10 November 2006

77. Yoties food

During my years of sailing across the Pacific between 1995 and 1999 as a crew member on other people's yachts, and being French as well as being a woman, I was often asked to help and even take charge of the food on board.

Feeding strategy is very varied among yoties. Actually it would be more accurate to say there isn't a strategy.

On an 8 day crossing from New Caledonia to Australia with an American guy who simply opened a tin when he was hungry I decided that it was not the way to do it. On another boat with an American couple sailing from Vanuatu to New Caledonia the policy had been to eat cold all the way, except for the odd cup of coffee, in order to avoid opening the gas bottle, for safety reasons. I decided that this was not the ideal way either.

Captain James Cook had figured out, a couple of centuries earlier, that if you wanted a reliable crew you had to give them reliable food. It seems obvious enough. You have to have a food strategy as well as a 'proper course', i.e. a detailed plan for meals, what, when, and how.

By the time I got to crew on board Aureo I had my own idea of what should be done.
1) Have a hot meal once a day no matter what
2) Have a decent 2 course meal once a day no matter what
3) Eat meat or fish once a day no matter what.

That way it is easier to keep your energy and your spirit high... no matter what.


'No matter what' means a variety of happenings. Bad weather of course. Very good weather as well because that's when people find themselves idle and useless, that is if the boat runs on sails only. Some tend to start their engine as soon as the wind drops. Purists don't. A slowly drifing yacht with flappy sails on an oily sea for days on end can be nerves racking to some. 'No matter what' also means arguments or accidents of all kinds.

Just keep feeding them a hot meal a day...

7 November 2006

76. A SENIOR TRAVELLER

In October 1997 when I met Harry on his sailboat at Port Moselle in Noumea, he was 79 years old, going onto 80. He was slim, fit and in full possession of his mental capabilities. Managing the present and planning the future. He had plans. He enjoyed the challenges of his present life to the full. When I met him on the deck of his homemade yacht, he got talking of a problem with his main sail and of some rigging that gave him trouble. He asked where in Noumea he could find an English speaking chandler. And to whom he could talk to about his sail. We finally found a bilingual South African sailmaker and a chandler able to fix his problem.

His yacht, a cutter called Aureo, did not come from some expensive boat yard but from his back yard. Around the age of 50 he started building it in his spare time at the back of his place in Auckland, New Zealand. It took 10 to 12 years of work and when he officially retired from his work as an x-ray technician, he got it put on the water and declared he was sailing it to Fiji. He made a few long distance crossings in the South Pacific with a son or two as crew.

When I met him, he was in the process of making another crossing from Noumea down to Auckland with his youngest son. Very plainly he explained that he was an old man with terminal cancer of the marrow. He was heavily medicated and mentioned that he was the skipper but did not take part in any manoeuvers. He was very practical about all this. It was simply data and conditions that one had to account for. He was simply managing the present conditions.

He enjoyed telling the story of his departure from Auckland a couple of months earlier. As he went to his doctor for a check up, he announced that he was going to sail to Fiji... 'what do you think of it doctor' sort of things. The doctor answered: well, Harry, I'm only a cancer specialist... I think you ought to see a psychiatrist... When he got to Fiji, he sent a postcard to his doctor with the words: I'm fine, how are you?

254. END OF THIS BLOG

I started this blog in 2005 under a different name. When I deleted it at one stage its title was stolen, borrowed, hijacked by someone ...