Location: Port Elizabeth, South Africaz
South Africa does not celebrate Thanksgiving, so it is possible that we are the first ones to celebrate the holiday here in small-town Port Elizabeth. There are lots to be thankful for today on Argo. It all started this morning when watch team 4 spotted an unusual mass of birds circling in the distance by mass of birds, I mean several thousand all in one spot dive-bombing the water. We had stumbled upon a bait ball, a high-density school of baitfish that have been forced to the surface and are subsequently hunted from both above and below. These bait balls are common occurrences in this nutrient-rich water. As we approached, we cut our motor and sailed into the commotion in order not to disturb any echolocators that might be operating under the water. This tactic paid off as we coasted into the mass and bore witness to hundreds of dolphins, tens of seals, and a couple of whales showing us the true meaning of a Thanksgiving feast. The only thing we did not see was a shark, although we are sure they were operating below the surface.
Once this Nat Geo moment was subsidized, we proceeded into Port Elizabeth as winds picked up behind us. We are thankful to be on the dock for thanksgiving, but we didn’t stop here in order to cook our turkeys evenly, although that was a nice bonus. We have been closely monitoring the weather as is required when sailing in this part of the world. We are attempting to avoid finding ourselves in a situation where we are sailing with the current into the wind, which could lead us to experience the warning on our charts, ‘abnormal waves.’. As we watch the forecast carefully, we are prepared to leave quickly or potentially stay longer; only time and weather will tell. We are now less than 400 miles from Cape Town and definitely in striking distance.
Now we are sitting on an industrial fishing dock with extra lines and fenders out as we prepare for an intense evening. Although not our main objective, it was nice to finish our thanksgiving preparations in the protected waters of the marina. If any of you are thinking that we did not get the full thanksgiving experience, you may rest easy. Preparations started last night as cookie dough, and the pie crust were prepared. From about 8 am this morning, the galley has been active as the complex dance of cooking a full Thanksgiving meal for 30 people on four burners and one oven commenced. Obviously, deserts came first, which really worked up our hunger for lunch, but we all ate lightly. After lunch, we started working on our main courses, mashed potatoes, stuffing, sweet potatoes, pigs in a blanket, baked beets, garlic cookies, and of course, four whole turkeys. The job wheel chose Jay as head chef, and he shouldered the burden of all the birds and entrees in spectacular fashion. In order to fit them all in our one oven, they required a bit of CPR to break their ribs and flatten out a bit. After much basting and love, they came out delicious and moist, some of the best I’ve had, actually.
When it came down to the actual meal, we had all the toppings and dressings, from gravy to cranberry sauce. In between dinner and dessert, we ‘squeezed’ as we have for the past 75 nights. As skipper, I asked the group what they were thankful for. As the squeeze went around the group, it was warming to hear what everyone was thankful for, this experience, each other, our families, the opportunities we have all been afforded. When it finally came back to me, I wanted to leave everyone with one final thought of gratitude. So often, on this day, we are thankful for a great number of things and people in our lives that are very deserving of our appreciation. I asked the crew, and now I ask you, the reader, what are you thankful for about yourself. I can guarantee that each of us has someone who is very thankful for who we are and the role we play in their life, but let’s not forget ourselves. We each have an inner self that deserves our thanks today just as much as all the people and things in our life that make us who we are.
From Argo, we are thankful.
All the best,