The Cast of Characters & Quick Guide to the Story

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Hot Toledo Nights

Rigby instructs the Nomad on how to climb the shrouds.

Five sailors furling the topsail.

We arrived in Toledo, our black powder shots ricocheting off the riprap along the river bank, but found no crowd to greet us at International Park. It has become obvious which towns have a local person in charge of PR and which towns have no clue that we're coming (or perhaps they just aren't interested).

After the crew put the boat to bed, the Nomad and I made dinner for the crew - a giant taco spread. Neb mixed sangria with some wine he'd been given in Rochester, and we topped it off with frozen pineapples and grapefruit and limes. Then we all sat down together, laughing and enjoying a common meal for the first time in four days.

After dinner the Nomad and I had a drink at a nearby bar. Captain Flash joined us for a little while, and then we all turned in. The Nomad had a 3 am train to catch back to NYC.

Thursday's Menu
Brisket hash with cheddar cheese and sour cream
Leftover indian food, with naan, saag (curried spinach), chutney, leftover brisket and leftover cauliflower
Taco smorgasbord
Banana bread

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Eerie-ously Seasick

Every transit seems to have that day - that one day when everyone wishes they'd taken a dramamine when they woke up. Today was that day. The Nomad told me he had experienced my hamburger three times, and that it was good the first time, tolerable the second time, and ... I can't remember what he said about the third time, but you can use your imagination. At least I hadn't fed them spaghetti for dinner.

Because Lake Eerie is so shallow, the waves are known for being rough - and for picking up quickly. When we were on the hook it seemed like the most lovely of nights, but on the water, sailing, close to the wind, it was another story altogether. Almost everyone got sick that night or the next day, except Smith, Neb and me. But I certainly was on the verge. My savior is always the ability to lay down between meals. Somehow, I always manage to sleep it off. I still have never barfed at sea (knock on wood).

Wednesday's Menu
Sausage and biscuits
Indian-style brisket, though it actually tasted more Indonesian than Indian
Cauliflower and peas in turmeric and garam masala and other spices. Unfortunately, the crew was so seaseak still, that hardly any of them touched it. Which was probably a good thing. Indian food coming up might not have been as enjoyable as Indian food going down.
I also cooked another brisket off, Texas style, because the meat was starting to go. "It smells like death in here," Smith remarked while standing in the passageway where the freezer is.
Pizzas - by dinner everyone was feeling a little better. I made various pizzas - one with a red sauce and three kinds of meat; two with artichokes and mozerella; one BBQ pizza with pork; and two with lots of veggies - mushrooms, sliced onion and green pepper.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Hooked, again

Meats for the banh mi.
Pickles and other toppings.

At some point near dawn, we motored past Eerie, PA, and dropped anchor. Smith and Cap were splitting all three watches between them and were exhausted. Not to mention that the crew had gone from all hands the day before right into watches that night. Although he came on as a passenger, and my guest, the Nomad was put on the worst watch - the one from 12-4 am and 12-4 pm. I hardly saw him. And that night it meant that he got some rest after the Welland, but was up again at midnight, and because of the morning anchoring, didn't get to sleep until breakfast. I kept telling him to pull his passenger card. Otherwise, he should've come along as a volunteer. But, stalwart, he held all his watches like the rest of the crew.

We stayed on the hook all day. It was a sunny, sleepy day. Then, after dinner, we sailed off the hook and into the sunset.

Tuesday's Menu
Dutch baby
A variation on banh mi, without the pate (the meat in the freezer was starting to expire, though I was cooking it as fast as I could), but instead with leftover meats - summer sausage, chicken, and pork; but with the carrot pickles, banh mi sauce, etc.
Hamburgers and sweet potato fries

Monday, June 27, 2011

All's Well in the Welland


As we went through the Welland Canal, this thought kept reoccurring: How many people get to experience this? The Welland is the lock system that skirts Niagra Falls, allowing boats to continue upriver to Lake Eerie. They are essentially a set of massive doors that close you in. Then the lockmaster floods the space between them, and lets you out on the other side. While the water rushes in, Cap calls out the orders to release or increase strain on our lines.

We'd been through other locks, but these made the others look like kids' stuff. The crew joked that we were entering Mordor. Over and over again.

It can be a stressful day. You might lose a spud in the cracks in the walls of the locks. And there's a lot of strain on the lines. But we went through lickety split.

Monday's Menu

Ham and eggs and toasted slices of french bread leftover from Sunday's meals, and blueberry crisp - which was soupy, but excellent on yogurt
Falafel with pitas, tatziki, corn salsa and all kinds of fixins
Afternoon snack
I had thrown the cake away around midnight, not having the energy to cut it into pieces and transfer it to a plate - and wanting the gigantic box out of my space, but half the crew kept asking me, "Where's the cake?" So I made them something better: amaretto cupcakes with chocolate icing and candied almonds on top. Uh-huh.
As we waited to go through the last lock, I walked around with smoothies made from leftover blueberry crisp, strawberries and bananas
Eggplant parmesan and chicken picatta

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Holy Toledo

The Nomad and I spent my day off walking the streets of Rochester. We found my Rochester apron at a little vintage store. They had a small selection, but this one was the best, with a Christmasy plaid pattern and holly leaves on it. "I love the pleats," Eve said when I showed it to her later.

Daytripping in Rochester
We walked around the strangely empty, and abandoned-looking downtown that was once the bustling land of Kodak. We rested for a while on a bench in front of a demolition site. Either the workers had the day off or the work was stalled. It was quiet. I felt like we'd stumbled upon a fresh crime scene. One side of the apartment building was exposed, so you could see the different colored wallpapers and places where fixtures had been. We sat, decoding the missing architecture based on a set of pulleys here, a fusebox there.

Then we found our way to Dinosaur BBQ, and had a tasty lunch with a few flights of beer. Our friendly server even gave us samples of some we hadn't ordered.

On the bus back to The Beach, as the locals called it, I looked around at our fellow passengers and felt a bit sad for the state of things in Rochester. All the poverty and obesity. The people on the bus looked downtrodden and tired. Many of them were on their way to the carnival that the Marlin was docked beside. Maybe that's what they needed - a few rides to give them butterflies in their stomachs , a little cotton candy, a corndog. 

The Nomad and I walked to the beach. We watched the Marlin come in, and then the Argo. We walked through the neighborhoods, checking out the beach houses with their detached eating areas out by the water. Then we walked back to the boat to get a little rest before our midnight departure. 

As is the case on boats, things break, and today it was the freezer. Before leaving I went up to one of the carnival food stands that was closing up and a really nice gal whose mother owned the truck gave me all her leftover ice. "It's just gonna melt on the way home anyway," she said. So I packed the cooler with ice, and the freezer with ice, and hoped for the best... 

At the Stroke Midnight
Tonight we depart Rochester for Toledo at just past midnight. Captain Flash has a plan to motor us across Lake Ontario in order to get to the Welland Canal in daylight. "It can either take eight hours or twelve," said Cap. Which means it's going to be a long day for the crew. Because we'll need all hands on deck for most of that stretch.

We're supposed to make Toledo by Thursday noon.

Sunday's Menu
French toast and scones
Chicken sandwich with fried green tomatoes
Cuban sandwich
Flights of beer and root beer on tap
A chocolate and peanut butter malt

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Cake, the Nomad and the Nutcase

The Cake
I was waiting for my friend, the Nomad, to arrive from New York City, when Neb came into the galley with a hideously large cake. One of those kind you get at the grocery store with tons of sickly sweet icing on it, and made with cheap cake batter that has a taste reminiscent of cardboard. 

"Where did this come from?" I asked. 
Neb shrugged and looked uncomfortable. "This woman gave it to me," he said. 
"Do we know her?" I asked.
"I don't think so," he answered, uneasily.
"Well, I guess I ought to go thank her," I said, leaving the galley.
He pointed out a woman in a pink shirt. She wasn't looking at me as if she knew us, or had just given us a cake, but I walked over to her. 
"Thank you so much for the cake," I said.
"You're welcome," she answered without making eye contact. She was slightly hunch-backed and had a crooked nose with moles on it, and a wiry mop of hair. She learned into me as if to tell me a secret, and put her hand on my arm. I felt suddenly like Snow White getting the apple from the old witch.
"This is my son," she said. And as I looked around for a small child, I saw a guy in his twenties who was the spitten image of the woman in the pink shirt. He looked half-crazy, half-cocked, and he waved at me giddily, as if he were about to win the lottery. "He really wants to come on the sail, but we just don't have the money," she said.
I thought about the cake in the galley and felt sick. I was being blackmailed.
"Oh," I said uneasily, now realizing why Neb looked the way he did when I asked him where the cake came from. I looked again at her son, wishing he was five so at least I could have some sympathy for a five-year-old who can't go sailing because his mom doesn't have the money. The son stood just behind her, with that silly grin on his face. "I don't think we can do that," I said. 
"If I could just speak to the captain," she insisted, her hand tightening on my arm.
I looked back at the boat, but neither Captain Dashing nor Captain Flash were anywhere in sight. I did what I was taught to do in the corporate world: make sure this was not something someone hirer up had to deal with. I told her I was sorry, that the captains were very busy and that we couldn't make exceptions like that, but thank you for the cake.

My guest, and soon our new passenger, the Nomad.
The Nomad
The Nomad's train was supposed to arrive in Rochester at 2 pm. Naturally, it was delayed, and his taxi took a wrong turn, and if there hadn't been a tugboat in our way,  holding us back from our 3 pm battle sail, he never would have made it on the boat. But he did make it, stepping over the gangway just as I was called to put the fender over the side.

When I finished fender duty and came back toward the galley to help him stow his gear, you can imagine my surprise when I turned around to find the lady in pink and her son sitting on the cabin top. I had no idea how they made it on the sail, but I suppose it pays to be persistent. 

The Nutcase
Just when I thought we'd had our share of crazy people for the day, a voice that sounded as if he were mocking us echoed out one of Smith's commands. The voice came again, "Hands to braces!" I tried to identify him out the galley window. The Nomad gave me a look and said, "He just did King of the World... from Titanic."

A few minutes later the kid popped his head through the galley hatch. He was maybe 16-years-old, slightly reddish hair and something about him said that he didn't get out much. "You've either got to be brave or ignorant to be working in here when you're at sea." 
I thought this over. I did not consider myself especially brave - but I certainly wasn't ignorant!
"I guess I'm brave then," I called back.
"What? You say you're angry?"
"No," I said, "I'm not ignorant, so I must be brave!"
But he had already moved on. 
"Ms. Smith," he called out, "Ms. Smith, just let me know when I can be of assistance to you."

Sometime during the sail we tacked, and the grilled yellow squash salad I made slipped off the top of that damn cake box where I stupidly put it because I was out of room in the galley, and tumbled to the floor. Every last bit of it. I cleaned it up, and doggedly went to work making a new batch with zucchini instead. It was one of those days. 

Smith was tired. We had new crew and were short-handed. I was tired too, since I'd had to prepare Sunday's meals in advance, since I had the day off. The Nomad and I were about to head out when Smith asked if I could go up and fold the topsail. But by the same I got out my fleece and changed my shoes, she waved me on. 
"You two can head out of here," she said, looking defeated.
I wasn't going to insist. I got my things together and the Nomad and I headed out for dinner on the town.

Saturday's Menu
Bread pudding with fruit, and smoothies 
Asian pork stir fry with pineapple, onions, beans and zucchini 
Pulled pork sandwiches
Zucchini salad: this is an old favorite of mine from The Moosewood Cooks at Home. You "grill" the squash in olive oil in a skillet, until it browns a bit. Toast garlic lightly in the skillet after that. Lay the squash in a pan, sprinkle the garlic over it. Then chop a tomato and scatter that on top. Top, too, with chopped parsley, or preferably basil or mint, or tarragon, and then douse in red wine vinegar. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Let sit to marinate for 30 minutes or so. Delicious.
Macaroni and cheese, using an aged white cheddar

Friday, June 24, 2011

Galley Talk

Chip, last seen by the stern of the ship.
Our schedule here so far has been pretty hectic. Right after breakfast Chip headed off into the misty rain. He was with us three weeks, impressing us with his knowledge of historical events and adding his good humour to the mix. He was a good eater, too. But then so is most of the crew. Before P1 left yesterday, he and his wife joined us for lunch. In a quiet moment, when I was clearing the table, P1 said, "I don't think these guys know what they have." "Oh," I said, "I think they do." Chip was one of those who thanked me after almost every meal.

After muster Captain Dashing said he'd arranged for Jason of the Argonauts to take his cook and I provisioning. While waiting for our ride, their cook, Klaus, and I talked shop. I saw poptarts and Cheerios and milk - probably four gallons. I don't have any milk drinkers onboard. I guess if I did, I'd freeze quarts of it, and defrost them. A gallon won't even fit in my fridge. But it's a huge cost and I love not having to deal with it. Klaus gzve me an idea for using chard in scrambled eggs, and inspired me to try tiki masala again. It just wasn't a hit last time... He had filled two carts and I filled one. The old sedan we used was pretty heavy loaded when we left Wegman's.

In order to take Sunday off, I need to make all the meals ahead of time, so I made most of Saturday's food today. Plus we had a daysail from 5-7; dinner from 7:10-7:25; and then another evening sail and boat parade after that. I'm whooped.

But it's raining again. I like the sound of the rain on the cabin top and the deck. And tomorrow our only passenger to Toledo arrives. And he happens to be my guest, so I may call him something other than P1. I have an alternate name pending good behavior.

Cap's plate, one sloppy chicken Joe upside down.

Friday's Menu
Sausage, ham, beet, potato, onion and goat cheese hash with baked eggs in muffin tins
Tacos with leftover fried rice, black beans and taco meat
Sloppy joes, sloppy chicken, corn salsa (like a chow chow), beans and caramelized onions and a fruit salad

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Another Ship off the Starboard Side

Another ship in the fog.
In the morning when I got up to make breakfast, the boat was making the same gently swaying motion it makes when we're on the hook. But I hadn't heard us weigh anchor in the night. Later I found out from Smith that we had been drifting - and so had the Argo (learn more about the ship I call the Argo). In fact, we almost drifted into each other at one point. Imagine my surprise, not knowing she was out there, when I looked out the galley windows into the foggy morning and saw her silently floating there beside us, ghostlike. 

Together we made our way into Charlotte, a northern suburb of Rochester, the shot from the carronades ricocheting off the two jetties that flank the opening to the river. 

It's hot here. I'm not sure it's been this hot in the galley. Everyone warned me it would be like this in the lakes. Pshaw, I thought. But add a diesel stove to the mix, and it's pretty unbearable. But then a thunderstorm came and poured down on us, and cooled everything down, and the crew put the awning up... I am pretty fond of the awning. It allows me to have the hatch open in extreme heat or rain, and keeps things cool.  

At some point during the storm I looked down below and saw Captain Flash getting sole towels out. "Hey, you're back!" I said, wanting to hug her, but restraining myself. "I missed you," I said.

After dinner, we met a few of the Argonauts. I think a number of them went out drinking with our crew, but I headed off to the AT&T store for a new phone. Hurrah!

Eve's wrap.

Thursday's Menu
Bacon and buttermilk pancakes. Pancakes is one item with which I've been playing it fast and loose... Yes, I'm guilty of using a mix. But as much as Krusteez toots their horn, every time I make them I think they feel rubbery and lack flavor. I'm about to go on a pancake hunt. This simple recipe out of Joy was far superior.
Lavash roll-ups with kielbasa sausage, sauteed onions and peppers (with oregano, mint, salt and pepper), tzatsiki with avocado, babaganoush and homemade sweet chili sauce
Fried rice and slow-cooked Asian beef BBQ wrapped in lettuce leaves

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

On the Road Again

Today we head off for Rochester. We have three passengers onboard - as before, I will label them P1, P2, and P3. We're expecting heavy rain and winds from the northeast. It's a curse and a blessing all wrapped up in one. The crew is going to get soaked - but we'll likely have the sails up, going downwind.

I just finished making breakfast - and I made my first successful Hollandaise onboard the Marlin... though not without a few swear words directed toward Ol' Dies' because of how slow the baked eggs were cooking.

Now I'm back at Bella's, spending a few minutes to type this as they cut three loaves of that cheddar bread for me for the crew's lunch. A rare treat. Now I gotta run back to the boat.

See you in the next port.

Wednesday's Menu
Toasted English muffins, baked "poached eggs" in bacon drippings (truffle butter for Eve); Hollandaise sauce (!hurrah, I did it! and it came out so light and fluffy - way more magical than most of the ones I've eaten at restaurants) and ham

That wonderful cheddar bread from Bella's - a last minute purchase before leaving - paired with different sandwich salads, a traditional chicken salad with red onions, celery, grapes, mayo, parsley, salt and pepper; an Asian pork salad with similar ingredients but with the marinated pork loin from a few days back; a roasted eggplant salad for Eve, with tahini and sliced anaheim chili peppers and parsley; and a few cheeses mixed together with hot pickled sweet chili peppers. Oh - and a fruit salad of strawberries, blueberries, banana, yoghurt, and toasted coconut. They devoured it.

Marinated, barbecue chicken in a homemade sauce; boiled new potatoes; corn on the cob; panzanilla (italian bread salad - delicious!); with barbecued shrimp for Eve.

Blueberry pies

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

He's Leaving, but He's Coming Back...

An older photo of Harrison, stealing away with the cous cous salad.
Today Harrison left. I realize I haven't given it much build-up. It could be a pretty dour day indeed. But the reason I haven't given the issue much play is because the lad has been on the fence for weeks about coming back. He was offered the position of bosun when Smith leaves, but he waited until the very last moment to make his decision.

If I were Captain Flash, this would've driven me crazy. But then he said yes, and I can only guess she was relieved to have filled the position with a familiar face.

So although Harrison might have left us today for good - he is now returning in Duluth. So neither you, dear reader, nor I, have to miss the guy too much.

Farmer's Market Mayhem
I heard a woman on the street today call her somewhat unruly dog, "Mayhem!" I laughed. But talk about self-fullfilled prophecies.

Banana bread with chocolate chips.
But that's not the kind of mayhem I experienced today. Before my run, Harrison's folks stopped in. He told me that they would be stopping at the farmer's market - but I had not expected the boatload of vegetables and fruit that came onboard: 20+ ears of corn; four gorgeous eggplants; red and green bell peppers, Anaheim chilies and another, darker pepper; three bags of new potatoes; eight or more quart bags of blueberries; yellow squash and zucchini. In short, a crazy amount of food.

I have to remake my week's menu to accommodate this incredible gift - but what a menu we're about to have!

Then, after my run, Lori, the owner of the Koffee Kove, who had sailed with us down from Ogdensburg, came to the boat with an order of items at cost from her purveyor: flour, eggs, pasta, olive oil. I spent the next hour rearranging. But the kindness of such gestures...

It's hard not to get sentimental. To not feel overwhelmed when people are so generous. When Harrison's mom says that he wasn't getting enough to eat before I arrived, but that after I came she never heard a complaint. Then she gave me a copy of The Enchanted Broccoli Forrest to keep on the boat, because she'd read my entry about it ages ago, and was inspired.

Boats, boats and more boats
Last night at muster, Captain Dashing said that the Antique Boat Museum had offered us the chance to take their boats out. I almost got teary-eyed. I've been DYING to go sailing. Eve saw me, and her eyes lit up too. But Cap said that unfortunately, no, there were no sailboats.

I was rather bummed. Until they took us out in these lovely old boats, and our guide, David, told us about the communities surrounding Clayton. It was a beautiful ride and reminded me a lot of Sweden - rock formations leading down into the water, long steps criss-crossing down from houses high above. Fir and pine trees. It was out of a postcard.

Chip, enjoying the ride.
After touring the rest of the museum, I came back to the boat, made myself a martini with hot chili peppers in it, and sat on the deck with Smith and Eve, perusing The Enchanted Broccoli Forrest.

"This was a great day off, wasn't it?" Smith asked.

Eve and I nodded in agreement.

Tuesday's Menu
Leftover banana bread from yesterday, with chocolate chips in it
A BLT at the Koffee Kove (after a massage at the Wellness Center)
Fettuccine and meatballs

Monday, June 20, 2011

Slumming with the Mayor

My first filet mignon in ages.
I got to sleep in our hotel room last night. This was a treat. I got all my stuff together and went upstairs, laid down on the bed. At some point later in the evening, the captain came by to pick up his necessaries, and asked if I was decent. I was fully dressed, and fast asleep.

This morning I went for my run while a sour cream coffee cake baked in the oven - and overflowed the 8x8 pan! These are the sorts of amateur errors the crew forgives me for. 

Then the mayor picked me up and took me out to breakfast. I'd been dying to ask her a few questions ever since she sailed with us from Ogdensburg. I'd been really busy on the sail, first restarting Ol' Dies the night she arrived, and later getting breakfast and then lunch ready. I wanted to know if politics were different in a small town. "Oh yes," she said. "Everyone knows you. And they all have an opinion." 

She also talked about how much work it was - that she was basically never not working.

Later, she mentioned in the course of a story that she thought everyone in town had her cell phone number. Goodness, I thought. No wonder she's constantly working. Even in a town this small, can you imagine everyone having an opinion AND your cell phone number?

After breakfast she dropped me off at the grocery store, instructing me to have the desk staff there give her a call when I needed to be picked up. Only in a small town.

My dinner, not theirs - a beautifully plated 
watermelon and cucumber salad.
Another Night Off
On the original schedule, I was slotted to have tonight's sail off. But as it turned out, I've had almost every sail "off" - though for me this just means that I'm not on the boat. I still have to get the meals out.

During the sails, I've spent a lot of time at a place called Bella's, using the internet, drinking a glass of wine and just getting away from the boat. Tonight I ate dinner here, a watermelon and cucumber salad with tzatziki; and a filet mignon on a crab cake. The server also brought out a delicious cheddar cheese bread. The filet was perfectly cooked and a real treat, since I can never afford to buy high-end cuts of meat for the crew.

When I get back I'm making them individual calzones and a caprese salad. As long as the huge amount of pizza dough doesn't bloom all over my bunk... on second thought, maybe that wasn't the best place to put it...

The Mayor's strawberry shortbread.
Monday's Menu
Sour cream coffee cake
Caprese salad
The mayor dropped by with fresh strawberries, homemade shortbread and real whipped cream... I heard one of the boys cry, "Re-elect!"

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Message in a Bottle

Vietnamese pate sandwich, banh mi
It was only a matter of time before my iPhone fell out of my pocket. Splash. Into the St. Lawrence. It's rather amazing, with as much as I get on and off boats, that it hadn't happened sooner. I woke up this morning frustrated. I planned to make pate for the vietnamese sandwich, the banh mi, but the recipes were in my phone... twenty feet down.

I ran to the coffee shop, pulled the pages up on my browser and ran back to the ship - only to have the browser suddenly shut down. Ah, technology.

Eventually, it all worked out, though. And the sandwiches were delicious. Neb gave me a hug. (Though you should've seen the squinched up faces of the people touring the boat when they asked what it was... thank goodness my crew doesn't share their hesitation). "I love you guys," I said to Eve and Rigby today. Because they always thank me and say how good the food is, and that just makes me want to make more. "We can tell," Eve answered.

Fish fry at the 1,000 Islands Inn; Strauss catches me taking a photo.
Other than baking french bread buns and pate and making a special marinated and fried tofu for Eve, I spent the day defrosting the freezer and cleaning the black mold out of the water pitchers, and all the other fun things that a day in the galley is composed of. I was all set to make tacos for dinner, when Cap announced that the Thousand Islands Inn where he's been staying were offering to throw us a fish fry tonight. Hurrah! I can't wait.

Because I depend on my phone to make posts, if you don't hear from me for a while, you can start checking the lakeshore for bottles. Old School.

Sunday's Menu
Dutch baby
Banh mi
Fish fry
The St. Lawrence, just before she ate my phone.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

A Coquet with Croquettes

Smoothies with ice to keep them chilled.
It's amazing how fast the days fly by. How this morning seems like forever ago. What did I do?
I feel like something interesting happened but now all I can remember is making croquettes. It did take a while...and I did get two marriage proposals as a result - one from Neb and one from Buttons!

They were perhaps the yummiest thing I've made in some time. Here's how I did it:

I had bought crab meat from Larry's truck yesterday that I didn't end up using in the paella. At first I thought I'd wake up early and make crab cakes for breakfast with poached eggs on English muffins with Hollandaise... I keep planning to make Hollandaise... but my luck with it is about 50/50, so I haven't really surmounted the first hurdle, which is fear of failure.

But croquettes, you ask? I dove right in.

I found a recipe online that I used as a guide, but I didn't have a lot of the ingredients, so I did it my own way.

I boiled four-five large potatoes in salt water. Then I mashed them, adding about six tablespoons of butter. I didn't have any cream, so I used my ever-reliable cream substitute: mayonnaise. About 1/8 to 1/4 of a cup. Mash, mash, mash.

Watermelon on the "happy plate."
While the potatoes were boiling I thinly sliced and then chopped a large Vidalia onion and a handful of mini-carrots that one of our guests had left behind. These I sauteed in very little olive oil until the onions were translucent and the carrots just barely soft. I didn't think they were quite sweet enough (probably because those appetizer carrots are always old), so I added about a teaspoon of honey. I didn't like the smell that came from the skillet then, so I added some salt, pepper, nutmeg and white pepper and it took away that syrupy-sweet smell. Then I added that mixture to the potatoes. Mash, mash, mash. 

Then I added about a 1/2 cup chopped cheddar cheese that was from that snack platter. And 8 ounces of cooked jumbo lump crab meat. Mash, mash, mash. 

On the counter I laid out three bowls: one with flour; one with two eggs and a little water in it; one with panko crumbs.

Then I patted handfuls of the potatoe mixture into balls, covered them in flour, doused them with egg, and coasted them in panko. I deep-fried them in about a half-inch of canola oil, turning to make sure the job was evenly done. 

Croquettes in action.
To complement the croquettes, I took small curd cottage cheese and chopped up tomatoes and cucumber slices (both gifts from our guests, too), added salt, pepper, a smidgeon of dried dill and mint. 

On the counter I also placed some banana peppers, chipotle mayonnaise, leftover coleslaw, sliced bell peppers, lettuce, and a few other odds and ends.  The crew wrapped everything up in wheat wraps that closely resemble a Swedish flatbread, and promptly devoured them.

The Incident with the Swim Ladder
As a footnote, I was left behind on both sails today, which meant making phad thai for ten in record time. As I helped release the lines so the boat could get underway, a supporting piece of the boat connected to the anchor chain got caught in between the two handles of the swim ladder on the dock, and we ended up totally bending one side of the ladder. I guess Captain Dashing did not quite understand that he was not clearing it, so as the boat moved away, the last glimpse of him I caught was not pretty. But when I met them on their return to the dock, the mood seemed to have lifted. The crew got the boat to bed in a timely manner and the swim ladder seemed salvageable.

I have exciting news about upcoming crew changes, but I'll wait until it's official. Here's a hint: he's coming back...
The photo-worthiest sandwich.

Saturday's Menu
Blueberry muffins
Crescent rolls rolled up with bacon and orange marmalade, with sesame seeds on top
Smoothies with bananas, maple syrup, mixed berries, yoghurt, vanilla, orange juice, and about a tablespoon or so of spinach... with ice to keep them cold.
Potato-crab croquettes rolled up in flatbread
Phad Thai


Friday, June 17, 2011

Funnies are no Laughing Matter

In the morning I ran almost a mile to the Clipper Inn, where two construction workers had promised me there would be a guy selling fish out of his truck between 9-10. But he wasn't there. So I ran back, punched down the rising dough and then ran back again. Larry the fish guy knew exactly who I was. He'd seen the boat in Ogdensburg. He sold me a lobster tail, four sole fillets, two pounds of PEI mussels and some crab meat. I blew through $30 pretty quickly. Then I ran back to get lunch out.

It was another good day until the announcement came that we are now required to wear our "funnies," regardless of the heat, and Smith pointed out at the bar later that I was not an exception. I was told when I started this job that I would not have to dress in costume. I see Mamma Smith's point about the costumes possibly increasing the likelihood of someone retaining historical information or being interested in it. But I don't think that justifies wearing ridiculously constrictive clothing in hot weather. The crew are for instance now required to wear neckerchiefs... I ask you, WOULD YOU WANT TO WEAR A NECKERCHIEF WHILE RUNNING AROUND IN THE HEAT PULLING ON HEAVY LINES???? Actually, would you ever want to wear a neckerchief? I can't stand having constrictive stuff around my neck.

Would you want to wear a long-sleeved shirt while slaving over a diesel stove in a galley with a temperature of around 90 degrees?

It's unreasonable and just plain cruel, I think. If you have to dress people in period costume, redesign it to look like period dress but with contemporary lightweight fabrics so your employees don't die of heatstroke and exhaustion. And skip the bloody neckerchief - do you really think that was a required accessory in 1812?

Aside from this unfortunate news, it was another great day. The mayor offered to take me out for breakfast and provisioning on Monday. We got more free food from guests on our sail. And everyone was in high spirits. After the sails were all stowed, and the crew had helped polish off the remaining paella, we all sat down (minus Captain Dashing) to a game of Bananagrams, while Buttons played the ukulele. Strauss came up with a version in which we could only use nautical words. You should've seen some of the linguistic contortions our sailors used in their attempts to win the game.

The Pirate Game
Today I had a little girl asking tons of cute questions. She wanted to know about the "well" I have beside the stove, which is a dry sink where I keep olive oil, vinegars, etc., so they are less likely to topple when heeled over. She asked about the hammock where I keep tomatoes and jalepenos and such. And she kept asking about the pirates: What do you cook for the pirates? Where do the pirates eat? I kept correcting her, saying that we were the good guys, and that pirates would take our money and jewlery. "Where do you keep your money?" she asked. "Why, are you a pirate?" I asked her.

One thing is certain, she knew I was not a pirate. She knew exactly what my role on the boat was. And I had just come back from my run. I was dressed in a pink microfiber top and black running pants.

Friday's Menu
Breakfast burritos
Spaghetti and meatballs
Paella, two versions, one with seafood and one with chicken and smoked sausage... It's better with chicken broth

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A Good Day to be a River Rat

It was another good day on the Marlin. 

I was kicked off the sail so we could increase our capacity and sell more tickets, which meant I got to sit at a great little cafe called Bella, and drink Riesling and eat a delicious Caprese salad. When we got back to the boat, we all helped secure docklines and then I hurried to get dinner on.

It's hard to say why this day was particularly good. It's not that it passed without frustration at one another, or at ourselves. (Harrison derided himself for making a few rookie mistakes on the sail. Chip reached out to secure the halyard and cut up his wrists. It took two and a half hours to put the boat to bed.) Harrison says it was because of the band playing on the knoll beside the dock. Maybe we were on our best behavior, too, because we got a new deckhand. I'm naming her Buttons. 

We sat down to dinner at 9 o'clock, all ten of us, and ate our first really nice dinner in a long time. And I am not talking about the food - although I thought it turned out pretty good. The atmosphere around the table was familial and fun. We joked and drank wine given to us by the mayor of Clayton. 

After doing dishes Eve and Harrison and I took off for the park for some late night swinging. We all needed a day like that. 

Strauss's plate. 
Thursday's Menu
Sausage gravy, onion & jalepeno gravy and biscuits
Indonesian Beef Rendang, and a vegetarian sweet potato version, with toasted coconut on top
Cucumber and carrot slaw
Chicken picatta
Confetti Spaghetti (From The Enchanted Broccoli Forest... I have always loved this recipe.)
Parker House rolls

Rigby and Strauss eating in the galley.

Confetti Spaghetti
3 tablespoons each: butter and olive oil
1 cup minced onion
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper to taste
1 teaspoon dried basil
2 stalks broccoli - chopped
2 cups small cauiflowerettes
1/4 pound mushrooms, chopped
2 cups frozen peas
1 medium-size red bell pepper, diced
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 pound linguine
4-6 scallions minced (Didn't have.. omitted.)
1 packed cup finely-minced parsley (I used dried)
2 packed cups grated cheddar 

1. In a large, heavy skillet, cook the onions and garlic in combined butter and olive oil with salt, pepper, and basil, until the onions are soft (5-8 minutes). 
2. Add broccoli, cauliflower, and mushrooms. Stir, cover, and reduce heat to medium-low. Let cook until the broccoli and cauliflower are just tender (8-10 minutes).
3. Add peas and diced red pepper. Stir and cook over medium heat for just a few minutes - until the peas and peppers are just heated through. Remove from heat, and stir in soy sauce. 4. Cook the pasta until al dente. Drain, put into a large bowl, and immediately add the saute with all its liquid. As you toss the mixture, sprinkle in the cheese and scallions and parsley (if using). Serve while hot! 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

On the Good Ship Lollipop

The remains of the hash with goat cheese...
I awoke to the sound of Eve nervously pacing outside my bunk. The generator had been giving her problems since last night and ... well, without it, I'm limited to cooking on Ol' Dies'. Not the end of the world, but not a situation I'm normally prepared for at 7:30 AM. I racked my brain for alternative breakfasts, that didn't require high heat (like eggs) or baking at 350, like muffins or biscuits. I had planned sausage and biscuits, but that was clearly not going to fly. 

After a while Captain Dashing came back to the boat and they fixed the broken impellers and we were off and running. Meanwhile, I did what I could. I've always found that necessity is the mother of invention. (See below.)

Had a nice chat with Captain Dashing later in the day in which I think he complemented my cooking. It was a good food day all around.

I do find that I am easily irked by food manners lately, though. As the crew grows, it gets harder to manage. People take larger servings than they should, instead of waiting to make sure everyone gets a portion and then taking seconds. They drop food on the table or on the floor and don't clean up after themselves. I ask them to cover up fruit and other items on the "pass" and they forget. I know they are working their asses off, so I try to let it go. But how hard is it, really?

At the end of the day I spent some QT with Strauss, because he had the duty. I dried the dishes as he washed. He's a tough nut to crack. I find it hard to look at him, because his earrings and haircut look so self-mutilatory... but I'm warming up to him. Anyone who does a thorough job cleaning the galley at night gets points in my book.

Tall Ship Merry-go-round
Last night Harrison paced on the dock, talking on the phone for a very, very long time. I realized, as I passed him on the way to and from the shore head, that I haven't mentioned that he's leaving. He, Rigby, and even Smith now, are ticking clocks. Harrison leaves in our next port, in Rochester. Rigby leaves in Toledo, and Smith in Duluth. By then it will be a total crew change, bearing little resemblance to the group I started out with. We all knew it was coming. But it's still a strange process.
Indian food my way.

Wednesday's Menu
Leftover Swedish hash combined with pork sausage and goat cheese. I was aiming for baked eggs, but the oven never got hot enough.
Chipotle grits with cheddar cheese
Sandwiches on homemade wheat buns with salami, cheese, red peppers, lettuce, and odd fixings I pulled out of the fridge. One time Smith told me my sandwiches were often better than my dinners, and I said, "That's because you get to customize them. So everyone gets what they want." "Yeah," she said, "But you also put out stuff I'd never think to put on a sandwich and it totally works."
Chicken Vindaloo, Aloo Gobi, naan bread, an apple-apricot-currant chutney, and thinly sliced pikled carrots
Banana bread

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Hottest Ride in Town

Bean dip and crostini.
I climbed up the shrouds and onto the yard for the first time. The islands were scattered about below. Neb asked if I looked down on the backs of the birds. But I was too busy watching my footing and trying to use what little arm strength I have to lift the sail. 

We got up at 3 AM this morning to get to Clayton. I was exhausted from cleaning the stove the night before, and then staying up late to make updates here. The wind was behind us, so we set the courses - essentially a split spinnaker that hangs down each side of the yard. It's a pretty awesome set of sails, and makes the boat look like something out of The Neverending Story.

We had the mayor of Clayton on board, an older woman who brought homemade cookies and other goodies for the crew, and whose presence guaranteed us an extra-special grand arrival. 
Section of the arrival committee.

Not Sailing, Really
Today, looking around at these islands, I missed sailing. Eve said later that when I asked to climb up the mast, she knew I must be going through sailing withdrawl. Though I've said many times that this job is perfect for me because I love sailing, and I love cooking... I really don't sail much. And even if I went on deck and coiled lines, and threw myself into sweatpiles (which I am known to do on occasion), it's still wouldn't give me the feeling  of sailing. That feeling of being able to go where the wind will take you. Of being in command of your own vessel. Of making small adjustments to the sails and seeing immediate results. 

No, this tall ship racket is a different thing entirely from the sailing I know. And there's so much show to it. Sometimes as the crew hustle the crowds onto the boat or start to set off the guns, they channel the voices and language of circus ringleaders. We're dressed in awkward outfits (I feel awkward even when I'm forced to wear the non-period uniform - a polo shirt and khaki pants). It sometimes feels more like we work on a ride at Disneyland than on a sailboat.

When we arrived at the dock, a new crew member was there waiting. He's sailed on the Marlin before. He has a crazy haircut that looks like someone took a razor and dragged it across his skull and those big flat thumbprint-size earrings that look like they must be painful. I've named him Strauss. Though he looks out of place, it will be great to get another experienced sailor on board. 
A Thousand Island sunset.

Last night Eve and I took a walk around Clayton, and stopped at a park. Somehow Smith found us, and we three maids of the Marlin swung on the swingset until our butts hurt. There was a full moon out, and when we walked back toward the boat, the water shined below a pink sky, and against this backdrop loomed the silhouette of the Marlin. It may seem a bit goofy sometimes, it may feel like a lot of hoop-la. I may not really be able to hack it as a tall ship cook, but it still feels great to tell the bartender, without bravado, that we sailed into town on that boat.
Roasted garlic soup with all the fixins.

Tuesday's Menu
Swedish hash (with ham, onions, potatoes and mustard
Scrambled eggs
Roasted Garlic Soup
Bean and chili pepper dip with crostini
Food we'd been gifted with at lunch - sandwiches and mayonnaise salads (one with macaroni; one with potatoes) and pizza

Roasted Garlic Soup
Serves 6-8

3 heads whole garlic
2 T veg oil (pref’ peanut)
1 med onion, sliced thin
8 Cups chx stock
1-2 dried or canned chipotle
1/2 t cumin seed, toasted & ground
Lime & salt to taste

Coat garlic with thin film of oil & Roast garlic @ 400 for about 45min
When cool, peel & reserve
Warm 1T oil, and saute onions until soft & lightly colored
Add to blender, add garlic, & puree, adding stock if necessary
Add remaining oil to saucepan, warm over med-high heat
Add blender mixture to saucepan, watching splatters
Saute until it just starts to dry out & color
Add chipotle, salt, cumin, and sautee for 25-30min
Remove from heat & add lime juice
Pour over toasted tortilla strips & avocado, & enjoy!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Who Ain't a Slave?

This morning's Dutch Baby looked a little funny.
The funny thing is, all my fears about Captain Dashing came true.

Eve said I shouldn't have written them down. By uttering them, I made it so. But that can't be. Our personalities, who we are, and how we act toward each other, was written into our DNA long before I wrote my post on May 21st, "Tomorrow, Everything Will Change."

The day he arrived, perhaps minutes before, Captain Flash said something about talking to him about keeping the management style status quo, about not trying to change things. That should have been my first clue that the management style was probably going to change.

A day off yesterday was well-needed, and since we got to land and a warmer climate, I've been running every day. These two things combined have given me some distance on the whole situation. Reading this passage in Moby Dick yesterday gave me pause: "What of it, if some old hunks of a sea captain orders me to get a broom and sweep down the decks? What does that indignity amount to, weighed, I mean, in the scales of the New Testament? ... Who ain't a slave?"

Of course. If I had only read it sooner. Captain Dashing, too, is a slave to someone or something - perhaps the ideal of order itself can enslave you. And so the oppressive feeling I've had since Lunenburg is something he surely feels, too, sometimes. As Melville says, "and so the universal thump is passed around."

Not a Tall Ship Sailor
My Ogdensburg apron.
At The Place the other night, the one decent bar in this town, the owner was asking us if these were the lives we lived, going from one boat to another. Eve said yes. I said this was just a passing thing for me. A one time deal. "This is her second boat," Eve told the woman.

But really. I think I've realized that this is not my world. That the ideal I thought I'd found, in which I had control over my own realm in the galley, was a "slump" as they say in Swedish - an anomaly; possibly not real; and likely not the norm. Most captains are probably like Captain Dashing, and most boats are probably run the way he runs ours. For a while, I happened on a place I could be fully me, fully in charge of my own world. Now I just have to be thankful for that time, and try to start my own business around what I loved about it.

"You never liked taking orders," my mother said. And she's right. If I know one thing about myself, it's that I do not like to be bossed around. I like to be in control of my world or at least use argumentation to justify my position. I don't like to be overruled by someone just because they are in a more senior position.

I've done so much writing about this industry needing to take a cue from modern management books/research, but I don't think they would want to employ such techniques even if they knew about them. They would say that the way they've been doing it for years is the only way that works. (Strangely enough, when we were rolling out this stuff to the construction managers at my last job, they said the same thing.)

Let the backstory begin
I realize I'm getting ahead of myself. That you, dear reader, have no idea what I'm talking about. So may I direct you back to May 27 ("Transit, Day 3, and Arrival in Lunenburg"). This was the date that Captain Dashing scolded me at the bar.

Everyone else was assigned a day off there, but I could choose, they said at muster. Well, I was focused on getting dinner out and hadn't really thought about it... until we were at the bar. I decided to suggest that I take both mornings off instead of a whole day - so I could sleep in and skip breakfasts. This is the easiest meal for them to do without me, and if I was in pain or conversely, had the energy to go running, it would be the best time for me to have off. I thought I was making them an excellent offer. "This is not the place to bring this up," Captain Dashing said pointedly. "You can think about it and tell me back at the boat," I said. Obviously, if I was going to sleep in the next morning, there wasn't a lot of other time to talk about it. Captain Flash seemed to get that, so we talked about it for a moment. Captain Dashing, who'd turned away, overheard us and looked over his shoulder to say again, "The bar is not the place to bring up this sort of thing."

I had not been scolded like that since ... perhaps childhood? It irked the hell out of me. I didn't put the incident in the blog at the time since I know Captain Dashing has fans out there, and I wasn't sure how they would take it. The important thing now is that I know why I took it the way I did. I've processed it, run the data, and that's what you're getting from me today. (Reference the Melville quote above.)

So. Now it's time, if you're still with me, and want to know the ups and downs that got me to my current state of insight (other than just opening Moby Dick), click your browser a few times on the dates after Lunenburg. While you do that, I'm going to go shape some bread loaves out of that dough I got rising.

Monday's Menu
Dutch Baby, cold pizza and leftover banana bread
Falafels in pitas with tatziki and tahini sauce
Seafood pasta with homemade french bread and a tossed salad
Brownies from a box... sometimes ya just gotta do it (like when the stove goes out...)

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Me Time

Today was my first day off since May 23rd. It was fabulous. I sprang out of bed, ran five miles, ate a burger for breakfast at Phillip's Diner (where, just as the reviews stated, people looked at us when we walked in and one old man even came up to Harrison and I and asked, "You're not from around here, are ya?"), then I sunbathed in the grassy park for hours, occasionally reading the first page of Moby Dick. You'd think I'd have it memorized by now.

Then, as the boat left on a sail, I walked 2+ miles to Walmart and the grocery store.

It was a relaxing day. I needed it so badly. If only because it was my time to do with whatever I wished. The rest of my days are in a controlled environment. "Going to sea is incarceration," quipped Captain Dashing the other day. I hadn't actually thought about it that way until then - now I can hardly think about it otherwise. That's exactly how I've felt lately. Incarcerated. But today I was in control.

Tomorrow we leave for Clayton, NY. It's not a long trip as the crow flies - ten hours of sailing at average speeds - but our plan is to meander down through the thousand islands and anchor somewhere tomorrow night, then continue on Tuesday into Clayton for our big arrival.

We're supposed to get four passengers for this short transit but so far no one has shown up.

As usual, I am falling asleep as I write this. And I've got a big day ahead of me tomorrow, feeding 12. So... Over and out. More backstories soon, I promise.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Back on Solid Ground

What I first mistook for a castle turned out to be
a giant grain elevator across the river from Ogdensburg.
After our eleven-day voyage up the eastern seaboard around the tip of Nova Scotia and into the St. Lawrence, our sleepy vessel pulled into Ogdensburg, NY.

Yes, there were adventures. An emergency stop in Gaspe Bay, Quebec, and an illicit greeting of a friend in Montreal; high seas, bitter cold and a whole boat-full of sick crewmembers. But we made it.

I've rarely been so glad to see land. Even Ogdensburg, this town of 11,000 inhabitants, is a welcome refuge from the relentless days of transit. I was asleep below but apparently there were crowds to greet us.

Just before dinner Captain Flash headed off on her two-week hiatus, leaving us in the command of Captain Dashing. I've been at a low point mentally in terms of my experience on the Marlin. This will be obvious in the back-posts.

I threw together a pot pie with the leftover chicken and an onion tart for Eve, because we were invited to a reception at the local marina. We were quite a sight, dragging ourselves, bone-tired, bedraggled, unshowered, up to the marina and hob-nobbing with the locals.

On Sunday I will have the day off. I'm hoping for sun - and plan to find a park to just lay down in the grass and read Moby Dick. I'll be back-posting a few notes from our days at sea over the next few days - this is just to pop my head up and say that we're all alive and back on solid ground... Well, part of the time anyway.

Thursday's Menu
Red pepper frittata, and date nut bread leftover from the night before
Wraps with hummous and ham-n-cheese-n-roasted bell pepper spread; curried egg salad
Chicken pot pie
Alsatian onion tart