Two rich teas, a green apple and a bottle of Gatorade

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Upon leaving the calm seas of France, we were hit with a barrage of horrendous weather. Now I’ve been on the odd cruise in my time, and have witnessed firsthand the suffering of passengers when going through rough waters like the Bay of Biscay. But that was nothing to prepare me for what we were to endure. I felt like an extra in Poseidon’s Fury/Titanic for two days straight. The waves were relentless. You could not walk even a metre’s distance without holding onto something for dear life. I got down from my bunk at one point, only to be flung at full force backwards into the metal ladder on the side of our bed. My whole right side is still black and blue from that miss-timed dismount.

Despite having dutifully guzzled various brands of sea sickness tablets between us, not forgetting the stretchy wristbands to boot, most of the crew were hit hard by the sudden change in motion. For an entire 24 hours, I survived on two rich tea biscuits, a green apple that Jhel had lovingly cut up for me, and one bottle of grape flavoured, sugar free Gatorade leftover from the owners. We all discovered the hard way that when you are sea sick for that length of time, it is much less painful and makes life all round easier if you have something, anything, inside of you.

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The crew mess, galley and all of our cabins are in the bow of the boat. This is the extreme front of the ship, which is simply the worst place you can be when the ocean is rough. Obviously, this area became ours in the design of the vessel, because the owners must be safe in the back where the movement isn’t quite so bad. A small mercy given to us on the crossing is that we’re allowed to venture into the guest foyer, a gleaming living room that is protected by dust sheets, covers and duvets while the owners are away. Maria and Cristina have a cabin right at the very front, so they actually slept every single night it was rough on the duvet covered floor of the guest foyer. Myself and Jhel live in a cabin behind them, which isn’t quite so turbulent, but still we slept there intermittently when it felt like we were going to fall out of our beds.

Meanwhile, how on earth were the crew being fed during all of this?! Hells bells, the crew chef was down for the count and could nary lift a finger to help the situation. Enter Heather, the only girl onboard who is totally immune to the effects of the motion of the ocean. My mum suggested she absolutely donate her inner and middle ear to medical science, as it is simply the model ear, allowing her to weather any storm, no matter how severe. We are all suitably jealous, but I was simply over the moon that there was somebody onboard who could trundle along, firmly standing ground in the galley when I couldn’t set one foot in there without making a bee-line for the slops bucket. She heroically made toasties, pasta dishes, soups, salads, so those of the crew who were fit and well did not go without, and for that I am forever grateful.

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When we finally arrived in Gibraltar after three days of the boat being beaten within an inch of its life, I felt about six stone five and had the pallor of a sun starved anaemic. Michael arrived, my knight in shining armour/guardian angel sent from the heavens above, and all of a sudden everything was as right as rain.

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Steamed bao buns, filled with char sui spicy pork.

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Vegetable tom yum soup, one of the girls’ favourites.

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Malaysian lamb & aubergine curry, another wonderful recipe from the collection given to me by my lovely aunt & uncle.

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Spiced potato, chicken & sweetcorn samosas. Using the scooped out insides of the day before’s roasties, leftover shredded chicken and sweetcorn from a pizza day. Thrifty.

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My favourite house salad from MOO back home in Jersey. Massage kale using apple cider vinegar and olive oil, roast cubes of pumpkin (or butternut squash, or sweet potato), and toss with quinoa grains and pomegranate seeds.

Captain’s announcement was music to my ears the very next day. We were to stay in Gibraltar for one night, before making the next three day journey to none other than Santa Cruz, Tenerife. You may well know that Tenerife holds a piece of my heart. As a family, we’ve holidayed there numerous times over the years, and really I love it to bits. The people are friendly, the weather is almost always warm, not to mention the food is beautiful. Canarian potatoes are like miniature crispy but fluffy jacket potatoes. Bliss.

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Now that Michael is onboard, we are the luckiest yachties that ever lived, as we get to share the role of one chef. Whilst on a crossing the rota becomes as such: every crew member must complete a three hour watch every day, along with six hours of normal daytime work. This three hour watch can be at 9-12am, 12-3am, 3-6am, 6-9am, any  of these ungodly hours of the middle of the night. Our sleep patterns are all over the shop, but with Michael here, only one of us need do lunch, and the other do dinner. So the deal we’ve made is as follows. I’m taking the brunt of the watches, keeping the driver of the boat company during the wee hours of the morning, but most days this affords me the luxury of only serving lunch, meaning my hours of work finish from about 1pm onwards. Hello sunbathing opportunity!

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The sun deck comprises the uppermost level of the boat. With a view of the open ocean stretching in all directions, I really can’t think of a better place to top up my vitamin D and catch up on a few books. The verdict from my past three days of afternoon tanning is as such. The Vegetarian by Han Kang is a load of tosh and should be chucked over the side. The Widow by Fiona Barton was unputdownable and a cracking recommendation from Mumma D. Murder Most Unladylike by Robin Stevens was an absolute hoot, and I have since downloaded the follow ups in the series to devour on our continuing journey.

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One of the perils of the crossing is that you must stock up on perishables, in case all the crew decide to smash through one particular type of fruit, for example oranges if someone starts to catch the sniffles. Bananas have fallen victim time and time again over the past couple of weeks, turning to mush in a matter of days, no matter how segregated you keep them from other fruits (that damn ethylene gets everywhere). Myself and Heather have taken it upon ourselves to search for more original and exciting ways to use up excess bananas, other than the usual suspects of smoothies, banana breads and banana ice cream. This banana cream pie was made using a pretzel crust, with a cooked banana filling, finished with a layer of white chocolate ganache, piped vanilla whipped cream, sugar work and caramelised banana.

To celebrate our arrival to the beautiful island of Tenerife, myself and Maria decided to throw caution to the wind and have a night on the razz. Our town of choice ended up being La Laguna, home to the island’s university and a mere ten minute taxi ride from our port. What made the evening that much better, was being told that the following day, we were to have a much needed day off. Now initially when this was announced, I was in bits, because due to the rota it was my turn to be on ‘duty’ the next day we had in port. This meant on a day when everyone was to relax, sleep in, explore and do their own thing, I had to work a normal 8-5 day in the galley, staying in my uniform and never leaving the boat from 5-10pm. Michael, being the utter gent that he is, offered to cover the working part of that day, leaving me with just the evening to cover. But sadly for us, Captain was not happy with anyone swapping parts of their duty. They have to swap the whole thing, or nothing at all. All I can say is, Michael is a legendary hero of life, and I have the best boss in the world.

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When in Rome, do as the Romans do, so I hunkered down at 5pm to have a tactical nap (otherwise known as a siesta in these parts) until about 9pm. We then spent an inordinate amount of time dolling ourselves up, and headed straight for a student bar that served various flavours of €3.50 mojitos.

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We met some amazing people, one being (another) Maria above, who had studied a year at the University of Reading, and was keen to practice her English with us, teaching me un pequito bit of Spanish along the way.

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Wandering around trying to find a club, grabbing helpless bystanders to join in on the fun.

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^Spot the bottle of aqua sin gas.

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We found the club of our dreams, and danced the night away to the sounds of Europop. Upon return to the boat at 4am, we frolicked our way through the port, safe in the knowledge that our passerelle key will allow us entry. But nay! We approached the boat, and discovered that the person on watch had disabled the walkway so that our gadget was rendered useless. Considering I find it difficult getting on and off the boat at the best of times, there was no way I was going to try and wangle a way on that didn’t involve the proper, health & safety approved way. So we had to do an awful thing, and rang poor Jhel, who despite her deep slumber, was a complete babe and came to help us out.

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The following afternoon we played at being tourists, shopping the heck out of Santa Cruz and stopping for the odd Baileys coffee along the way. It was a ruddy brilliant night and day, and did well to revive us for the next leg of our epic journey. Either ten days non-stop to St Marten, Caribbean, or thirteen days to Miami, Florida. We’re still waiting on a decision from the owners, but I must admit, I’ll be rather happy either way.

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4 thoughts on “Two rich teas, a green apple and a bottle of Gatorade

  1. Laura says:

    Firstly, loving the new layout Rosie! 🙂 So funny that Pat suggested Heather donating her middle and inner ear to science, that just made me laugh aloud at work which is were I am sneakily reading your post! The food as always looks amazing! You look like you’re having the best time! Are you back for Christmas? We must meet up 🙂 Laura x

    http://www.twohumansliving.com

  2. Melissa says:

    Hey Rosie!

    Ah I have just stumbled upon your gem of a blog whilst googling for some info on the Finlake residence as I’m going to do a Patisserie course at Ashburton later this year in July. I’ve only read a couple posts so far but I love it and can totally relate as I’ve been working on yachts for a year and a half now, I was a crew chef for our Atlantic crossing last year and I had a good laugh at your tale here 😛 hehehe. Luckily for some unknown reason I had a strong stomach that got me through the relentless pounding waves and shocking weather we mostly had… although most of the crew didn’t want to eat for days (…carrot and ginger soup was an all round winner hahaha!).

    I was wondering if you wouldn’t mind passing on some details of anyone you know who stayed in their own flat or apartment in Ashburton as my friend and I are doing the course together and would ideally like to find a little place or cottage of our own.. but it’s not proving very easy so far..! Otherwise, you enjoyed your time at Finlake? What is the room setup etc like and how many people can stay there from the Academy? Also, is there wifi? haha 🙂

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated! Thanks and I look forward to reading more of your blog posts! xxx

    • thecrewchef says:

      Hey Melissa! So sorry I haven’t replied sooner, I’ve been spending every spare moment trying to book a diving break in Saba for next weekend, with wifi that barely works, I haven’t had a moment until now and wanted to read your comment carefully so I can try to be of some help! First of all what a great choice of course & school, I am mightily jealous but look forward to reading about it all when you’re there. My good friend Nell is the only student on my course who rented a place, if I remember correctly it was a double room in a house in town, she loved it and could walk to the cookery school every day. Everyone else either had places nearby in Exeter/Plymouth, or like me stayed at Finlake. It’s like a little Centreparcs lodge, two rooms had single beds and one had a double. I was the only girl so was given the double automatically by the boys, so nice of them! Obviously you don’t know who you’re going to be put with…I had a wonderful guy who is now a really good friend, and a not so wonderful guy who turned out to be an alcoholic and a mega creep. I didn’t like to be there at the weekends on my own, without the nice one there for back-up! Maybe I was just unlucky, you would hope these cookery courses don’t attract weirdos, he was the only one out of 16 on my course who was a bad egg.
      There is wifi! It’s not amazing, I don’t think I could stream Netflix, but good enough to use internet and update your blog. You have a fully equipped kitchen (not that you’ll use it much with all the food you bring home) and a lounge with a TV, the boys brought lots of DVDs so we had film nights quite often with takeaway pizza (this Italian man has a woodfired oven in the back of an old ambulance, and comes every Tuesday to Ashburton, hopefully he’s still there as it was the best pizza ever). If you’re at Finlake, you must have a car between you I would say. All three of us had cars, so at the weekends I would visit friends in Exeter/Plymouth, otherwise you’re stuck in this slightly empty, sad, holiday camp. If you can get accommodation nearby or in Exeter, I would, as your course is probably for a long time. Mine was only 6 weeks. One bonus is you get to use the gym and classes for free – they were amazing! I needed it after cooking and eating all the super rich food we learnt how to make. The gym instructors love to be fed, they were given a fair few lemon drizzle cakes and brownies by me.
      Nell’s email address is nell_fairclough@hotmail.com and she’ll be more than happy to give you some advice on living locally. If you have any more questions just shoot! I love hearing from fellow yacht chefs/ashburton students – I am going to make carrot & ginger for our ‘crossing’ back to Miami in two weeks time, and stock up on dramamine as I hear that works wonders for seasick folks like me! I must try everything as I cannot be a yachtie who is sick all the frigging time Xxx

  3. Melissa says:

    Hey Rosie! Gosh thank you SO SO much for your wonderfully detailed reply, I really appreciate it especially as I know how hectic working on a boat is! You’re a star! 🙂

    Okay, I see – yeah it would be better to have a car but I’m not sure how I’d go about renting one there (I’m from South Africa) and I’ll have to see the costs involved too :/ otherwise i need to try find a good spot within walking distance or go with the Finlake option as at least they have a shuttle to the school and back. Anyway thanks for your info – and that pizza sounds amazing!!! Though I’m gonna have to try really hard to eat extra healthy as my course is full of delectable, devilishly good sweet treats I’m sure hahaha!

    Good luck for your crossing back to Miami, and yes – GINGER EVERYTHING is my best advice. Plus Bonine / Dramamine and those wristbands help too. Oh, and PRETZELS! hahaha. Safe sailing and I look forward to keeping up with your travels on here and IG! 😀 xxx

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