Catering Onboard and Underway

As this was my first trip across the ocean I did not know what to expect or how easy or difficult it would be to keep us all sustained for the 15-20 days at sea. And of course this was the first issue, just how many days to provision for?

The galley on Ocean Blue is compact compared to most houses but for a yacht it is a good size with a front opening fridge and a top opening freezer.

Ocean Blue’s Galley

It is good that you are able to open the fridge easily on either tack and that the contents don’t come out to greet you as you open the door. I invested in some clear plastic drawers to make storage and selection easier e.g. One contains cheese another cold meats etc so for lunch you could just grab one and some wraps or pitta bread and put it on the table for everyone to help themselves.

The ARC had a list of supermarkets and many of them delivered your shopping to the dockside. They also provide contacts and ordering forms for a butcher and fruit/vegetable shops. If I was doing the passage again I would not order the fruit and veg from the recommended supplier. We had anywhere from one and a quarter to three times the quantities (and cost) we ordered of every item and it was of poor quality compared to the supermarkets. We did negotiate a discount but they were not interested in taking the produce back. Consequently we had to throw overboard a lot of the fruit as it was already ripe before we left.

We did a reconnaissance visit to the Court Anglais to see what was on offer. This had a very good selection but I didn’t find anyone to discuss the delivery options with. The market had a a great selection of fresh fruit, veg, cheeses, eggs and meats. I took the opportunity to get some meat at this stage as I wanted to test the quality and start some preparation. It was a very good quality and I would recommend J P Rosper butchers in the market. I personally liked the Hiperdino supermarket which was very well organised for deliveries to the boat and had a good selection.

I started on food prep for the Atlantic whilst we were in the marina in Las Palmas. Definitely a good option to pre cook and freeze meals ready for the journey. All the mince dishes were pre prepared. E.g. lasagne, chilli and cottage pie.

Bags of flour and dried ingredients for bread were weighed out ready for the bread maker.

Fresh Bread from the Breadmaker

Different flavoured butters in anticipation of Derek catching fish enroute.

I was starting to feel like a domestic goddess in the kitchen, however it could go horribly wrong in a Bridget Jones sort of way! My children and friends can attest to my usual lack of skill and flair in the kitchen due mostly to a lack of time it now seems.

I planned the menus to alternate between beef, chicken, pork and pasta dishes and then calculated the quantities of the ingredients needed. The ARC information book and seminars were helpful and suggested 125g of meat per person and this was about right. We also found we ate less as the temperature increased.

When we were able to, we prepared fresh meals as this also helped to fill our time on board and provided more variety.

Pre cooking definitely meant I didn’t feel like my life was spent in the galley and everyone could get a meal ready even if they couldn’t cook.

With hindsight the richer casserole meals were great but not what we fancied in hot weather. We only caught a Wahoo, and that was cooked and eaten straight away. You can’t rely on fish as we were fishing most days and only caught the one fish. You also need to consider what you would do if the fridge and freezer decided to stop working and the contents are no longer edible. We bought a Serrano ham and stand to store it on.

Serrano Ham

This was a high initial expense but we continued to use it well after the ocean passage had finished and considered it a fantastic and fun investment. Together with pasta and tinned veg we would not have starved.

When we got to Antigua our fridge did stop working and needed re gassing. This was over the Christmas period when it was fully loaded and no one was working. We were lucky and could transfer the contents to a fridge in a villa that we had access to.

Broken fridge, but Ice saves the day

We were also able to get lots of ice and prioritise the produce that we needed to use regularly!

St Lucia – the post ARC parties

One of the valuable things about crossing the Atlantic as part of a rally is the friendships that you make before and afterwards (and to a certain degree along the way on the radio nets). The crews on Emily Morgan, Nisida, La Contenta, Aurora Polaris and Ludanka were some of these.

Boats arrived into St Lucia over a period of about 10 days and on many days the arrivals had people on board that we knew, so that period became one of party after party. Not only the impromptu arrival parties, marking the arrival of each boat (day or night), but also World Cruising Club pre-arranged shore parties on the dock. We enjoyed the camaraderie from comparing and sharing experiences of our different ocean passages and supporting and helping each other to fix the inevitable breakages by loaning tools and muscle where needed.

Rum Punches on the Party Cat

The ARC arranged various events and trips, one to Anse La Raye for a fish fry evening arriving via a large catamaran.

History of Anse La Raye

The locals prepare their catch from the day in the streets, you wander the stalls and decide what you fancy to eat. Afterwards we browsed the market stalls and spent time talking to Anthony Cadasse.

Anthony Cadasse

We were impressed with his passion for his village and island. He told us of his ideas and his previous job as a ranger with the Hawksbill turtle Marine protection and  SMMA (Soufriere Marine Management Association).

In between arriving and the final closing ceremony and prize giving, we did take a brief overnight excursion to the lovely Marigot Bay, to mark Pete’s final night with us but other than that we stayed in Rodney Bay spending time with our new friends. We knew it would be all too soon that many would go their separate ways continuing their different adventures. Some we would meet up with again, and no doubt some will have been fleeting friendships, but still ones that will leave lasting memories.

Collecting the plaque for second in class and 10th in all cruising boats
Collecting the plaque for second in class and 10th in all cruising boats

The prize giving came all too soon and after an excellent evening with some very worthy winners getting their prizes – the most notable for acts of seamanship and selfless assistance to others, the day came to leave and head North up the island chain towards Antigua where we were to meet up with Derek’s mum for Christmas. However the weather was not on our side and we suspected it could be a challenge. Ironically having just sailed nearly 3000 miles across an ocean, the next 40 mile trip to Martinique was to be more unpleasant and more challenging than anything we faced in the Atlantic!

After checking out we were able to top up our fuel tank duty free. Jeffery at the fuel dock took our mooring lines and effortlessly secured them!

Atlantic Crossing – 2540 miles down, 261 to go.

Life aboard Ocean Blue has been a little less eventful over the last few days. The days have been hot and mainly sunny, the winds light to moderate and the Parasailor has remained the sail of choice. We have had a few squally nights, with massive wind shifts and huge deluges of warm but very wet rain.

The fishing has been successful, landing a sizeable Wahoo which was filleted and eaten for dinner within a few hours. With the wind pretty much behind us the boat has been a more stable platform for doing a few jobs – meals have been crafted from individual ingredients, rather than pre-prepared frozen ones brought out (though we have eaten amazing well throughout the trip whatever the weather). Bread has been baked, luxuries such as cheesecake made and Lesley’s lemon sorbet is a total hit with us all.

So far the boat is holding up well- the DuoGen is working still, and when the breeze is up generates as much power as we are using. The generator shredded its raw water impeller this morning but that was easily changed and we have full water tanks (despite three loads of washing being done yesterday) due to the continued excellent behaviour of the watermaker.

We have had countless flying fish around and on the deck and seen some more dolphins playing around the boat.

We have 261 miles to go and the breeze is forecast to stay, so that should see us arriving in St Lucia in the early hours of Thursday morning.

Everyone is in good spirits and beginning to smell the rum!

Derek, Lesley and Pete.

Atlantic Crossing – Perfect Sailing Conditions

You couldn’t ask for much better sailing than we have had over the last few days. The trusty Parasailor has been the only sail we have had set and it has propelled us along day and night with ease. The wind speed is varying quite a lot but has remained just sufficient to keep it flying despite the small swells we are encountering. When the wind picks up the speed is blistering. The sun is hot during the day and the nights balmy. The night skies are an amazing array of stars and planets with many shooting stars or meteorites to add to the fun. As for the sea, its an amazing deep clear blue with fluffy little white caps when the breeze picks up.

The fishing line has been out, but no fish have been landed yet, though two have been hooked and lost – must try harder. We have just had a large pod of dolphins play around the boat, we have just under 600 miles to go, Lesley has been making sorbet and yoghurt so all is good aboard Ocean Blue.

I am now on watch so that’s it for today.

Derek, Lesley and Pete.

Atlantic Crossing – Light Winds Prevail, but its sunny and hot

Alas the fix to the DuoGen didn’t last. After a night of fast revolving union, the DuoGen spat out the toilet brush handle early the next morning shattering hopes of a long term fix.

However being the tart she is, by early evening she had a new love, this time a far butcher solid 16mm stainless steel one stolen from the rigging spares box. So far this is a longer lasting fix and its more likely the DuoGen will tire first in this relationship.

That aside, all is well. We could do with more wind – its looking like our ploy to head north, whilst initially gaining us a lot of ground is not so good. The position reports suggest that the boats that have gone way down South are now in significantly better breeze.

Its now warm – well actually its very hot when the sun is out, sun shades are a must and over night there is still a warmth to the air. Boots and shoes have long been discarded by most of us even on night watches. Squally showers at random times overnight are present, with Pete taking the brunt of these. I have had clear starry skies with light but steady winds on my watches for the last two nights but Pete has had heavy squalls, wind sometimes dying, sometimes shifting both nights, seriously eroding his normally reliable sense of humour! Lesley who has a watch in between us has had it a bit mixed.

We have been using our Parasailor for the last two days, giving us an easy forgiving ride when the wind is around but a short period of frenetic activity dowsing it when it drops.

Every time we run the computer prediction of routing and arrival its a little demoralising as the arrival time seems to be getting moved back, but we can’t complain as barring the slightly light winds its simply stunning out here – why wish it to end?

Derek, Lesley and Pete.