21 January 2014

It been a morning where the wind has been very up and down. At first light we had full sail set and by 0830 we were down, by degrees, to a Storm Jib and a double reefed main. Then, an hour later, we had full sail again. It’s been W’ly all day and we are able to hold a course while either close reaching or sailing to windward.

There was a vessel astern of us this morning, which came up as a sailing vessel although at 65 metres long she is a big sailing boat. It was the Argentine registered Dr. E Holmberg and she was heading for the Zonadeinvestigacion. Maybe a government research vessel? One of the Argentine fishing boats near here also came up as “sailing” so maybe it doesn’t mean anything definite.

During the morning I emptied all the food from one of the lockers on the port side and put it into what I call the box locker that sits on the floor below the main hatch. This is a big plywood box fastened down to the floor which holds a lot of canned food and also my tatties and onions. I use the food out of here all the time and it had begun to get emptied. What I did today will fill the box locker again but will it also shift a pile of weight from above the waterline to below the waterline, which should help my stability a bit. As most of my food is stored on the port side there has been more weight there and Elsi tended to list to that side. So, this will help that as well.

Most of my food is canned, which gives me a good variety of food but adds a fair bit to the weight. It was a Frenchman, Nicolas Appert who hit on the idea of preserving food in glass jars by heating it to high temperatures and sealing out all the air. In 1812 the British firm Donkin and Hall began to do a similar thing but instead of glass jars they put the meat into tin cans. A year later they were supplying it to the Royal Navy. They labeled the cans “Bouilli”, from the French for boiled meat and the sailors soon began calling it bully beef.

The fresh meat in cans made a welcome change to a diet that was heavily based on salted meat. The basic diet of the lower deck at that time was salt pork, salt beef, biscuit, cheese, butter, peas and oatmeal. They were also issued one gallon of beer and a half pint of rum each day. So, it wasn’t only the meat that was pickled.

The first attempts at canning were mixed. Someone thought it was best to have large (30kg) cans because of the large crews carried onboard. It was pointless to have the cook open a can of meat for each man. This wasn’t a success though. The essential element of the process, which was the high heat failed to penetrate right to the center of the cans and left bacteria, which soon multiplied and turned the meat rotten. Some cans of braised chicken on a French expedition to the Pacific exploded with the pressure. I can picture the cook as he stuck his big knife into the top of a bulging can to hack off the lid.
Now (1800) the wind is heading us again. It looks like it could be a bit mixed overnight and freshening up tomorrow from the west. That’ll certainly give the decks a wash.

Sorry, comments and trackbacks have now been closed.