The Cast of Characters & Quick Guide to the Story

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Shoe Policy is Introduced

Captain Flash came in with bananas, saying, " I know this is unorthodox." So I made bananas from her stash tonight. Captain Dashing warned that we'd hit six foot seas tomorrow on the other side of the Strait of Canso. I should prep tonight, he said. So I did, a bit. And I made bran muffins for breakfast. But it's supposed to be following seas. I think that it's going to be messier on deck than in the galley, but you never know.

The TSA asked me to not wear socks in the galley today. I like wearing socks when I work, especially in the morning. I often roll out of bed and don't even think about footwear, or the fact that I just put an apron on top my pajamas. Sometimes in Wilmington, I wouldn't realize it until muster... then you just start to feel silly standing there in pink velour track pants.

Tuesday's Menu
Biscuits and gravy
Wraps with brisket and mashed potatoes, and canned clam chowder which did not go over all that well
I made black bean chili with vegetables over rice and parker house rolls. Rigby ate four!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Leaving the City of Lost Memories

A message in a Lunenburg coffee shop.
We departed Lunenburg as we arrived, in fog. It reminded me of the book Invisible Cities, by Italo Calvino, in which he paints pictures of fantastical places that his fictional Marco Polo has been: a city built on stilts; another takes the shape of a camel to those coming from sea, but the shape of water to those coming from land. If Lunenburg were a city in the book, it would be like a city of lost memories, accessible only by a long time at sea and fog. It feels like a place that's lost its footing, aching from neglect, wearing its memories like giant heartstrings strung across the bay. When you pluck them you hear the cry of no children being born; the muffled sound of shopkeepers closing their doors; the monotony of teenagers with nothing but time on their hands.

Lunenburg felt both familiar and foreign. As we departed, the fog rolled in, encompassing us on every side, and the city disappeared. Having sailed to and from it in fog, I had the strange sensation that perhaps we had never been there at all.

Our ship, the microprocessor
I was late with breakfast because it wasn't posted. Captain Dashing, whom I've now nicknamed The TSA, gave a speech about communication using a computer as a metaphor for a ship. There's been a common thread to the speeches all our captains have given when something has gone wrong. They use metaphors, and they point to some situation without naming the individuals involved, using passive verbs. One time, I kept thinking: is she talking about me? Is this something I'm doing? If it is, why doesn't she just tell me? Or is she talking about something else?

Breaded eggplant.
This time I did not approach the captain, but I did wonder if I was being referenced or not. If so, the message got lost on the information highway.

Monday's Menu
I can't recall...
I made ravioli from a package, and warmed up yesterday's pizza.
Brisket, braised leeks, mashed potatoes and fried eggplant (because Rigby thought it was going bad - he smelled something funky in the bilge).
Brownies from a box

Friday, May 27, 2011

Transit, Day 3 + Arrival in Lunenburg

Israeli cous cous salad.

The transit flew by as it always does, as if in a dream. Perhaps even more so this time, because except for the first afternoon, we sailed through an almost constant fog with no wind. It was as though we were sailing to Neverland, or Byzantium. The ship that time forgot. 

I awoke that last morning with severe cramps, wishing I had any job at that moment for which I would not have to get up and make breakfast. I think I wished this the last time my monthly came around. Throughout the day I had several more of those moments - just a tug of longing to be elsewhere. At one point that morning Smith said there would be no time for Bananagrams during the next long transit down the St. Lawrence because we'd be having work parties. In other words, the crew will be doing projects for ten hours a day. I had kinda been looking forward to a time with no passengers, where we might sit a while after a meal and play a game or two. (When passengers are with us, they sleep in the bunks flanking the main salon.) This made me want to run my own boat. If it were me, since the crew doesn't get a day off during transits and work six days a week the rest of the time, I would make transits a kind of downtime. It makes me miss the days in WIlmington when Cap would give us lessons in the mornings.   

Later, it happened again, when I was preparing the lamb marinade (Captain Dashing said his favorite meat was lamb) and listening to Madame Butterfly at a fairly high volume (is there any other way to listen to opera?). Smith came to turn it down. I understood; we were at the dock and she said they could hear it in the aft cabin. Still, it made me long for an apartment of my own where I could play the aria as loud as I wished. 

What I Learned about Management, I Learned from Ol' Granddad 
Before P1 and P2 left the boat, we had a brief conversation about the dynamics on the boat. P2 reminded me of my father in some ways. Both pilots. Both high-energy guys. Both armchair psychologists. He said something about the empty chairs at meals: we are not allowed to sit in either the captain's or the mate's chairs when they are not joining us at the table. This is definitely up there on my list of Stupid Boat Rules. P2 said he guessed it was a sign of respect. I replied that leaving the chair empty didn't make me respect someone more - it was how they treated people, how they managed a crew. 

Before going out to the bar on Friday night, Rigby and I did dishes in the galley and talked more about this. He says you shouldn't question the captain, no matter what. I said, "But of course you should ask questions. That's the socratic method. It's one of the main ways you learn anything in this world!" But then I think the discussion boiled down to this question: is respect earned? I don't respect Captain Flash because she's a captain; though that's impressive. She didn't have to earn my obedience - I have to listen to her because she's my boss. But she earned my respect by being a good boss (if there are any Skanska people reading, you can say Great Boss if you want, with all caps!). 

In the 90s my grandfather took me and a friend to the Raegan library. Standing out on the patio, were approached by a much younger man who said he'd been the staff photographer at Lockheed when my grandfather was a VP there. "Mr. Hammond," he said, "You treated me and everyone on our staff with such respect. I will never forget it." My grandfather was flustered. He didn't handle flattery well. But I was so proud. My grandmother always had a chip on her shoulder because my grandfather never made general. She was always focused on the wrong thing. My grandfather hadn't worked at Lockheed for ten years or more.

Check Point
Eve tells how the old cook checked out at a certain point. How he started buying prepared foods. I can tell. I see the cans of chowder and ravioli in the cupboard. Instant mashed potatoes and premixed brownies. What does it take to make you want to check out? Maybe not much. 

When I was growing up, my father ran the house in an authoritarian style. We butted heads constantly. I never liked my father much when I was growing up. Not because of the rules, but because of the fact that there was no wiggle room for the rules. I never felt listened to. There's one story that's well told in my family about this. My father disliked the fact that we would not come to the dinner table very quickly when called. I was in high school at the time, and we received a big lecture on this. We were to drop whatever we were doing and get our hinies downstairs. So at the next dinner call, I came downstairs in my jeans and a bra and sat down at the table as if this were the most natural thing in the world. My sisters started trembling. My mother let out a half-gasp, half-laugh. I mean, it was sorta funny. But my father was not laughing. He was irate. 

Well, Dad and I get along splendidly now. But I can't remember the last time he scolded me. Possibly back when I was in college? The long and the short of it is that my mother's a great cook. And I love mealtimes. If it takes me a while to get to dinner, I've probably got a good reason for it.

Hey, Ma, I Wanna Go Home
So... where am I going with this? Do I wanna go home? Absolutely. I'm at a low point. A breaking point. If I was relieved tomorrow of the job, I would walk away, sleep for hours on a train, and wake up tomorrow morning on the shores of sunny Lake Onsted, ready for a day of waterskiing. 
But I won't. I'll try to lead by example. Try to address people the way I wish to be addressed. Keep trying to break down the system where I think the system is old-fashioned or broken. Then I'll turn down the music and play Bananagrams by myself. 

Friday's Menu
Blueberry and pineapple-whole wheat muffins and eggs
Sandwiches, plus leftover mac-n-cheese and sweet potatoes
Leg of lamb roasted in mint and wine sauce and rolled in cracked pepper. Was a bit strange. Maybe the wine was too fruity.
Twice-baked potatoes
Israeli cous cous with beets and carrots and onions in a mustard vinaigrette
Tossed salad with blue cheese

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Transit, Day 2

The fog rolled in...

Thursday's Menu
Sour cream coffee cake
Ham bake (like meatloaf, but with ham.. tasted good but did not stick together real well) on Pot Bread (we've shortened it from Bread-in-a-Pot)
Pulled pork sandwiches, mac-n-cheese, sweet potato wedges with maple mayonnaise, and pickled cucumbers
Apple and slivered almond tarts

Coffee cake

Ham bake in process.

Dinner was Chip's favorite so far. Here's his plate.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Transit, Day 1

Enjoying the sun as we got underway on Wednesday.
Wednesday's Menu
Grits, scrambled eggs and watermelon slices (? I think ?)
Clam chowder with lobster stock and roasted corn (leftover from the feast the night before), and corn chowder for Captain Flash
Chicken pot pie and vegetarian pot pie, as well as an onion-less pot pie for Captain Flash
Electric energy cookies (the ones with peanut butter, oats, chocolate chips and coffee grounds)
Electric energy cookies

Chicken pot pie.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Bad Moon on the Rise

New guy, Neb, and P2 & P1, magnanimous fellows.

Although we were supposed to leave today for Lunenburg, at muster we learned we probably would be delayed another day. There were thunderstorms on the horizon and a new martingale yet to be installed. 

At dawn the temperature was in the 60s. I got up around 5:30 and took a run around Marblehead. I wish it had been like that the entire length of our stay. The town is so picturesque. I ran to the end of the peninsula, where there's a fort. It was so lovely out there that I decided to run around the fort several times. Then I ran back along the water, with Adele's "Rolling in the Deep" playing on my iPod.

Let the Lobster Roll
Sometime mid-morning our passengers, P1 and P2 came anyway and stayed with us on the boat that night. After lunch they said they'd love to treat the crew to dinner. But not just any dinner: they wanted to treat us to lobster! I said I'd make some Parker House Rolls. I was going to make chicken pot pies with the leftover chicken, but could easily delay that if lobster were to arrive. And it did - along with coleslaw, potato salad, watermelon and 18 ears of corn on the cob, which I sat on the dock and shucked into a paper bag - just like when I was a kid. We feasted that night. The lobster was by far the best I've ever had. Eve and Harrison and I were the slowest at the table, so determined were we to get every bit of meat out. I kept sighing throughout the meal. I was in heaven.

They also brought desserts, but I don't think anyone dug into them for a while. 

After dinner I made stock with the lobster shells that P2 had culled for me. Then Eve and I headed off on a quick trip to the market as a massive bank of black thunderclouds rolled in. When we got back, half the crew were sprawled out on the cabin tops, watching the lightning crack and picking out shapes in the cloud formations.
Lobster, lobster, lobster. Amazing.

Tuesday's Menu
Dutch Baby with apple compote
Sandwich buffet with my fetasmic cous cous salad
Amazing lobster feast (see above) - and I forgot to mention that they also brought smoked bluefish
Treats from a local bakery

Monday, May 23, 2011

All Crewed Up with Someplace to Go

Fallen petals on a street in Marblehead.
Today was another day of change. We grew by one and it looks like Hawk will be leaving us tomorrow. When I talked with my sister, L, she agreed it would be a good idea for me to run through the current crew. So, before we embark on our longest voyage yet - first the three-day leg to Nova Scotia and then roughly 10 days down the St. Lawrence, here's who's onboard:

The Marlin is my name for our fair vessel. Our current leader, Captain Dashing. To navigate the locks of the St. Lawrence you need a pilot's license, and since Captain Flash doesn't have this yet, she has stepped down and is acting as First Mate for this part of our journey. Smith is our bosun, and I, C., am the cook.

In the foc's'le (or, forecastle, which is the cramped foreword sleeping quarters of our crew), we have Eve, our engineer; Rigby, our new gunner; Harrison, our assistant engineer and coxswain, which is the small boat we use as a tug; Neb, previously referred to only as New Guy on the Dock or New Guy #2; and today we got Chip. We will also have two paying passengers for the trip to Nova Scotia, whom I will call, for simplicity's sake, P1 and P2.

More about Marblehead
Today made me a little sorry to leave Marblehead - a town we barely had time to look at. It is super cute. Eve and I went on a walk and everywhere we went, people knew of us or had seen us, had toured the boat or been on a cruise. A lady walking her dogs stopped us to talk. The old ladies in the optomatrist's office were captivated and wanted to know more about our travels. Later, at The Landing, a woman bought us a round of drinks.

During the day I bought some truffle butter and bananagrams as treats for the crew, and chocolate and a copy of Moby Dick as treats for me.

But the highlight of my day came at lunch when Rigby told me not to buy an apron in Marblehead. "Why not?" I asked. Had he seen all the aprons in town and thought them ugly? Then Harrison and Hawk and Rigby declared in unison that I simply should not buy one. I couldn't imagine what all the fuss was about, but then Ms. Jane blurted out, "Because they already got you one!"

Monday's Menu
lobster roll and onion rings at Maddie's
I joined Eve and Smith, and Smith's friend who lives in town, and we split a lobster Mac-n-cheese, some unrecommendable noodle dish in a basket, and I had a bowl of French onion soup.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Choice of Boat

Bread pudding out of old sticky buns.
The thing about change is that it is never quite as scary as the fear of change. When our new captain came aboard yesterday, no trumpeters hailed his arrival. No carronades went off. In fact, the whole changeover was fairly innocuous. 

So far the man still has the round edges of a Disney character, with his perfect good looks and muscular build, a deep but light-hearted voice and the eyebrow that goes up when he makes a joke. Though I was gone provisioning during the sail, with the Partridges, when I got back I learned that he had hauled in the 300-lb. anchor by himself. Then, after the sail yesterday, when his sunglasses fell off into the sea, he put on a wetsuit and jumped in after them, saying, "Where my sunglasses go, I must follow."

I am toying with calling him Captain Dashing, but the foc's'le is outvoting me. (Hey, but this is my story, right?) 

Shortly before Captain Dashing's arrival, I was talking to Captain Flash about the fact that in my previous jobs, I chose to work for a person, a boss, and that when I chose to work on the Marlin, I was choosing to work with her. That's why I called to ask her questions about her management style. But she was my boss for barely a month. It's a strange feeling to be attached to a contract, and not a leader.

"Yeah, in this industry your shipmates and your captain are changing all the time," she said. "You can't choose where to work because of those factors, what you're choosing is the boat."
Bread pudding out of old sticky buns.

Our Marblehead Sponsors
I found out yesterday that the Partridges are the reason we received such a big welcome in this town. Their son once worked on the Marlin and now works on the Argo. Mr. Partridge did a lot of PR ahead of time, which just goes to show you: advertising works. Yesterday they took me provisioning and I stocked up big-time for our venture into foreign waters. I spent $750 to be exact. At least 50 pounds of protein went into the freezer, along with a few special items - like scallops and shrimp - because I had some cushion in my budget. (I also managed to get us a quart of maple syrup and a lamb roast!) Mrs. Partridge bought us avocados and Mr. Partridge got me a harness to rope me in if we encounter high seas.

Fear of the Cold
At muster he said he hoped we were prepared for the cold. Our trip to Nova Scotia is just 48 hours away. As I type this, I have gloves on. I'm in my sleeping bag with a wool blanket over me, and I am still wearing my west marine jacket and jeans because it's too cold to change. It's too cold to type. And we're heading north 300 miles. Am I prepared for this? Hell, no. 

I look at my friend CB's photos from her hike up Denali, of her and a friend sitting on ice cube chairs playing scrabble. Apparently temperatures reached 30 below! Then I tell myself, Buff up you wimp! But man I can't wait to get to Toledo.

New Beginnings
After yesterday's headline, you may be asking the question, so, did nothing really change? Maybe nothing changed; maybe everything. Did the Near Miss with the Rapture change you? Did you wake up the next morning thinking, "Hey, I'm still here! and/or I don't see any fireballs... hey, maybe I should do something great with this big life extension I just got."

It feels like we got a new start. The crew is readjusting, reassimilating. The growing pains are almost over. I think we will be something new, soon... not exactly what we were, but probably not that far off.

Sunday's Menu
Bread pudding made with the leftover sticky buns awesome!) And cantaloupe
Pork stirfry, with shrimp (mostly for Eve)
Warm spinach salad with bacon, hard-boiled eggs and mushrooms
Soft tacos with ready-baked chicken from Costco
Banana bread

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Tomorrow, Everything Will Change (and I'm not talking about the rapture)

Chubby Hubby Blondie, post-rapture.>

Chubby Hubby Blondie, pre-rapture.

Tomorrow is one of the most talked about days in my short history aboard the Marlin. 

There is a boat in the tall ship world that has more mythic proportions than the others. It's been under the command of the same man for many years, and this man has god-like stature among most every sailor I have met. Let's make it easy and call him Jason, making his ship the Argo. Naturally, if you want to know how to sail - if you truly have the stuff a tall ship sailor is made of - your goal is to sail on this boat, under this man's command. 

On the flipside, there are the stories of those who don't make it. Neophytes that can't throw themselves right in a sweatpile, are afraid of heights, or can't tie the right knot for the right application. They are forced out. Not so strange. If you can't be best at what you do, you might as well go play with the other neophytes. Give your sacred space on the Argo to someone who will tie the right knot and climb the shrouds in heavy storms without hesitation.

As would happen, Jason has a protege. And that man is the man who will begin captaining our ship tomorrow. Captain Flash will step down and become first mate. Ms. Jane, our current mate, will leave for the greener pastures of New Jersey, and Smith will still be our beloved bosun. 

Tri-berry scones.

Stories I've heard about our new captain reference his incredible strength, his intolerance of underperformance, his charm, and his knowledge of all things boat-related. He and Captain Flash are close friends. 

But I have a feeling they have different leadership styles. Captain Flash runs the ship with a light touch - a distinctly feminine ease. She makes jokes at musters and mealtimes. She doesn't take up a lot of space unless she needs to - or when she is being funny. It's the kind of leadership, not of absentia, but of someone who trusts and relies upon her mates. If her leadership were to take a visual form, it would look like concentric circles emanating out around her. I like it. I thrive under this kind of leader. I am not sure how I am going to like a strong, male captain. I'm afraid of him being one of those men who takes his superiority for granted and who likes the sound of his own voice; for whom might makes almost always right; and for whom it's either their way or the highway. I'm afraid of those concentric circles looking more like one big huge circle emanating from the aft cabin.  

You can see why tomorrow is going to be a big day. Tomorrow, everything will change. 

Pork wok.
Saturday's Menu
Scones with berries (dried cranberries and currants and frozen blueberries)
Leftover bread pudding
Build your own sandwich, with leftover roast beef, mashed potatoes and gravy, and a horseradish cream; bologna and American cheese; bree and fig jam; chicken liver pate and onions
On homemade honey wheat bread
Pork marinated in ginger and soy sauce
Broccoli, zucchini and yellow squash sauteed in the same sauce, but served separately for Eve
Brown rice
Bread in a pot
Tossed salad
Chubby Hubby Blondies - So, yesterday was Ms. Jane's birthday and because of an old memory she shares with Captain Flash, Cap got her all the ingredients for Chubby Hubby: malt balls, pretzels, chocolate, and peanut butter. But it was really not that easy to see what to do with it. So today I googled it, and roughly followed a recipe for it. It turned out a little strange in form/texture (very gooey), but was still enjoyed by all. 

Friday, May 20, 2011

New Guy on the Dock

Red beans, just before they turned thick.
Sometime after the crew had finished building a massive new gangway and but just before lunch, Rigby spied a guy walking confidently down toward the dock with a backpack. We all knew we were getting more crew before the upcoming transit to Lunenberg, Nova Scotia, but we didn't know anyone was coming today. I think our first reaction was, "Who does he think he is (because he's not Bly!)?" But New Guy #2 was on the boat before you could say lickety split, was shown his bunk, given a set of funnies to wear and put to work. At this moment we're underway on our day sail, and he's already participated in taking up heaving lines and fenders and, for all I know, he'd joined every sweatpile on deck. 

I don't have a name for him yet, but it'll come. He's staying for three months - so New Guy #2 is definitely going to become part of our crew. 

Out on the deck I can hear Rigby trying on the gunman's speech for size. He makes a few outrageous gaffs ("Now, the moment you've all been waiting for... my speech!"), but he'll settle into it. Just as happened yesterday, the sky has cleared just long enough for our sail. It's a lovely day in the sound outside Marblehead.

My bread in a pot turned out particularly lovely today.

Friday's Menu
Bread pudding with dates and cardamom
Smoothies with applesauce, orange juice, yogurt, milk, frozen strawberries and blueberries, coconut, banana, vanilla and cinnamon
Red beans and rice (a veggie version too) (Before lunch Cap saw me making it and said, "There's no ham hock in red beans and rice." She lived in New Orleans once, so I trust her. But Emeril says... I told her she'd have to write down her recipe. But later, after lunch, she said, "You can make that again." It was the first time she'd ever said that to me. I let out a big yahoo! Emeril's red beans with ham hock:

Bread in a pot
Carrot sticks
Apparently, the Chamber of Commerce has chartered the Marlin this evening and has invited us to take part in their meal. And again I say, Yahoo!
It's Ms. Jane's birthday, so I'm making Jean Georges' molten chocolate cake. 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Something's Missing

The original crew of the Marlin(at least in my view),
minus Kip. From left: Smith, Rigby, Harrison, Bly and Eve.
When we walked into The Landing restaurant last night, it felt like half the town of Marblehead was there to welcome us. There was the predictable bagpipe player (though why bagpipes serenade us at every port, we can't figure out). There was the unofficial mayor of Marblehead, a woman in her 70s that had us each sign her America's Cup book (?). Several of The Landing's owners were there, including Bob, who ordered us all a round of beers on the house and then picked up the tab for our dinners! It was by far the warmest welcome we've had anywhere. 

It was Bly's last night, and an old friend of his came to pick him up. (Coincidentally, this old friend had worked briefly on The Neverland, my first boat.) Toward the end of the evening, once Bly had gone back to the boat and finished packing, Harrison bought a round of Southern Comfort to toast him off. Then we each said our good-byes. "Calvin beats Hope," I said, referencing our alma maters and their age-old rivalry. Bly called me out. "Is that the best you've got?" Then he said some stuff about how he'd eaten the best two months' of food of his life and been introduced to all kinds of new dishes. 

Bly in action.>
So, a day late, here's what I got. Bly made me laugh, a lot. And he laughed at my jokes, too. He was always cracking a shy smile; always upbeat; patient or just quiet in regards to the faults of others; driven; and reliable. I think he said thank you after every meal - and would say it later if he forgot. On Easter, he texted me later to say thanks. That's just the kind of stand-up guy he is.

Down One Good Man
Even though our last passenger showed up at 7:30 bearing two boxes filled with the World's Best Sticky Buns, the mood at the breakfast table was unusually somber. Harrison was waiting for me to ask what was missing at the table, just so he could use Bly's line from the day after Kip's departure. I didn't want to set him up. I didn't want to play. I know I've been alluding to his leaving for a few weeks, but I don't think any of us were really prepared. I've only known Bly a short two months; the rest of the crew knew him slightly longer. But he got to us. 

Red onions and parsnips.

The deckhands told Bly stories all morning, while they polished brass and cleaned belowdecks. While stowing fenders and putting the gangway in place, they missed his muscle. At dinner someone quoted him when Cap asked what it was like to know her. "Uh. Slightly less fun than it is to be you," Bly had said, with that characteristic upward lilt at the end of his sentence, so it sounded almost like a question.

Warming up to Ol' Dies'
We sailed today, and the stove went out. It was about time I cleaned it. I was just putting off the inevitable. So while the rest of the crew entertained an evening tour of realtors, I armed myself with an old screwdriver, a spoon and a metal brush, rolled up my sleeves, put on my plastic gloves, and went to town on the stove. And wouldn't ya know, she started on the first try. It might have had to do with the fact that I turned on my "Fire" mix, and all the foc's'le dwellers joined in with Johnny Cash: "I fell into a burning ring of fire. And it burned, burned, burned, as the flames rose higher. And it burned, burned, burned, the ring of fire, the ring of fire."

Roast beef and potatoes.>

Thursday's Menu
Eggs, bacon, red potatoes
World's best sticky buns - the dough was light and feathery and the sugar felt almost like it had been spun, or crystalized.
Linguine with marinara sauce
Homemade french bread
Carrot sticks and celery
Roast beef with turnips, carrots, onions and potatoes
Mushrooms with all of the above for the vegetarian
Parker house rolls*
Tossed salad
Ice Cream

*There are a few bread recipes that I rely on. This is one of them. I use it for making sub and hamburger buns, dinner rolls, and Parker house rolls (where they all sit bunched together in a square baking pan. It makes a light and soft dough that is really tasty. One addition I love to add is cracked pepper, to the dough, and also later to the top, as well as salt. When making Parker House rolls, I put them in the square pan and drizzle butter all over. Then cover with plastic wrap until doubled, then bake. I have tried using butter, vegetable oil and olive oil. Vegetable oil seems to make the best roll for hamburger buns, butter for dinner rolls. I use dry buttermilk and reconstitue it. Here's the link to Beth Hensberger's Buttermilk Dinner Rolls.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Lost a Belt in Buzzards Bay

Apple-cinnamon oatmeal.
Our engine threw a belt at around 6 o'clock last night. An hour away from the Cape Cod Canal, we had to drop anchor and wait like sitting ducks until Eve could repair it. Fortunately, we had spares and she worked fast. Still, we couldn't make the current we'd hoped to sail in on at 10 PM, so we scooted a little ways off and spent the night on the hook. Sometime around 4 AM, the crew rose and got us underway again. Bly got to steer through the canal, under Smith's command. The two of them were pretty psyched this morning.

Smith on the look-out.

It's been a foggy, cold day. Visibility at its worst was about .25 miles. We are pulling into dock now, and I feel a little bad, not helping. But they have plenty of hands on deck. I asked Smith where her period Foulies were, and she flipped me the bird. I think she would've flipped me the bird no matter what, but Cap is out there with nothing on but a frilly white shirt and vest. About ten minutes ago, it started raining.

Nevertheless, Bly got permission to load his largest charges yet. Because after we arrive in Marblehead, Bly will leave us. Seems like just yesteday when I was introduced to him in the foc's'le, his arm halfway down into a gap in the boards, trying to rescue his cell phone. I think I speak for the whole crew when I say he will be dearly missed.

Sometime in Marblehead we'll get our new captain, who will take over until the boat is through the St. Lawrence. Smith and Captain Flash have been talking about him for so long that he's acquired a somewhat mythical status. I feel like I have to name him Zeus or something. He's apparently strong as an ox, smart as a tack, and such a good sailor that Cap said she'd sail under his command anytime, anywhere.

Bly calling out to the masses gathered on a nearby hill: Prepare to fire!

Wednesday's Menu
Oatmeal with apples and cinnamon (I don't know why I make oatmeal - they never eat it)
Blueberry muffins
Southwestern pasta, with kidney beans, chorizo, ground beef, veggies
Leftover lasagna
Bread in a pot
We're getting a welcome dinner at The Landing!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Heading North, Again

Last night when we got back to the boat, Cap pulled me aside. Apparently the Godfather of Newport, our once adoring sponsor had written to the ship's owners that we had not been grateful enough for his generosity. That we had apparently called him at 1 AM about a missing credit card. There was indeed an incident in which Eve thought she left the company card at the local West Marine, and at one point when the Godfather called, I asked him if it was in his car. He said no, but that his wife was near West Marine right then, so I should call and find out if they have it. I said I would, and call him if they did. Later that day he called, sounding annoyed, that his wife had been sitting at the West Marine ever since (for something like two hours).

Well, of course I apologized for the misunderstanding. I had no idea he'd be so annoyed as to contact our office. As far as being thankful, when he offered the grocery assistance, I know I said several times how gracious that was of him and how much we appreciated it. And as for calling him at 1 AM, that was ludicrous.

In any case, I went to bed feeling pretty rotten, and thinking I knew that day when he called that I should've called him either way - but I was getting ready for transit, and lunch.

Then at 1 AM, I awoke with a start. What if I had called him at 1 AM? Accidentally? On Saturday night? I got out my phone, but because I couldn't see far back enough to see past the list of 1 AM calls to cab companies, I went online. Thankfully, there were no calls to the Godfather other than the ones I had made the day of the grocery delivery. (Although I did notice suddenly that half of the calls I placed that night were to Maryland (410), and not Newport (401). No wonder we couldn't get a cab.

Another departure
Today at noon we left Newport for Marblehead. Monday night we got a passenger (someone who pays to voyage with us), and Tuesday morning we got another crewmember, Tollhouse (because she's not staying with us that long, but she brought us cookies!). I thought she looked familiar at first. Then later she mentioned the other boats she'd been on, I dropped a name, and we realized that we'd met on St. Croix!

Just goes to show you. This little world of tall ships. It's really little.

Tuesday's Menu
Sausage gravy, onion gravy, biscuits and eggs
White Lasagna; one with ground beef and one with mushrooms for the vegetarian
Tossed salad
French Bread - a really light and airy one because I started it before breakfast
Ham and scalloped potatoes
Fruit salad: mangos, pineapple, apples, banana with toasted coconut
Bittman's banana bread with toasted coconut on top

Monday, May 16, 2011

Monday Funday

I found this message taped to the
galley countertop when I got up to get coffee:
there were actually four squid in the fridge.
Most days go by without much of a chance for me to step back, reflect and plan. I don't think I've ever had a job that was so relentless. So constant. When I spring out of bed in the morning, I am sleeping as late as I can before having to put breakfast on the table. "Extra" time between breakfast and lunch is usually spent baking. Between lunch and dinner, I can usually snag a half hour to get out and use the shore head. But often I use it to reorganize my bunk, clean the galley soles, defrost the fridge, etc. There is always something to be done. At night, after dinner, there's the coffee pot to fill. And if I am thinking ahead at all, there's the bread starter to make, or I should be taking a meat out of the freezer so it can defrost in time for the next day's dinner.

I love Mondays because it's the only day all week that I can just think.

This Monday I wrote for a while, but never got to post it because Rigby and I got a ride into town with Mamma and Pappa Smith.

The first thing we did was hit the Seaman's Institute for some nice, hot showers. My mother called when we were on our way. I told her it was our first hot shower in days. She said, "It's good thing you're in the same boat."

The Right Shoes
We spent most of the day wandering around together. We found Smith, after she and her folks had said good-bye, and she took us to a place that has the best ice cream, with graham crackers in it. Then we followed her to the Salvation Army, where I made out big-time: I found a plastic egg carrier, to use for getting eggs (without dropping them in the bilge); a lovely old linen towel; a suctioned tupperware container and two t-shirts (one that reads: Everyone Loves and Irish Girl).

I also finally found my Newport apron at a cool cooking store.

The three of us rendezvoused with Bly and Ms. Jane the first mate for sushi for dinner, and then Ms. Jane and I walked the four miles back to the boat... this time I wore sneakers.

My new, handy-dandy egg carrier.
Monday's Menu
Yoghurt with granola
Graham Central Station Ice cream from the Ice Cream Spa in Newport

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Don't Wear Your Boots to Town

I didn't get a chance to write last night or this morning because we all hitched a ride into town directly after dinner, and proceeded to get very, very inebriated.

Schooner press: v., the act of putting one's body
between the dock and the boat and using leg
force to momentarily move the boat, in order
to free fenders or adjust fender boards, etc.
We went to a bar in Newport called Sailor Jerry, where everyone in the place looked like they worked on boats. We played darts and wrote with chalk on the ceiling and after a while, Cap and Smith and Jane went back to the boat leaving Eve and I to fend for ourselves. Which we did. Very poorly. Suddenly it was 1 AM and we were turned out on the streets of Newport, with not a cab in sight. I have a record on my phone of having made 40 calls to three different cab companies between 1 and 2 AM. It was around this time that we stopped calling and started trying to get the pizza delivery place to take us back to the boat. They wouldn't go for it. Finally we prevailed upon these two guys who were walking out to their Landrover to take us home. Travis and Victor were apparently high as a kite. Something Eve noticed but which I was completely unaware of, since the only thing that mattered to me was that I did not have to walk 2.2 miles in my four-inch heels.

All of this combined to make me a little slow today. I made easy stuff all day long. But I also managed to get a run in. I weighed myself today and have decided that this life is not good on my body. It's time to crack down.

After lunch, just when I'd decided to lay down for a nap, Cap got back with the groceries and Mamma and Pappa Smith arrived with a TON of stuff: dried pineapple and dried apples, slivered almonds, coriander, cardamom pods, yeast, baking powder, and 35 pounds of flour, both white and stoneground wheat.

After dinner I did the loop around the fort once more. The visibility had been poor for hours. As I walked, I listened to the rotating lighthouse horns, sounding like a game of marco polo in the fog.

There's a strange feeling on the boat right now. It feels like a kink in the neck that you can't get out. Maybe it's growing pains.

For the transit to Marblehead we're getting two more passengers, and once we arrive Bly will leave for his new job. He talks about coming back at the end of the summer. It's a strange thought, that if he does, Eve and I will be the only familiar faces.

Sunday's Menu
Scrambled cheese eggs and bacon
Spaghetti with meat sauce and garlic toast
Red potatoes
Fruit salad of mango, banana, pineapple and toasted coconut

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Last Time I'll Make Them Liver

Greek frittata.
Because of the hangover on May 15th, I don't remember much of this day. I know at some point Harrison said he didn't get the fisheries job he'd interviewed for. We were all so hopeful for him. I thought he was a shoe-in. I mean, who wouldn't hire Harrison? I feel bad for the guy.

Smith got an email from Seth #2 saying he was looking for crew to take his boat down to Bermuda. Sometimes don't ya just wish you could be in two places at once? And after dinner she and I opened the batch of limoncello in order to give some to Captain Smiley, only to find that the stuff is... stro-ong. So we made a quick simple syrup and poured some in.

Squid, fajita-style.

Saturday's Menu
Cinnamon rolls that for some reason didn't rise; Greek frittata with feta, green peppers and zucchini
Sandwiches on white bread, with chicken liver pate (not a big hit); leftover pork loin, leftover bbq pork, and all manner of fixins.

Surf-n-turf fajitas.
Fatasmic Couscous salad
Fajitas with skirt steak, chicken, sauteed red onions, bell peppers and zucchini
I also sauteed our lone squid in the fajita seasonings (cumin and oregano, salt and pepper) and then squeezed lemon juice over it. Delish.
More ice cream

Friday, May 13, 2011

Where the Sailboats Are

Sailboats in formation at the public sailing center.
After our coast guard inspection this morning, I went for a run. It was the first time in weeks. I felt awesome afterwards. Like I could run it again directly. But I had to bake the buns for lunch.

I ran a 2-3 mile loop around the fort that Bly told me about. In the evening, I walked it again with Jane, our current first mate. So far, I think Newport is a pretty romantic place. All the old houses. Picturesque scenery. Old forts. Green lawns. Trees budding. And everywhere you look: sailboats.

Late night catch
Just when I was thinking that nothing spectacular had happened today, Harrison came in with a squid! He and Rigby were hanging out on the bowsprit with the jig, and managed to catch one. Stay tuned for video footage of the gutting...

Eve's dinner plate.

Friday's Menu
Dutch Baby and apple compote (the crew knows that I make their favorite cous cous salad the day after I make apple compote, so Harrison actively guarded the pot of compote today to ensure there was enough left over).
Sandwiches with yesterday's pate and leftover BBQ pork, plus leftover salads
Bibimbap, using the last of the amazing eggs, plus pickled spaghetti squash, sauteed carrots, sauteed mushrooms in a little sugar and soy, pork loin marinated for two days, brussel sprouts and collard greens
Rocky Road bars and tons of ice cream!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

I Heard the Mermaids Singing

I posted this on Facebook Thursday morning.
"If you shut your eyes and are a lucky one, you may see at times a shapeless pool of lovely pale colors suspended in the darkness; then if you squeeze your eyes tighter, the pool begins to take shape, and the colors become so vivid that with another squeeze they must go on fire. But just before they go on fire you see the lagoon. This is the nearest you ever get to it on the mainland, just one heavenly moment; if there could be two moments you might see the surf and hear the mermaids singing." -from Peter Pan

After breakfast I learned we were only ten miles off the coast from Newport. We'd been beating upwind all night under motor, and by morning the cross current had the boat banging about like mad. I put three eggs in a frying pan, then went to rescue a falling cup and when I turned back around there were only two yolks in the pan. I looked around. Sure enough. One had flown out of the pan and landed in the space between the stove and the counter top, slid down and over and between three cutting boards and made a trail from there to the sole.

I used the f-word. Imagine, trying to clean that up while still cooking the remaining eggs. While the boat kicked back and forth with the zeal of a two-year-old on a wooden horse.

We docked extremely smoothly, without help of our constantly deflating small boat, and soon wrapped up for lunch.

The yacht club from the galley windows.
An Invitation
In the evening we were invited to the house of a former captain of our boat. Captain Smiley, as I'll call him, comes from a family of sailors. He's captained many boats and knew of an old friend of mine from Sweden. On his mantle, keys to various cities were displayed, beneath a giant portrait of his mother and him as a boy. The house was nothing fancy - a hodgepodge of the practical and the inherited - and it made me think of a comment I made a few days ago about how you don't really need much to live on. Fancy things are overrated. (Says the girl with the white leather couch in a storage unit.) But it's true.

Artichokes - for vegetarian pate.
Captain Smiley grilled us pork spare ribs and made us Dark and Stormies, and watched The Life Aquatic while we rotated through his shower. We were all pretty beat from the transit - though I can't talk, not having been up half the night on watch.

I asked Captain Smiley about how he and his wife met. They were both working aboard a tall ship. Then they sailed together, under one or the other's command, for 10-15 years. I had been wondering about how people in this life make their romances work when they move around constantly. There are several long distance relationships among our crew. But whenever I suggest hooking up with a tall ship sailor, inevitably, someone poo-poos this, calling it doomed. But here he was, Captain Smiley, living proof that you can have it all - the girl and the boat and a house by the sea.

The first mate's banh mi.
Thursday's Menu
Biscuits, cheese eggs, grits
Banh Mi, with the pate, an artichoke pate for the vegetarian, pickled carrots and the special sauce... Delicious.
Boneless pork spare ribs, macaroni salad and potato salad - and lots of dark and stormies

Next Port, Newport

Quote of the day:
"I prefer ideas over plans. Because if an idea doesn't work out, you can just change it." - Rigby, on his ideas on how to get west once he leaves the boat in Ohio

Eggs from a new friend of Rigby's happy chicken.
Getting ready to make our next move
We've been waiting all day for the winds to calm. We've had a few projects to get done, too, like rigging up the new, temporary martingale. The crew was also busy patching up holes in the small boat after an incident yesterday morning during the move-the-boat maneuver. Rigby spent the day sea-stowing the boat, lashing down anything that might move or slide or come undone during our transit to Newport.

We are mustering tonight at 9 PM, with the goal of leaving directly thereafter. Eve says it's not ideal, leaving at night, having to navigate through a minefield of crab pots in the bay, dealing with a leaky small boat. But at least the winds have calmed.

Free food
I didn't get a chance to go to the restaurant, instead, the restaurant came to me. They brought 10 cans of beans, 8 boxes of various noodles, 3 boxes of rice-in-a-bag, 8 jars of spaghetti sauce, 6 bags of chips, 2 boxes of cereals, a ton of bottled drinks like Yoohoo and Arizona iced tea. They brought two huge casserole dishes with enough chicken parmesan and penne with sun-dried tomatoes and chicken to last us two days. I'm sure I'm forgetting something. It was a ton of food.

I spent the day starting the stove (hurrah! it worked like a charm), sea-stowing the galley, and repackaging meats and veggies so I could fit everything in the fridge. I put herbs in the food processor and then put them in the freezer. I made the pate that goes on Banh mi sandwiches for tomorrow's lunch. Then I made banana bread.

Pate in completion.
The Three-Banana Rule
One day there were three bananas turning brown in the fruit hammock. I threatened the crew that I would make banana bread with them if they didn't eat them stat. They made each other swear not to eat the last three bananas. Now it's a house policy: always leave three bananas in the hammock.

Wednesday's Menu
Cheese eggs and a sausage/redskin potato/green pepper medley
Leftover doughnuts and bagels
White lasagna, one with hamburger and one with mushrooms
Carrot sticks
Chicken parm, penne pasta dish
Tossed salad
Banana bread

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Importance of Being Missed

They moved the boat at 4:45 AM on Tuesday morning. I was hoping they wouldn't wake me. Since we now have nine crew members, surely someone else could hold that fender in the right place. We had to move to the other side of the dock so the repair guys could more easily replace our martingale.

God love 'em, they didn't wake me. But later, even though Cap had officially given me the morning off, I got up and made bacon and eggs to go with the doughnuts and bagels she bought.

Though the galley was a bit of a mess, I opened my gun cabinet to find a surprise (which I call my gun cabinet because when the Princess was visiting she bought me a wooden pop gun, and that's where I keep it, beside the mixing bowls). Someone had made a little tinfoil heart and stuck it to the inside of the door.

At breakfast I told them I missed them.
"That is not a good indicator of how your day went," said Bly.
"Not true," I said. "I had a great time. Can't I miss you guys, too?"

Later in the day Rigby came through the galley to get coffee and he put one hand on my upper arm for a moment.
"What was that about?" I asked.
"I'm just glad you're here," he said.

The Night Off
Once again I had the night off, because a local elderly community was hosting a dinner in our honor. We went dressed in funnies, and broke off to sit at different tables with the goal of entertaining the people who lived there. I had flashbacks to visiting my grandparents before they died last year. All the old folks loved it when the young people came to spend time with them. It's such a strange process, life to death. And it becomes so obvious at these places: you start out in a mini-house, but as you become less independent, you move to an apartment. Next there's assisted living. Then hospice. Then you're out.

I somehow managed to sit at the odd table that was not filled with people living in the community, but with some folks who lived nearby in Orient. Fortunately, I didn't have to talk about the history or the design of our boat... though these are both subjects I should brush up on. I just talked about food. Budgets, menus, and my other life.

Before we left, the town's godfather made yet another extravagant gesture: If I wanted, I could go and raid the stores of his restaurant tomorrow morning. (What!?!?!) If I were his chef, I would want to throttle him. But I'm not. I'm cooking for nine people on six bucks a day. I can't wait!

Tuesday's Menu
Eggs, bacon, doughnuts and bagels
I threw a bunch of leftovers together: I sliced the roast beef and mixed it with egg noodles to create a kind of stroganoff.
I made another roux, then added chicken and chicken broth. I took fried rice and put it in a baking dish, mixed it up with the chicken and then grated gouda on top.
Tossed salad
Chicken skewers
Pesto noodle salad with roasted veggies
Lemon bars

Monday, May 9, 2011

Off the Hook

This was the second time it happened to me - that getting off the boat felt like stepping out of one track on a Choose Your Own Adventure novel. I suddenly found myself in a parallel world, where everything was familiar and much as before. My real life. Or something akin to that. Here it was, going on without me just fine, while I'm over on page 232 doing something that really broke the narrative in two... but I just couldn't resist seeing where it led.

What a horrible thing, those books. I really couldn't stand them. You always knew that the writer had written the story to be read one way and then had to hack it up in pieces for the publisher to print it. So the real goal in reading the book wasn't just to read any old story, but to find the original story - the one where the characters stayed truest to themselves, where the action didn't feel forced, and the ending wasn't odd or abrupt.

I'm certain that I'm spending my days in one of the off tracks. I just don't want to go back yet.

The real world
First I met up with a former lover and while we talked, we shopped for spices and then cold weather gear. We had a great meal at Fatty Crab, a place I've always liked because their Beef Rendang is just like it is in Bali. Unfortunately, the chef changed the recipe, but we still ate some great food.

After lunch I stopped in at Somewhere, where chef had set aside a bunch of spices for me. I got to say hi to all my favorite people and pick up an old paycheck. Then I went for Mexican with old friends. It felt like no time had passed.

Back at the boat
When I got off the jitney late Monday night, I went straight for the shore head. Though we've been here a week, I have never crossed paths with the other crew in the restroom. As we are the only boat in the marina, we are the only ones with access to it. So I was pretty taken off guard when, after entering the code, the door opened from the inside and there was this stranger sitting there.

She was sitting on the bench, on the telephone.
"You scared the livin' shit out of me," I told her.
She laughed.

I came in, set my stuff down on the bench and entered a stall. As I heard her talking, I thought about how I also used the restroom to get away from the boat and have private conversations. I figured she must work on a boat somewhere nearby. I wondered why I hadn't seen her before. Maybe there was a new boat in the marina?

When she finished her conversation and we stood washing up, I told her I lived on a boat in the marina with four gals and had never seen them at the shore head, so I was really surprised to find someone here.

"What boat are you living on?" she asked.
"The Marlin," I said.
She looked at me funny.
"The one at the end of the pier? The tall ship?"
I was about to go on - big, wooden, tilted masts...
"Ah, you're the cook!" she said.
Suddenly I realized I had just met our new first mate.

Monday's Menu
Coffee-flavored water from Guy & Gallard in midtown
Mango salad, the crab, and the fatty duck at Fatty Crab (plus a drink served in a big ol' coconut)
Ceviches, one of each; guacamoles, one of each; the queso fundido with chorizo and huitlacoche; and lots and lots of margaritas. After we had settled the tab, the manager came over with a bottle of Reposado and I swallowed down one last ounce before heading off for the bus.

Sunday, May 8, 2011


I woke at 4 am, unable to sleep. I had a busy day ahead, trying to get everything done so I could catch a 5:50 PM bus to New York City. But I got everything done, and left it in the oven on warm. I just hope it was hot enough when they sat down to eat. And not overcooked. I haven't heard a peep from the boat since I left for the jitney with a roll slathered in chutney. 

On the bus I read Peter Pan and thought about all our adventures so far and those yet to come. Bly is supposed to spend his day off with this crazy guy we met the day before. The guy has a Cape Dory Typhoon that he offered to take us sailing on, and Bly is taking him up on it. Rigby asked about what cheese he could use to make nachos, so I know how he's spending his day off. (He also finally got a girl's number, so who knows how else he'll be spending his day.) And Harrison's friends are staying over another night. I know what Eve's doing. Workaholic. And Smith is watching the boat while Cap also takes a much-needed furlough. 

I got off on 39th and 3rd, quite near where I once lived and took the bus every day to Queens. The city air was remarkably warmer than in Greenport, and I walked with my West Marine jacket tucked under my arm. It felt good to be back. And I plan to stuff as much adventure into this 24 hours as is humanly possible.

Sunday's Menu
I served by favorite bread pudding, with dates and cardamom, and then made smoothies with lavender, coconut, beet juice, yoghurt, mixed berries and bananas in them.
Trying to economize yet again, I grilled up the leftover (free) sandwiches, and spent lunch time prepping for dinner.
Stuffed eggplant (with leftover fried rice, tomatoes, feta and asiago cheese)
Roasted cauliflower with gouda
Roast beef
Caramelized carrots
Parker house rolls and salad

*I am traveling computer-less, so I won't be able to upload any photos. But I wasn't on the boat for dinner, so I don't have any shots of it anyway!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Dive In

Indian food for dinner. And all-vegetarian.
New Guy is starting to speak. I mean, he's starting to open up and say things about himself and have conversations. He's still super quiet at mealtimes, occasionally laughing at our silliness. But I imagine we're a tough crowd. We're so tightly knit right now that I think of us in terms of a constellation. Interconnected, separate yet forming a larger picture. 

But, not surprisingly, the constellation is about to change. We're getting a new first mate on Monday who will sail with us from Greenport to Marblehead. There we'll get a new temporary captain, and Captain Flash will become first mate for the transit to the Great Lakes. And, as I write this, Bly is buying his ticket home from Marblehead. I can hardly believe it. I'm really going to miss the guy. We all are. That's the nature of this game, I guess, but it will alter everything.

The romance of the sea
When I went to buy my own ticket, for the bus into Manhattan, the woman at the Hampton Jitney asked me about how I got into this business. She was enamored. It's fun to see how it awakens people's memories and dreams. She told me all about how she'd been to Nova Scotia once, camping. And how her husband bought a boat - he'd been in the navy - but she and her sons all got sea-sick, so they had to sell it.

What is it about the sea, and life on the sea that does this to people? Even people who get seasick?

At night the pier is scattered with people trying to catch squid. Old Italian guys, young, short, Peruvian-looking fellows, and a few older couples huddle in small groups and stand with lights glaring into the sea, bobbing their poles up and down. Harrison went and bought one of these "jigs" in order to catch me a squid. Right now he has some old friends in town visiting him, so we likely won't have a squid on the jig tonight. Frankly, I'm a little terrified of the prospect anyway, having never cooked with squid before. But the only way to face your terrors, I guess, is to squinch up your eyes, stare the thing down, and dive in.

Joy of Cooking recipe: perfect every time.
Saturday's Menu
Blueberry muffins and smoothies
Leftover sandwiches - I pan-grilled some of them in butter, if they wanted me to; miscellaneous salads and a pasta dish for Eve with sauteed zuchinni and fresh tomatoes and asiago cheese.
Indian: chickpea dahl; kofta in a cream sauce; rice with tumeric and carrots and peas; chutney with rains and apricots and apples. I also bought one of those roaster chickens because I knew Cap wouldn't eat Indian, and when I asked her what she wanted, she said Caesar salad.
It was one of those days where I completely forgot about the dessert. I almost opened up the limoncello, but then realized it wasn't cold. It's now in the freezer... and we're all waiting anxiously.

Friday, May 6, 2011

How the Marlin Lost Her Gale (to a Gale)

Frittata with leftover gumbo.
It started off as a pretty great day. After breakfast, Cap pulled me aside. She'd worked it out so half the crew could take Saturday morning off and half the crew could take Sunday morning off, but that I would work both those days in order to have Tuesday morning off. As it turned out, the bus/train schedules wouldn't enable me to take a train back from the city on Tuesday morning anyway, but I was pretty impressed that she made the effort to work it all out.

Then I learned out that lunch was going to be catered by the godfather of this town, and that he was also buying us dinner at the Clam Bar across the way. So I did what any sail-loving cook would do: I turned off Ol' Dies' to give her a rest and went out to play with the crew.

I polished a little brass. Shammied a little wood. Then I changed into the period costume, thereby becoming an official deckhand for our sail. And I sucked at it.

Cheese grits, courtesy of Nancy &
Bruce from Wilmington.
My twenty seconds of deckhand-ness
Smith would call out an order, but it sounded like she was speaking Greek. I would try to coil the lines the right way, but I was consistently doing something wrong. Most of the time I felt awkward, in the way, and totally at a loss of what to do or even how to do it when asked. So when Smith said, "Go count the sandwiches," I happily disappeared. Then I made Eve a special vegetarian lunch. She hustled in and quickly ate it, as we'd apparently lost our depth sounder during an electrical safety test the day before and she was mad at work trying to fix it.

While the deckhands hustled around on deck, I made next week's menu and researched recipes. Before I knew it, the sail was concluding and I was called to help out with the fender.

During that short time, however, the winds had kicked up substantially. Cap tried several times to dock at our former spot, but the wind and the current thwarted us. At her call, we all hurriedly began re-rigging all the fenderboards to go along the opposite side of the boat. But while all the deckhands were busily retying lines, Cap had brought the boat around and was nearing the end of the dock. It seemed to happen in a split second: one moment we were turning away from the pier, and the next moment we had spun around and were heading straight for it. Cap had slowed the Marlin down in anticipation of docking, but we still hit the end of the pier with some force and it split a piece of wood used to hold some of the rigging in place under the bowsprit.

Cap backed her off and we did it again, this time successfully. It was a bit hairy. Then calmly walked off the boat to make the necessary phone calls.

Eve's lunch: a quesadilla with tomatoes and jalapeno.
For the first time I thought about what it must be like to be in her shoes - with the pressure of docking an unwieldy, multi-million-dolllar vessel in high winds and messy currents. I would be stressed out of my mind.

Friday's Menu
New Orleans frittata with leftover gumbo and gouda
Grits, my way: with siracha, gouda, salt, pepper, milk and mayonnaise
Sandwiches from a nearby deli, except for Eve, who got a quesadilla
Oysters, clams, squid, mahi-mahi and generally seafood deliciousness

Table full of seafood.