A Mother’s Tale

Tuesday 10 September 2013
CATEGORY: Expedition

Day one of our journey Rio with race start in Brest . Drizzly, grey weather
is greeting us. I am fetching Croissants for the team, a final “shore” –
meal, before the stress of the last preparations takes over.
There is again a presentation of the teams, similar to London but with far
less spectators (maybe a rainy Monday morning isnt the ideal time for such
an event), and by midday we are off into the Atlantic.
I only get to see very little of the coastline, as I am on Mother Duty
today. Together with Ralf, a Danish Bakery and restaurant owner from San
Francisco, we have to feed the crew, get hot drinks up on time and keep the
galley shipshaped (=nice and tidy). And what day we picked.
Motgher duty is always very busy, but especially on the first day at sea
its particular painful. As the tasks keep you below deck it is just a
matter of time until your stomach starts to feel squeezy.
The crew has been warned in Brest to expect big swell on our first day into
the Bay of Biscay, and just minutes after the start the boat starts already
rocking significantly. Big bumps let every loose item in the galley fly
around. A rogue melon and two cups just closely miss me. Also a bottle of
milk that wasnt stored properly becomes a casualty. What a mess! As we are
sailing an upwind course, every task has to be done in an angle. Sometimes
we are keeling more than 45 degrees.
So its just a matter of time until I hear the familiar cry “Bucket!!” – we
have a first victim, a total pale fellow crew member stumbles down the
steps. Several others are to follow. My job: Assisting with tissues and
water and clean the bucket afterwards-yumm!
As we are to start on an almost four weeks journey we need to also begin
separating our trash: We can only toss biodegradable stuff over board, all
plastic items need to be washed and then store in the back of the boat. I
realize only after a few hours that not all crew members have understood
that message – so I spend half an hour sorting our garbage bags and washing
yoghurt cups (who brought that along I wonder?), crisps bag, etc..
Ralf confesses me that he has never cooked pasta before, so I am taking
dinner duty- cooking pasta with pesto, thankfully an easy dish which
requires little preparation. As our oven is also at an angle (the mechanism
that usually keeps it horizontal stopped working), cooking pasta for 22
people isnt that easy. Well, 22 portions was an optimistic assumption, as
almost half the crew declines dinner (due to squeezy stomaches they assure
me). Ralf also has to lie down for an hour as the ship wobbles along, and I
have to confess that after hours in the kitchen I start to get nauseous too
– but its fighting through. I cook another pot of plain pasta, which I
leave for the crew, just in case they get hungry overnight – that should
earn me some acclaim later!
I have just tidied up the galley, prepared everything for a last round of
hot drinks, when I hear a call from deck:”Paul up on deck in wet weather
gear!” Its a racing headsail change to our heaviest sail= Yankee 1, hence
every hand is needed, as too many people are off seasick. I jump into my
fowlies and swimwest and off I go.
Despite being really tired from the day, its refreshing to be up on deck
and finally see a horizon and breath fresh air. The only other time I had
stuck my head out earlier in the day a wave broke over the boat, leaving me
Its tough work for two hours, changing sail, repacking it, all at the bow
of the boat, where waves are crashing over, but we are rewarded by
increased boat speed. Its hard to determine our current position in the
race. Several boats are running different strategies as everybody heads to
Cape Finisterre in Spain. Its long way to go still.
Tired I sink after a long day of mother duty into my special bunk, eight
hours of uninterrupted sleep ahead and happy that most of the crew is
feeling better!

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