Thursday, April 30, 2009

April 29, 2009 - Galle, Sri Lanka

We returned from our trip to discover that crows were building a nest under our radar dome and that Mike hadn't been able to gravity feed either of our propane tanks because the bleed screws on the valves were seized up. Sten had a go at trying to loosen them, but they wouldn't budge. Unfortunately, there is no place in Galle to fill propane bottles from a pressurized tank, so we had to either get those screws open or we would have to replace our American propane tanks with Sri Lankan tanks, which would likely not be compatible with valves and tanks anywhere else.

Batu, our tuktuk driver, took us and the tanks to our agent's office. As I sat in a comfortable office chair, five men gathered in a half circle around one of our propane tanks, which was sitting in the center of their glossy tile floor, and discussed the problem in a mix of Sri Lankan, English and hand gestures. They looked like nothing so much as a group of doctors consulting on a diagnosis. The recommended treatment was to take the tanks to a machine shop to have the corroded bleed screws removed, and replacement screws machined. This sounded like a much better idea to me than Sten playing with powertools around extremely flammable gas, so we took the tanks to a machine shop on Monday afternoon. Two days later, the screws have been replaced and the tanks are back at Mike's shop being filled.

It wouldn't be cruising without a few small repairs . . .

Without any propane, our cooking options have been severely curtailed. Sten has been making our morning coffee in the microwave, and we are primarily subsisting on curd and take away rotty. Not exactly sea biscuits and salt pork, but after three days it is getting a bit old. We're almost desperate enough to go out for the dreaded Sri Lankan rice and curry, but not yet.

"Curd, curd, curd, curd is the word . . ."

Sten selecting our daily ration of rotty

Now, that's a lot of dough.

We had crews from two of the other boats in the harbor over for drinks on Monday. Trying to work through an abundance of overripe Chagos provisions, I mixed up some bruschetta topping, while Sten grilled up hunks of the delicious local bread. On Tuesday, we all gathered on another boat for an early Cinco de Mayo celebration to use up our remaining limes and a delivery crew's liquor stores before they sign off their vessel. Several bottles of tequila and orange liquor went into the 'ritas, and I managed to use up most of our remaining tomatoes from the Andamans in a big batch of pico de gallo. We were having a great time, but Sten had an early appointment to make a fuel run with Batu, so we had to make it an early night, which was a good thing judging from the fog in my head this morning. Thanks to last night, I can now report that the Ayurvedic hangover cure of a bowl of water buffalo curd is nowhere near as effective as a venti iced coffee from Starbucks (which contains just about enough caffeine to stop ones heart, and then kickstart it again) paired with a sausage egg and cheese McMuffin. Even after a big bowl of curd, it was sometime before I felt up to sitting upright at the computer.

A couple pounds of the 100 metric tons of yellowfin offloaded from this longliner
This evening we headed over to Galle Fort for a walk on the ramparts at sunset. The fort was built by the Dutch East India Company in 1663. After a pleasant stroll on the fort walls, marred only by a few touts trying to sell us gems and lace or lead us to a hotel or restaurant, we made our way to the Galle Fort Hotel for dinner. The restaurant had been highly recommended by several other yachties in the harbor. They did not steer us wrong. The set menu included several delicious Indonesian and Malaysian dishes. It was so nice to revisit two of our favorite cuisines, with their complex blends of spices and flavors, and to take a break from the firey Sri Lankan food. Dinner was topped off with a mixture of terrific sorbets made with excellent local fruits. Tropical combinations like lychee and coconut, mango and lime, and pineapple and mint made us wish we had an ice cream machine onboard Mata'irea.

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