Diary of a Clipper Racer

Around the world in 333 days with Mark Osgood

Supporting my chosen charity - "Dreams Come True"

Final Diary entry, 54, added Monday 6th October 2003.

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14 - Race 2 - Lisbon (Portugal) to Havana (Cuba) - Mother Watch

Big Mother

During the race, I am co-ordinating the race diary entries from all the crew for the Clipper Ventures web-site.  Some of them will also appear here. The first one is by Cookie and Chappers, talking about the joys of mother watch, followed by Jimbo's take on the same subject.

Mother Watch - by Cookie and Chappers

Within the normal daily watch system 2 people are pulled from their duties sailing the boat for a 24 hour period to clean the boat, cook and generally provide for the rest of the crew (and the skipper too - if he behaves).  There are so many different aspects to being a mother that they can't all be covered in a single diary entry. So today we thought we'd take a look at cooking on a boat.

Galley Duty

The range of conditions faced on the boat hugely influences the experience that is boat cooking. At the moment the boat is fairly flat, so cooking isn't that bad. Having said that even then there is a mystic force that always manages to produce a freak wave right when you're pouring juice for someone - accept the dunking graciously and move on. But the real horrors start when you're heeled over at 45 degrees and pounding through waves.  Then the fun really begins - let us take you back to a typical mother watch from a few days ago to illustrate........

Cooking supper the Mother-Watch Way

1. Switch on the red galley lights, thereby rendering all jars, bottles, fruit, veg and fellow crew members unidentifiable.

2. 1st  Mother climbs onto engine hatch to retrieve required fruit and veg from overhead nets. 

3. Bad helming/freak wave/gusting wind throws Mother off engine cover.  Inspect fresh bruises (if identifiable from old batch) and repeat.

4. 2nd Mother retrieves escapee veg from all over galley and collects whatever 1st Mother has held onto.

5. Realise that "onions" that were passed down are in fact oranges - go back to step 2.

6. Assume the cooking position - this involves the essential use of a strop around the waist to hold you within 3' of the cooking surfaces, but wise Mothers will also incorporate the full brace involving one foot on the wall below you and one on the floor behind.

7. Chop onions peppers/oranges and curse whoever was using the now blunt knives to cut rope earlier.

8. Fall inelegantly from strop to retrieve chopped veg from sink/floor/seats and hope you cleaned properly earlier. Realise red lights will hide many sins and stop caring. Throw into pans with other ingredients similarly prepared.

9. Curse loudly as ship lurches violently liberating several grapefruit from the nets above your head. Duck just too late to miss the one aimed at your forehead.

10. Light cooker. Re-light cooker. Re-light cooker.

11. Re-strop and brace into position by cooker. Realise at this point you're about to be tied in right next to boiling pans. Feel slight panic. Realise again what ridiculous angle you're currently at by the gravity defying sight of the gimballed cooker seemingly about to fall over. Breathe deeply and begin cooking.

12. Fill kettle ready for later demands of tea and coffee. NB - Hold kettle at 50 degree angle from vertical and prepare to get wet.

13. As crew comes in serve food up in bowls (Please note spillage will occur).  Ignore constant demands for juice/water/coffee/tea/pepper etc until all food served (and retrieved from floor).

14. Laugh slightly hysterically when pouring juices into cups. Accept each and every wave and the added colour and dampness that it brings to your t-shirt. At least juice is cold - next serve teas by holding mugs at arms length and getting 2nd Mother to pour boiling water in vague direction. When enough is collected in each mug stir then lurch across to intended recipient. Spill and repeat.

15. Crew finally leave for sleep or sailing. Try not to think about the horrors of the washing up as you relax, locate the 1st aid box as required and take a 5 minute breather!

Congratulations - you've survived another mealtime!

Mother watch - the bachelor's way - by Jimbo

The Chefs: Hatbox - single man about town (well, Reigate); cooking ability: minimal; normal contents of fridge: two bottles of Champagne (pink) and a small piece of cheese (mouldy). Jimbo - chic urbane sophisticate; cooking ability described by his Mum as 'best eat out tonight dear'; normal contents of fridge: not known, possibly a new life form; in fact, location of fridge uncertain.

Normal eating habits: Hatbox - disgusting, often employing hands rather than cutlery. Occasionally treats himself and his delightful lady friend to a meal at a restaurant with tablecloths, but generally considers  'Le Bargain Bucket' to be the height of luxury. Jimbo - eats out seven days a week with other sophisticated people - his opinion on the latest cutting edge dishes is sought out by, amongst others, Michel Roux. Has been known to get away with asking Gordon Ramsay to 'pass the tommy k'.

The challenge: dinner for 13 people, many of whom are rude and unreasonably demanding. Examples of unreasonable demands are that the food should be hot; not make them sick; be accompanied by some form of drink.

The skills employed: pragmatism - 'What they don't know won't kill them'; hygeine: 'scoop it up and shove it back in - the heat should kill the worst of it'; full use of equipment - every pot and pan, every knife, fork and spoon employed in the delivery of the food; use of new flavour combinations: 'cover it in Tabasco, nobody will notice...'; care for others - 'I may have cooked it, but there's no way I'm eating that - share it out amongst the others'; language: 'Oh fiddledy dee, fiddle sticks and golly gosh, I appear to have spilt the contents of that boiling pot on my leg'.

The output: views differ on this. Thought by the chefs to be a 'melange of flavours from around the globe, delivering a unique and subtle dining experience'. Thought by the crew to be 'crap'.

The result: the food prompts new and exciting topics for discussion and debate - 'what, in god's name, was that?; 'Please don't ever cook that again.' The crew enjoy the benefits of reduced dietary intake once every 5 - 7 days, although for some strange reason they all seem to eat extra large portions the day before we are on mother watch.

You just can't please some people.


Click here for diary entry 15 - Lisbon to Havana - the end of Race 2 (or was it?).

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