It all happened very quickly from when I got a call to fill in for a Chef on-board an 83′ Camper Nicholson SY/sailing yacht, (tho I call myself a cook) for a Dlivery which turned into a charter from Annapolis, MD to Newport, RI with visits to a few of the usual New England archipelagos that I had an Amtrak ticket reservation for a 7AM train the following day to BWI rail station & instructions to take a car service to the town dock in Annapolis where I’d meet the Captain to start provisioning and cooking for a trip that information about was vague and short in coming.
Word eventually came in that our Dparture date would be 4 days later than originally thought and that owner wanted a steak dinner the first night we’d be out tho he still hadn’t confirmed how many guests he invited along.
My slim built, Father Christmas looking Captain is an accomplished navy pilot who also trained combat airmen, a music industry veteran, record company guy, Jazz club owner and then settled into being a world class yachtsman and gentleman. The 1st mate, Sammy, is a wonderful character to behold. With my bags still in the cockpit, the Captain showed me below through 2 salons and into the galley. He said I should root around & see what I thought we might need as he knocked on the door of the focsle starboard berth and out bounced Sammy. A white Antiguian Adonis with tousled perfectly streaked shoulder length blond hair, wearing only black Speedo shore line briefs. I don’t believe we shook hands but he sort of popped to it, into action, jumping up into the cockpit then moments later made his way back to the galley with much less speed, falling into position in HIS banquet at the galley table where he spends 80% of his time when he’s on duty. Otherwise like Capt. Phil says, “He’s the most sleepingest guy I’ve ever met.” He eats like no one I’ve ever met. Everything he eats is with copious amounts of ketchup & he uses salt in the same manner as his ketchup intake. I learned early on he does not like potatoes or beans tho he will eat them. He turned 20 just days before I met him. Remember the 80% of the time he’s on duty, he’s reclining in his gallery table banquet gaming while simultaneously listening to a fantasy book series with a British narrator. He claims to not read, that’s why he listens to books. It didn’t take long before I nicknamed him Bambam. His gaming computer which runs constantly and cannot be closed takes up more than half of the galley table. His knapsack, towels, sweaters & the sorts take up a lot of space on both the banquets.
Heres some things I made before our departure: the first breakfast I made for Capt & Bambam was, Sausage & eggs after a lesson from my Captain on how to prepare thick Italian spicy sausages by pricking them with a fork, boiling them in water then slicing them up, cooking them in a pan then mixing them into scrambled eggs. Mind you I needed this lesson, having never cooked a sausage in my life. Another morning I made pancakes with bacon. Bambam requested half a pac of bacon. One morning I did 3 over easy eggs & bacon for him on a toasted baguette. Prior to my first provisioning trip the bread cupboard had never seen a baguette. Bambam Dvoured a whole baguette between his breakfast & lunch. One night before the owner arrived I served hamburgers with my freshly mad mac n’ cheese with fire roasted tomatoes, my purple & gold coleslaw & my cucumber & red onion salad for dinner. They loved everything. The next night I practiced cooking steak & baking a potato in a microwave. This meal went over well too.
It was finally Dparture day. One more trip to the market for 4 more pounds of chicken I’d add to the Thai Chicken curry I’d already made & froze, beer, wine & mixers, more eggs and 3 more steaks, chips & dips & Crystal Light in case they asked for Margaritas & Ruby Grapefruit juice.
With all the new groceries stowed away I began to make a Spanish tortilla for the Owner & his guests arrival.
Minutes before their arrival, the Owner gave the Capt. a 5 min warning I was asked if I’d like to keep the Log Book. Happily I said, “Yes of course.” Capt. instructed me to write each of the guests as they arrived then he gave me the name of 2 of guests that he knew were coming & the owner of course. I was instructed how to read an instrument on the nav desk & then how to fill the log book in, first the time I’m taking the reading, I was told to do it every 4 hours from our departure, then the longitude & latitude, course bearing, boat speed & any notes. Having the Spanish tortilla with a pimenton mayo & a Mediterranean olive mix for their arrival in the lower salon was way smart – if I do say so myself.
Learning the hard way, Desserts are a must any passage, charter or Dlivery. In the midst of receiving the steak dinner plates back in the galley one of the guests asked about dessert. Lying through my teeth I said, I’ll get right on that. He said he’d expect that then when he came on watch at midnight. I beckoned for Captain. In the time it took Capt. to meet me in the galley I remembered the quart of vanilla ice cream and 4 lemon ices I had taken out of the deep freezer underneath one of the galley banquets earlier in the day and thought I could serve that with anise pitzelles. Sammy thought I’d gone mad. Those pitzelles he said were the worst thing he’d ever tasted. Processing all this I ran into the lower salon and pulled the back cushion off of one of the couches where I thought I remembered seeing an over-sized box of brownies stored. I was close – it wasn’t prepared two bites brownies it was three bags of Ghiradelli Triple brownie mix. I whisked eggs, oil & water directly into the dry chocolate mix without even reading the directions, poured that in a quickly buttered, deep dish aluminum catering pan I found in the pots cupboard. Sammy knew I was in the weeds so he got the oven working for me which he warned me had warm & cold spots so things needed to be turned around inside the oven. I served the crunchy on top, moist on the bottom Ghardelli brownies crumpled into a cup with perfectly textured/melted vanilla ice cream. The yield was 8 servings.
With all this said, here’s an idea of what I prepared for my first ever off shore sailing charter.
A mint infused simple syrup for mojitos & 2 pounds of candied carrots
I prepared a full head of purple & gold coleslaw, sweet pickled cucumbers, red onion & dill, 2 pounds of mac n’ cheese with fire roasted tomatoes, & a traditional Bolognese one afternoon.
Sausage, scrambled eggs & toast – baguette, English muffins, & various loaf breads
Pancakes & bacon for breakfast, hamburgers, with the salad’s, mac n’cheese from above, Lettuce, tomato & sliced red onion, ketchup, & various mustard – for a Sammy & Capt. lunch when we were in port awaiting wind & our departure.
Thai chicken curry.
A traditional Spanish tortilla for the owner & guests arrival.
Off shore I served: The 1st night’s steak dinner of pan seared 3/4# rib eyes, candied carrots, blanched asparagus bundles wrapped in a charred scallion & Marsala mushrooms over the steaks could not have earned me nicer compliments. Even tho my timing was off with the (microwaved) baked potatoes I served them with horseradish, sour cream & butter, plates came back empty & with rave reviews and accolades. The (as if by magic) brownies & ice cream dessert, coffee and one tea with cream & brandies which the owner served up.
The following morning was breakfast egg sandwiches with a lot of bacon & toast.
For lunch I prepared a platter full of flat meats & cheese sandwiches on standard loaf bread with a variety of mustard and or mayo and the cucumber salad & coleslaw.
The guys were fixing themselves dark & stormies for which I was constantly cutting limes for.
Before breakfast on Saturday morning I was rooting around straightening up when I came across a packet of mini pecan rounds the Captain had picked up at some point. Later that morning I whispered to Capt. that I had dessert covered for tonight. He looked at me completely baffled.
Saturday morning I blanched off & marinated the green beans for the sweet potato bomb salad. After lunch I prepped & cooked off the sweet potatoes. I dressed it warm with a sherry vinegar & chopped basil & fresh ground black paper when I served it in a large bowl.
5PM cocktail hour I served shrimp cocktail, hummus with colorful sweet peppers, pita chips, & olives.
For Saturday night dinner I served a Thai chicken curry which I added another 3 pounds of chicken, onions, red peppers & coconut curry broth to. Fortunately because there were no left overs. I served this with pineapple & coconut milk steamed jasmine rice & the sweet potato & green bean salad. For Dssert I oven toasted the mini pecan swirls, whipped cream stuck 2 pecan’s into the whip cream & drizzled it all with maple syrup. They flipped out for this meal.
Sunday morning we anchored in Block Island’s New Harbor at 09:40 and The Gang was in the local launch by 10AM so I was off the hook for breakfast for 6. I whipped up scrambled eggs, mini sausages & toasted baguette for Sammy & a scrambled egg w/peanut butter for Captain. Get a load of that.
The Gang returned to the boat just after noon after a romp around New Harbor which means nothing more than drinks and lots of them at The Oar. The gang was completely soused, the owner declared he wanted those fabulous lunch sandwiches again & a rum punch with fruit floating in it. I asked which he’d like first. His answer, “I want them parallel. Everything at the same time”. I was close with the sandwiches & punch going up together but the punch was the first thing I attended to. The gang went through at least 4 pitchers of my now famous rum punch.
In a matter of just a few hours we were in Newport Harbor, did a harbor cruise motor sailing and docked before 5PM.
I sent up guacamole, chips, & salsa as word came down that now they wanted Margaritas. Two guys wanted, “With salt”.
During cocktail hour the brother of the owner let it be known that they would like to take Captain, Sammy & I to dinner & a night out on the town. Dinner would be wherever the Captain chooses. That’d be the Clarke Cooke House.
Monday morning the owner was feeling – not so great. He’s slept late so I had the coffee Thermos in the cockpit before he could ask for it & 1 cup of Lipton tea with a splash of cream. I asked if I could whip up a surprise for breakfast I’m sure they’d like. The consensus, Yes. I whipped up an eight egg, lightly scrambled, onion & provolone cheese free form omelet. The gang started falling apart with various departure times from various different depots.
At 3PM the coast was clear. I was instructed to strip the beds as soon as everyone was gone. I asked if the guys wanted the Italian dinner I’d prepared for offshore service but never got to use or if they wanted to go out. They wanted dinner on board. We all went our separate ways as the end of the day came but planned to have dinner together around 8PM. I was invited for a sunset harbor tour in the tender to a racing yacht my friend is a mate on. When I got back to the boat at exactly 8PM the Captain & Sammy were lounging in the upper salon waiting patiently for dinner. I quickly hopped to it and within a half hour or so I served a piping hot Bolognese,(I’d taken out of the freezer first thing that morning) a bowl of angel hair pasta with warm olive oil & a sprinkle of garlic salt – because we have it on board. I also served a Caesar salad, chopped up Romaine lettuce with a thinned out, punched up store bought Caesar dressing, & sautéed garlic & zucchini. We had lemon Italian ices for dessert. Captain & I finished off 2 bottles of 14 Hands CabSauv.