13 Sep 2013

Loh Island

During our first week aboard Chimere, while Rob and I were anchored off Santo, I had numerous people observe that I was the incoming ‘galley wench’. While not a term I find endearing in any way, I now understand where the unflattering nature and slave-like connotations come from!

Feeding 11 people three meals a day, prepared in less than one square metre of standing space, is indeed a task in itself. Add to this continually changing plans, frequently unstable anchorages (or a conveniently heeling/rolling yacht when underway) and the eternally steaming hot galley and you’ve got something akin to both a physical and intellectual endurance challenge. Limited bench space and seemingly unlimited dishes, pots, pans, and episodes of needing to access the fridge, freezer or utensils under said bench space creates a whole new aspect to ‘boat tetris’ (as our family refers to the phenomenon of carefully and progressively moving people around the cabin space of a boat order to get everyone where they need to be at any given time). Thank goodness for a patient team and a sense of humour!

While inspiration, fresh produce and consequently food variety have run low at times, I think it’s fair to say no one has starved – although there may be more than a few of us keen to get away from one (or two) pot wonders and dive into a nice fresh, crisp salad! Have no fear, however, the generosity of many villages has staved off the dreaded scurvy and we’re downing pamplemousse, coconuts and the ever-amazing tropical bananas almost as quickly as they are provided. The excellent addition of a vitamiser to Chimere’s galley tools collection quickly created a team favourite: chilled, minced pamplemousse to liven up our breakfast cereal each morning.

A couple of key things that I have learnt in my first few weeks as ‘galley wench’ aboard Chimere:

– Eleven people go through a LOT of mugs and kettle loads each day!
– Frequent dishwashing, salt water and concentrated detergent is not a combination friendly to hands (as a few of us have discovered).
– Cheese is everyone’s friend and makes any meal better (but who didn’t know that already!)
– Cooking dinner quickly is much easier when not interspersed with retrieving and resetting the anchor several times (thank you Ureparapara!)
– Do make sure you pop out of the cabin briefly every so often while cooking to grab the odd breath of fresh air. Similarly, don’t shower or swim before preparing meals and expect to stay fresh – it’s not going to happen!
– Baking a couple of loaves of fresh bread a day is a relatively simple (Thanks Linda) and satisfying task, however don’t let ANYTHING distract you from the 5-10 minutely tin-turning routine, or it’s all over!

Finally, after too many nights of eating my own preparations, interspersed with the occasional meal cooked by someone else (and our lovely meal at Sola Yacht Club), I can wholeheartedly confirm that it’s true – food really does taste better when it’s cooked by someone else!

Cathy West