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A Disappointment of Oranges, a Rashness of Bacon

October 16, 2011

Day 18

Local Noon Position (1134):
By GPS: 14.21.84N by 147.17.18W
By Sextant: 14.24.0N by 147.14.0W

Note: First two sights I wrestled with cloud. The afternoon shot was clean.

Course: 315 degrees true
Speed: 6 knots
Wind: 13 knots NNE
Sea: 1 – 2 feet NE
Sky: 50% occluded. Lots of cumulus puffies, rank upon rank of soldiers marching across the sky. Bar: 1012
Temp: 77 degrees

Since last noon: 147 (!)
Total for passage: 2018
Daily average: 119
Miles to Hilo: 544


Clear skies lasted until early morning, and then a layer of cumulus came in, but nothing heavy or threatening or wet, and the day’s winds followed into the night and on into today. Which means I don’t know when we left the ITCZ exactly, but we are in the NE trade belt by now. Remarkable is that in this crossing of an area so famous for calms, for trapping wind ships for weeks on end, we experienced almost no true dead air and motored for only two hours. Murre has been under full sail most of the day and on a fast close reach (not close hauled, neither too free). Interestingly, almost no birds today; then an hour ago, an entire fleet of Sooty Terns heading NE. Molly has been acting more civil, and as reward I’ve left her alone for nearly a day and a half.

Ate the last apple yesterday. Murre had tossed it to the floor a couple times over the weeks, so it was both rubbery and mealy but somehow still quite delicious. One French Polynesian grapefruit (pamplemousse) remains as well as three oranges. But the oranges have betrayed me. They were my last purchase in Raiatea, were the freshest fruit on board–bright, shiny, and cool–and so I was saving them to the end. But I noticed last week that two of the ten had gone bad, and the others are mushy inside–still edible, but far from satisfying. One looks forward to the taste of fresh fruit on passage, this as an antidote to all the canned foods, the rice and the beans, that are the staples. So the failure of the oranges is deeply disappointment.

By way of compensation, however, I discovered that packages of air-locked bacon with “Keep Frozen at 18*C” printed boldly on the back side don’t even need to be refrigerated. I’m not a great fan of eggs and bacon, but fell victim to the *one should have variety aboard* fallacy and so bought, at the last moment before departure, a dozen eggs and two sleeves of frozen bacon. The bacon thawed ten minutes after leaving the store and was never again so much as cool, but always looked as rosy as it did on the first day. I tried one sleeve with a scramble of eggs shortly after leaving Bora Bora. The eggs did not worry me. If purchased unrefrigerated to begin with and then turned three times a week so as to keep the inside of the shell moist (i.e. sealed), eggs will last as much as two months, even in the tropics. I was less sure of the bacon. But the opened packaged smelled as it should and the meat felt as fresh as bacon ever does. And once fried and tasted, it was obviously edible. It was also obvious why it lasted–the bacon was 99% salt. Terrible–awful stuff to call food. I ate all four scrambled eggs and the entire sleeve in one morning and felt wretched for the rest of the day.

When at all, I learn lessons slowly. On top of that I hate wasting food. So the second sleeve of bacon, just as fresh-looking and smelling as the first, went into the pan two days ago. For the sake of clarity, that was over two weeks after purchase/thawing. It tasted identical to the first sleeve, but this time I stretched the eating of it over a couple days. Remind me not to buy bacon again.

One might call it irresponsible for a man to experiment with foods who is well out of reach of the nearest MediVac helicopter, but I remember reading of an arctic explorer whose company was lost and hungry when they happened upon a beached, long dead and mostly decomposed whale, which they immeditely consumed raw, and whose virtues they extolled. In fact, it was this explorer’s most cherished and most proclaimed discovery–humans can eat anything. It didn’t get him invited to many parties.


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