Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Equilibrium

Equilibrium has been restored to the crew as we finally settle into our living quarters aboard the yacht. I don’t think I can imagine anything worse than taking 9 people that aren’t too fond of land, desk jobs and offices and stick them on land and give them lots of paper work for 6-months…

It’s funny how easy everyone is falling into their jobs aboard – even the captain seems happy to help with something like a wash-down of the boat- because at least it’s easy and predictable – unlike all the paperwork that’s required that will finally allow us to get on our way. Even I’ve had to suffer through writing some procedures documents (which is what the Chefs Prayer evolved out of) - but far less than the chief stewardess, engineer, captain, mate and purser. The stress level has dropped considerably over the past week and a somewhat “normal” (there’s nothing normal about the yachting world) pace has returned to our workday. I’m finding my groove easily in the new galley and though I have far too many small appliances and utensils stuffed in my utensil drawers – I’ve found a place for everything and getting around the galley seems fluid, effortless and smooth.

The trips-en-mass to the grocery have begun as I provision the boat with all the essentials to last us at least through the first few months, and so I won’t have to go grocery shopping every single day – as I did in the crew house… I’m probably hovering somewhere in the realm of 100 grocery bags in just a few days - and that’s just on basic supplies, and meat and fish to get us through the next couple of weeks of sea trials where we’ll have double the crew aboard for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

My day starts around 7am with a cup of tea and breakfast in our cramped, little crew mess where 9 of us gather around a tiny table and elbow each other around for room. The crew are very particular about their breakfast – because it’s the only meal of the day they have control over *cue evil laugh here* and with the British contingent aboard, this means Wheatabix, Marmite for toast and steady supply of PG Tips. For the Aussies, there's lots of fresh fruit and Vegemite (which I prefer) and for the Swede, it's cucumbers and ham on slices of dense rye bread and yogurt with fresh berries. The snack/breakfast cupboard is stuffed full of snacks and cereal and can hardly be opened without an avalanche of boxes and bags careening out and the storage below the settee is stuffed to the hilt with backup supplies of snacks. Snacks are an extremely important part of the day and a good boost for crew moral. Whether it’s Tam Tams for the Aussies, “chockies” (chocolates - dark chocolate for everyone except the Brits, they prefer milk chocolate), dried fruits and nuts, tea, cappuccino’s – whatever keeps the crew going – without proper snackage, there could be a mutiny – and soon, when I get more settled and provisioned, I’ll be making some homemade snacks for the crew as well… Up until recently, my mornings have been spent unloading boxes from the warehouse and stowing cooking equipment. Now, it’s preparing crates of backup food supplies to go into the bilge, refitting shelves in the pantry and finishing paperwork and then sometime around 10:30am I begin making crew lunch – this could be anything from frittata’s and salad to putting out the fixings for panini’s – the crew LOVE the panini maker and are as excited as children on Christmas Day when I lay out a spread of charcuterie, cheese, condiments and bread and let them make their own lunch. But this too goes along with this theory I’ve developed about them having control over their own food… I mean, if I lay something out and they can make their own food, they suddenly get very particular and picky about what they eat, but if I’m making it for them – they’ll eat whatever I serve. Personally, I know that I could never work another position on a yacht because it would torture me to eat someone else's cooking for every meal… but I digress… Anyway… The person in charge of watch keeping that day is usually the one who sets the table for the meals and helps clean up afterward. Lunch goes out around 11:30 and after that I’m usually out the door making my runs to Trader Joe’s, Costco, Metropolitan and Safeway - filling cart after cart with groceries to stock the boat. Then, it’s back to the boat to find homes for hundreds of pounds of dry goods, cans, jars and bottles and bags and around 4:00pm it’s time to begin dinner – roast chicken, veggies and potatoes or a one-pot wonder like curry or chili… My friend, Gregory, a staunch environmentalist who tries in earnest to live the life of a locavore, eating locally and sustainable – and who, bless his heart, has never put me on a guilt trip for working on a fuel sucking mega yacht or for wearing leather boots - recently put me in touch with John Foss, a fisherman coming back from Alaska from whom I was able to purchase 15 lbs. of beautiful, wild Sockeye salmon from Naknek Family Fisheries - a group of fisher WOMEN from Bristol Bay. It’s now filling my deep freeze awaiting the sea trials and I think the boat builders and the crew will be quite pleased… When time permits, I try to hit the farmers market in West Seattle or Ballard, but sometimes necessity dictates and it’s not always easy to go local. Like Kermit the Frog would say, “it’s not easy being green”…

Dinner is served around 5:30pm and I make a concerted effort to be putting away my last pot and wiping down my stove just as I’m about to serve crew dinner, so that way, I can sit with them and eat. It’s a quick inhale of food and then back upstairs to finish wiping down the galley – wiping over the glass, chrome, stainless steel and laquored wood. I finish my day around 6:30 or 7pm. But when there are guests aboard, it will take me an hour AFTER the pots and pans are done to wipe everything down, dry up every drop of water, polish all the glass on the oven doors and stovetop, the steel and wood and clean the floor before I can shut the galley down for the night – probably closer to 10pm (with guests aboard, my days will starting around 5am)… But I guess that’s why they pay me the big bucks – for all my pain and suffering… ;o)

Wait, what was that about ‘equilibrium’?

2 comments:

zettiemae said...

Thanks for the nice plug of our little family-owned business. I just wanted to clarify a couple of things - namely, that our salmon is caught in set gillnets, not by hook and line. Also, although we are ruled by a majority of women, my brother, Everett Thompson is also a member. Check out his member profile at http://www.naknekfish.com/everett.html.

We are the only locally fishermen (and women)-owned and operated company in Naknek, Alaska.

H.Peter said...

Love this blog. Maybe because it revives memories of my own yachting times, or just because you can write so well.

I could never adjust to the weird food habits of those Brits.....good luck with that.

H.Peter

 
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