Published: August 7th 2006August 7th 2006
So I was lying up in the cockpit just a bit ago thinking about some emails I want to send when I get into town in a few days. One of them was to a friend I’ve been meaning to email the last two times I’ve been to the internet. I want know if they went to Buffett this summer or not. I started thinking about the rest of the email. All the usual. “What have I missed? How are things?” blah blah blah. To which I know the response would have the other usual questions. “How is the trip? How is sailing? Where are you going next?” and “When are you coming back?” It was this last question that got me thinking. “When am I coming back?” Well, no time soon. But in reality I thought, “I can’t currently conceptualize going back to work. Working 9-5. Having RESPONSIBILITY!”
I realized I’m fooling myself. I actually do have real responsibility here on the boat. I’m the “Galley Wench.” Ok, actually I’m the cook, but galley wench sounds much less classy. So I do probably 90% of the cooking. In truth, I really enjoy it. I enjoy the responsibility and just
the ownership of it all. It’s great fun for me.
I’m essentially responsible for two meals a day. I wake up in the morning thinking about breakfast. Not what will I eat, but what will I fix? Pancakes (we have these lots), banana pancakes (do we have fresh bananas), muffins, French toast, eggs (how), bacon (is it thawed), or do we just have cereal? These are usually my first thoughts of the day. Today we had bacon, eggs, and toast. But I screwed up, I forgot I had fresh potatoes. So tomorrow or Sunday we will have scattered, smothered, and covered.
Around noonish or sooner I start thinking about the next meal… Dinner. Lunch is usually ad-hoc. But dinner… Paul is great; there aren’t many requirements. I can usually make what I want. There isn’t much said if I decide that tonight is Mexican fiesta night or pasta night. It’s given that if we catch fish, Sushi and fresh fish are on the menu. Of course if I’m lazy, I generally try to clear that tonight is Top Ramen or DIY night. That usually only happens first night of passage. Like tonight is beef stew. We are on a 24 hour sail to Port Villa and have way too much beef stew in stores. But tomorrow will probably be Green Thai curry.
In thinking about dinner, I usually go through what we have for provisions. What vegetables are getting old? What is in the freezer? What is in the fridge? Etc, etc. I’m really surprised I haven’t made more stir-fries. That might explain why we still have most of the frozen vegetables.
The nice thing about Dreamweaver is I usually don’t have to clean up, which is nice. That is my least favorite part of cooking. And the best part might be Sunday’s. About a month ago I declared that Sunday was dessert and Family Guy night. Every Sunday, some sort of dessert would get made, and we would watch one episode of Family Guy on DVD. We picked the DVD up in Suva, and I figured it gave a sense of home to me, since that was my normal Sunday adventure. They didn’t have Simpsons.
The desserts are mostly pudding or custard. It took awhile to get those made properly, and it’s sometimes still a crapshoot. I blame that on the OLD powdered milk in stores. Sometimes though, when I get really ambitious, I bake cookies. Umm good. That was last weeks dessert for passage. I still have dough so that will be this week as well. Hmmm, I think I might be able to do dessert twice a week… I’m sure Paul won’t mind.
My biggest failure so far in the galley has been yogurt. I just can’t seem to make it very consistently. Recently, I simply bypassed yogurt and went straight to cheese. That is strange, not sure how that happened, but it did. The cheese is good. But for the most part, I’ve only managed to make flavored milk when attempting yogurt. We have two current theories. 1) As always the temperature isn’t right for the yogurt culture. 2) Most recently, maybe our water is bad. We put bleach in it to stop growth. Not much but hey, it could be stopping culture growth. I’m going to experiment. Oh yeah, an early theory was the powdered milk used. I mean if I can’t make pudding with it, what makes me think yogurt likes it?
That is just the day to day tasking of providing meals on Dreamweaver. Along with being in charge of the galley comes the responsibility of provisions. Isn’t "provisions" a cool word for “food on the boat?” When we get to port it is my job to figure out what I need from the market, grocery store, or butcher. So there are lists, and schedules. Questions like “when do I take on all the fresh vegetables for the next outing?” You want to do that, as close to leaving has possible. The biggest question is how long will things last?
Did you know, and I didn’t except through this trip? Carrots need to be kept in the fridge, they go out almost immediately when left out. But eggplant and cucumbers last longer in the net than in the fridge. (Someday I’m going to try pickling eggplant or cucumbers). Eggs have to be turned or the yolks get hard or solid or something. Lettuce will only keep for a few days, even in the fridge. But cabbage and celery keep forever. We had celery from New Zealand that lasted over a month. I have to go through the fruit and veggies every day or so. Looking for what is going bad and pitch it. You don’t want mold spreading.
The markets have been awesome. You can get anything. At one point we had okra. But quantities of what they sell are huge. You can’t buy just one cucumber. They come in bunches of like 4-6 for 0.50 USD. I just gave up trying to get less. I figured for the total of $5 Fiji that I spent, if I have to throw stuff out, its not so bad.
Of course if there is anything else I see that I want and can use, I get it, like kumquats. What are they for? Tea of course! Cut a slice in one, and then drop the whole kumquat in hot water with a little sugar or honey… very nice, very nice.
What other stores do we need to replace? How are we for sugar? Cheese? Flour? Sauces? Etc etc.
So every time in port, I would say I have at least two days into market and groceries, before all is said and done. Not so much now though. We have lots of cans in stores we need to start using up. But the fun is still there.
Life as the Galley Wench on Dreamweaver, isn’t so bad. And don’t get me wrong. Paul can cook if he wants. I’m just really enjoying having the responsibility of it all.
PS - I have to share this little sense of pride and accomplishment. I’m currently on night watch. It is 4/8/06, 1200 GMT. Anyway, in the last 60-90 minutes, I’ve gone from motorsailing at 3.5 knots with a reefed main sail to sailing, no motor, at 4.5 knots with an almost full main and a full headsail. Yes, the wind has increased from about 9 knots to 13 knots. That is what made this possible. But the pride is that I was able to set those sails, stop the prop, and actually adjust the sails to increase our speed, all without involving Paul. I’m sure he woke up for it, its hard not to wake up when the engine noises change, but he didn’t have to get up. Feels good. Sometimes it’s the little things in life that make a night worthwhile.