Sunday, May 18, 2008

Letter Mid Atlantic from Penny

‘Stella Mira’
500 miles out in the Atlantic
Nov 6th

Dear Mum,

You are at long last getting a letter from me, but then you know how I hate writing letters. I’m able to do so at the moment because there’s nothing else to do. We’ve run out of books and the boat isn’t moving very fast. We’ve been at sea for 11 days now and we haven’t had good weather, we keep getting 2’s & 3’s instead of the 4 & 5’s we want. However we’ve managed to get the self steering gear to work (touch wood) so we don’t have to helm the boat at all. The only trouble is that it comes undone every few days and dad has to climb on the back and reset it.

We aren’t doing too badly for food at the moment, but some of the stuff we’ve got we just can’t face; we’re going to try and swap some at Barbados. Surely someone likes freeze-dried peas, dried potatoes and tinned stewed steak or corned beef. Here’s last week’s menu, see what you think of it.

Sun Minced Beef & onion, mashed potato, tinned carrots and tinned oranges
Mon Spaghetti and sausages (one pot meal cos the weather was bad) and tinned grapefruit
Tues Corn Beef omelette & chips (that’s the only way we can eat corn beef) & banana custard
Wed Stewed steak pie, boiled potatoes & surprise beans (that’s the only way we can eat stewed steak too) & pears (ugh they make me want to heave)
Thurs Chicken omelette & chips, jam tart and custard
Fri Pasties & chips & instant whip (lemon flavoured which in dad’s words ‘tasted like shit’ I couldn’t eat it)
Sat Roast Beef, mashed potato, carrots tinned & Royal Pudding

The only other foods we like are hamburgers and salmon, but we’re waiting for the cress to grow to eat that. (The salmon I mean). Unfortunately we’ve run out of ordinary potatoes and we’ve only got the dried stuff left. I tried to make croquettes with it yesterday but the potato just evaporated away in the hot fat. It was quite funny really. However you can fry it if you don’t use much fat. By the way please keep this letter and if I ever complain about the food you give me, just show it to me and I’ll shut up.

We don’t know when we’ll arrive in Barbados, at the rate we’re going, not for another 40 days. I certainly hope we arrive there before my birthday; I don’t want to finish my teenage years at sea. The blasted wind’s just changed direction again but it’s grown in force so that’s alright.

By the way do they sell smoky bacon crisps in Australia? And grapefruit? They didn’t in Las Palmas. What I miss most is roast potatoes, nice crispy ones.

We make bread nearly every day with yeast and it tastes alright but it’s always a white colour, we don’t have the egg to spare to make it brown. The pies don’t brown very much either but they taste alright and that’s all that matters. Do you know anyone who’d like about 30 packets of Vitawheats? We’re going to try and swap that in Barbados too as now we cook bread we don’t eat it.

Mr Thomas (Colonel Bayldon, everyone calls him Mr Thomas in the yacht club in Las Palmas) gave us a stem of bananas as a parting gift when we left Las Palmas. Unfortunately they all ripened before we left Gomera and we couldn’t keep up with eating them (we even had banana fritters for breakfast) and had to give some away. They’ve all gone now; all we’ve got now is a few apples and a few raw carrots. Funny all I seem to think about is food I’ve got it on the brain.

It will be wonderful when we reach Barbados to go in a shop and ask for what you want in English. I can understand Spanish very well and speak it reasonably well; the only trouble is that nobody understands my accent. I go into a shop and say something like “Yo quero (I want) ½ kilo de Gallieta Popular (biscuits)” and they look at me quite blankly, eventually I point it out and they say “Oh Gallieta Popular” exactly the same way as I did. Oh well never mind! We shan’t be going anywhere they speak Spanish again. The only trouble is we might go somewhere where they speak French and when I try to speak it all that comes out is Spanish. Still perhaps my French will come back when I have to speak it.

Same Day, 3 hrs later.
We’ve just had a bath in the cockpit, we filled it up with sea water, and I got in first, sat down and washed myself with washing-up liquid and afterwards sponged myself down with fresh water. Dad threatened to take a photograph of me when I was sat there but luckily he didn’t. When I finished he got in and had his bath and to quote him ‘Bath night at the Ritz’. If it ever rains we shall stand out in the cockpit and have a shower but unfortunately so far it hasn’t rained hard enough. Please excuse the wonky writing but it’s where the boat keeps rolling.

We’ve arrived Sun 24th Nov. Dad will write full details of journey shortly, we’ll post this and pick up the mail at the same time.

Love Penny.

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