need the sea god’s permission. There are different takes on it. Some legends state that newbies, the people who haven’t crossed before, must perform a ritual. Others say that the oldest member on board must make the sacrifice, but luckily (for me) Sato San decided that the newbies had to come up with the skit.
Rather than doing an actual skit we agreed that we would do a picture skit. Each scene would be a still shot and the pictures would say everything. No memorizing lines, no action. Just implied action. Apparently this kind of thing was extremely popular in Japan.
Toshi San and I thought about it for a few days. Cross dressing and nudity were common in these ceremonies. I vetoed removing any of my clothes, or wearing a coconut bra or Brazilian string bikini the guys had been suggesting. Cross dressing on the other hand… now that was a definite possibility. And who better than to dress up as a woman than Sato San, the biggest advocate of me wearing less clothes.
Here’s how our story went:
The winds had died because we needed to ask the sea god’s permission to cross the equator. The sea god needed a sacrifice.
One sailor catches a beautiful mermaid (as played by Sato San) and decides to give her to the sea god to marry.
One sailor prepares the mermaid for the marriage but gets jealous that the mermaid is marrying a god so calls in her friend in Pacific Al Quanaika (the word means “where it is” in Japanese, but Toshi San wanted it as a play on Al Qaeda) who stabs the mermaid
The sea god appears saying he doesn’t want his beautiful mermaid hurt or need a sacrifice so he brings her back to life with rum. (this is also a joke as alcohol can be used to kill fish)
The sea god brings the wind and everyone happily sings a song.
It must have worked. Not half an hour later a pod of 7 small whales, possibly pilot whales breached alongside of us. I was delighted watching the creatures surfaces so close to the hull. Sato San, on the other hand just wanted them gone. They weren’t big, only 2-3 times the size of a dolphin, with curious rounded heads and dark bodies.
When Toshi San made the joke about whale steaks I knew the gentle giants must not have seen the Japanese flag.
One of our favorite meals is somen. It’s quick, easy, and delicious on a hot day, which we get quite a few of in equatorial waters. Somen isn’t for rough seas, but it’s a great thing to eat on calm waters, at anchor, or in a marina. Healthy, delicious, and above all easy it’s a fun cool meal for crew to eat together on the deck with a breeze blowing over you.
South of the Equator Somen
- 1 500 gram package of somen noodles
- Tomato, thinly sliced
- Spring onions, finely chopped
- ½ carrot, julienned
- 1 can fish (sardines or Japanese canned fish)
- ½ cucumber, julienned
- 2 eggs, beaten
- ¼ c katsuo dipping sauce
- Boil water
- Put somen in and cook for 2 minutes
- Drain and run cold water over noodles until cool (it stops the noodles cooking and cools them)
- Fry eggs in small, oiled pan (ideally square) over medium heat about 2 minutes on one side and flip.
- Slice egg into very thin slices
- Arrange egg and veggies on a plate with fish in the middle
- Set on table with wasabi and katsuo
- Each person has a little bowl and each person makes their own lunch:
- Pour katsuo dipping sauce into bowl
- Stir in wasabi to taste
- Sprinkle in spring onions
- Add noodles, veggies and fish
- Refill bowl and eat until full!
Okay, this was in Panama… we sailed past the Galapagos in the dead of night but hey, islands.
The Galapagos. Ever since reading the Kurt Vonnegut book I had wanted to sail there. Almost every cruiser heading through the Panama Canal to the Marquesas stops off at the Galapagos. It’s the logical stopping-point to break up the prodiigeous 4,000 nautical mile passage. Sure, it’s a lot closer to Panama, about 845 nautical miles away. But still, it’s a nice break to help you remember what land feels like.
Toshi San and I both really wanted to go. Mori San wouldn’t have minded either (provided there was a post office there, Mori San’s one requirement for visiting even the remotest of locations). Unfortunately Sato San was dead set against it. It was costly, there was a lot of paperwork, we might use up too much fuel, and he was in a bit of a hurry to reach Darwin for the start of the Sail Indonesia Rally in July. Then there were the sea lions. He’d heard horror stories from our friends in the previous WARC about sea lions climbing up on boats and making their noisy, stinky, aggressive selves at home.
Still, we were sailing within 10 nautical miles of the islands, near enough to smell them, without stopping. Sadder still our friends on Spirit of Alcides were taking the time to stop and explore the islands. But as much as Toshi San, Mori San, and I wanted to go, it wasn’t up to us. Though crew may offer suggestions, a boat is not a democracy. The captain always has the final say.
Though it can be frustrating, the captain really does have to have complete control of what goes on on a boat (this control does not extend to the galley. I am captain of my galley. It helps the boat run smoothly and keeps things together in rough seas or trying times. Not that the captain has to be a Bligh or anything. He can listen, but bottom line is that, the captain always has the final say. Alas this meant I didn’t get to visit the Galapagos this time around.
I was on watch with Toshi San at 3:30 am when we sailed by. Oh there was joking about “accidently” going off course and ending up there but no. No giant turtles or blue footed boobies for us. Not this time. I guess I have to save something for next time around.
That morning we had left-over rice from the night before. Rice is integral in Japanese cooking. From the start Sato San made it clear that at least one meal of the day should be accompanied by rice. I usually cook just the right amount. But what happens when you make too much rice?
Growing up one of my favorite left over breakfasts was rice cakes. Now “rice cake” can mean so many different things. Of course there are the Styrofoam-like “healthy” rice cakes. You know, the ones that taste like nothing unless they are flavored with some salt or seasoning? Then there are Korean rice cakes which are similar to Japanese mochi. These dense cylinders of rice flour pressed into a chewy pasta are used in one of my favorite dishes, dduk boki.
These rice cakes are completely different. They are more like rice pancakes. They make an easy and tasty breakfast not to mention being a wonderful way of using up left-over rice from the night before.
Captain’s Call Rice Cakes
- 3 c cooked rice
- ¼ c spring onions, finely chopped
- ½ c canned corn
- ½ c fake crab meat, chopped (optional)
- 2 T Vegeta seasoning
- 4 eggs
- Oil for frying
- Okonomayaki sauce (optional)
- Put rice in large bowl
- Mix in eggs, corn, fake crab meat, and vegeta
- Scoop onto oiled skillet with ladle
- Cook in oiled skillet over medium heat until golden, 2-3 minutes on each side
- Serve hot
50 meter waves swallowed the boat! The wind was gusting up to 60 knots! The sails were in shreds, the autopilot broke, the water maker broke…
Given the horror stories about sailing you’d wonder why anyone would ever want to get out on the water. But the thing is that talking about good sails isn’t interesting. Who wants to hear about the exhilarating 9-knot sail with 12 knots of wind and a current in your favor? It is wonderful, but like all happy families being alike so too are great passages. Describing how the yacht sped over flat seas under brilliant blue skies can get old fast. But that’s exactly what happened.
We were on the Galapagos Express, the current speeding us along. Of course had it been up to me, we would have stopped in the Galapagos. Of course I wanted to see the legendary islands and it was also a wonderful way to break up the 4,000 nautical mile passage. Sadly the captain wanted to go straight to the Marquesas.
Still, the sail was so glorious I could hardly complain. Fast, smooth, and idyllic. At night we were even serenaded by a stow-away cricket.
The sail was so smooth that cooking at anchor is often rougher. And after our intensive Panama provisioning we had an extremely well-stocked galley so cooking was ideal. Simple is still always the best though and salads are wonderful for warm weather.
I abhorred cabbage before I started sailing. Well, I liked the pickled varieties, sauerkraut or kimchee, that is. Still, coleslaw made my hair stand on end. When I heard that cabbage was the cruiser’s lettuce I was not excited. I think I would prefer a diet of hardtack to one of coleslaw.
But the more I experimented with cabbage, the more I liked it. Far more than simply the coleslaw I knew as a child, I have come to see it as an under-appreciated, extremely versatile, and surprisingly nutritious vegetable. We always have cabbage on board on Umineko. It is in some of my favorite Japanese dishes, featured widely in Korean cuisine, and many other dishes one wouldn’t necessarily think of it.
From hating cabbage to relishing cabbage salads (don’t worry… I’m still not sold on coleslaw) and numerous other cabbage dishes. This is one of my favorites; a super simple tasty and nutritious cabbage dish.
Stow Away Quinoa Cabbage Salad
- 2 c quinoa, cooked
- ½ onion finely chopped
- 2 c cabbage, sliced
- Juice from 1 lime
- 1 T rice vinegar
- 1 T sesame oil
- 2 t soy
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1/3 c cranberries
- In small bowl stir together lime juice, rice vinegar, oil, and soy and set aside
- In large bowl mix quinoa onion, and cabbage
- Pour dressing over and mix well
- Stir in cranberries
- Season with salt and pepper
*This salad can be stored for days and is just as tasty. Maybe even more!