Monday, 16 June 2008

And at last a burble.

The world runs on fish meal! You'd better believe it. Dave Boisseau (Huge BAPTO please) our contact here has helped us enormously - really could not have done it without him. He is the manager of the Westward fish processing plant in Captains Bay, now working 24 hours/;day processing pollock. He took us around the plant this morning - those of us not too hung over, that is - more later - and the scale and complexity of the operation is stunning. Fish is pumped out of the boats at one end and fillets, surimi, fish meal, fish oil and roe come out at the other end. One small example of the complexity - fish meal contains calcium carbonate wnd it is fed to people, animals, chickens and crops. The calcium carbonate content has to be regulated so that the meal that goes to chickens is enough to ensure that the eggshells are thick enough not to break in the boxes on the supermarket shelves yet not so thick that the cook in the fast food diner at the truck stop on Highway 66 can still break eggs into a frying pan one handed without having to bang them too hard on the pan. And the unfortunate pollock is almost completely utilised - 27 to 30% as fillets and surimi and high value product and the rest as meal. Dave sifted through the tiny amount of actual waste product and pulled out a small hard yellow bead - the lens from a pollock's eye - yellow from the cooking process.
Surimi - google it - is white, tasteless paste that becomes almost anything you want it to be by adding flavour and colouring and texture
- a surimi steak is almost indistinguishable from a real one apparently. Think crab stick, if you live in Oz. And ther smell will be in my clothes for ever!

Berri progress - seems to be under control. Leif Hagen (another Huge BAPTO please) made us a couple of shrouds by email and on a handshake
- Leif Hagen Yacht Systems and Rigging, - and we fitted therm yesterday - eureka! And Dwayne at Harris has sorted the autopilot connectors, his oppo is working on the backup watermaker motor and they haved ordered a new AIS black box so we can follow the fishing boats and avoid them. McQ and Kimbra did a huge shop yesterday and we'll load tomorrow and the plan is to leave around midday on Monday 16. There seems to be enough open water to the north to get to Nome, but we might have to watch and wait a bit if it closes again.

And last night, we were invited to dinner - thanks Sue! - and met the crew of another boat going the same way as us - no publicity, home built, Juan, Luisa, Diego from Spain and Sean from Oz - so we may have company. Significant Consultation was carried out, followed, I'm told, by some even fiercer consultation back in the bar here - concoctions known as Duck Farts - kahlua at the bottom, bailey's in the middle and crown whisky on top. Erk. Not everyone made breakfast or the fishery.

PMcQ - thanks for nice bottle. And thanks to all the gustbookers and those of you that have emailed us. I don't know till we get out there how the communications will work from here, but it's almost certainly iridium or nothing. Appendages crossed on that one. And a huge thank you to Speedy, who, I'm sure, is decorating his frock for the next round.

More before we go if I can get organised. Else, see ya out there where it starts to get difficult.