How far I have come

I was bored…I was drinking a tasty, after work, Heineken in a yachty bar in San Remo Italy and I was bored. Then I realised that I was wasting prime blogging time. That golden blogging hour when I’ve just fed the crew their gruel and then hotfooted it to the nearest bar for my ritualistic pint before I head back to the boat to watch some more Lost (I’m on the 6th and final season now…very exciting…I new all along that Locke was a pillar of black smoke. Anyway, I digress.) before hitting the sack.

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And sitting here began to bring back fond memories of when I was doing exactly the same thing in Tahiti and then again in Panama and again in St. Maarten and in Antigua and in Thailand and Tokyo and at home in London and now I’m doing it in Italy. And next month I’ll be doing it in France and then Croatia and who knows where after that. The last 18 months have been incredible and I’ve seen some fantastic places and met some equally fantastic people.

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It hasn’t all been wonderful, I’ve also been to some really shit places and met the occasional really shit person but hey…you take the good with the bad right?

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I’M KIDDING, I loved this guy!

So anyway, like I said, I was bored, in a bar, with a Heineken (tasty), not really knowing what to write about, as always. I was thinking about all the places I’d been to since January 2012 and thought that I would try and work out how far I had traveled by plane since then. So I went to a few websites to try to calculate my air miles.

85,612 miles! That’s 156 miles a day since January 2012! Now I’m sure there are a few of you out there saying “Pah! 85,612 miles! I walk that to work every morning!” But to me, that seems like a lot. A really lot. And thats just flying, its not counting the weeks at sea sailing across the Atlantic and around the Caribbean and South Pacific. Its nearly three and half times around the world. I dread to think about my carbon footprint. I am definitely going straight to hell if the planet has anything to say about it.

I didn’t have a point, I’m just saying that I have flown quite far over the last year and a half, what with joining and leaving and rejoining and leaving again and going on holiday and joining someone else and leaving and going on another holiday and then going on another holiday and then joining another boat and going on another sneaky holiday.

I had a great job on M/Y Odyssey (I can name her now as I don’t work on her anymore, although I’m not ruling out working on her again so maybe forget that I said that). The South Pacific and Caribbean via Panama and the Galapagos (although I was on one of my twelve holidays for the Galapagos trip, but I hear Sea-lions are awesome). But a year on her was enough for me and I felt it was time to move on.

My best moments? Probably surfing Teahupoo in Tahiti and tearing it up. You can see me here although its not a great shot and I’ve gained a bit of weight since then and basically completely lost that tan….and erm, grown two feet (in height, not grown two feet so I have 4 feet).

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(That is a lie, Neil never surfed, infact he hates the water, this is more like what he actually did in Tahiti)

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Or maybe it was paddle boarding around the Island in my favourite Lycra swim suit.

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(Again another lie from Neil. That’s not him, that’s some crazy Irish deckie he worked with. Do not trust him. This is about as close to the water as he ever got)

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And then I joined probably the best boat I’ve ever worked on. Infact I would go as far to say that it was maybe the best job I ever had. I’m not going to name this boat as I am pretty sure that I will eventually end up back aboard her. At least one of my readers knows the yacht as he ended up sitting next to her in Antigua a few weeks ago (Hi Nath, hope the crossing went well for you). He actually identified the yacht and tracked down ‘achefabroad’ from a picture of it that I made out of mashed potato.

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Some chefs will search for years for the perfect yacht owner to work for. And some will never find one. I am sure that there are many nice owners out there and I have generally been very lucky and had the pleasure of working for a few, but these owners and this yacht were on another level.  I joined them in February this year (2013 if you are reading this on Mars in 200 years time) and crossed the Atlantic from Cartagena to Antigua on her. This boat is 71 meters long, by far the biggest I have worked on so far, and it is over 80 years old. The engines are over 80 years old! Original engines and an original yacht from a golden era. Sailing across the Atlantic on this glorious piece of history was an absolute joy and I’ll never forget it.

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And just when I thought things couldn’t get any better, I met the owners. We had them on the boat for 1 month, which is the longest charter or owners trip I’ve done so far. Now I don’t consider myself to be an amazing, world class chef or anything. I can cook, I can cook pretty well and its not often that I don’t make my customers happy. But, of course, I have a certain style of cooking that I consider to be my strong suit. There are dishes that I do that I am confident with and that are generally crowd pleasers. But you can’t please everyone all of the time. Especially when you are cooking 90 meals in a row for them and trying to keep it interesting and varied. Or can you?

I just clicked with these owners. I could not do anything wrong. Every meal, every dish was rewarded with gushing praise. And these guys are serious foodies and seriously good cooks themselves. It soon became clear that when it came to food, we were all singing from the same song sheet. A match made in heaven. A chef’s dream owners. I would sit down with them after each meal and we would together draw up a battle plan for the next meal. Would it be 4 courses or 5? Would any of it be prepared table side? What shall we have that will complement the ceviche starter? It was so great, so enjoyable that after a month of working every day from 6.30 in the morning until 11 at night, I could have done another month, indeed I would have welcomed it. So good was the relationship with these owners that if I did manage to create a couple of hours spare time in the afternoon, if I wasn’t playing Backgammon with the 14 year old son (and kicking his arse ((just sayin’)), I was more than likely out paddle boarding with the owners wife. Just a dream job. And made all the more easier with a sous chef to help with cooking for the 18 crew so I could concentrate on cooking for the boss.

And then only 3 months into the job, the future looking very rosy indeed, it all came to a very unpredictable end. I won’t go into it, but the yacht is being retired for a while so I await a call from the captain to say that it is being unretired. The owners offered me something else with them but it wasn’t really my cup of tea. So we have agreed to stay in touch and hopefully, one day soon, rekindle this blossoming foody relationship. I look forward to that day.

So that finds me here in San Remo, two days into a new job on a new boat. Its a big, shiny, white, plastic thing like all the others. No yacht will ever live up to my brief spell on M/Y ?. But the crew seem nice and the captain just let me spend about 10k on galley equipment so so far so good.

I’ll keep you posted.

TTFN

achefabroad X

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2 comments

  1. Hey there, the crossing went very well indeed, we are now in Gibraltar doing some repairs before sailing on to Malta.
    Is it ironic that I probably knew before you what had happened to that boat you love so much? Gossip travels far on the dock and before you came back from holiday in Antigua I had already heard the crew was being let go… Never fun when that happens, it did happen to me as well a few years ago and the whole crew had 2 days to come up with something new!
    Good luck with the new job and who knows, maybe I’ll see you somewhere in the Med this summer!
    Btw, I’m a girl! (in case you weren’t sure)

    • Hey Nath,
      No the captain informed all the crew as soon as he was told. I received an email from him as I landed in Thailand. I just didn’t fancy mentioning it in a blog until all the details were done and dusted.
      Enjoy the Med. We are heading to Rome next week and Sicily after that. Hope we bump into each other at some point.

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