Day 18 at sea: Dolphin, squid and mash potato

Pulling up the sea anchor this morning after a day of waiting out the easterly wind was a good moment. Back to the oars and back to the task of reclaiming lost ground and looping the loop. Back to physical forward progress rather than just mental morale boosting at triumphing on little tasks. A day of rowing and  I am happy to say I stowed the oars an hour ago ten miles further east than we had been this morning. Not huge, admittedly, but there wasn’t any help from the wind so I was satisfied.

As the GPS tracker ticks over from 499.69 nautical miles on the log towards the first half thousand, I wonder just how many more we’ll clock before (finally) making it back into the helpful arms of the Kuroshio current. I’m taking no bets though! With more easterly wind forecast for tomorrow I am not hopeful that we’ll be there any time soon. I think it really is going to be a case of inching our way back to it, making use of whatever windows the weather presents.

Still, no real grumbles on that front as this patch of ocean blue is providing some wonderful wildlife moments. As I sat munching a tray of mashed potato for breakfast this morning a school of dolphins bounced by, bathed in the bright gold of the rising sun. Next came a squid though there was no bouncing or eating here. You see, Gulliver being such a looker it seems that he attracts all sorts of locals and some of them just can’t help but throw themselves at him. The little petrels are more easily relaunched than a squid, or at least more vitally. The tentacled chap in question had landed on deck overnight and ended his squidding days right there.

The first thing you notice are the eyes – beautiful. Did you know that the giant squid has the largest eye in the whole of the animal kingdom? Oh yes indeed – the size of a dinner plate! Now this little chappy was no giant, but if you look at the size of his eye compared to the rest of the body, it is pretty huge.

The squid visitor and his lovely big blue eye

But as he was no longer with us, I did the decent thing and turned him into a biology lesson, chopping him up with my kitchen knife and pulling out the interesting bits. Did you know that squids have a beak for ripping apart prey? It is surrounded by tentacles, a couple of which have hooked suckers to help reel food in.

The squid's beak, pen and ink with my knife.....

Having seen squid irridescing under my boat a few nights ago it was interesting to get up close and personal again with one-  last time I did this I was a first year student at Oxford, nearly eight years ago.

You may be wondering how and why he/it arrived aboard. Two words: jet engine. Of sorts, anyway. Squid use a sort of jet propulsion to get around, squirting water out through their body. I believe it was from the wonderful Thor Heyerdahl’s Kon Tiki expedition that this was proposed after they found numerous squid on the cabin roof. It is thought they shoot themselves out of the water when being chased and hence find themselves high and dry on boats.

I have some great footage of wildlife moments from these first couple of weeks but haven’t had a chance to edit anything just yet. Having overcome the queasiness now, it is certainly a target. Along with taking my first ocean swim. For both I am keen for a flat calm day. So, watch this space.

All salty best from out here,

Sarah and Gulliver x

PS Schools’ competition closing 31st May. Get your entries in to education@sarahouten.com pronto

Geoff and Janet – Everest, how exciting. What a contrast to my watery world now! And indeed Freo. Geoff – ‘twould be grand to have you pedal with Hercules and me. My issue is I can’t say when I’ll be there :0) Big squeeze back.

Belinda Dade – Mmm…. What I wouldn’t do for a big tray of chips with salt and vinegar!

Thomas Butcher – Thanks for the offer. A little way off yet but do drop my PR Chief Jenny Ellery a line on press@sarahouten.com

Christine Foley – Thank you and thank you.

Tari – Tigger and friends doing just fine and still taste brilliant.

Inger Vandyke – Yes, I have a bright white navigation light on board though even when I turn it off they seem to be attracted to the light from my equipment/torch that shines out of my cabin. We’re at 36 degrees north, a few hundred miles off the coast of Japan

John, Lake Ontario – Indeed, the Mouse loved those Ultimate Cupcakes. And is still nibbling the hundreds of cookies from OrangePot HQ. Every ocean rower should have a Tari in their life!

Barry Gumbert – Queasiness all but gone now thanks. It always happens when I get out to sea – everything takes a while to adjust. Poetry learning is back on the agenda too – I have a big book out here this time.

 

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7 Responses to Day 18 at sea: Dolphin, squid and mash potato

  1. Valerie Hazan says:

    Squid and mashed potato for dinner?

  2. John Globemasterone says:

    Ah….too bad the “squid visitor” arrived late…..you could have had “squid-inked mashed potatoes”. The recipe I read said it is “cool”. I hope you hook onto that current soon Sarah. Happy to see you are feeling better.
    All the best.
    john, Lake Ontario

  3. Tari says:

    Next time you’re squidded, how about some squid and squid ink pasta? It will go well with some garlic and dried herbs. How about also some flying fish pan fried? Ha ha!
    Happy to hear Tigger and friends are still tasty. Your dry bags are doing all the magic, methinks. Even a better job than my own freezer. How many bags have you got left? Kelly and I were doing nautical miles bet. Let’s see who got the closest number! xx

  4. Barry Gumbert says:

    Sorry I haven’t had time for poetry hunting lately but I did send you an audio book on creativity.. Ask Sara or check your spam folder…

  5. Noel says:

    A fascinating blog. Glad to hear you’re making headway again.

  6. Jiwon Hwang from Seisen International School from 5A says:

    HI, Sarah I’m JIwon from Seisen International School 5A. I felt really interesting about the project London 2 London.
    Maybe I will do the same thing as you at future^o^ I’m your no.1 Fan! Go Sarah!

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