ARC 2015 - Day 16 - Dec 06 - The Nina Two-Step

Steve and Lynda Cooke
Sun 6 Dec 2015 20:45

17:16.72N 45:09.94W

Day 16 – Dec 6

The Nina Two-Step

We've touched on the difficulties of cooking and serving meals in mid-ocean in previous blogs but it may be worth revisiting this as our crew's morale is directly proportional to how we're fed.

To get a feel for this, dear reader, you will need to appreciate Nina's layout down below. She has a narrow galley (kitchen) with a normal horizontally loaded fridge on the port side and working surfaces, sink and storage cupboards for food, plates, saucepans and utensils on the starboard side. The cook of the day (often Frank based on his impeccable track record of serving great food in difficult conditions) occupies this narrow space which in port would be a well designed and ergonomic working area. However the mid-Atlantic swell can roll the boat though 45 degrees to port and starboard which can make this about as hazardous as gybing the spinnaker on the foredeck at 2.00am on a moon-less night in 50 knots.

It all starts by lighting the stove to cook, say, chili con carne and putting the kettle on for tea. The chef then attempts to open the cupboards or the fridge in time with the rolling. However to make his task more interesting, this rolling is highly irregular depending on sea-state – thus a roll to starboard (when it's usually safe to open the cupboards or put things on the stove) is not always followed by a boringly predictable roll to port (when it would be safe to open the fridge without the entire contents ending up on the floor). Thus an initial roll to port may then be amplified in the same direction, thus catching the cook unawares as he is ambushed from behind by flying plates/utensils or worse by hot cooking oil/boiling water.

Desperate to catch the various offensive items that are now launching themselves across the galley from the starboard side, he forgets that he had quite logically opened the fridge lock on the port side from which some eggs now escape and splatter all over the floor under his feet, enabling him to skid effortlessly to the far end of the galley. By the time he has partially cleaned the mess up and then repeated this process several times he is losing the will to live but, in the best naval tradition, presses on regardless and manages to finish preparing the meal.

But that's not the end of it – the wretched stuff now has to be served to an expectant and hungry crew up in the cockpit. To achieve this he has to negotiate the length of the slippery galley floor (still lubricated by egg yolk), up two steps, across the wildly swaying saloon area and then up a further five steps while balancing plates of food and steaming cups of tea.

And so our intrepid contortionist cook uses the Nina two-step - imagine if you will a 15 tonne dance partner that will step on your toes (in reality beat you around the head, shoulders, waist and arms with sharp pointy bits of interior joinery) if you get the wave-driven choreography of this dance wrong.

Finally our bruised, battered and partially burnt chef presents his chili con carne to the waiting crew – there is an appreciative silence followed by someone requesting freshly grated parmesan cheese. The chef responds that he can't find the parmesan at this precise moment, or words to that effect.

How does Frank manage all this – his typically modest reply is that family life has prepared him well for this role (which just makes some of the other fathers on board feel slightly inadequate).