Monday, November 22nd, 2010
We learn a great many skills on the Picton Castle. Some we expect to learn and others, perhaps not. We learn how to set sail, take in sail, furl sail, unfurl sail, brace the yards, wear ship and tack. We learn how to box the compass, how to be a good helmsmen and how to stand a good lookout. We study knots and lines and maritime vocabulary. We gain knowledge on navigation and chartwork. We learn how to lash and stow, paint and sew. Some learn to wire splice or run the generators. We learn to walk on deck quietly. We learn that just becasue we are awake, this does not mean all others should be awake at the same time, so keep it down – this is a hard one to learn… Accordingly we also learn how to listen to and care for our shipmates in many different ways.
Perhaps one of the many skills people do not expect to learn when they join the Picton Castle is cooking. And yet learn they do. They not only learn how to cook in general, but they learn how to cook for 50 + people, in rolling seas, rain or shine. Every Sunday Donald gets a well-deserved day off and three of the crew cook all day in his stead. Captain says that if you can’t figure out how to cook or clean a head, maybe you shouldn’t eat. From all accounts the beginning of the voyage proved to be a huge learning curve. How many of us have actually cooked three consecutive meals for 10 people, let alone 50? How many have to take into account rationing? While the hold may look full, the provisions have to last until the next port of call and sometimes longer. It is a huge life skill and to some it has become more than that. It has become a challenge – and it seems that the crew constantly compete to see who can make the best meals and therefore win the prize for the best Sunday Galley Day. There is no physical prize mind you, but most work hard for the smiles, thank yous and the admiration (and perhaps jovial envy) from their fellow shipmates. And we have all reaped the benefits of this healthy competition. Thanks to all!
This Sunday Brad, Clark and Niko took the competition to the next level. Brad posted a sign on the scuttle door on Saturday night -announcing that Cafe Chibley would be open from 7:30 am until 10:30 am Sunday morning. None of us quite new what to expect, but there was a current of anticipation among the crew.
As an aside – Sundays are reserved as a day of rest and relaxation on the Picton Castle. Naturally all of the watches still stand their regular hours. Sails still get set. Yards still get braced. We still stand look-out and obviously someone is always at the helm – but ships work we do not do, unless a repair of something is called for; “the ship comes first” is always our motto. The daymen have the day off from thier tasks, although they are on standby for sail-handling, and the rest of us are free to work on our individual projects – as long as we are on deck and ready to drop everything when the need arises. So, a more leisurely breakfast after we have mustered is possible. And that is exactly what we got -and more.
Waking up in the morning we stretched our way out of our bunks and made our way onto deck. The smell of ‘Clark’s world famous coffee’ drifted through the air and naturally we drifted toward it. After drinking a cup we all made our way to the port side of the galley where Brad greeted us, spatula in hand, and pointed to the menu. The menu! Some didn’t know what to do. “I’ll have an egg.” They said. “How do you like your eggs?” came Brad’s reply as he flipped his world famous hash browns on the stove. Now he had us stumped again. “Ummm… sunny side up?” “How runny do you like your sunny?” And so on. We had a choice of eggs, hash-browns, corned beef hash, and banana waffles, “With or without chocolate chips?” Clark enquired cheerfully as he pressed the batter in our heart-shaped waffle maker. Some opted to order the entire menu and thus the ‘boys’ were kept busy until mid-morning with breakfast and then immediately launched into lunch preparations.
Niko had some help in the scullery as he washed the steady stream of dishes. Almost everybody popped in to wash a plate or two, but Sophie stuck around throughout the day. She told me that Sundays were the only day when she could chose the galley music and consequently calming and sophisticated classical music filled the aloha deck from morning till night.
A bit of a chilly day it was – the weather having turned rather squally over the past 24 hours – and so they decided that tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches were in order. And for dinner they made homemade schnitzels with beans and cauliflower. Yum. We shall see what next week’s crew create, but we all had to admit that this galley team will be hard to beat. But what fun it will be to try!