7 June – On moving North

One thing that happens as one spends time at sea, is that one becomes far more aware of, and in tune with the sky, the sea and the seasons they define.

I left Cape Town at the end of April as it was starting to get into the Cape winter and the most natural thing was to dress accordingly. On my first night out at sea, I was wearing layers. Lots of them because the water on the west coast is very cold. I recall that I was wearing, underneath my foul weather gear, the following: Merino underwear, longjohns, T-shirt, long-sleeved T-shirt, mid-layer top and a jacket. Two pairs of mohair socks and leather sailing boots. I had a woollen scarf from Oman and a homemade sheeps wool beanie. In my pockets, I had fleece gloves for when my hands were idle. I won’t say I was still cold, but I could still feel the temperature! I was also using my expedition standard sleeping bag although without its special inner liner. As the days and nights progressed, the layers became fewer and fewer until they disappeared completely. The sleeping bag was rolled up and packed away, replaced by a light cotton throw which didn’t see use for long either. There was a period between the latitude of St Helena and the top end of the doldrums where I can honestly say that I didn’t generate any laundry apart from towels and dishcloths.

As in Shakespeare’s “Seven ages of man”, continuing the journey north brings about a gradual reversal of this process! For the last few days, pants have become a good idea and last night I even wore a t-shirt and thought seriously about hauling out a long-sleeved one. But that would have meant acknowledging the end of a phase in this journey and the sea state outside is not prepared to let me do that just yet. It’s been fascinating to watch the sea temperature rise from a balmy 13°C in Table Bay to the maximum I saw near the equator of 29.5°C! Fortunately, it was near the equator that I had to dive to discourage a few goose barnacles that had set their sights on the trailing edge of my rudder as a new home, and not in Table Bay. Along with the change in sea temperature goes a change in air temperature and with that a different way of looking at foodstuffs in a non-refrigerated environment. “Refrigerate after opening” in a temperate climate is like a friendly suggestion for good housekeeping. In the tropics, it becomes a real health warning! Somewhere in between, there is a crossover point and I think I found it this morning.

My breakfast usually consists of some magnificent Alphen Muesli with honey or molasses and hot water, long-life milk or if I happen to have opened a bottle, Oat Milk. Yesterday, or it may have been the day before, I opened a bottle of Oat Milk to make the familiar taste of Just Roasted’s Rwandan coffee taste that much better. The milk bottle says “refrigerate after opening”, but even more than obviously just being a suggestion, it’s also an impossibility for me as I don’t have a fridge on board.

I think I have discovered the Millennials’ version of Umqombothi! The Oat Milk appears to have fermented quite nicely and my breakfast was most enjoyable!

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