January is upon us and while parts of the world shiver through winter storms, the Caribbean celebrates with sunshine and trade winds. Those of us who live in the islands know that occasionally the trade winds blow with gusto and the resulting seas can make for a gut-churning ride. Anyone who can cook at sea has my respect and in this edition we report on a couple of culinary competitions that feature charter yacht chefs.
You might think that cooking in competition while tied to a dock is no big deal, but these heroes of the galley are expected to create wonderful meals all day, every day, even in a seaway. When guests are paying a lot of money for a week’s charter, they expect the chef to produce even if they themselves take one look at the day’s culinary creations and head for the rail.
Having heaped kudos on the heads of the wizards of the charter yacht galleys, it’s time to praise the less culinary blessed … the cooks who brave the heaving guts of a small sailboat at sea in order to put together wonderful, if sometimes weird, meals. While sailing, I have seen and eaten some interesting creations that perhaps a landsman might have a problem swallowing never mind digesting.
I am incredibly lucky in that my wife is an excellent cook and she has a fairly strong stomach, so when we are sailing it is rare we miss a meal at sea. Charter chefs have an advantage; they make fancy food that takes them three days to source and a crew of ten to carry back to the dock. The test comes when you have no refrigeration and your stores consist of dried beans, rusty cans of tomatoes, curry powder and Spam.
On a particularly nasty passage, my wife braved the galley to make a cottage pie using instant mashed potato, tinned corned beef and a few ingredients she found rattling and rotting in our depleted food locker. The pie was in the oven when the boat fell off a particularly mean wave. The resulting crash threw open the oven door and hurled the cottage pie across the cabin. With the steaming mess strewn across the grungy oil and sea spattered floor, my wife shoveled it up and onto the plates. Staggering from side to side, she then hauled herself into the cockpit and presented me with one of the best meals at sea I have ever had.
As we load our boats with more and more electrical devices, so the problem of providing a reliable source of energy increases. Blessed as we are in the Caribbean with wind and sun aplenty, we have a choice between solar power and wind-driven generators or a combination of the two. To help decide what ‘green’ charging system is best for your boat, All At Sea’s technical guru Glenn Hayes put together a two-part series called Wind Vs Solar that considers the merits and drawbacks of each system. I have used wind and solar to charge batteries and always favored wind power. Thanks to Glenn’s article describing the latest generation of solar panels, I might have to rethink my strategy.
Regatta season seems to start earlier every year, as can be seen by the number of events mentioned in Caribbean News. With so much yachting going on, we thought it time to help you plan ahead. In this month’s splendid edition you will find our Caribbean regatta January to March preview.
Carol Bareuther encourages kids to take up fishing and the accompanying photographs warm the cockles of this old sailor’s heart (pun intended). The article reminds us that the world is a beautiful place and no matter what your age, growing up and living by the sea is full of wonder.
See you on the water!
Gary E. Brown, Editor