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.
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.
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.
Steamed bao buns, filled with char sui spicy pork.
Vegetable tom yum soup, one of the girls’ favourites.
Malaysian lamb & aubergine curry, another wonderful recipe from the collection given to me by my lovely aunt & uncle.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Wandering around trying to find a club, grabbing helpless bystanders to join in on the fun.
^Spot the bottle of aqua sin gas.
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.
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.